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A New Year & Fresh Snow Offer Perfect Opportunity To Learn How To Ski/Snowboard

By Jesse Wood

Life will pass you by quicker if you cease learning new things. With a new year upon us, now is the traditional time to set resolutions, and if you’ve ever thought about learning how to ski or snowboard, you ought to just go ahead and do it.

French-Swiss Ski College President Jim Cottrell says it takes the average person three days to learn how to comfortably ski or snowboard on intermediate terrain.

The French-Swiss Ski College offers lessons for all ages. Photo courtesy French-Swiss Ski College

“Three days is kind of the magic number, and that’s the key to it,” Cottrell said. “National stats say that 85 percent of people who try winter sports drop it after one try. They think they are going to be able to do it on the first day, and it just doesn’t happen that way. But if the person takes three lessons and practices, they will have a skill for life.”

Cottrell would know. He’s been based at Appalachian Ski Mtn., where the French-Swiss Ski College operates, since 1963 – and said this past weekend, “I enjoy it more than I ever have.”

The French-Swiss Ski College was born when App Ski Mtn. owner Grady Moretz Jr. agreed in the late ‘60s to allow the independent ski school to conduct skiing courses on the slopes of Appalachian Ski Mtn.

In 2005, the French-Swiss Ski College, which has helped everyone from pre-schoolers to the U.S. Navy Seals, taught its 1,000,000th lesson.

Cottrell said the Blowing Rock resort, in particular, is a great place to learn.

“Appalachian Ski Mtn. is a wholesome recreational facility. It’s great for families and the terrain lends itself very well to learning how to ski or snowboard. It’s not a big mountain, but it’s a great place for beginners and the very advanced,” Cottrell said.

To be clear, though, lessons aren’t just available for the beginners. The French-Swiss Ski College also teaches freestyle lessons and advanced skills. “Pretty much, everything you want to learn, we have a lesson for it,” Cottrell said, noting however that a majority of the lessons span the beginner-intermediate range.

But aside from grit or that stick–to–itiveness factor, Cottrell said that the “biggest thing” someone can do before even hitting the slopes for the first time is looking forward to winter.

“I know a lot of people just don’t like winter, but I know the skiers and myself included, it’s become my favorite season. I look forward to winter,” Cottrell said, adding that the winter weather usually comes with a “hallelujah moment” for him and other winter sport enthusiasts.

“The other thing is it’s a lifetime sport. Once you do it, you can do it as long as you can walk. It’s a great family activity, and we see frequently, grandparents and children and grandkids all skiing and snowboarding together,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell can go on about the pluses of skiing/snowboarding and wintertime: “It’s beautiful. I was out skiing today and those trees that are solid white, you are skiing right through them. It’s incredible. The scenery from the top of the ski area is about as good as it gets. The mountain vistas and being in nature, it’s good for you and keeps you moving.”

Ski lessons are available for all ages. Check out information on the following programs, Skiwee (ages 4 to 10), Cruiser Camp (ages 7 to 12), homeschooler lessons, group lessons of 10 or more for ages 6 and over, private lessons and ultimate private lessons.

Lessons are offered daily.

  • 10 a.m. – Beginners
  • 11:15 a.m. – Beginners
  • 12:30 p.m. – Private Lessons Only
  • 2:00 p.m. – Beginners & Intermediates
  • 3:15 p.m. – Private Lessons Only
  • 6:15 p.m. – Beginners, Intermediates & Private Lessons
  • 7:30 p.m. – Beginners, Intermediates & Private Lessons

Snow Days Offer Great Opportunity To Learn

Snow days for Watauga County Schools and Avery County Schools offer an excellent time for kids to learn how to ski or snowboard on a beautiful winter day when school buses can’t make it to all of the rural stops in the two counties. 

To view lesson rates and additional info, click here.

For more information, click to the French Swiss Ski College website or call the business at 828-295- 9311.

Photos courtesy of French-Swiss Ski College Facebook page. 

Skiing instructor Chris Morris shows his SkiWee group how putting your hands in front of you and displaying a proper “ready position” can set you up for great turns! — at App Ski Mtn.




Ski and Snowboard Instructor Scott Tardiff shows a private lesson how it feels to catch an edge on a snowboard. — at App Ski Mtn.

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