Vail Resorts doesn’t charge for ski passes for tykes under the age of five, so get to the ticket office early and get the kids excited to get on the boards.
Snacks – lots of snacks. “Always keep treats, it’s kind of like training a dog,” Kristi laughs. Heather suggests carrying lunch meat – fast protein before the kiddos bonk and get really grumpy. Temper tantrums fade away after a while, but a crabby kid is a crabby kid.
Let the pros do their jobs. Take the fight and aggravation ut of teaching your child to ski and let a certified ski instructor get your mini-me stopping, turning and having fun.
Help make your kids aware of their surroundings– there are a lot of out-of-control skiers on the slopes. It’s imperative that your child not be one of them, and that they know to keep an eye out for them. “It’s really important, I’ve always talked about this with kids that they are great little skiers, but not everyone is,” Heather says. Tell your kids to keep their heads up, their eyes open and their ears tuned in.
Keep them warm, bring extra clothes, let them change out of their ski boots for the gondola ride down.
Try different ski runs – there are acres of magic carpet trails through the Vail Valley, from the Buckaroo Gondola in Beaver Creek to Golden Peak, to the top of Vail Mountain. Let your child pick her favorite and go with it.
Know what’s groomed. Powder is super fun for parents (‘no friends on a powder day’ does not apply when you’re with a 45-pound kiddo). “If it’s an epic powder day, it’s a lot of fun for parents, but once you get 12-inches of powder, it’s not fun for kids,” says Heather. “They don’t have the momentum, they auger in (and can’t move).”
Best of all, remember it’s not just for the kids: Annie, an East-Coast friend, started taking lessons a few years ago so she could keep up with her kids. A non-athlete till her mid-30s, she’s now spotted on the slopes even in the harshest of weather. Not sure who’s having more fun now – Mom or the kids.
Last year 40 percent of all skiers and snowboarders were women – that translates to about 22.5 million women ripping on the slopes in 2012-2013, according to SnowSports Industries America. Ski areas won’t release the percentage of skiers who are moms, but it seems a pretty fair estimate that millions of moms are skiing and snowboarding throughout the winter.
Moms surely love a powder day with their best friends but nothing compares to being able to ski with their little (or maybe not-so-little anymore) sidekick. Getting to that point – flying down Beaver Creek’s double-black diamond or dropping into Cady’s on Vail Mountain – takes time and commitment, but is totally worth all the effort. Just ask any mom who is getting left in the dust by her kids.
Kristi Bloodworth, a long-time Minturnite found out she was pregnant while on a girls’ cat skiing trip in Utah, and she didn’t miss a beat the rest of that season. Her soon-to-be three-year-old son took to skiing last year when he was only two.
“He started on little plastic strap-on skis. He really liked it. He would shuffle around and fall because they were not real skis. By mid-season he needed a full boot/binding setup,” Kristi says. “One day just before Christmas we were at Meadow Mountain. We had a sled and I was pulling him up and letting him go down. I asked him if he was done sledding, and he said, ‘No. Ski.’” (As in he was done sledding and was ready to start doing what mom loves – skiing.) “I thought, ‘Oh boy, it’s on,’ ” Kristi says with glee. After all, she’s encouraging this behavior.
She adds that, “You’re going to find a lot of us like this in this valley.” Moms who are passionate about skiing or snowboarding and want to share it with their young ones. Skiing with little ones, though, can be fraught with peril – okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration but there are challenges what with long lift lines, temper tantrums, cold fingers and getting those darned tips crossed.
“I don’t want to force him, I want it to be an enjoyable experience,” Kristi adds. Heather Dorf Rawlings, whose kids are 12 and 13 remembers those early days of skiing well. Whereas Kristi was late to start on the skis, Heather was skiing from the age of two, one son was out skiing at ten months, the other at 18 months.
“Porter was born at the end of April, and we took him out skiing as soon as it got warm. As soon as he could walk, we started him skiing,” Heather reminisces. “It had to be a nice day, we went out whenever it was warm. We would take him out and go to Golden Peak, we’d do chair 12.”
Instead of a harness, Heather would ski with Porter between her legs, so he could get a feel for the glide. “When he got tired I could pick up like six pack, I would just carry him.”
When Jensen came along, Porter was three and able to ski on his own. Now, they ski together as a family at least once a week. “We can go up and ski for an hour or two, if nothing else, I just had amazing opportunity to have my child’s undivided attention for an hour or two, and that is incredible. Conversations on the chair lift, we really connect – there is no video or phone. It’s so valuable and important.”
So even if you didn’t start skiing when you were two, or powder isn’t your thing, there’s always a reason to get out and sample the corduroy – the lure just might be very different than what called you ten years ago.