Monday, December 20, 2010

Fun Lessons Learned

The spring that Bridget was one and a half, I took her on the lift. She had little clown skis with bindings that strapped on to her snow boots. I just held her in between my legs; she could barely walk in the snow by herself even without wearing those slippery boards. But she squealed with delight and asked to go again. It gave her a taste of the feeling of speed and excitement that you get cruising down the mountain.

But one day last year, after Bridget got fit with real skis and ski boots, I headed out of the lodge towards the Learning Center Quad with her and realized that I had not thought about how I was going to ski with her. I knew I wanted her to start skiing on her own, but it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea how to make that happen. I had taken adults out on the slopes and had shared a few learning tips, but a toddler? They didn’t mention anything about teaching your kids to ski in all the baby books I had read.

Luckily, our friend Susan specialized in teaching kids at Bretton Woods, and she was later able to go out on a few runs with us. She shared tricks with us like stashing some mini marshmallows or m&m’s in your pocket to reward your little one for some good turns on the slopes. In the Snowplay Zone, adorned with giant flowers and puffy animals posted in the snow, she sprinkled the ground with rubber duckies for Bridget to retrieve, which got her scooting around on her skis without even thinking about it. But she was still only two, and her little legs weren’t quite ready to make turns quite yet.

Now that she’s three and all the more stable, we decided it was time for Bridget’s first official lesson. She loved the idea of it until we were driving to Bretton Woods this past Saturday morning, when she started saying that she wanted to ski with Mommy. But the staff at Hobbits didn’t give her a chance to even miss me. We had made a reservation ahead of time, and they were waiting for her at the door, greeting her by name. We met Jess Cyr, her instructor, and she immediately put Bridget at ease, asking her about her fondness of fetching duckies on snow. While I filled out some paperwork, they whisked her away and got her geared up and they were headed outside in no time.

I took this opportunity while Matt was home with napping Timothy to hop on the chairlift myself. I headed straight for Rosebrook, and took some delightful runs in the woods of Dark Forest. Then I headed back down to see if I could peer through the trees to see how Bridget was doing. I knew that if she saw me, she’d be distracted and want Mommy, but if I stayed out of sight she’d be fine.

Bridget was all smiles as they finished up. I asked her about her favorite part of the lesson, and she said, “the ladybugs” – more fun props that decorate the kid’s learning area. She had told Jess about her new goggles (an early Christmas present) and Jess now knew the names of our cat and dog.

Jess told me they worked on getting her to widen her stance a bit by having her pretend she was riding a horse – complete with holding the reigns and making trotting sounds. Jess would ski in front of her, facing Bridget, and Bridget would reach for Jess, giving high fives and reaching for a rubber ducky. “She was a trooper,” Jess told me, which was wonderful to hear, knowing that a full hour of skiing would be tiring for her. She said Bridget was trying to turn with her whole body rather than just her skis, which caused her to tip over a few times, but they were working on big sweeping turns.

I had always heard of kids learning “pizza” (the snowplow) to slow down and “french fries” (parallel skis) to gain speed, but hadn’t gotten in to that with Bridget yet. But Jess told me that she was glad to see that Bridget was trying to stop by turning rather than snow plowing, because they tend to lean back to far, and then they have to break that habit and learn to reach forward.

Despite knowing that Bridget would be exhausted after such a big morning, I tried to take her out for a run, eager to see what she had picked up. But once outside, she only wanted to go on the magic carpet and then wanted me to carry her down the slope. I got her to ski down to our friend Greg who had his video camera, but called it a day before we had a meltdown.

We’ll be taking her cousin skiing on the 24th, and I have a feeling Bridget is going to love having a friend along.


  1. memories!Casey started with hobbits around the same age, that was the beginning of it all.

  2. Wow what a great Mom you are!! If only our parents had done what you are DOING! But your parents were great in their own special way to turn out someone as special as you.