Heading to the Japanese snow for your first attempt at snowsports, and feeling a little apprehensive? Wondering what you have let yourself in for? Fear not. You're going to love it, and this could be the start of a lifelong learning adventure.
The best skier or snowboarder on the mountain is the one having the most fun!
Never forget that it is all about fun.
Being up in the mountains in winter is great in itself, especially in Japan when you have the amazing food and culture vying for your attention too. Make sure you have eaten well and are well hydrated before you start. It is likely to be cold, so dress accordingly, but don't worry if you don't have all the gear. Most rental shops will have everything you need to spend a comfortable day in the snow. As you start moving, you are going to get warm so it is always good if you can remove a few layers. Yes, you are in the mountains in the snow but this part of Japan is not super-cold.
The gear, especially the boots, will take a bit of getting used to, but you'll soon be skipping around. Carrying your equipment is a bit of a chore, but it is probably the hardest thing you will do all day, so grit your teeth and get to the snow.
Get to know your instructor and let them know about you. If you have past injuries, fears or concerns, or have questions on anything, your instructor wants to know. We want you to be as comfortable as possible, and have as fun a day as you can.
Take it easy and go at your own pace. Everyone learns in their own way and at their own speed. If you don't understand something, feel free to ask for another demonstration or explanation. If you are in a group and others seem to be progressing quicker, don't worry. We've often seen the tortoise overtake the rabbit with better technique later in the day.
Relax and enjoy the scenery and the snow.
Smile - you're having fun. You don't fall over when you are smiling. (Or stop smiling when you fall over...???)
Don't worry about falling over. Falling is learning. Everyone on the mountain has, and does, fall over. You are not the only one.
The first couple of lessons are the best. You will make more progress in a short amount of time then any other point in your skiing/snowboarding adventure. Eureka moments aplenty, and you'll get a great sense of satisfaction.
In a normal beginner lesson we spend some time on a flat area getting used to the equipment. We then learn how to slide, how to stop, and how to turn. With a bit of confidence and some basic skill you will be able to control your speed and may then be ready to ride a lift. We'd urge everyone to stick with the sport until you can ride a lift and get down your first run. A sit down on the lift is a chance for a rest, the views on the way up and from the top are great, and sliding down a slope is what it is all about.
There are no rules about how long it will take. It will take as long as it takes. One of the joys of snowsports are that they are fun at any level. Whether you have just begun, or have been doing it for years; fast or slow; it is fun. Enjoy.
Helping people to learn to ski and snowboard is fun for the instructor, and your smiles and progress are why we do what we do.
Some parental feedback about the best bit about learning to ski as a family - "Had an amazing time. Thank you. Best bit was the kids were out cold straight after dinner. (We weren't long behind!)"