Ski schools aren't just for beginners anymore. As part of an overall resort revival, ski mountains are pouring millions of dollars into their instructional and guiding programs. "People are asking for more personalized coaching," says Andy Buckley, director of skier services at Northstar in Lake Tahoe. "When you struggle with something technical, it's analogous to work and life stuff – the psychological barriers, getting over the hump. The best ski coaches turn into life coaches." These days it's not uncommon for your instructor to be a local legend or an Olympic medalist; some resorts are engineering their runs so they have just the right angles and aspects to learn on; cat- and heli-skiing trips now often include a full master class on evaluating snow conditions. These are the best mountains, ski schools, and guided adventures to help you raise your game.
The Ski School of the Future: Northstar, CA
BEGINNER TO INTERMEDIATE
Northstar understands that people are short on time and patience when first learning, which is why it created the Big Easy, a "smart terrain" park crafted to make edging and mastering parallel turns easier. "We've sculpted berms that force people into turns so they can feel what it takes," says Buckley, who oversees 530 instructors. "We cheat you to this sensation faster." Buckley suggests starting at the Adventure, Guiding & Learning Center and signing up for either the all-day one-on-one session or the four-person Ultimate 4. Instructors will find you the right snow, terrain, time of day, and skis to use in order to sculpt your learning.
More information: Four-person full-day lessons, $285; one-on-one full day, $675; northstarattahoe.com.