The Hippo


Apr 19, 2019








Emelia Attridge will aim to look like this next time she gets out on the slopes. Photo courtesy of Pats Peak.

Learn to ski or snowboard in southern New Hampshire

McIntyre Ski Area (50 Chalet Court, Manchester, 622-6159,
• For first-timers: Check out “Learn To Ski or Snowboard” for ages 8 and up, which includes a one-hour lesson in a group with rental, helmet and Wonder Carpet ticket for the remainder of the day. Cost $60 per person. Then check out the follow-up lesson package, “Learn 2 Ski or Snowboard” for advanced beginners ages 8 and up. Cost $65 per person. “Learn To” lessons only available on weekends.
• Group and private lessons: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at 7 p.m.; “on the hour” on weekends, at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Private lessons $65 per hour; semi-private lessons $55 per hour; group lessons $45 per hour (add $5 for rentals and $10 for an all-area lift ticket when you pay for any lesson). 
Pats Peak Ski Area (686 Flanders Road, Henniker, 428-3245,
• For first-timers: Check out the “Starter Special” for ages 6 and up (cost $85), which includes a Beginner Group Lesson, rental equipment and full-day Lower Mountain lift ticket from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lessons for intermediate to advanced: Check out “Lift and Lesson” package or the “Skier’s Package,” join a group lesson or make a reservation for private lessons depending on your skill level (prices vary; see website for details).
Gunstock Mountain Resort (719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, 293-4341,
• For first-timers: Mountain Magic includes two-hour group lessons for one day or two days. The cost for one day for adults is $100 for the lesson, lift ticket and rentals ($80 for seniors 65 and older).
• Non-package group and private lessons: Private lessons are $75 for an hour or $130 for two hours. Semi-private lessons  for two are $130 for an hour or $220 for two hours. Semi-private lessons for three people are $165 for an hour and $299 for two hours. One-hour group lessons are $40.
Mount Sunapee Resort (1398 Route 103, Newbury, 763-3500,
• For first-timers: Visit South Peak, Sunapee’s beginner area, for its “Start Here” programs. Packages include a two-hour group lesson, rentals and lift ticket. There is a traditional package as well as a “Guided” package, which includes assistance from the instructor from the check-in process to the rental shop and through the end of the lesson. One-day packages are either $84 or $89 and two-day packages are either $130 or $135 and can be used any two days during the season.
• Lessons for any skill group: Group and private lessons  are $59 and $95, respectively. There’s a “Tuesday Tune-Up” program, which meets Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon in a Women’s Workshop and a Men’s Workshop group. 

Bunny Slope blues
How to avoid the mistakes one beginner made


 I’ve lived in New England all my life, but I’d never been anywhere near a chairlift until last month. I’d always wanted to learn how to ski, so my dad (who was an avid skier before my brother and I were born) and I decided to spend some quality father-daughter time on the slopes. January, after all, is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. Despite all the factors working in my favor as a first-time skier, I made a lot of mistakes.

Bunny slope blues
I was so impatient to start skiing, I mis-judged the fit of my ski boots. With nothing else to compare it to, I assumed my boots were just the right kind of tight, that the pain was normal. By the time I reached the top of the bunny slope, I realized I was very wrong. My boots morphed into tourniquets, my legs started to cramp, my calves were burning and my eyes began to well up. “Great,” I thought, “I’m crying on the bunny slope.” 
With nowhere to go but down, I pointed my skis in that direction and tried to push past the pain as I made my first-ever attempt down a ski slope. For all I know I took out a kindergartener or two — it was hard to see past the tears. But there was a brief instant of uncontrolled skiing that almost felt like it could be fun, a surge of adrenaline not unlike sledding down the steepest hill in your neighborhood. I did, however, spend the rest of my time hanging out in the lodge, trying to get the blood circulating in my feet again and watching my dad zip down the mountain.
Hey, ladies, take note
It turns out, this is common for many women who hit the slopes and use rental gear. The Ski Diva ( is the leading online community for women who ski. Founder Wendy Clinch recommends visiting a professional boot fitter.
“Boots are a real big issue,” she said. “Everybody loves to get skis, but boot shopping is just the pits. You really have to find someone you trust.”
Within the past decade, the ski industry has started to make boots and skis just for women, with boots that have a narrower heel and foot and skis that are lighter and have forward mounting to account for a woman’s hip angle, which is different than a man’s.
Unfortunately, “It is expensive to buy all that equipment,” Clinch said. “To get started you’re better off renting. … If you’re going to rent at the mountain, you're kind of stuck renting whatever they have.”
Women’s achilles tendons are shorter than men’s, which makes the calf lower in the boot, she said. If you are going to invest in your own equipment, “Find a woman’s boot with a scalloped calf,” she suggested, so that the boot is lower in the back than a man’s boot. She also recommends that women stand up straight to support themselves skeletally instead of muscularly, since the forward mounting point can cause women to crouch instead of standing up straight (which will really do a number on your quads).
“A ski boot should not feel loose. It should feel like a firm handshake,” she said.
Do sign up for a lesson
Remember when your parents were teaching you how to drive? Remember how frustrating that was? Learning to ski is no different. Instructors are on staff at ski areas to help you learn, so take advantage of their training and expertise. 
“It just makes you comfortable,” Pats Peak Director of Marketing Lori Rowell said. “It’s just not a natural feeling to be sliding around.”
Rowell added that it can be frustrating when learning from a friend or family member. Instructors are there to be patient and work with beginners each step of the way.
Even avid skiers can learn a thing or two 
Pats Peak also has a terrain park for freestyle skiing. The park includes features like jumps in different sizes and levels, rails (like handrails), boxes (features that are flat on the top and shaped, like the s-box or the c-box), spines and rollers. Terrain park instructors are trained in both ski and snowboarding, and there’s also the Microburst Progression Park, an area with smaller features for people to try freestyle skiing.
Even if you’re not really up for some freestyle skiing, taking a lesson in your skill level can be a great way to gain experience.   
As seen in the January 23, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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