Skiing? I thought you said skee ball!

Genie Davis January 4, 2012 No Comments

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So exactly what do you do when your small child is so excited about going skiing. Yes, there will be snow! Yes, there will be hot chocolate. Yes, you’ll do it down a mountain – albeit a very small one, safe for small children. And then you arrive, and your child wants to know where the balls are. Because somehow, it got lost in translation that skiing and skee ball – a cherished beach boardwalk activity of summer – are two different things.

Snow is like ice cream - cold but great fun for kids of all ages.

Okay, once you overcome the shock that not only did your child think you made a terrible mistake, but you could’ve saved a lot of money and stayed warmer by just visiting that beach boardwalk, even in winter – it’s time to hit the slopes.

The best way to do this with children of any age (once they can walk effectively and are over the age of two) is to get lessons. Kind, age appropriate, group or individual lessons that let mom or dad head off to the big slopes or the lodge for a fireplace and hot chocolate, or to ‘bunny slopes’ for slow old people, like me.

Of course you’ll need to get to that ski resort in the first place, and whether its Park City, Utah or a homespun Vermont resort geared to day trippers, you’ll need gear. You could rent it on site, like we did; or bring it with you from home – which is great if you’re planning to ski repeatedly, or are in fact an afficiando of the sport, otherwise, transporting cumbersome gear via plane or stuffed vehicle should be eschewed for the less sleek rental items available at any resort you’ll visit.

Mammoth MountainMammoth Lakes, CA

Making a ski trip fun for kids should always involve great quantities of hot chocolate, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a rental condo, lodge, or motel room that’s conveniently located near the slopes. We took one such trip to Mammoth Mountain California, staying at the lodge, dining in the over priced but oh-so- convenient dining room, riding an enclosed lift car for a scenic view and then back down again to the baby slopes where we all had our respective lessons. A drive to picturesquely iced Reds Lake apres ski, and cozy rental-movie watching in our pine walled room made this one easy. Best of all was an outdoor jacuzzi which one could spend hours in and which one wanted to, at least in order to avoid getting out of it and hoping not to slip on the ice that formed as your wet footprints hit the red wood deck. Mountain views: A+, ski rentals and meals on the pricey side, convenience also great.

Skiing Park City, Utah

A different sort of a trip was found at Park City Mountain resort, where the kids were a bit older, and the ski instruction better and longer. A six hour day including lunch break took my son up amazingly high slopes when he gained fast skill and mobility in his small-fry group lesson. When his instructor called me and cajoled me into a private lesson praising his great learning ability, who was I to fight future Olympic ski champion greatness. Luckily for me I didn’t know just how high he was going, or that it was going to start snowing while he was up there. He returned triumphant, unscathed, and skilled. My daughter and I stuck to movies – we were there primarily for the Sundance Film Festival – and hot cocoa.

Tips for Parents

How early is too early to go skiing? Apparently, to my surprise, once your child can competently walk. Toddler classes are everywhere, and the babe who conquers a bunny slope will be thrilled with his or her abilities. Also apparently, the earlier you learn, the easier that learning comes, which may explain why my college age learning skill had severely limited my capabilities.

If you’re ski-inclined, a good time of year to pursue that passion is holiday time. Along with the obvious delight of children, snow, snowballs, and the ubiquitous cocoa offerings, there are usually some special events taking place. Park City Mountain Resort for example presents Santa. A skiing Santa, who will descend from the mountain top via the Town ski lift, where he waits for photo ops, carols, and cookies just after dark.

Park City Utah – snowy fun

Park City Utah – snowy fun

I’m a big fan of Park City, because the resorts lessons were provably good, somewhat reasonable in price, and it’s not a glitzy show palace despite its location. It’s received several top family resort awards, and I can see why, particularly since its class sizes are for five children or less, and kids age six and up can choose lunch away from their parents in one of the resorts on-mountain restaurants. It’s toddler age program, for kids three and a half to five has only three kids per class, and these lessons are understandably shorter and do not include lunch.

For families with matriarchs braver and more adventuresome than me, there are family zip line tours, an arctic coaster, night skiing, and other fast moving pursuits. At the end of a three day stay, I no longer heard any mention of skee ball, although that would be an interesting activity to add to any ski resort willing to take on such an idea.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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