Don’t Start Your Kid Skiing Too Early

Skiing is a fun sport that you can do with your entire family, including your spouse and your children. It is important that you do not start your children off with skiing too early, however. If you do so, your child may develop an aversion to skiing later on to where you will not be able to enjoy this sport together.

The Best Age

There is not necessarily the right age that you should start taking your children skiing with you. Some ski schools offer classes for children who are as young as two-and-a-half to three years old. This is really dependent on your child and his or her needs.

Your Child’s Needs

Many parents do try to start teaching their children to ski before they are near ready. Consider your child’s development milestones though. IF your child started walking closer to two, for instance, he or she may not be ready to start skiing at two-and-a-half.

Your Child’s Personality

Every child has a different personality to consider as well before rushing them to skiing. Make sure you take it slow with your children and do not force them to do anything. Consider their intelligence and their level of extroversion and sense of adventure before they are ready to ski.

Prepare Your Children

Many extremely young children are not prepared for skiing right away. When you think that your child is about ready to begin, however, start preparing them at home. Make sure that they have practice skis at home and that their ski boots fit them. When it is time to go out, make sure they are bundled up well to handle the temperatures and the cold weather.

Make sure your child is ready to begin before you start skiing. You want it to be an experience you can all do together which comes from taking it slow and ensuring that you do not start too early.

Is Skiing Safe During COVID-19?

The COVID-19 virus has produced a lot of fear in people, it has scared many people away from resorts and other recreational locations. Ultimately the question is: are these fears justified? In the final analysis, it boils down to your own assessment of your personal risk given age and other factors.

Precautions being taken by resorts.

In making an assessment of your risk, you should be aware that ski resorts are taking precautions. High on the list is requiring testing before person visits. Between that and other rules to prevent transmission the odds of getting COVID-19 while skiing should be low.

The natural conditions of ski slopes.

The conditions on ski slopes naturally tend to reduce the odds of transmission. First, you are dressed for cold weather, and skiers normally have some form of face covering. Also if you get closer to another skier than six feet, you probably have more to be concerned about than catching a virus.

The benefit of being outdoors.

You should not forget the fact that skiing is an outdoor activity. You are getting fresh air, and you are being physically active as well. Both of these are beneficial to your immune system which is an important factor in fighting any virus.

What is the real risk

In evaluating your personal risk of getting COVID-19 you need to remember that most people do not have it. Furthermore, the precautions taken by ski resorts reduce the number even more. As a result, most ski resorts are probably safe from COVID-19.

While being cautious is prudent, there are more risks to skiing than contracting COVID-19. These risks are present even in the absence of a virus. Ultimately you should look at your personal situation and health while checking out the resort you plan on visiting on their own COVID-19 statistics.

The History and Basic Logistics of Making Snow

As much as locals and ski enthusiasts love to brag about “fresh powder,” these rare treats are just that, even more so for the Low Country Skiers who will happily make do so long as the ski area is open and generally skiable. Across the country, even hitting the minimum viable snow level can be a challenge with the seemingly unstoppably march of global warming and climate change—even when it does bring the occasionally snow-heavy winter. All that being said, it’s never a bad time to familiarize yourself with the basics of history and logistics of artificial snow.

Snow Cannons: A Look Inside

After the snowless winter of 1949, Wayne Pierce, owner of the Tey Manufacturing Company of Milford, Connecticut, sought out to challenge Mother Nature’s control of the weather. His business was selling a new ski design at the time – the ALU-60, which suffered a major slump in sales due to the lack of snow. It was only a year later in 1950 that he decided to collaborate with partners Art Hunt and Dave Richey in creating the first snow machine.

Fairly basic compared to the massive snow cannons you see on mountains today, Pierce’s first creation involved a spray paint compressor, nozzle, and some garden hose. The trio was granted a patent for the basic process, but sold the company and patent rights in 1956 to Emhart Corporation.

Over the past 50 years, a number of businesses have caught on to the snowmaking frenzy, giving rise to an entire market of high-tech snow guns. Most importantly, resort owners have gained a considerable amount of control over snow consistency, extending the ski season by at least a month and improving slope conditions.

Making Snow

On the most basic level, the process of making snow involves turning water into small ice crystals. The machines work to manipulate condensation conditions, allowing water particles to form snow. It seems pretty simple, but there’s more to it.

The two most important variables involved in the snowmaking process are:

  1. Temperature (0oC or lower)
  2. Humidity

There may be some occasions, however, where snow appears to be produced at temperatures above freezing point, such as 1oC. Though this is likely to happen, it is not because science is wrong. It’s because your thermometer is wrong… sort of…

Snowmakers work from what is called a “Wet Bulb” temperature. The wet bulb measurement takes humidity levels and evaporative cooling into account when reading temperatures. This reading is usually cooler than a dry bulb reading, which is the kind our weather apps tell us. This is why it might seem that snow can be made above freezing point, but actually, is due to a different method of temperature reading.

So, how do the machines actually work, you ask? Good question.

First off, there are two types of snow cannons. Air cannons make snow by propelling water through the gun by way of highly compressed air. The amount of water and the amount of compressed air are both adjustable. For this reason, air cannons work well in warmer temperatures.

The second type is an airless fan gun, which uses a large fan to propel the water into snow. They still require a tiny amount of compressed air to keep the water moving, but the fan acts as the major propelling force. The amount of water being used can also be adjusted through a series of rings with water nozzles on the front. These rings can be opened or closed to respond to fluctuating temperatures.

Though slightly different, both machines spray water into the air as a fine mist, which then freezes into snow and falls back to the ground. Generally, it takes about 285,000 liters of water to create a 6-inch blanket of snow covering a 61×61 meter area. That’s enough water to fill a small swimming pool!

Next time you hit the slopes covered in a fresh blanket of man-made snow, be sure to thank Wayne Pierce for thinking of you. After all, what’s skiing without snow?


Round-Up of Our Favorite Ski Equipment

Earlier, I posted a list of gear essentials for a safe and happy ski family. Then I realized: I didn’t actually point you, dear readers, in any particular direction. This post is designed to rectify that. As a ski mom, I have had a lot of experience with testing brands and equipment, and I figure I should share that knowledge with the world. I went through the kids’ ski equipment and came up with a few solid products you should invest in. The best part? We found everything on this online Colorado ski company. Most equipment comes in both kids’ and adult sizes.

Stocking CapCarhartt Acrylic Watch Hat; This thing is cheap, sturdy, and gets the job done. It pretty dang warm, and it’s slender enough to fit under a helmet. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes, too.

Balaclava: Grainger Black Fleece Balaclava; Like the hat, this thing is cheap and incredibly warm. I find that balaclavas work best when they’re simple—none of that nose hole stuff. This one will fit under your hat and the helmet for optimal warmth and protection.

Heavy CoatColumbia Bugaboo Interchange; Coats are always a point of contention in my family. Each year, the kids want a new one because “that color is stupid” or” this puffy one makes me look dumb.” After a few years of trying, we all finally settled on this coat. Sleek, warm, and with several color options, my whole family wears these things down the mountain. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than most coats out there.

Snow PantsLands’ End Stormer Bibs; I find that kids are more comfortable in bibs than snow pants, and this is one of the best I’ve found. It’s marketed for little girls, but they fit my son perfectly. With a bib, you won’t have to stop halfway down the mountain to help your kid pull up their pants.

GlovesNorth Face ETip Glove; When skiing as a family, communication is key. I remember the days when we used walkie-talkies. Those, unfortunately, are long-gone in the age of smartphones. You and your kids will need a glove that’s both warm and phone-friendly. These do the trick.

Wool SocksL.L. Bean Cresta Hiking Socks; For some reason, I can never get it into my head that wool socks are expensive. It feels like every time I go out to buy a new pair, I end up spending $30. These L.L. Beach socks split the difference. Warm and light-weight, they fit well under ski boots.

Long UnderwearUNIQLO Heattech Extra Warm Leggings; Long underwear can cost a fortune. Seriously, have you seen how much Under Armour is charging these days? It’s insane. Luckily, I found these incredibly warm leggings at UNIQLO. Now the whole family wears them.

So, there you go! A full list of my recommended brands. Family-tested, mom-approved, and relatively inexpensive all the way around. Happy shopping!

A Mom’s Mountain Survival Kit

It seems like mother’s purses are smaller versions of the Mary Poppins carpet bag; deceptively small, mothers can produce anything from extra scarves and mittens to unlimited granola bars with a flick of the wrist. If a kid loses a button, we have a sewing kit. If a bathroom stall is out of toilet paper, we have a stack of tissues. Mom purses are truly marvelous.

When skiing with kids, the mom purse has to transfer to the ski slope. You can’t really bring a tote up, but you can wear a backpack or stuff your jacket and pant pockets. Here’s what you should carry every day on the mountain.

Snacks—Because, duh. Hunger is the first complaint out of my kids’ mouths every morning on the mountain. Carry a few granola bars or a small bag of trail mix to nix those pleas to head indoors.

Tissues—Cold weather means runny noses. You do the math.

Small First Aid Kit—Just the basics here: band-aids and alcohol swabs, maybe a small tube of antiseptic. Though you won’t be able to treat most ski injuries with a first-aid kit, the occasional scratch can be enough to send your youngest into a fit. Stop the problem before it starts.

Allergy and/or Pain Medication—A couple tablets of Advil or Ibuprofen and you’re good to go.

Pocket Knife—Though you might not have to use the knife, you could need this for the tweezers, scissors, or nail file. It’s small enough to carry in a pocket, so why not bring it.

Chapstick or Moisturizing Lotion—Cold weather means dry skin. Get a face-friendly lotion.

Small Bottle of Sunscreen—Just because its winter doesn’t mean the sun won’t be out eventually.

Three Things Every Parent Should Know Before Skiing with Young Kids

Family ski vacations, especially those with young children, are not without frustration. Parents, myself included, make mistakes along the way to raising avid skiers. Before setting out, it is important to get a few things straight. I wish somebody had told me about these tips before I brought my kids to the slopes, but hey, these types of blogs didn’t really exist back then. Regardless, if you’re considering taking your younger children skiing, here’s what you need to consider and how to improve your chances of success.

Put the kids in ski school.

Unless you worked as a ski instructor, you probably don’t know how to teach people the sport. Ski school instructors know how to make the sport fun for young children, and they often have more patience than you—they have less to lose if the kid doesn’t like the sport. Your kids will also likely have more patience with a stranger. Plus, ski school allows parents to get some ski freedom—something you’ll desperately need.

Prepare them correctly.

Young children are often scared to try new things. If you’re considering starting them on skis this year, show them videos of skiing and look at mountain cameras of the resorts you’re planning to visit. The more they know about the sport, the more comfortable they’ll be when they finally strap in. For the youngest of children, be sure to get in quite a bit of snow play before hitting the slopes; snow and cold weather can be a shock to young kids.

Start with a smaller resort.

If you’re bringing your kid to ski for the first time, don’t go to Vail. Don’t go to Breckenridge, either. Smaller resorts will often fit the bill much better than larger mountain resorts. These slopes allow you to park closer to the lodge, eliminate long walks to the lifts, and have short lift lines. Plus, prices are often more reasonable; if your kid decides to have a tantrum after the first thirty minutes, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted money. Plus, smaller resorts often mean fewer people, allowing your kid to have the space they need to learn and explore.

Constructive Ways to Push Your Kids into Skiing

Alright, this title might seem kind of aggressive. I get it—we should never push our kids into doing things they don’t want to do. However, as an experienced mother, I have to say: without my insistence, my kids would not have tried half of their favorite activities. I’m not kidding; they kick and scream for the first few weeks, but once they get the hang of it, they begin to really enjoy what they’re doing. It happened with dance classes. It happened with Karate lessons. And, my friends, it happened with skiing.

Pushing your kids is never easy; as soon as you see those eyes swell with tears, it can be difficult to keep insisting they try something. However, there are constructive ways to push your children, especially when the whole family is involved. If you and your partner want your kids to ski, here’s how to get them into it.

If they’re too scared, wait another year.

I started skiing when I was four years old, but those first few years were traumatic. If I hadn’t gotten over it, I don’t know if I’d have ever gotten back on skis. If your kid is too scared of heights or of going too fast, take a breather and wait another year. In the meantime, introduce them to aspects of skiing over time. If they’re afraid of heights, try some small hikes in the summer. If they’re afraid of speed, bring them to a Go-Kart place. Do what you can to assuage their fears.

Let your kid make the decisions. The small ones, anyway.

If letting your daughter pick out a sparkly purple coat is what it takes to get her on the mountain, go out and buy that damn sparkly coat. Let them feel like they have control over the situation; they’ll gain confidence and trust the sport more fully.

Ask the right questions.

If your kid has a rough day on the slopes, ask what went wrong. If they don’t want to go skiing one weekend, ask them why, and really listen to what they have to say. Then, help your kid develop personal goals to overcome their problems with skiing. Sit down with them and talk about why you want them to learn, then have a discussion about why they do or don’t like the sport. Take their comments to heart.

Where to Go and How to Get there

There’s no bigger dilemma for the Suburban skier, especially if you don’t have a history at a specific resort, than knowing where to go to get in the best skiing possible. And while some skiers and families have a clear favorite, I tend to be a variety is the spice of life kind of girl. Here’s some things to consider as you begin to explore and get to know Colorado ski country . . .

Get Away for the Day – If your family is as fanatical about skiing as we are, you’ll find yourself sneaking in a half day when the kids have early soccer games just as often as you schedule a weeklong family ski vacation. And while we all wish we could jump in a front range wormhole that takes us instantly to the deep powder of Steamboat every weekend, or wouldn’t mind hopping on a private jet for an afternoon in Aspen, the reality of busy lives and Front Range travel can make some of the closer resorts at great option for a quick trip to the slopes. Think Eldora and Loveland if you’re in the metro area, and Monarch if you’re down south in the Springs. All are within an hour or two’s drive (at most) from most front range cities.

Bigger isn’t Necessarily Better (and definitely isn’t any cheaper) – Sure, resorts like Vail, Breckenridge, and Copper get all the press, but they’re not the only game in town. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and explore resorts like Cooper, Sunlight Mountain, Wolf Creek, Purgatory, and Echo Mountain. The skiing is just as good, lift tickets and season passes at these smaller operations are a great value compared to the larger resorts, and because they’re off a lot of people’s radar you won’t be waiting in lines at the lift or skiing through crowds on the slopes.

Go Epic or Go Home! – If variety is the spice of life, then the Epic Pass is the skiing equivalent of a bacon wrapped habanero pepper! For just under $1000 you can ski at 14 different Colorado resorts, as well as ski areas in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. For a little less you can purchase an Epic Local pass for season long access to the main Summit County hubs, or a Summit Value Pass for access to Keystone, A-Basin, and Breckenridge. In short, why settle for skiing the same old runs all winter long when you can spend a little more on your season passes and have it all!

Avoiding the I-70 Parking Lot – Whoever said the journey is more important than the destination never spent time on I-70 getting to and from Summit County. The worst part of Suburban Skiing, by far, is the to and from. You don’t have to feel buckled in to bumper-to-bumper traffic and stop-and-go commutes up to the mountains, however. The Front Range Ski Bus, Bustang, Snow Stang, Greyhound Bus Line,, and a host of private Ski Shuttle services are just a few of the many options available to front range families who would rather kick back and relax on the to and fro than deal with the white knuckle traffic that goes hand in hand with ski season. Instead of pulling the “Oh Shit Handle” through the roof of your automotive upholstery, read a good book, check your e-mail, get some work done, or just enjoy the mountain views instead! And it’s better for the environment, too!

Ski Classes

I cannot stress enough how valuable investing in a ski class or two is for the Suburban Skier and her family! Okay, confession time. As I said before, I have some skiing chops, so when my oldest kids were first learning to ski I naively assumed that I would be the most awesome ski instructor known to man. How could it possibly go wrong? The answer to that question is that it can, and it did, in almost every way possible. I’m not sure where deep in our genetic code kids are pre-programmed to ignore and rebel against everything their parent is trying to teach them, but I’ve been assured since that it’s a universal human trait. To make a long story short, I didn’t make it an hour before my kids were in tears and I wanted to throw them both in a snowbank. Don’t make the same mistake that I did! Sign your kids up for Ski School! You’ll get the morning (or the day) to attack the mountain on your terms, and your kid will gain the confidence and skills they need to make skiing a fun family occasion!   Here’s a breakdown of ski-school options to consider. And, hey, don’t forget . . . Ski School can also be fun for adults and entire families!

Kid Ski Classes & Camps – Almost all resorts offer half and full day ski school for kids. There are “camps” for toddlers and younger school age children (essentially day care on the slopes), and beginner and advanced classes for older kids. Certified instructors are patient and knowledgeable with the kids, and being in ski school with a group of other kids gives children a chance to make friends and have more fun as they learn! It’s a win-win for everybody and a great way for kids to gain confidence on the slopes. I have one friend with younger children who signs her kids up for a ½ day lesson every time her family heads up to the high country!

Full Day Packages – Most large resorts offer full day lessons for kids that include lessons, a lift ticket, lunch, and time higher on the mountain as well. If you’re planning a long stay, this is a great way to get your kid moving from from 0-60 in a single day, so that they can make the most of a longer stay. It’s also a great option for parents who want to get in a full day of double black diamonds while their kid works up from the bunny hill to greens and blues!

Family Ski Lessons – If your family is a new arrival to Colorado’s front range with no ski experience and you’re looking to go native and jump on the ski bandwagon together, family lessons are great option. Essentially a private group lesson, family ski lessons allow groups of up to six people to learn the ropes together. This is also a great option for “framilies” (groups of friends) if you’re looking for an excuse to head up to the mountains for good times doing fun stuff with great friends!

Adult Ski Classes – Ski lessons aren’t just for kids! Whether you’re new to skiing, or new to Colorado, or all of the above, group and private adult lessons are available at all levels for skiers looking to break into the sport, and those wanting to hone their skills and gain more confidence. On a side note, adult group lessons are a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and explore parts of the mountain that you wouldn’t know about or have the confidence to tackle otherwise!

Linda Tomsevics and Tony Peters assist Brandon Gauvreau as they ski March 29, 2010, for the 24th National Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colo. Gauvreau is an Air Force veteran. Tomsevics and Peters are ski instructors for the winter sports clinic. The event is sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Renting vs. Buying

Ahhhhh, the age old debate. To own or not to own? Obviously if you’re a genuine ski-bum, with a season pass no less, you’ll want to get your own gear. But what if you only get up to the high country a few times year? There’s something to be said for customizing your own gear, tailoring it to your particular needs, and for knowing your equipment. That said, with skis and snowboards running anywhere from $400 to $1,000 a pop, renting skis can be a much more practical choice for the occasional weekend snow warrior. To add to that, I do have my own gear, but even so I rent a demo package every once in a while just to get a taste of the newest products out there and to sample different brands and styles (especially when I’m in the market).

And how about kids? Truth be told, we always rent our kids’ skis until they’re done growing. Since proper ski fit is dependent on size, it makes a lot more sense to rent seasonally or for the weekend than it does to buy a new pair of skis and boots every year.

Here’s some more advice on making the ski rental business work for you!

Shop Around – A recent informal survey of ski shops in Summit County show rental prices ranging from $9 to $50 per day for the exact same equipment when it comes to junior rental packages that include skis, boots, poles, and often a helmet! And the difference in prices for adult ski packages are even more pronounced, ranging from $25 per day to well over $100 depending on the package you choose. Setting a little time aside before your vacation to surf the web and compare prices can literally save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars over the course of a weekend, week, or season.

The Longer the Better – When it comes to renting equipment, you can usually get price breaks the longer you rent the skis. For example, a three day rental is cheaper per day than a single day rental, and a week-long rental is cheaper yet.

Rent Seasonally – If you have a season pass and are a regular on the slopes, rent your gear seasonally rather than each time you go skiing and save big money on equipment and maintenance. If you and your family skis more than 5 times in a year, you’ll spend far less renting your gear for the entire season than you will renting your gear for 5 individual days. Even better, you won’t have to worry about your kids outgrowing their gear, since they’ll get refit as each new season rolls around, and maintenance and upkeep falls on the shoulders of the rental shop, not on you during the offseason!

Book Online and Ahead of Time – Most ski rental companies offer significant discounts if you make reservations in advance and online, as opposed to walking in. Discounts and eligibility differ shop to shop, so be sure to scout it out ahead of time for the best rates. Nevertheless, discounts of 20% to 30% are pretty standard if you book online and plan ahead!

Rent in Town, NOT at the Resort – ALWAYS rent your skis in town, not at the resort, if you’re interested in saving money. Sounds crazy, but you can literally walk across the street in most resort towns to independent retailers and knock 10%, 20%, 30% off of your daily rate. And if you think ahead and rent on the front range, you can usually save even more! As a side note, we always rent our skis in town because, when it comes to skiing, time is precious. Why drive up in to the mountains to waste time in a ski shop trying on gear and filling out paperwork, when you can bring your gear from home and get right on the mountain instead!