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11 Ski Mistakes to Avoid

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

1. Buying lift tickets at the window. You pay more and you have to stand in line! Discounted tickets are available online with the best prices at least seven days out. If you are traveling with season pass holders, ask about Buddy Passes.

2. Buying single / multi-day tickets to a resort - if you are planning on skiing 4 - 5 days during the season, find better value by purchasing a season pass. Benefits include flexibility to follow the snow across multiple resorts, better rates than the ticket window and advanced online passes, and pass insurance allows you to recoup costs if you are injured during the season. See our season pass guide here.

3. Renting ski boots. If there is one piece of gear that you absolutely must own, it is ski boots. Make this upfront investment and break them in by wearing them for an hour or two at a time while lounging at home. Good boots will make you a better skier and are definitely more comfortable. With moderate usage, boots last nearly a decade. See our guide to purchasing ski boots.

4. Having cold feet because your socks are too thick. While it may seem counterintuitive, thicker socks restrict mobility, impede your boot fit, and hold moisture - resulting in cold feet. Good circulation (be able to wiggle your toes!) is the key to keeping your feet warm. Wear thinner socks and try to loosen your boot buckles between runs in the lines, on the lifts, and when you break for lunch.

5. Waiting in long lift lines. Try the singles line, eat lunch early / late, and avoid making your way to the Base once you're on the upper mountain. Most resorts have lift line wait times available on large trail map boards or download the resort app - most now put the information from the board in your pocket. Ask Resort Ambassadors or Ski Patrol where choke points are, how to avoid crowds, and where the best snow is - they are there to help you.

6. Unplanned days on the mountain. Before your trip, take the time to know the different areas of the mountain, how to get around efficiently, where to eat, where to drop the kids and where to re-convene for après ski. Did you know that accessing the Park City base from the Canyons base area can take nearly an hour with 5+ lifts along the way? See an example of our Daily Guides here.


7. Thinking you can’t ski (and have fun doing it) because you have small children. Ski trips are super family friendly and it is never too early get the whole family skiing and make it a lifelong sport. Most destination resorts and set up to make family travel seamless by offering lessons for the young ones, day care on the mountain and exceptional deals for lift tickets for young skiers (e.g, the $29 Ikon Pass for children 4 or younger at the time of purchase, kids under 10 ski for free at many mountains like Steamboat, Keystone, Alta with the purchase of an adult pass).

8. Planning too far in advance to optimize snow conditions. Advanced planning is a gamble, while not practical for everyone, if you have a multi-resort season pass and some flexibility, try to monitor the snow reports and head to the slopes after a big dump. Snow forecasts and reports are available and long-range forecasts can provide general windows but be wary of trusting them for specific dates.

9. Going too hard on your first day. We know the temptation is huge - you’re there, the snow’s great and it’s time to hit the slopes. Just remember that it takes time for your body to acclimatize; you're probably operating at high altitude and using muscles that have been on vacation. Taking it easy on the first day will likely make the rest of the vacation so much better.

10. Ditching the helmet and / or rocking out to tunes. Not using a helmet isn’t even a consideration (unless you’re going back country skiing and away from trees and even then, not really). Remember, most accidents involve other people and are beyond your control so it doesn’t seem to matter how good or safe a skier you are – always protect your head. And headphones – whether it be Mozart or Mustard and Migos – neither. It’s tempting to rock out to tunes on your way down the slopes but again, unless you’ve found that one spot where there’s no one else – you need your wits about you with other skiers tearing up the slopes.

11. Thinking you don’t need lessons. None of us are perfect. Taking a lesson can really help at any level, whatever level you ski at. Plus, it’ll introduce you to a mountain that you might not be that familiar with and perhaps find you some skiing partners who are at about the same level as you. Be sure to check out our guide on getting the most out of lessons.

Don't make any of these, and you'll be in good shape!

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