Learning to Ski and Snowboard

Do you want to learn to ski or snowboard?

Ski clubs, high school race teams, and recreational skiers and boarders from around Southeast Michigan have been skiing for over a month now. Pine Knob (Clarkston), Mt. Holly (Holly), Alpine Valley (White Lake) and Mt. Brighton (Brighton) are the four ski and snowboard resorts in or near Oakland County. The four resorts offer a multitude of programs so anyone, at any age, can learn to ski and snowboard.

Pine Knob Instructor Tyler Walton teaches a first time skier - photo by Michael Dwyer

Pine Knob Instructor Tyler Walton teaches a first time skier – photo by Michael Dwyer

Skiing is generally easier to learn than snowboarding. Most first time skiers will be able to stop and turn within 1-2 hours of lessons. Snowboarding may take a few times out to achieve the equivalent. However, skiing is harder to master. Riders that continue to snowboard usually progress quickly after the basics have been learned.

Those who ice skate, cross-country ski, or play sports often will be pick up skiing faster. Skateboarders and surfers may find less of a challenge with snowboarding.

Is it Difficult to Learn?

Pat Diebel, Ski School Director at Pine Knob says, “Learning to ski is counterintuitive.” Skiers need to lean downhill when naturally the body wants to lean back. He suggests by taking lessons as a first time skier (or snowboarder) the student learns the correct way from the beginning.

Private Lessons are the best for one-on-one training. Semi-private (two or more people) works fine if the people are at the same level. Group lessons are a budget way to experience the sport. Student lessons with a progressive learning style are a good way to go if school age children are learning without family supervision. If parents do not ski or snowboard, many of the resorts offer a patch program that allows students to only ski the area of the hill they are ready for based on their skill level. The lift passes, rentals, and lessons are typically offered at a reduced rate for school groups and ski clubs. Check with your child’s school to find out if they are part of a ski group at one of the local resorts.

Mt. Brighton - photo by Michael Dwyer

Mt. Brighton – photo by Michael Dwyer

Learning to ski in Michigan is “what you make of it,” said Taylor Ogilvie, General Manager at Mt. Brighton. “We have 150 instructors” and use a “guest centered teaching” style, said Ogilvie. Taylor, his wife and his 2 daughters moved to Michigan in June of 2013 when Vail Resorts bought Mt. Brighton. He suggests anyone coming to Mt. Brighton take advantage of the online ordering systems at the resort’s website to book lessons and purchase lift passes and rentals.

One-Hour Private Lessons
Mt. Holly: $55
Pine Knob: $55
Alpine Valley: $50
Semi-Private One-Hour Lessons
Mt. Holly: $55 first person, $22 each additional
Pine Knob: $55 first person, $22 each additional
Alpine Valley: $35 each person (two or more)
Half-Day and Full-Day at Mt. Brighton
3-hour one person $140, 6-hour two people $196
6-hour one person $224, 6-hour two people $313


Read Last Week’s Article about the Improvements at the Local Ski Areas

Discover Michigan

Twenty-six ski areas across the state have teamed up with Michigan McDonald’s restaurants to offer a popular and very affordable introduction to skiing and snowboarding, called Discover Michigan Skiing.

The program includes a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental equipment and a beginner-area ski lift pass for $35 for downhill skiing or snowboarding. Discover Michigan Skiing is open to everyone seven years and older, and is available only during the month of January.

To sign up, interested beginners must have a Discover Michigan Skiing Value Voucher, which is available at participating Michigan McDonald’s restaurants and MSIA retail ski stores while quantities last. A printable voucher is also available online at www.goskimichigan.com. Mt. Brighton, Pine Knob and Mt. Holly are the local resorts who participate.

Call Before You Go

No matter which program or skill level a person is, each ski area suggests calling in advance to be sure guests will get what they need on arrival . Some resorts take reservations and some do not. Ski school hours vary.

Alpine Valley Ski Area
Lift Tickets $28 – $50*
Rentals $26 (helmet $10)
Mt. Brighton Ski Resort
Lift Tickets $27 – $59*
Rentals $28 (helmet $7)
Mt. Holly
Lift Tickets $27 – $55*
Rentals $27 (helmet $10)
Pine Knob Ski & Snowboard Resort
Lift Tickets $27 – $55*
Rentals $27 (helmet $10)

*Lift Ticket prices vary from Beginner Area to All Area (plus all day/evening)


About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at michael@rochestermedia.com.

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