Editor’s Note: This piece was originally written in 2015, but it still all applies so we added a reason, updated the links and put in some fresh images. 

There’s an old saying: give someone a fish and they’ll eat for a day, teach them how to fish and they’ll eat forever. Sadly, that saying has almost nothing to do with skiing or snowboarding in Whistler: you can replace “fish” with “ski or snowboard”  and “eat” with “rip” I guess, but even then no one really rips on their first day. Unless they take a lesson.

Along with ensuring your gear is in good shape and your body is up to the task, a quick ski or snowboard lesson is one of the best ways to start your season off on the right foot and set yourself up for ultimate rippage all winter long.

A skier powers through the snow on a run on Whistler Blackcomb.
Check out the Steep Clinic with Extremely Canadian and this could be you. PHOTO GUY FATTAL

Of course, a lot of us feel confident in our abilities but the truth is unless you live here and are riding five to six days a week early season, a few hours of professional instruction is the best way to get back into last season’s form, and then up the ante. Here are five good reasons to take a ski or snowboard lesson as soon as you can this year.

1. You Establish Good Habits

The truth is everyone’s body is a bit different and we all ski or ride a bit different. That’s okay, but sometimes your default form can be counterproductive to your desired level of ripping. An instructor can spot and correct that.

A snowboard instructor explains to a group of snowboarders what they're going to tackle next.
Instructors tend to have a few favourite stashes up their sleeves to share with their students. PHOTO WHISTLER BLACKCOMB / ANDREW STRAIN

2. You Build Confidence

Like it or not, mountain sports are as much about the head game as they are about physical prowess. Half the battle, more than half, of accomplishing anything great in the mountains is believing that you can do it and committing to getting it done. A ski or snowboard lesson, with pointers and corrections from a third-party professional, is a great way to build that important confidence and have more fun.

3. You Learn New Zones

Instructors spend a lot of time on the ski hills; A LOT of time. As such, they know a couple of good runs and secret little spots that you probably don’t. Half the fun of a good lesson is taking your new skills to a new spot on the hill.

Two skiers sit on a chairlift in the sun on Whistler Blackcomb.
Smiles all around when you don’t have to wait in the lift line. PHOTO GUY FATTAL

4. Lift Line Priority

You know when it’s a pow day and the lineup at the chairlifts is more than a little frustrating? Well, if you’re with an instructor you get to skip all that. Yep, that empty corral is all yours when you’re in a ski or snowboard lesson, enjoy!

5. You Never Know…

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada used to be a snowboard instructor in Whistler. Other instructors are lawyers, world travellers and ex-pro riders – you never know who you’ll be riding with when you take a lesson and the chance is always there that you will learn a lot more than simply how to fix your form and get the most from your riding.

INSIDER TIP: Ski and snowboard lessons during peak times, like the festive holidays, sell out fast, so book yours early to secure your spot and the best rates.
A group of skiers stand on the ridge of a run assessing the terrain below.
Find new friends along with new terrain. PHOTO VINCE EMOND

You can do a half or a full day, join a group lesson, opt for a private (if there’s a group of you then look into this), check out the camps on offer and even ski / board with an Olympian. Lessons for adults and kids start as soon as Whistler Blackcomb opens. For more inspiration, take a look at these lesson-based posts;

Book your winter trip now for savings of up to 65%, with Whistler Blackcomb Day Passes starting from $93 CAD per day, 35% off lodging and 40% off rentals (kids rent free) with a free dining voucher on stays of five or more nights. Epic Coverage is included for free so you can plan ahead with peace of mind.

Come experience Whistler Blackcomb’s extensive terrain and adventure at every turn to see why we're known as one of the best resorts on the planet. Secure your mountain getaway with Whistler.com for personalized service and the local knowledge of our Whistler-based team


Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.