Emily Johnson teaching a student how to ski

For most people the only good thing about the coldest season of the year are the holidays, however for skiers and snowboarders it is the only time to enjoy their favorite pastime.  For people in Southern Indiana the closest available hill is Paoli Peaks located in the small town of Paoli.

Following the blizzard of 1978, Paoli Peaks Ski Resort found the perfect opportunity to open its doors to the public.  Paoli Peaks was a privately owned company until Vail purchased the resort in 2019.  Paoli Peaks is beginner friendly with several trails for people who are just starting out. The resort has 15 trails ranging from  seven bunny hills, the easiest,  to one black diamond, the hardest and most challenging hill. In between these levels of difficulties are five blue, the moderate level trails for intermediate skier/snowboarders.  The resort also offers two freestyle terrain sections, which are full of tricks and jumps for the most advanced. A one-day lift ticket costs $60 not including rental fees for skis or snowboards. There is also an extra cost if you are in need of a lesson. Paoli Peaks offers group and individual lessons for people who are interested in learning to ski or snowboard. The lessons are offered for one to two hours. 

Emily Johnson has been a ski and snowboard instructor for 18 seasons. She has been skiing at Paoli Peaks since she was two years old. For beginners, Johnson recommends taking a lesson to learn how to ski or snowboard and also making sure they are properly dressed for the weather. Taking lessons greatly reduces your risk of injury when out on the slopes. Johnson believes that it is easier for beginners to learn how to ski before they learn how to snowboard. 

Instructors master the ability to ski or snowboard before they are trained in the techniques of how to teach people who are just learning.  Instructors can teach groups of up to 20 and also teach one-on-one lessons. It is much easier to pay to have a lesson than to try to figure it out on your own and get hurt. When someone is teaching you they can tell you the correct way to stand and how to get up when you fall. 

When first learning how to snowboard or ski it is important to decide which one you want to do. Skiing allows for your legs to be separate, so if you start to lose your balance you can throw one leg out to catch yourself. Snowboarding however, is more restrictive since both feet are attached to one board. Snowboarding can feel awkward at first and take a while to get used to. Most snowboarders want to start out on skis since it is easier to learn and then later start snowboarding so they can have both skills. 

Ellie Spaulding is a junior at SHS. Her dad taught her how to ski when she was four years old. Spaulding goes skiing at Paoli Peaks whenever she gets the opportunity and has also been able to ski in the Rockies. Spaulding has been skiing at Paoli Peaks for her entire life and owns her own equipment so doesn’t have to pay for rentals. This may be why she finds lift tickets more affordable than someone who has to pay for rentals. Spaulding has been trying to get people to participate in snow sports for years with no success. Her advice is, “Do not be afraid of falling, be consistent when practicing, and don’t give up.”

Jared Roberts is a member of the ski patrol at Paoli Peaks. Ski patrol is the medical team that takes care of people if they get injured on the trails. They are trained in how to get someone off the hill safely and efficiently. Roberts has been a part of ski patrol for two years now and recommends a helmet for everyone. 

“Helmets are very important while skiing/snowboarding. I have seen too many head injuries that could have been prevented.” Beginners and even experts need to wear helmets because you can never predict what is going to happen when you are on the trails. Roberts has been skiing for 30 years at Paoli Peaks and has even gone to other places like Colorado to ski. 

Jonny Tally is a junior at SHS. While both of his parents do know how to ski  he does not ski or snowboard. He said he would like to try because it seems like something he would enjoy. Tally said skiing seems easier to learn than snowboarding. He has never been to Paoli Peaks, even though it is only 30 minutes away. 

Not only are these sports a great way to hang out with your friends but they also offer many physical benefits. For both skiing and snowboarding you have to keep your balance and also manipulate your body to make the turns. Snowboarding is more of an ab workout since your feet are strapped to one board and you have to use your abdominal muscles to make turns. Skiing is more of a glute and calf workout since you are making “s” curves. 

Skiing and snowboarding are not only good for your physical health they can be very beneficial for your mental health. Participating in outdoor sports during the winter helps  reduce stress and depression and releases endorphins. 

Paoli Peaks has not opened yet for this season and before they do they need people to work. Knowing how to ski/snowboard can open up a person to different types of jobs. You would be able to apply for a job at ski resorts to teach people how to do the very thing you love. Skiing and snowboarding are also great ways to make friends. You can make friends with the people you are riding up the lift with and you immediately have something to bond over. Skiing and snowboarding can widen your horizons to things you never thought you needed and give you the opportunity to meet new people. 

Trying new things can be scary for many people but at the same time it can be rewarding. Taking a group of friends to Paoli Peaks can offer a fun experience for everyone. Winter does not have to be all about Christmas, it could also be about trying new things with people that you love.