Here be gentle dragons: learn to ski at Snow Valley

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Beginner ski lessons as an adult can be intimidating, but Snow Valley makes it fun and easy to progress. Follow the adventures of a football player and a figure skater as they take on Snow Valley Ski Club, open until April 3, 2022 for skiing and ski lessons.

Edmonton, AB - Tiny geodesic castles verge the forest where the football player and the figure skater emerge armoured and ready to test their strength and wits against a snowy dragon. Fortunately for Emily Nakamura and Ellio McRae Polson, Snow Valley Ski Area is known for its gentle beginner terrain and supportive ski instruction but that won’t make their maiden attempt any less of a challenge. 

Not having skied as adults, this is essentially their first time (although McRae Polson recalls an unfortunate elementary school snowboarding experience). And that makes this kind and gentle place look more like a beast than it is. Our fears and hangups as adults tend to do that to us. But these two beginners have a few tricks up their sleeves.

  • Snow Valley Ski Club Edmonton AB rental shop
    In the rental shop at Snow Valley.
  • Magic carpet learning area Snow Valley Ski Club Edmonton AB
    Taking a magic carpet ride on Snow Valley's bunny hill.
  • Ski lesson Snow Valley Ski Club Edmonton AB
    Emily and Ellio practice snowplowing with the help of their instructor.

They meet their instructor in the lessons area, and she starts them both at the beginning. First, pushing with one ski on and the other off, then walking with both skis sideways up the slope. Once they’re up, they take short glides down, practicing snowplowing.

Being a warmer day, McRae Polson is finding himself removing layers with the hard work of trudging uphill (one bonus of warmer spring days, being free of a few layers adds to the comfort). It’s harder work going up, waddling on unfamiliar sticks but he’s patient and eventually he’s rewarded for his effort as he manages to snowplow down the short bunny hill a few times. 

This is your season to learn to ski. Book a lesson at Snow Valley.

For a guy whose main passions are football and rugby, it’s fortunate he’s learned the art of falling. He takes a couple tumbles, but each time, he picks himself up and keeps going. After a big fall, I ask him what motivates him to persist.

“It just comes with wanting to live, try new things and get out of your comfort zone,” says McRae Polson. “I think a lot of people don’t do that in our society, and since I’m young I’d like to try things now and maybe find something I love that I can take with me forever.”

  • Chairlift Snow Valley Ski Club Edmonton AB
    Emily Nakamura graduates to the chairlift in her beginner lesson.
  • Skiing Snow Valley Ski Club Edmonton AB
    Learning to turn!
  • View from lodge at Snow Valley Ski Club Edmonton AB
    The apres view from the upper deck of the lodge at Snow Valley.

Meanwhile, Nakamura has taken a much different track. She’s quickly gliding down the bunny hill and ready for the big ride up the chairlift. With Snow Valley Ski Club's four lifts - two magic carpets, a triple chair and a quad chair, there’s lots of room to learn and to step up your game. As McRae Polson looks on, Nakamura heads up the big quad chair to test herself against the upper slopes.

Two very different experiences. Yet McRae Polson isn’t the least ruffled to see his friend progress more quickly. He finds a place to chill in the trees on a bench near the geodomes, as he waits for Nakamura to return. Afterward the two compare notes. 

Find your edge with a lesson at Snow Valley.

“It’s a lot like skating. It took a bit to adapt … but once I did it was pretty easy thanks to my years and years of figure skating,” Nakamura shrugs.

McRae Polson also finds a physical memory to help him relate to the motion of skiing. “The skateboarding analogy helped because that’s something I know, the only difference is that it’s on snow.”

Taking a lesson was a big part of both of their successes. “It was fun! The lessons definitely help - I got a lot of pointers I wouldn’t have thought of, just doing it myself,” says Emily. “You can do it yourself, but a lesson will help you get there faster.”

Here be gentle dragons. But their adventure is worth following, because in every quest there are lessons and morals and things we can learn, even for the battle-hardened. One key lesson, watching these two, is attitude: the key is having fun and finding joy in what you’re doing.

“If you can find things you like and don’t like,”McRae Polson says simply, ‘you’ll have a much straighter path through life, just knowing what you like to do.”

For it is not just the greatest knights who win battles, but the bravest, wisest, most cunning and most determined. And in besting their dragons, they teach us. Take a ski lesson at Snow Valley this spring and discover for yourself.

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