Starting From Scratch

Four Things I Wish I Knew When I (Finally) Started Skiing

A Note from Team Share Winter: Part of sharing winter is sharing our stories. Here at the Share Winter Foundation, we’re in the business of breaking down barriers to winter sport participation. Everyone’s journey to skiing and riding is different, particularly for those traditionally denied access to winter sports. We are grateful to work alongside leaders who are committed to changing the way the next generation is welcomed to winter sports, often based directly on the joys and challenges of their own learn to ski or ride story. 

In order to share winter with 100,000 youth per season (our goal by 2028!) Share Winter knows the industry must also expand the narrative of who participates in winter sports and why. 

With this in mind, we’re delighted to share Erin Key’s story with you. Key’s experience when she was a teen reflects many industry norms Share Winter Foundation now actively works against. Yet regardless of the lackluster initial welcome Key received to winter sports, she is back on the slopes learning as an adult. We think her tips for starting to ski are great not only for beginners but for anyone finding the motivation to keep improving their skills. Her laugh-out-loud funny writing reminds us of all the challenges and joys of learning to ski.

Your learn to ski or ride story could be the voice that encourages a youth to embrace winter. Are you interested in sharing your experience? Contact us today to begin (

By Erin Key

This is my second year on skis — but my journey to get here started over a decade ago. I always had a fascination with the Winter X Games, even growing up in Missouri where there were no real mountains — but I had no idea where to begin.

I’d heard about a Ski & Snowboard club in high school, so I decided to join after getting a trainer snowboard that winter. It was mostly kids who had something called an EPIC pass and ventured out West with their families every winter. I still decided to go to a few meetings.

But eventually, I just stopped. Why? Because I didn’t know the lingo, have the “right” gear, or the skills to go with the classmates who seemed to know it all. I never stopped wanting to participate, but that feeling of being an outsider never really wore off. Looking back, I really wish someone was there to tell me to simply care less and take it one ride at a time.

Looking back, I really wish someone was there to tell me to simply care less and take it one ride at a time.

Almost fifteen years later, I managed to put my worry aside and finally have learned how to start shredding. I’m having so much fun — and it could’ve started way earlier.

If you’re on the fence about skiing or snowboarding, here are some tips to help get you out there.

Take It One Step at a Time

The first step to getting to the slopes is deciding to get to the slopes. Stepping into a ski or snowboard is the first step to learning how to look really cool and flexing for social media. Getting on the lift is the first step to learning how to ski. Figuring out how to get up after you fall is the first step (or if you’re like me it might be the next several steps) to learning how to ski better

The point is, careening down mountains on fancy feet-sticks can be intimidating for anyone who has never done it. Instead of viewing it as a huge challenge, picture it instead as a series of challenging but totally-rewarding steps! Focusing on one step at a time will help you learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable places. We were all beginners once so go at whatever your level or speeds are. Which brings me to my next point…

CARE LESS About What Others Think

No matter what speed you’re going, do what makes you comfortable. If you’re worried about style, don’t be. If you fall getting off the lift, it still happens to all of us. Miss your run because you’re having trouble turning? It happens. Fall down next to someone? You’re probably never going to see any of those people again. Have fun, take it easy — we’re all out here to enjoy the snow.

Wear What Makes You Comfortable

Listen, you don’t have to dress like you’re gearing up for the next Space X mission to have a good time. Your jacket doesn’t need a flashy logo. Truthfully, what you wear doesn’t even need to be “ski wear.” No matter the size of a bank account, there’s something out there that will keep you insulated for your body type. Hit up a sale at REI or step into your local thrift shop to rake in some amazing finds. You’re on the slopes to shred, not walk down a catwalk (unless you’re into that)!

Lose the Pressure

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself and caring about getting to a certain point. You will fall, it’s ok. We all still do. No one is going to figure all of it out on their first day, or any day for that matter. I know I still haven’t. 

If you do figure it all out let me know. You can find me in Colorado hitting the slopes in the winter or on the mountain trails in the warmer months — ready to enjoy the outdoors in the way that works for me.

About the Author

Erin Key is an outdoor enthusiast and creative digital strategist living in Colorado. She uses her passion for visual imagery to promote that the outdoors are for everyone — and that by working together, we can diversify the outdoors, one person at a time. You can follow her on Instagram @fleetwoodblac.

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