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Winterplace adds customized area for ski learning

Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero Tom Wagnor, Winterplace vice president, displays an artist rendering of the new Snow Explorer’s Learning Area.
Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero
Tom Wagnor, Winterplace vice president, displays an artist rendering of the new Snow Explorer’s Learning Area.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — What’s the scariest part of learning a new sport? Is it looking silly or getting hurt? Either way, Winterplace Ski Resort has the public covered when it comes to winter sports.

“No one wants to get hurt when they’re learning something and they don’t want to look silly because of social pressures,” resort Vice President Tom Wagnor said. “We’ve been looking for a solution for a while now and I think we’ve found it.”

That solution comes in the form of a “terrain-based ski lesson,” Wagnor said.

 “We’ve partnered with an organization called Snow Operating,” he said. “They founded the terrain-based method in regard to learning to ski. It takes the fear factor out of learning.

“In the past, we would try to explain things, but this leads by example. The terrain is actually shaped to show people where to put pressure on their skis or how to position their skis.”

For example, there’s a short half-pipe that people can go down to get a feel for speeding up, Wagnor said.

“As they move across, the slope moves upward and people slow down. You pick up the forward balance that you learn on your skis. You also learn how to put pressure on your skis to stop.”

There are also banked turns where someone can learn how to make skis move through a curve, Wagnor said.

“We would always tell people to put pressure on their skis and lean a certain direction,” he said. “That didn’t really set in for a lot of people, so we found this method that has proven results.”

The third area is a carousel that slowly rotates and gives people a sense of forward movement. This creates balance, Wagnor said.

The new areas are not just for kids. Staff is copying the layout and putting it in the adult lesson area as well, Wagnor said.

“It’s great for kids, though,” he said. “Parents can watch their kids from the lounge or from the deck because it’s in such close proximity to the kids’ ski area.

 “For kids, we have the snow-explorers program. That’s for 6- to 12-year-olds. It can be a full-day experience or a half-day experience. Adults can get a lesson in just 90 minutes. It’s great.”

So when can people expect to learn to ski in a fun, new way?

“I’d open tomorrow if it was cold enough,” Wagnor said with a laugh. “We like to shoot for right after Thanksgiving. Dec. 15 is the date that we typically target for a deadline to make snow.”

The snow guns have been upgraded and they’re computer-controlled now, Wagnor said.

“We can make snow right from our phone,” he said with a proud smile. “Once we get some snow made, our groomers will make these new areas and people can start to learn. They really can make anything that you want.”

For more information about Winterplace Ski Resort, visit www.winterplace.com or call 304-787-3221.

— Email: [email protected]; follow on Twitter @RHCodyNeff

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