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Can you forget how to ski or snowboard?

20 October 2022
Girl learning to ski

After a couple of seasons off the mountains, you may be wondering if you’ll remember how to ski or snowboard. It’s a question the team at The Snow Centre get asked a lot. There are a number of varying factors that will determine how well we remember our Snowsports skills after a sizeable break.

Previous experience

Having skiing or snowboarding experience can mean anything from an hour on the dry slope to having spent a season in the mountains. It’s important to consider how much practice you or your family have had when considering how much will be remembered.

How long has passed

Like any sport, the more regularly you practice, the more technique you’ll remember for the next time. Taking part in Snowsports sessions or lessons regularly will keep you progressing. You can then get one of our lift passes to maintain your skills!

Age of participant

Adults are more likely to retain what they’ve previously learnt, than children. For example, an adult who hasn’t skied for 3 years will remember much more than an 8 year old who hasn’t skied since they were 5. This will impact how quickly they get back to where they left off too.

We asked our Head of Snowsports, Pete Gillespie...

Can you forget how to ski or snowboard?

Well, there is a great question and something as we all return to our love of Snowsports we are finding out quite quickly.

For most regular adult skiers, a week in the mountain for a holiday each year is the average and in this scenario a couple of visits to your local indoor real snow slope or outdoor artificial slope will help you brush of the “rust” ready for your holiday.

How long it takes to brush off the rust really will depend on where you left your Snowsport and in coaching terms at what learning level. We tend to learn new things in these 4 stages:

  1. I can’t do it but I want to (so you get a lesson)
  2. I can do bits of it if I’m under guidance. I don’t own this yet.
  3. I can do it if I really concentrate and think about it. I’m beginning to own it but its inconsistent.
  4. I can do it automatously without too much thought. I own it.

Well, the first stage is easy. You want to learn a new skill, but you don’t know how to do it. You take some lessons or coaching.

The last stage is also quite straightforward. Last time you skied or snowboarded it was at an acquired stage, so you own it. You may need a couple of runs to find your feet but you will soon draw back on the permanently learnt skill. This normally happens after lots of practice and experiences and being exposed to different situations in your past learning journey.

So the two mid phases are where many people who are returning to skiing or snowboarding may find themselves especially after a sizeable break (a couple of years) and if they had been quite new to Snowsports.

Basically, when you left Snowsports in the past you had been in a learning phase where you had some skills but they had not been cemented in the acquired phase. Therefore, not become permanent. For this reason, it is likely that you would have forgotten bits of the chain that make up the whole performance. You need to refresh these areas and that will mean going back a little in the journey.

Will kids remember as much as adults?

Another consideration will be with children where there has been a growth change. As we grow from child to adolescent to adult our limbs get longer and our centre of mass moves down the body. So for children reengaging with skiing or snowboarding there will be some physiological changes that may not directory map back to the level in the past. Coordination and balance may be a totally new sensation than previously experienced. This will effect any previously learnt motor skills.

When people are returning to skiing or snowboarding I would suggest its always best to strip expectation back a little from where you left off. The longer the gap the more it’s worth considering this. And of course, this will depend on where the skiing or snowboarding was left last time it was performed (at which stage of learning and acquisition, has there been any physical changes)?

At The Snow Centre we see many returning guests who have taken a break for a variety of reasons and we assess where the learners are through some history to build the picture (what could you do before). Then decide on where in the learning phase the skier or snowboarder WAS. That then helps us determine the NEW starting point and how far to strip back to begin a new and successful learning experience.

The Snow Centre has a variety of lesson options to help you get your Snowsports skills back to where they were and continue to progress including, Adult ski lessons, Private ski lessons, and more. Find the lesson that’s right for you.

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