My name is Olivia, and I’m really excited to join the Kid’s Corner! To introduce myself to The Villager readers, I’m sharing information about an activity I enjoy. It’s the heart of the winter, so skiing is on my mind. I love to ski; my entire family skis!

Each year I can’t wait for the season’s first big snowfall to arrive, so I can finally get on the slopes. Skiing provides exercise and fresh air (instead of hibernating inside all winter). It teaches balance and agility while challenging skiers to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. Gliding down a slippery and steep mountain on two thin boards can be a daunting task, but once you get the hang of it- skiing is exhilarating! It is also a terrific way to bond with family and friends while chatting on the lift.

Many people don’t try skiing because they think it is too intimidating and too expensive. However, with proper instruction-skiing is not hard to learn and it doesn’t take too long to get comfortable. Skiing can be an expensive sport especially for a family. Fortunately, there are many ways to make it affordable. Discounts are available for lift tickets and lessons through local schools, clubs, churches, and community groups throughout the region.

In addition, lift tickets are more affordable during off-peak hours.

The North Pocono Middle School has a ski club which is run by Mrs. Dawn Coco and Mrs. Ellen Raguckas. On Friday nights, from January through March, the club offers middle school students discounted packages for lift tickets, ski or snowboard lessons, and rentals at Montage Mountain. Students can also purchase additional tickets so their family members can join them on the slopes. Residents of the North Pocono community have another option to get discounted ski tickets for Montage Mountain every Sunday. All day passes are available starting at $32.00, and lessons packages are also available.

For more information (or to purchase tickets), email the North Pocono Community Ski Club at npcommunityskiclub@gmail.com.

The Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association offers the Snow Pass Program for young skiers each year. For $59.00, 4th and 5th grade students can get up to three complimentary day lift tickets to each of the participating member resorts in Pennsylvania. The pass also includes one learn to ski/snowboard package including: beginner lift, lesson, and equipment rentals. For more information on the Ski PA program or to register, go to www.skipa.com. As an added bonus, the program includes one accompanying adult learn to ski/snowboard package at 50% off.

Once you’ve got a plan for your ticket, the next step is conquering that mountain. I began skiing in 1st grade when my older brother joined the middle school ski club. Every Friday, I went to the slopes and took a lesson then skied with my family until the mountain closed. After a couple of lessons, I started getting the hang of it. I kept skiing, taking lessons, and challenging myself. Now, I ski most of the Black Diamonds which are the most challenging terrain.

Mark Siekierka is the Ski School Director at Montage Mountain; he and his team of instructors got me started when I was a beginner. Mr. Siekierka has been skiing since he was in 4th grade, and he has worked at Montage Mountain for 28 years. I recently talked with Mr. Siekierka and asked him for some advice and tips for beginners. He stated, “A good time to introduce kids to skiing is at age 5 or 6 while for snowboarding- 8 is a good age”.

He believes the reason to begin ski instruction earlier is because it is more like walking or skating. Since snowboarding requires more balance as you go down the slope sideways, it is better to wait. You also have both feet strapped in the same place which is harder to control where you go.

Mr. Siekierka also recommends using common sense and taking your time. He encourages new skiers to take a professional lesson prior to skiing.

He advises not to give in to peer pressure and attempt to ski trails that are above your ability.

Having proper instruction is a major factor in learning the basics of skiing. Lessons ensure the safety for you and everyone on the mountain.

When you are a beginner, make sure you get fitted with the proper equipment. The right size boots, poles, and skis or snowboard make it easier to ski well and enjoy the ride. A helmet is a good idea too, and it keeps your head nice and warm.

If you ever consider skiing, give it try! It helps the snowy winter season be filled with fun!