If you’ve always wanted to hit the slopes, this may be your month. January is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month,” the industry’s annual push to lure newbies onto the slopes. To mark the event, areas in Vermont and New Hampshire are offering low-cost or even free beginner deals. But take note: All lessons are not created equal. Here are 10 of the best places to learn in New England, each with its own philosophy and teaching method. Prices reflect the range in rates between group and private lessons, and those for children and adults.
1. WACHUSETT MOUNTAIN, Princeton
978-464-2300, www.wachusett.com, $45-$199
Wachusett’s proximity to Boston isn’t the only reason why the Princeton ski area is a good place to learn. Under the guidance of Bruce McDonald, Wachusett’s learning center director and a 43-year veteran, the facility takes pride in being classified as a “feeder hill,” a ski area where “first-timers,” as beginners are referred to at Wachusett, can hone their skills on suitable terrain before taking on the challenges that await in the mountains in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Beginners can start at “Ollie’s Area,” a section of the mountain cut into the slopes on the right-hand side rather than interspersed with the rest of the area’s trails. The 10 percent grade provides an environment aimed at tackling what McDonald said are the two biggest fears for beginners: getting hurt and fear of heights. “You don’t try to put them in their fear factor right away,” he said. “You gradually move them along. I think that’s a great feature at Wachusett.”