I taught myself how to ski. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the best teacher. My history of skiing goes like this: I had skied a few times as a kid, didn’t know what I was doing and quickly had my ticket pulled for skiing too fast and out of control down my childhood ski hill. This prompted me to snowboard for the next 15 years, until I went to Deer Valley for a day — where I had no choice but try sliding on two sticks once again.

I learned pretty quickly, taking a few runs by myself, then got some pointers from my friends. I accelerated rapidly and started skiing black runs within a few ski days. Although I wasn’t considered a chronic intermediate skier, which is common for a lot of people that ski without proper instruction, I was stuck in the awkward duckling phase – losing my form and grace when things got steep.

After a few years of tips from my husband Nick, which weren’t received all that well, I decided to take an expert-level ski lesson from the Solitude Snowsports Academy. I was lucky for two reasons: I was the only person in the group class (score on the private lesson), and I was able to get Mark Battaglia as my ski instructor! Mark has been teaching at Solitude for 35 years, and his experience shows.

I felt confidence and relief after my first run with Mark as he assured me it would be an easy fix to take my skiing to the next level! He taught me a few techniques that we practiced together, ultimately helping me to finish my turns (making nice S shapes down the runs), maintain a consistent speed and keep my balance and weight distributed correctly on my skis. I was able to apply these techniques to all terrain — flats, groomed trails, moguls, and crud.

Mark gave me four simple techniques to practice on each run, all of which are easy to remember and apply on any terrain:
1. “How slow can you go” — consistent speed and control on steep terrain
2. Skate skiing — crossing the flats efficiently while practicing good form
3. Edge rails — allowing the skis to do the work, which helps with completing turns
4. Hockey stops on both sides — balancing and distributing weight evenly on my skis, especially on my favored left side

I have to say that the lesson was well worth the investment. I was skiing more in control and faster immediately after the lesson, and I’ve kept up with my most talented skier friends. You can find more information about Solitude’s adult lessons here.

Next up on my list is to participate in their Hidden Tracks program. It’s a tour guided by the Snowsports Academy that takes you to the “nooks and crannies” of the mountain that you otherwise wouldn’t discover on your own. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to practicing the techniques from my lesson and becoming a better skier.

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