Ever since my twins were born, I looked forward to the day I would take them skiing. I pictured family trips to Colorado, Canada, and of course the Alps where we would sip hot chocolate in lodges and sit to enjoy each others’ company in our cabin with the fireplace blazing. As much as we love our summer vacations, I couldn’t wait for excuses to travel together over the winter and build family memories together.
I learned to ski during high school. I grew up right near Camelback ski resort in the Poconos, and my school ran trips to the mountain. I’d take a lesson for an hour or so, then have the night to ski until my parents came get me. I remember hating it the first time I went because I couldn’t make it more than a few feet without falling. Just like riding a bike though, on the second time, when I really needed to figure it out – with a bike it was riding home from a friend’s house in the rain – I pulled it off.
I didn’t really get much better though because I never kept it up through college and my early 20s. When my friends and I started traveling to Vermont and later the West Coast and Whistler, I started pushing myself to get a bit better and started enjoying it even more as a result. With awesome bars and restaurants in so many ski towns, I’ve really come to enjoy the lifestyle.
So I wanted to get my kids into skiing as early as possible. I figured the sooner I could get them on the slopes, the sooner we could get a start on the ski lifestyle. The only worry I had was about when to get them started and not doing it too early. I feared taking them too early would end with two kids who would hate it and never want to go again. Skiing is hard, and without real lessons, they might spend more of the day laying on the snow than skiing down it.
I needn’t have worried though. They absolutely crushed their first day. They were so excited to get there it was very hard to get them packed up in the car and through the rentals to get their skis. Apparently it got much faster since my days of renting, and we got them sized up in the smallest sized boots and skis we could find and out onto the slope quickly. However, the cost of rentals for two and lift tickets for three was a bit of a shock.
We didn’t make it off the learning slope because I was too afraid to take them on the real chair lift despite their pleads to go on the “cable car”. The magic carpet was exciting enough for them, and they had a hard enough time staying upright on it. What I couldn’t believe was how quickly they took to the slope, showing absolutely no fear as they barreled straight down. Apparently their skating transferred over as they figure out how to get moving and turn a tiny bit relatively quickly.
I even taught them pizza and French fries for slowing down and speeding up respectively as we drove to the slope. Just like my childhood, I discovered that we live less than twenty minutes from a ski slope, though a much smaller one than the one of my youth. They apparently took the lesson to heart as during our viewing of a Giant Slalom race later in the weekend, one of the boys told me that a crash in the race was because, “she forgot to do pizza daddy”.
Just like skating and soccer, there was no need to worry about them picking it up at their age. Though most lessons for skiing and skating don’t start until four at the minimum, three year olds can pick these up quickly because they don’t have the same fear adults have ingrained. While I’ll probably never ski or skate much faster because I’m afraid to lose control, they don’t have the same worry and so have more willingness to try and learn. Plus, their center of gravity is so much lower.
I had to actively control them to keep them from flying down the mountain too quickly. Thankfully I had done some research before our big day and ordered a training harness for them. Essentially a backpack with two leashes, it’s less for slowing them down and more to teach them the right way to turn. However I ended up not using it at all the whole day because while one kid wore it, the other always wanted to ski behind holding it like a dog sled while I held on to him, Thankfully he thought to bring his backpack with a leash so I could keep him in control. So we ended up skiing down the hill in a train three people long of leashes.
After our beautiful day on the snow, we went inside for the best part of a ski day, apres ski. While the family friendly small slope didn’t have a bar, we did enjoy a round of hot chocolate together while we reminisced about all the fun parts of the day. Unfortunately we forgot to get the other best part of a ski day, waffles, but it was still a little glimpse into my dream as we sat at the base lodge drinking and talking about how much fun we had.
We’ve got a few more years before we head out to the alps for our family ski trips. Even so, I’m so happy I got them out on the snow a year earlier than I thought was even possible. They surprised me in turn with their willingness to try something new and with how courageous they could be in doing something totally different to them. I shouldn’t have worried so much about when to do it sine we found the perfect time. Now I have to worry about telling them we can’t go every single day!