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Basch: Never too late (in the season) to learn on the mountain

  • Ski areas like Loon Mountain (above) continue to offer packages, camps and lessons geared for beginners, as well as intermediate and advanced skiers and riders, late into the winter season. Courtesy of Loon Mountain

  • Learning to ride a snow bike at Pats Peak is just one of the new adventures waiting for you during the winter months in New Hampshire, even late in the season. Courtesy of Pats Peak

For the Monitor
Published: 2/26/2020 10:17:03 PM

I learned to snowboard later in life, as an adult, which made the falls hurt a little more. I also learned later in season, and that made the falls hurt a little less.

Learning to ride can be painful, especially when you bonk your head – helmeted or not – against the hard snow in the cold and gray of winter. So, someone pointed out why not learn to ride when the snow is softer. Let’s go when the temperatures are on the rise. Give it a shot when the days are longer.

So, that’s what I did, waiting until the post-February vacation weeks when there were greater chances of softer snow to ease the aches.

It worked ... I think.

Whether you are a first-time snowboarder or skier, or someone looking to raise your skill level beyond intermediate, there are a number of opportunities across northern New England to do so. Of course, group and private lessons are always offered, but some special events in the coming weeks may be the ticket to learning new alpine and Nordic skills as winter eventually gives way to spring.

Loon Mountain in Lincoln has women-only snowboard camp, Beyond the Boundaries, March 14 and 15. Staffed by professional snowboarders, participants will learn new tricks in a private, custom-honed terrain park while also gaining access to Loon’s progression of terrain parks. A morning yoga session is included.

Both men and women are welcomed during the March 7-8 First Class Beginner’s Weekend at Loon. Whether skiing or snowboarding, newcomers get an intensive two days culminating in a free pair of skis, boots and bindings for skiers and snowboard, boots and binding for boarders.

Waterville Valley is hosting a women’s Nordic clinic on March 7. The event is being billed as a day of ski instruction and so much more for skiers, beginners to advanced, looking to brush up on their techniques. The day includes a yoga warm-up, instruction, lunch, wax clinic and an as-needed high-performance rental package.

If you’ve ever wanted to ski with your dog, Gunstock in Gilford is the place to learn. Private skijoring lessons are taught at the Gunstock Outdoor XC Center. Bring your dog and they’ll outfit you with the necessary equipment to hit the trails with your favorite four-legged friend. Learn the calls and skills needed to enjoy the experience.

Or maybe you’ve wanted to try a snowbike. Pats Peak in Henniker has a package with a one-hour group lesson and two-hour rental – lift ticket is extra – to get you headed downhill.

Stratton’s Women’s Camp (March 18-20) is a midweek chance to get away and enhance your skiing or riding skills. The southern Vermont event looks to build confidence for all levels of snow lovers with personalized coaching, fitness, fun and socializing. The camp is guided by Stratton’s top women instructors.

What better way to beat the bumps than at the Beast? Killington in Vermont has a two-day mogul weekend March 7-8 for skiers aged 18 and up. The weekend features five hours of daily coaching by specialized mogul instructors whether you’re a newbie or looking to get a faster line. And Olympian Donna Weinbrecht is running a mogul camp at Killington on March 21 and 22 to help campers prepare for the popular Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge which takes place on April 4.

New at Okemo in Ludlow, Vt. is a private group family lesson. Up to six can learn to fine tune skills with an instructor, explore the mountains and get insider info on the best terrain to tackle. Okemo recommends a group of similar ability. Instruction will take place on terrain matching with the least skilled participant in the group.

Sunday River offers a new Green Pass that gets newbies out on the sunny slopes for cheap. If you’ve taken at least one Learn to Ski or Snowboard class at the Newry, Maine resort (age 13 plus), you’re eligible to purchase the $99 pass that offers three days of skiing anytime for the rest of the season, 40 percent off any additional Sunday through Friday lift tickets and 20 percent off Saturdays and holidays. There are also discounts on more lessons, rentals, lodging and retail purchases.

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