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Ski Families have all the fun…

The ski season is wrapping up and we have one last trip to Fernie coming up for their closing weekend. We had one of the best ski seasons ever with our family with trips to both Montana and Fernie this winter. Our oldest joined the Nancy Greene/ Regina Ski Club so we had weekly trips to Mission Ridge, our local hill, for ski training. The trips every Sunday worked out great as we were also introducing our 3 year old to skiing this winter.

Our oldest, who is 6 years old, had a great time meeting lots of other skiers in the NG program and making new friends.  This was her 5th season on skis and it was interesting to see her developing competitiveness in the couple of dual slalom race courses over the season.  It was also interesting to see her ability change from skiing Black Diamond treed runs in Fernie to the local short, steep, and icy runs.

Our three year old, who is super tiny for her age had to start my ski immersion program this year. (We did have her on skis at the end of last winter but she was so little that it didn’t really make sense to her.) Ski immersion starts by wearing your ski boots in the house in November and playing Wii Ski on the Nintendo game system. Then step 2 is getting her to click into her skis every once in a while and have her walk around in skis and boots to get used to how it feels.  Our trips to Mission Ridge started in December with many trips up the Magic Carpet. I am a big fan of using a hula hoop as opposed to the ski harness to help control their speed as they learn the pizza (snow plow) and fries (parallel) techniques. The key is not being too pushy and only doing as many runs as they want, (with lots of snack breaks.) They need to enjoy this so they might as well have fun during the learning process.

Our first ski trip of the season was to Bridger Bowl just outside Bozeman, MT between Christmas and New Years. We learned that a group of NG and Race kids go there each year for skiing and training.  So we thought “what the heck” and decided to ski somewhere other than Fernie for a change of scenery. The hill was fantastic and it was the friendliest place I have ever skied. All the extreme terrain was either a hike to get to, or you needed beacons to access, but the majority of the hill was perfect for my 6 year old. She had 2 friends to ski with that she has known for a number of years so they got along together really well. They rode their own chair in front of us, and I have to admit I was so proud when they zipped down the hill and back into the lift line run after run.

We put our youngest in daycare at the hill but pulled her out early each afternoon to spend time skiing with her in the kids learning area. Bridger Bowl has 2 covered magic carpets, and a mini chair lift just for kids, so they can get used to it. It was fantastic. Once our girl got a taste for riding the chair lift, she wanted nothing to do with the magic carpet anymore. The snowplow concept kicked in and we ditched the hula hoop and she was able to control her speed on her own.  Because the main hill has these long gentle green slopes, our last day there we were able to do a few runs off the “big chair “with her which made her super happy and my wife and I extra proud.

By this time our 6 year old was skiing laps past us with her friends and getting in extra runs. It was super cool to have the whole family on the chair lift at the same time; a dream come true for any ski parent.

Our next ski trip was to Fernie, BC during the February school break. Our youngest was put in Fun Trax which is a ski and day care program at Fernie. I highly recommend it and wish that all ski hills had this program. 2 hours of playtime and 1 hour of skiing, in both the morning & afternoon. When the kids are older and no longer require naps, you can switch to Ski and Play which switches to 2 hours of skiing and only 1 hour of play.  The instructors at Fernie are great and our little ripper moved from the magic carpet to the platter and finished her week of lessons on the chair lift with the instructor. So COOL!

Our oldest had aged out of this program so she was stuck skiing with us. That meant a trade off between her fun tree runs and our steep powder runs.  We did ask a friend to ski with her a couple days so my wife and I could ski our favorite steep and deep runs, but overall it worked great to ski with her as a family.  For those that know Fernie our daughter’s favorite run is Bear Run but she also made laps through Currie Bowl and Cedar Bowl with us. We discovered that our 6 year old doesn’t have the patience to ski with her little 3 year old sister yet but she is old enough to ski laps past us now, so we know where she is.

With our last trip of the season coming up, we are excited to have some friends joining us so the kids can have some ski buddies. Spring skiing is a tonne of fun when the sun is out, the temperatures are mild, and there is still extended coverage of having a great snowfall season, like this year!  Plus the added bonus of heading out for a final weekend finale that is traditional at most ski resorts, we’ll get to enjoy watching the annual SLOPESOAKER contest!

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