They came to learn one thing - to ski. And, they did, somewhat. There was no snow to slide on, which was the whole purpose of holding the first session of the Deseret News Ski School on the grassy slopes of Sugarhouse Park on Saturday. But they did learned some of the basic ski moves.

The Saturday class was one of the largest opening-day session held over the 43 years the ski school has been offering classes. Between alpine and nordic, young skiers and older ones, there were nearly 625 people enrolled.And why Sugarhouse Park?

"No fear of sliding," explained ski master Alf Engen, who in 43 years of directing the ski program has not missed a class, "that's why we're here. See how they can step around. If they tried that on snow they'd slide. Now when they get on snow next week they'll know just what to do."

What they learn, as Engen pointed out, was some of the more important things in skiing. Like: How to put on and take off the skis, how to get up after a fall, how to walk up a hill, how to make a stationary turn on a gentle slope, how to walk forward on flat or almost flat ground, and how to do the herringbone walk up a hill.

With these moves skiers could go up or down any slope safely. From here on they will learn to apply these moves on snow.

The second session of the class will be Saturday at Alta. The school will take Thanksgiving weekend off, then resume for the final two classes Dec. 1 and 8. Next week skiers will meet at 9 a.m. at the upper parking area of Alta.

The first day was a mixture of move and reactions.

Some skiers found it "all to easy," as one said, and then caught herself and added, "I'm sure it will be harder next week."

Another skier thought it was easy as long as the skis were off, "but trying to move around with those things (skis) is tough. How come they have to be so long?"

Another asked her instructor if there were any resorts open so she could go up and try some of her new found skills.

All in all, said Engen, it was a perfect day and a perfect place to teach some of the important lessons in skiing.