Tips to Help You Cope with First Run Angst

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Tips to Help You Cope with First Run Angst

Club Ski students and instructor on the slopes at Sunshine Village.
Club Ski students and instructor on the slopes at Sunshine Village. Photo by Dan Evans.

Is your skiing style more awkward than awesome?  Here are some professional tips on how to ease your way back onto the slopes.

Everyone gets stoked for their first day out on the slopes, but for some of us that excitement is invariable coloured with just a touch of anxiety.

Some of us were not born skiing.  If there are no photos of you as a cute 4 year old on skis less than a meter long, chances are you learned to ski later in life or even as an adult.  If that is your reality, the term ‘to shred’ is either laughable or a lofty goal up there with growing a monkey’s tail.

Even if thoughts of ‘Do I remember how to do this?’ don’t creep into our head, your new skis may throw you around a bit before your muscle memory kicks in and your balance comes back to you.

Basically we all have issues, and often getting professional help is the easiest way to work though those issues.

To work through skiing and boarding anxiety, consulting a ski/snowboard instructor with over 20 years experience seemed obvious.  So we asked Carlo Riveroll of Ski Banff Lake Louise Sunshine’s Club Ski program for a few pointers and best practices for those first days out on the slopes.


What tip would you give people getting back out there for their first ride of the season?

For your first ride of the season, try to make terrain choices that build confidence and awareness of your physical capacities and snow conditions.   Commit to doing more green and easy blues.

Get the good word on the chairlift and other sources on the conditions runs are in before attempting them.  If you’re struggling in survival mode go back to that run you enjoy and learn to master your equipment and body rather than the mountain.  Let the mountains call the shots.


As people get back on skis or onto a board at the beginning of the season-  what is the most common bad habit you see them exhibit?

Never let your guard down!

Not seeing it coming is likely the most common early season habit that leads to epic bails and physical detriment.  The mountains are full of consequences and navigating them requires good choices based on personal and environmental factors.  Sights and sounds are the information we collect assisting our choice of where and when ride or ski, even turn left or right!  There are countless choices made and they can all come at you very fast so be aware and take it slow.  Let the ski or snowboard zen find you!


Mellow flats at Lake Louise. Photo: Chris Moseley
Mellow flats at Lake Louise. Photo: Chris Moseley

Which is the best warm up run at each resort?

 Warming up is always important but beginners are best served by playing around with their equipment on the flats! It’s a great way to get in touch with your balance and flexibility (or a lack there of) while you wait for the rest of your posse to show up.  Explore every feeling in your boot and feel the snow surface with every part of your skis or snowboard.  This will warm up your sense of balance and recovery reflexes.

When you’re ready to add gravity start in the learning area or ask staff for the easiest run on the mountain.  Or better yet, get re-acquainted with a run you already know.


Where is the best place to get comfortable with some speed?

Using any uphill run-out to slow down will increase ones comfort with speed.  Norquay’s “Scooter” #10 has a left to right bank providing an escape from speed by turning left up the hill to slow yourself down.  Lake Louise has “Upper Wiwaxy” #48 is a broad and open part of the run that allows you enough room to turn across the hill until you slow down but beware of those above you.  Know the Code.  (Alpine Responsibility)  Sunshine Village has “Green Run” #30 has an uphill run-out that will stop you no matter how fast you go. For trail maps visit:

Skiing powder at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Photo: Chris Moseley
Skiing powder at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Photo: Chris Moseley

Any technique tips for a powder day?

One of the best techniques for powder is knowing what it feels like to pull your equipment up off the snow.  The ability to get your equipment floating on top of the snow makes it a lot easier to control and avoid sudden obstacles. Flexing your legs toward your torso in the right manner will retract your feet and equipment up on top of the snow allowing for better momentum and manoeuvrability.

If you would like to master this and other techniques.  A personal Mastering Powder themed clinic for you and four of your friends is available.

 Tips for icy conditions?

If you happen to find yourself sliding on an icy patch that you didn’t expect, here’s something to consider:

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what is going to happen next, rather than what is already happening.  Ice will make you slide faster so if you didn’t see it coming you’re already too far behind the situation to correct it.  Go with the pull of gravity, stay over your feet and look for the end of the icy patch where your equipment can grip the snow and prepare for that change which can quite often be the thing that jars you off balance.

Remember: if the slopes or that first ski are initially intimidating, you can get help!  Ski Banff Lake Louise Sunshine offers a number of different Snow School programs that include private lessons, kid lessons and their unique Club Ski program which includes 3 days of lessons, one at each of the three resorts (Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mount Norquay), all with the same instructor.