This weekend in the lodge I smiled at a mom holding her little boy, probably 2 or 3 based on his tiny ski boots, sound asleep in her arms. I winked that knowing glance of having passed many a nap here at Loon Mountain, our baby, now 5 year old Greta, able to ski the hill all day long. As someone who did not grow up in a ski family, I thought it bizarre that we would put our baby on a pair of skis when he had literally just learned to walk. Yet, he loved sliding on snow from the very beginning. However, the goal has always been to keep it fun– to keep our kids happy and active out of doors. And, well, we would be lying if we didn’t want them to become solid life long skiers, especially given where they are lucky enough to grow up. Not only do local kids boast an awesome rope tow known as the Kanc, where they can ski safe and fast and learn about freestyle, but they also get to spend Friday afternoons skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating at Loon throughout elementary school.
If Geoff did not work for the mountain, we also would not be able to afford sending our kids to a seasonal program, so this is a luxury we understand and appreciate. The benefits of ski school are invaluable and include our kids getting first rate instruction by well trained, FUN coaches and socialization in different places, which is important when you grow up with only 20 other kids in your entire grade. Furthermore, our son likes to ski faster than I do; he loves the woods, the little park, jumps on the sides of trails; he thrives on skiing with other little boys his age with a coach (Thank you Terri Walsh last year and Tim Smith this year) who reviews safety protocols, provides structure, and the fine balance between drilling, learning, and just plain skiing. Our daughter didn’t love ski school in the same way until this year, and now, she too, can’t wait to be dropped off with other little girls rocking their parallel turns . But last year, she wanted to ski only with me, and so we did. We skied and drank hot chocolate and skied some more or we drove home and came back later to pick up the boy.
So what kind of ski parent are you? Were you the one telling your screaming toddler who clearly was not having fun, “Let’s go again because skiing is so much fun.” It becomes fun, one day, it does– I can promise you that. But today might not be your day. Or, maybe think about a day at ski school. Your kid might learn more easily from someone qualified to teach them. Or, think about what your end goal is. Is it to make a lifelong skier who LOVES to ski with his or her family and friends? If that is the case, then making them ski on downpouring days or days when the thermometer dips below zero, might not be helping you to make your case. But you know your kid best. Just whatever you do, treat your child’s coach like the professional he or she is. Ski school is not filled with babysitters hired to entertain your child; they are there to teach your child how to be a better all mountain skier, which means if your kid does not want to ski, you should pick him up.
Friend, fellow mom, former scientist- turned Loon Mountain Ski School instructor (Greta’s this year–thank you!), Michelle Nestor shared how being a parent and a ski coach is the best of all worlds for her daughter. “I value the instruction and camaraderie she receives in her development team ski program. I am grateful she has instructors who encourage and challenge her every weekend so when we ski together I am impressed and full of pride- plus I love seeing her tear it up on the mountain with her friends. As a coach, I help to enable parents and kids to ski together by providing instruction that helps kids progress their skills in an environment which is both fun and safe.”
I remember how many ski instructors shared that Carver napped in the gondola between runs the winter he turned 4 and again when he turned 5. But in between those naps, when he was first in the flying wedge and then making “racer turns” his smile filled that entire mountain and still does if his feet are on skis. Of course, as parents we say that we know our child best, and know what they can handle. There are those who believe we are crazy to spend every weekend “on snow” dealing with the crowds at Loon Mountain. However, I am grateful to those professional coaches and volunteers who spend time with our kiddos teaching them how to ski. They love skiing, and we love skiing as a family– so thank you, Loon Mountain Ski School, from two appreciative parents.