Lessons for Every Age and Ability

By Alicia Dziak

There’s always a ton to do in Ellicottville, but if you’re a skier or boarder, you’ll enjoy your stay here even more. If it’s time to get the kids on the slopes so they can join you in your favorite winter activity, if you’re looking to improve your skills this season, or you’re one of those people who just never got around to learning, now’s your chance. Holiday Valley offers lessons for every skill level and every age from 3 and up. There really is something for everyone!

Mountain Adventures Children’s Program for Ages 3-11

From the youngest Riglets, Cubs and Li’l Troopers to the upper level Trailblazers and Broncos, HV focuses on letting kids learn as they have fun on the snow. Mountain Adventures, in the Creekside Lodge(next to the Holiday Valley Lodge) groups children by age and ability. Sign up for ski and snowboard programs, rent skis and arrange for lunch all in one location. Lift tickets are free during class. Reservations required for all lessons for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds by calling (716) 699-3505.

Adult Ski and Snowboard Lessons for Ages 12 and Up

You’re never too old to learn something new! Private and group lessons ensure the lesson s right for each participant. Newbies can take advantage of Learn to Ski and Learn to Snowboard packages with lessons, rental equipment and lift tickets by signing up at the Creekside Lodge.

Lounsbury Adaptive Program

The Lounsbury Program, which runs from Dec. 26 through mid-March, has approximately 50 volunteer instructors who are specially trained in adaptive ski teaching methods. The lesson includes a lift ticket, two hours of private instruction and equipment use. Reservations required by calling (716) 699-3504.

PSIA and AASI Certified Holiday Valley’s Snowsports School

Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country and telemark skiing are taught by instructors who use the National ATM Method, providing consistency with other schools around the country. Instructors attend continuing education clinics to familiarize themselves with the most recent teaching techniques, equipment innovations and the mental aspects of learning and improving one’s skiing or riding. Lessons are available seven days a week and adult lessons are also available during night skiing hours.

According to Rich Rumfola, director of the children’s program at Holiday Valley, about 250 instructors are on staff.

“Our instructors are fantastic!” he said.

Included in that number are the YETI (Young Enthusiastic Teaching Interns), a group of 14- and 15-year-olds who work with the younger kids.

“We hire (YETI) at a young age and they learn from their older peers,” Rumfola said. “They bring a lot of energy and imagination to working with the kids.”

In addition to regularly teaching 3-, 4- and 5-year olds, the YETI also assist with the Ranger Program, Holiday Valley’s seasonal lesson group.

For those kids and parents who are a little nervous about heading onto the “big hill” that first time, Holiday Valley offers an expansive beginner area.

“We have a magic carpet on terrain that’s not intimidating,” Rumfola explained.

(For those who don’t know what a “magic carpet” is, it’s like a people mover that you step on with your skis and ride to the top of the hill, so you don’t have to worry about getting onto a tow rope or chairlift your first time out.)

In addition, a practice chairlift was built last year, located at the bottom of the magic carpet.

“An instructor gets behind it to simulate loading,” explained Rumfola, who added that the instructor then walks the student through the chairlift experience, whichh ends with a simulated unloading. By giving students the knowledge of what to expect beforehand, it alleviates much of the stress and fear of riding a chairlift for the first time.

And when students are ready, the School Haus area offers a small chairlift and hill, great for building confidence before heading to the more challenging terrain.

Rumfola also noted that instructors have the kids ski in the level down before they head to the lesson group they signed up for. For example, kids signing up for a lesson on the mountain must first ski on the beginner hill so the instructor can assess their skills.

All of these elements combined create a safe and fun atmosphere for learning a snowsport. Looking ahead to 2016, January is National Learn a Snowsport month. Stay tuned to Holiday Valley’s website for special lesson packages all month long.

Guinness Project Challenge Jan. 8

If you need an even cooler excuse to learn to ski or snowboard, it doesn’t get much cooler than trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records!


On Friday, Jan. 8, you can be part of the organizers of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Initiative (LSSI) to set the record for the World’s Largest Ski and Snowboard Lessons (WLL) – The “Guinness Project.”

At 10 a.m. local time that day, ski resorts all over the country will be offering beginner lessons in the organization’s attempt to set world records for the largest single-venue ski lesson, the largest single-venue snowboard lesson, the largest multi-venue ski lesson and the largest multi-venue snowboard lesson.

According to Guinness World Records, the record will be achieved if a single organization (in this case LSSI) can gather the “greatest number of people attending and participating in a skiing [or snowboarding] lesson at multiple locations…”

To date, Holiday Valley has signed up to participate, so tell your beginner friends and family members to get psyched! Registration details will be available soon.

For more information, visit