Natural, Man-Made Features Remove Fear, Create Fun; Terrain Based Learning
The newest concept in teaching newcomers to ski and snowboard saw its debut this month at three New England resorts operated by The Fairbank Group. The techniques and methodology developed by Snow Operating, LLC, a snowsports instruction consulting company based in Vail, Colo., is being viewed by these resort operators as a sure-fire means of accelerating the learning curve for newbies.
Bromley Mountain in Vt., Cranmore Mountain Resort in N.H. and Jiminy Peak are calling it “revolutionary” and “efficient”, and this month they began teaching first-timers at all three locations using the new terrain concept.
“The three resorts decided that it would be beneficial to incorporate features into the learning,” Sherrie Bradway, director of snow sports at Jiminy Peak, told SnoCountry.com. “And in our research that’s how we came upon Snow Operating.”
“It just seems like a genius way to learn,” said guest George Baryiames, who took lessons at Cranmore with wife Alyson and their two young daughters. “Alexa is so little and it’s great to see how quick she picked it up. It used to take seasons to learn, not just one lesson.”
After imparting the basic movements, instructors guide never-evers through features that include camel humps, mini half pipes, banked turns, berms and spines.
“What’s special about terrain-based learning is that it’s designed for first-timers to make it fun and remove the fear of the fall line,” Bradway said. “The terrain makes them move in small increments and gain confidence.”
The features are groomed nightly and sometimes are re-shaped and touched up based on weather and conditions, even to the point of hand-grooming during the day.
The concept was implemented in mid-December to some head-scratching by new skiers and riders, admitted Bradway. But now, “adults and kids are loving this and the staff is enjoying the use of the features,” she said.
“The features and the teaching of technique work well together. In regular lessons people lean back when they get in the fall line. The features get them in a more balanced position on the skis,” she told us.
Terrain based learning will be a topic of conversation in March when SAM magazine and Snow Operations LLC holds a conversion camp, geared to growing these sports. The discussions and goals will address converting first time participants into life-long skiers and riders.
Photo: ABC-TV's Richard Wiese and family enroll in terrain-based learning at Jiminy Peak (Fairbank Group)