From Snowboard to Skis For One Day at Alta

matt gibson snowboarder at alta

Matt Gibson, snowboarder, about to test to the snow on Backside at Alta. It’s his first day on skis in 20 years.

 brave ski mom logoI’m a y’all come kind of gal. If we’re heading out to ski, I’m apt to invite everyone I know. We travel a lot, so no matter where we go, I’m usually trying to make it a party.

So recently, when we were in Utah, I invited Matt Gibson, a fellow Liftopia blogger who recently moved to Salt Lake City, to join us at Alta. I figured it would be a great way to meet him and spend some time making turns together. There was only one problem: he’s a snowboarder.

As you may know, Alta is one of three resorts in the United States that does not allow riders (the others being Deer Valley and Mad River Glen). So, asking a snowboarder to join me for a day where he is essentially persona non grata could be considered a bit of a party foul. Luckily, Matt is a great sport and was game to try skiing. He just needed skis.

Fortunately, I’ve got friends in Utah and some of my friends work for Ski ‘N See. Ski ‘N See has been good to me, offering junior helmet giveaways and equipment demos over the past two years. This time, they were good to Matt, setting him up with skis for the weekend.

Time to Ski

So here’s Matt, a highly skilled and accomplished snowboarder, taking a step back 20 years to last time he was on skis.

matt with skis

Matt Gibson, with the first skis he’s held in 20 years.


matt gibson clicking into skis  at alta utah

Clicking in.









matt gibson headed to collins lift alta utah

And, in motion!

matt gibson making some turns

By mid-morning, Matt is turning like this.







Matt Gibson ripping Alta

Late afternoon: same coat, same pants, different Matt!

Lessons Learned

  1. Like riding a bike, you never forget skiing. Matt skied until he was 13, and then gave it up for riding. Putting skis back on was awkward at first, but by the end of the day, he had it dialed in. How many times has a friend said to you, “I used to ski, but I haven’t in years. I can’t go with you.” Wrong. Tell your friend about Matt. If she enjoyed skiing before, chances are it will all come back.
  2. It’s okay to go slow and take it easy. It’s okay to take a warm up run and to get comfortable on new equipment, a new mountain or with a new sport. Matt claims his warm-up run (which no one witnessed) was “pitiful.” But run-by-run, Matt grew more comfortable. Each turn built upon another. So, give yourself a break. Don’t expect perfection. Laugh, and have fun.
  3. The new stuff helps you better understand the old stuff. I asked Matt what was surprising about being on skis again. Laughing about a fall, he replied “I forgot that skis release.” Then he remarked on the balance differences between skiing and riding. In skiing, weight is right on top of the feet, while in snowboarding, weight is distributed across the board. Matt found that being centered on skis made it easier to feel the arc of a turn and the energy generated by that turn.

Do It Again?

At the end of the day Matt concluded that skiing again was “way better than I thought it would be.” Being a skiing devotee, I asked him if he’d try it again. Yes, he thinks he might.

So, in the end, I think Matt had fun. I certainly hope he did. And I hope he never invites me to snowboard. Lessons learned, or not, having never put two feet on one board, I’d never keep up.

For Matt’s version of the day, please visit A Snowboarder on Alta.

Also keep an eye out for Matt and photographer Emilie Warden this winter. Together, they are traveling to a dozen western resorts, interviewing and surveying skiers and riders about what makes a great mountain, a great mountain. For more information about Matt’s Best in the West Tour and an opportunity to share your opinion, click here. 

A Little Bit About Lunch…

I must be hungry because I keep thinking about the lunch I had at Alta’s Albion Grill. It was that good. Fresh, homemade and simply delicious.

According to the Grill’s independent owner/operator Tim Evenden, nothing comes into the Albion Grill prepackaged and ready to boil or fry. Instead, everything is made the old-fashioned way. Vegetables arrive whole and fresh. Baked goods are baked on site from scratch. Local ingredients are used as much as possible. And the food tastes terrific. I had a delicious chunky tomato soup with homemade croutons, a Granny Smith apple and a raspberry bar to die for. The prices are standard for most ski area cafeterias, but the food was divine.


Huge thanks to the good folks at Ski ‘N See. Not only do they have an amazing selection of rental and demo skis, but they make it so easy. Reserve online, pick up (or have delivered) and drop off at any of their stores. You can even buy discounted tickets for most Utah resorts. 

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