The chairlift doesn’t bite

With so many families celebrating a new season on the slopes over the holiday weekend, I wanted to share one bit of snowboarding wisdom with you: the chairlift doesn’t bite.

When I was a snowboarding instructor, one challenge many of my students faced was overcoming a paralyzing fear of the chairlift.

It’s easy to understand why:  you’re strapped awkwardly to a board with one foot dangling while your annoying buddies pester you from behind.  The thought of falling while getting off the lift is unbearable.

For weeks I tried to figure out how to explain to students that getting on and off the lift was easier than riding a bike.  I consulted with fellow instructors and senior staff members, who mostly offered complex mechanical explanations on technique and form.

I knew there had to be an easier way to teach this.

Turns out there is. Here’s the trick:

Don’t think about it.

This realization came to me while sharing a chair with a student who was so scared of getting off the lift, I thought she might take it for a spin all afternoon. So I turned to her, said hey, look at me, don’t think about it.

She relaxed.  She got off the lift. And she flashed the biggest smile I saw all day.  She did it.  She conquered her first chair.

That’s what I’m talking about.



  1. You’re right. Trusting your board and your abilities goes a long way. Riders who aren’t there yet put too much thought into it, though.

  2. I had skis on and was still terrified of the chair lift. I think it’s the way it whips around the corners that makes it frightening.
    Glad you figured out the secret. I will definitely try that next time. 🙂

  3. Sometimes it does seem like the lift operators crank it up a notch around the corners, huh? That’s just not fair!

  4. I’m a complete novice and the last time i boarded or tried to, i rode the lift with another newbie- we made it to the top and took a terrible fall with his board whacking in to my arm! maybe another piece of advice is don’t ride it with someone who is equally as scared!

  5. Did you write this for me Eric? I have been known to still be on the chairlift as it goes around the corner!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and following – I’ve now found your fun posts!

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