The first time I went to a ski resort I never made it to the slopes because I chickened out. I ended up spending the weekend hanging out at the lodge by myself. The next trip was unsuccessful too. I went with experienced snowboarders to Lake Tahoe where I fell off of a chairlift and ended up having to slide down the mountain.
If you don't know what you're doing, skiing and snowboarding can be pretty dangerous. The equipment is tricky and not knowing how to maneuver yourself on the mountain can result in serious injury. Don't forget that you're sharing the slopes; not knowing how to stop properly is all it takes to hurt someone else. Thinking back to the day that I fell out of the chairlift, I'm lucky that no serious damage came to myself or anyone else. I made a promise to myself that the next time I went up, I'd learn the ropes.
To find out how I finally made it onto the slopes, read more.
The upside is that if you know what you're doing Winter sports can be an awesome way to hang with friends, burn calories, and build muscle. If you are inexperienced at skiing or snowboarding, my advice is to take a lesson.
After my first two (failed) experiences, I returned to Tahoe ready to learn and eagerly enrolled in a lesson at the resort. Ski resorts offer classes for all levels that usually include equipment rental and a day pass to the resort. I spent half of a day with an experienced instructor and small group of students where I learned how to use my equipment and what the basic ski fundamentals are. We spent a good chunk of the day skiing together on a closed course where we also practiced using a chairlift. After that, we went skiing on the main mountain together where our instructor stayed with us the entire time. The rest of the weekend was a blast because I was able to trade info with another student in the class, and skied with her the next two days.
If you can't afford a lesson don't let it deter you. Ask someone with experience to spend time teaching you, and follow our tips for first time skiers and snowboarders. Also, don't be embarrassed if that means you'll be spending the day on the bunny slope. It's better to become confident with what you're doing than risk potential injury.