Winter Notes: Learn to snowboard or ski

Getting pointers from a pro is the best way to learn to ski, as this student at Pats Peak learns from her instructor.

If you’ve been thinking of learning to ski or snowboard, the New Year is the time to start. The snow is good, the days are getting longer, and ski areas around the state are offering a variety of great deals and packages for first-timers — and those who want to take their snow-sliding game to the next level.

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The best first step to hitting the slopes — whether you’re a new skier or rider or just haven’t been out in a while — is to take a lesson.

“Get yourself a certified instructor,” said Rob Bevier, director of snowsports at Loon Mountain. “They understand the mechanics of skiing. And if you have something specific to work on, take a private lesson.”

Bevier said learning to ski or snowboard is easier than ever, with modern equipment, a better snow surface and great deals on tickets and lessons.

“It’s a lifetime sport,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle.”

Here are some great options for leaving hibernation behind and getting started on a new skill in the new year.

The Bebe Wood Free Learn to Ski & Ride program returns to Ragged Mountain. Named after longtime Ragged instructor Bebe Wood, the program is for first-time snow sport athletes 7 and older. The deal includes three two-hour group lessons (available any day throughout the season), rental equipment and a lower mountain lift ticket. After three lessons, participants can purchase a season pass for the rest of the winter for $69, as well as book additional lessons for $29. Next year’s pass for this season’s Bebe Wood grads is a bargain at $199. www.raggedmountain.com

From Jan. 5 through Jan. 10, Bretton Woods is offering complimentary first-timer ski — Nordic or Alpine — and snowboard lessons. The lesson includes rental equipment, lift ticket and an Explore the Woods Discount Card, with a $50 credit toward a return beginner or intermediate lesson package. Bretton Woods also is serving up $89 learn to ski or snowboard ($45 for Nordic) specials throughout the rest of January. www.brettonwoods.com

Another learn-to option for Nordic-minded folks is the Get 4 and Go package at Jackson XC. The $199 price includes four lessons over the course of the season — two group lessons and two private lessons — four days of rental equipment and a season pass after completion of the lessons. www.jacksonxc.org

Winter Notes: Learn to snowboard

A new snowboarder finds his balance with the help of an instructor at King Pine.

At King Pine, would-be skiers and snowboarders can opt for the 1-2-3 Learning Package, which includes three all-day lift tickets, three group lessons and three days of rentals. After the third lesson, participants may purchase half-price tickets, rentals and lessons. Cost for the 1-2-3 Learning Package is $164 for adults and $134 for juniors 8-12 years old. www.kingpine.com

Loon Mountain continues its First Class Beginner’s Weekend to get new skiers and snowboarders a great start on the hill. Offered Jan. 4-5, Jan. 25-26, March 7-8 and March 21-22, the weekends include Saturday and Sunday lessons, morning coffee and lunch both days and an après ski gathering Saturday. Participants also receive a free pair of Head skis, boots and bindings for skiers and a Burton board and boots for snowboarders. Cost for the program is $450. www.loonmtn.com

Cranmore Mountain Resort offers a variety of learn-to-ski options, including a Beginner Lesson Passport — three 90-minute beginner group lessons, lift ticket and rentals for $249. www.cranmore.com

First-time skiers and snowboarders at Pats Peak can join the Passport Program Plus. For $389, participants will take four one-hour beginner group lessons, with rentals and lower mountain lift ticket included. After completing the final lesson, fledgling skiers and riders have the opportunity to get a free pair of Elan skis with bindings, along with ski shop discounts and half-off the cost of additional group lessons.

For more learn-to-ski options or more advanced instruction, check out the Learn To page at Ski New Hampshire’s website: www.skinh.com/learn.

Winter Notes publishes Fridays during ski season. To contact Meghan McCarthy McPhaul, email meghan@meghanmcphaul.com.