The history of skiing is a long and storied one, stretching back thousands of years to the snowy peaks of ancient Scandinavia. Today, skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year to ski resorts across Europe and North America.
But while skiing may be a beloved pastime for many, it’s also big business. Ski resorts generate billions in revenue each year from ticket sales, lodging fees, and other amenities like restaurants and shops. And one major source of that revenue comes from ski lessons.
Ski lessons have been around almost as long as skiing itself. In the early days, they were likely informal affairs between friends or family members sharing tips on how to navigate the slopes. But as skiing became more popular and organized in the late 19th century, formal instruction began to emerge.
One of the earliest examples was at St. Moritz in Switzerland in 1893, where an Englishman named Sir Henry Lunn began offering ski lessons to guests at his hotel. The concept caught on quickly and soon other resorts began offering their own instructional programs.
By the mid-20th century, ski schools had become an essential part of any reputable resort’s offerings. They provided a way for beginners to learn safely without endangering themselves or others on crowded slopes.
But it wasn’t just novices who sought out instruction – even experienced skiers found value in taking lessons to improve their technique or try new tricks. And with advances in technology like shaped skis making it easier than ever for beginners to pick up the sport quickly, demand for ski lessons only continued to grow.
Today, nearly every major resort offers some form of ski school program – often employing dozens or even hundreds of instructors during peak season. These instructors are typically certified by national governing bodies like PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors Association) or CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance), ensuring that they meet strict standards for safety and proficiency.
The cost of ski lessons can vary widely depending on factors like the length of the lesson, the skill level of the student, and whether it’s a private or group session. At some high-end resorts, a full-day private lesson can run upwards of $1,000 – but most programs offer more affordable options as well.
Despite this variability in pricing, ski schools are generally a profitable venture for resorts. In fact, according to industry research firm Snowsports Industries America (SIA), ski school revenue accounts for an average of 12% of total resort revenue.
This may not sound like a lot at first glance, but when you consider that many large resorts bring in hundreds of millions in annual revenue, even a small percentage adds up quickly. And with skiing continuing to grow in popularity around the world – especially in countries like China where new ski areas are popping up all the time – there’s plenty of potential for further growth.
Of course, as with any business venture there are risks involved. Ski schools must invest heavily in equipment like skis and boots to outfit their students; they also need to pay their instructors fairly while still keeping prices competitive enough to attract customers.
In addition to these costs, there is always the risk that injuries could occur during lessons. While skiing has become much safer over time thanks to advances in equipment and safety protocols, accidents do happen – particularly among beginners who may be less familiar with how to fall properly or avoid collisions with other skiers. Resorts must be prepared both financially and legally to handle any incidents that might arise.
Nonetheless, most experts agree that ski schools will continue to be an important part of the skiing industry for years to come. As long as people keep flocking to mountain resorts seeking adventure on snow-covered slopes – whether they’re seasoned pros or brand-new beginners – there will always be demand for quality instruction from skilled teachers.
And despite its ups and downs over the years, skiing itself is unlikely to fade away anytime soon. As long as there are mountains with snow on them, people will continue to strap on skis and glide down their slopes – whether for fun, competition or simply the thrill of feeling the wind in their faces.
For those who choose to take lessons along the way, they’ll be helping to support an industry that has been a major part of skiing’s history – and its future – for well over a century.