The winter is well underway; skiers are back on the mountains, as are their ski instructors. New arrivals and old-hands share the pistes and they all ask themselves the same question: ‘Is it really necessary to book ski or snowboard lessons with a ski school?’ The answer remains the same – a resounding ‘Yes!’
Skiing is rather like driving. Some people learn without formal instruction and, despite progressing in the right direction, they develop potentially dangerous habits. Fortunately, bad habits can be corrected through lessons. These will allow you to become a better skier and avoid accidents.
You may think that you can learn or improve on your skis/snowboard through videos or advice from friends or family – but nothing is more valuable than a lesson with a ski school. Why? And with which school? And what sort of lesson? We’ll try to answer all the questions that you ask about ski school lessons.
First of all, why are you better off learning and improving with a professional?
When starting out on skis, it’s important to learn the fundamental techniques. As with every sport, if the fundamentals aren’t firmly established, your chances of progressing and improving are limited. If you learn from friends, you risk learning bad habits which you will find hard to shake off later. Don’t waste all that time; an instructor will set you on the right track from the very beginning. Using terms he understands and is familiar with, your instructor will explain to you the right positions and can precisely explain every movement. This is even more important for children who learn by imitation, so it’s better for them to copy a correct example.
Instructors undergo teacher training which allows pupils to feel at ease, reassured and confident in their company. Unlike a family member who can already ski, an instructor understands the various learning phases and has the patience to help pupils progress without rushing them. Also, children are less likely to question or contradict an instructor than a family member, which will lead to less stress this winter!
In addition, you are likely to learn quickly with an instructor so you’ll spend less time learning at the start of your holiday and more time actually skiing. Don’t miss out on all this enjoyment during your holidays!
Finally, you are in safe hands with an instructor. He will look after beginners and intermediates, and knows which pistes will suit their level. If you want to experience more thrills, such as trying off-piste, an instructor will choose suitable spots. He is knowledgeable about the snow and the winter mountain environment and won’t take you into areas where the avalanche risk is high.
Who are these lessons aimed at?
Lessons are suitable for everybody; whether group or private, there is something for every level! For children, there is a ski kindergarten for little ones of 3 and over, where they will familiarise themselves with skiing in a safe environment.
For older children and adults, ski schools offer lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, through competitions such as the children’s snowflake badge and the star system, and slalom and giant slalom races.
For anybody who wants to go off-piste, as shown below, going with an instructor is strongly recommended.
Group or private lessons?
Once you have decided to book lessons with a ski school, one more issue must be decided: ‘What sort of lesson?’ Let’s take a look at the differences to help you choose the type that suits you best.
In group lessons, the atmosphere is friendly and you will learn with people of your own age and level, allowing you to meet others and have fun while learning. You can talk about your experiences with them, as they are experiencing the same thing. And these friendships may well develop outside of lesson time.
In addition, learning together can help motivate and spur you on, so the group progresses faster. Finally, these lessons are generally less expensive.
However, the speed of the group remains the same for all its members, which may hold back individuals who want to move onto other exercises or more challenging pistes.
Private lessons are entirely designed to suit your level, your wishes and your needs. Therefore you are likely to progress even faster. Children tend to keep their concentration better when alone with an instructor than when in a group of children their own age. The atmosphere in private lessons is certainly different, but often very pleasant as instructor and student learn to get to know each other better and develop confidence in each other, which encourages learning.
Which Méribel ski school?
You are probably asking yourself this question and that’s not surprising because there are numerous ski schools in Méribel. What’s the difference between them? Which would suit you best? What you should know is that each ski school is different: they may offer private or group lessons for children and adults, they may have their own kindergarten for the littlest ones, perhaps offer freeride or telemark lessons, or even organise snowshoe outings and cross-country skiing…. There is a wide range on offer, so do whatever takes your fancy knowing that you will be safely guided by these professionals! It’s worth dropping into the ski schools to find out more - they will be pleased to welcome you and answer any questions you may have. And now it's up to you: put on your ski outfit, boots and skis and enrol in ski school!