I struggled to understand why anyone would ski after my disastrous first experience in a beginner class of approximately 15 people. I wouldn’t say I liked the boots or the skis and the instructor practically spent the whole lesson yelling at me.
During the entire session, I kept wondering what exactly was wrong with me. I was never that bad at learning something new, and for a while I became worried that skiing was not going to be my thing… a particularly horrifying thought given I am part of the Mabey Ski team.
The second time I attempted skiing, I was booked in for three private lessons with Hokkaido Core in Niseko. I remember feeling so nervous, in hopes that my instructor wouldn’t turn up. Fortunately, he did. Winstead is a professional instructor and co-founder of Hokkaido Core; a calm and patient professional who understood what was needed within 5 minutes of conversation during the car ride to the resort. I was beginning to relax.
As we put our boots on Winstead could see I was struggling, so he stopped everything, sat beside me and literally helped me put them on the correct way. I thought to myself – ‘wow, these boots don’t feel so bad compared to the last time!’
Next, we headed out to the beginner section of the slopes, and he said,
“Today, we are going to learn pizza.”
Referring to the triangle shape formed with your skis to slow down. My biggest fear when it comes to skiing was not knowing how to stop, and I remember being yelled at during the first lesson when I did not instantly pick it up. I was relieved when Winstead had decided to give me a refresher on this very important topic.
He patiently guided me through the angles, the tricks, how my legs should be positioned and got me to test it out myself – even cheered me after each try. Within 30 minutes I wanted to do more! It just kept getting better.
The lifts were not working as it was early in the season so each time after a run, we had to walk up the slope for the next run. Winstead insisted he carried both his and my skis, apologising that the lifts were not working. Wow, I was impressed!
Within 2 hours, I remember saying ‘let’s go higher’ repeatedly. I wanted to ski more; I was falling in love with it! Everything I was afraid of before, he managed to reverse! By the end of the day it was clear that if I ever have a lesson again, it will be a private lesson so my instructor can tailor the class especially for me. However, even with private lessons, finding the right instructor is not a breeze. That is the fantastic part of being at Mabey Ski; they source the best fit.
This experience left me excited and ready to reevaluate my previous thoughts around skiing. I had gone for a private lesson to become a better skier and instead found myself falling in love with the sport.
Simply put—without professionals like Winstead at Hokkaido Core, there’s a good chance I might have hung up my skis, and that would have meant missing out on a sport I now love.