Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Chair to Apres Ski

I know it's been an amazing December vacation week at Bretton Woods when the kids clamor for skiing from first chair to end of day apres ski time.  

With Mount Washington as our backdrop, we've cruised just about every open trail, and found some great quiet stashes on Crawford's Blaze and Water Tank, and and then some soft new snow when the patrollers dropped the ropes on Granny's Grit and Coos Caper.  
The Mountain Hosts had steaming hot cider and a warm smile waiting for us when we went in for a break.


At the end of the day, we watched the groomers take to the hill to lay down some fresh corduroy for all the night skiers.
With the bongos and guitar of Cause and Effect livening things up in the Slopeside Pub, we weren't ready to let the day go, and decided to stay for an adult beverage.

Meanwhile, the kids headed upstairs for a supervised apres ski party of their own, where they celebrated the "Last Blast of 2013."

They had make your own party hats, coloring, and plenty of snacks to keep them topped off until dinnertime.

Kids' Apres Ski Parties, for kids ages 4-12, run from 3:30-5:00 on select Saturdays and daily during Christmas and February vacation, are free and kids are welcome to stay with Resort staff while Mom and Dad enjoy the live entertainment at the Slopeside Pub just downstairs.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What Is YOUR Ski History?

As Bretton Woods celebrates it's 40th anniversary this weekend with $40 lift tickets and some great activities like skiing with Santa, live music, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, Sam Adams samples and cake cutting, historical speakers and the unveiling of a 40th birthday present, it made me think of my own ski history.  Do you have stories about your first time skiing or snowboarding, or about how you fell in love with the sport?

I've been skiing for about 30 years, but the history of skiing in New England goes much farther back,   and there are some great resources out there for researching the history of skiing in our area.  The New England Ski Museum even has a display on the lower level of the base lodge at Bretton Woods, giving passersby a taste of the many pioneers and amazing inventions that made skiing what it is today.

I wonder how my kids will remember skiing when they are older.  Both Timmy and Bridget were on skis just after they started to walk, and my husband and I have made it a point to make skiing a part of our lifestyle for our family.  The kids know now that most weekends in the winter involve playing in the snow, in one form or another.

Unlike my kids, I didn't grow up with skis beneath my feet at an extremely young age.  My parents' passions followed horse showing and car racing, and skiing wasn't really on their radar.  But my brother Josh, twelve years my senior,  moved to Colorado when I was in junior high to start a photography business that took shots of people at ski resorts in the winter and on white water rafting trips in the summer. He expanded to open a photography concession at a mountain in upstate New York.  One Christmas, he arranged for lessons and rentals for my twin sister Liz and me.  We returned to ski with my brother frequently, learning the ins and outs of picking up rental skis, how to get on to the lift without falling off, peeling that sticky lift ticket off it's paper and trying to fold it evenly over the wicket, standing in long lines at the lifts because we didn't know any better than to ski where all the other skiers were, and how to read a trail map so we didn't get stuck on a trail that was over our heads.

Once Liz and I were hooked, my Dad made it a point to take us skiing whenever he could, even on a limited budget.  He'd comb the newspaper for ski and stay specials, and he'd sit through long condo sales-pitch meetings just so my sister and I could hit the slopes with the free lifts tickets he got for attending.  We discovered many of the small mountains in New England, that often had smaller lift ticket prices as well.  We visited my brother in Colorado, where the mountains seemed inconceivably big.

Through all of this, my father's dedication to us is now so evident to me.  He took my sister and I everywhere to ski.  He bought us skis and all the gear, and drove all over New England.  But the amazing thing is that he never skied himself.  He had a mild case of polio in his teenage years, and always claimed his back would hurt from skiing.  But even though he had to sit in the lodge and read a book all day while we skied, he continued to chauffeur us around, even into my high school years, when he'd bought a motor home and decided that the best way to get those sleepy teenagers to the the mountain early in the morning was to let us sleep on the way, and he'd cook us hot dogs on the stove at lunch time.

Now, I'm excited to be part of the Bretton Woods family, where my kids are so comfortable that it's become a second home to them.  They know the lift operators by name and are happy to report their progress on the slopes to every friend we meet in the base lodge.  Bretton Woods has certainly grown in size compared to those 2 lifts and 8 trails first built in 1973, to the largest ski area in New Hampshire, but it's still got that small-hill feel of the kind of place that we're comfortable letting our kids start exploring on their own.

I'm thankful that I get to ski with my kids, but as any parent knows, it's a wonderful thing to be able to give your kids and opportunity to do things they love.  Thanks, Dad, for making this possible for me.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ready For a Breakthrough Year

As every parent knows, having children is a game changer, and that's especially so for those of us
who love to ski and ride.

I did the ski while pregnant thing, rolling down the hill like a bowling ball. We did the baby swapping in the lodge, thanks to the Family Interchangeable Ticket. We've logged countless laps on the bunny hill.  We should probably get frequent flier points for the number of times the magic carpet has conveyed my kids up the slight incline of the Learning Center. And although I don't believe my bunny hill sentence is over, I can see the light.

There's a glimmer of potential twinkling in my kids' eyes. 

All those inspirational parenting advice quotes tell you, "Don't rush it." "Enjoy the moment." Sure, I know my days with my little munchkins are numbered, but I also relish their potential. Who doesn't like to have something to look forward to?  When I envision an ideal ski day in the future, I'm seeing kids busting through the trees, whooping and giggling, and I'm trying to keep up with them.

Timmy, who is now 4, has made some heartening progress in just the three weekends we've skied so far this year.  As the younger sibling, it's clear his motivation is purely competitive: he wants to keep up with big sister Bridget, who's 6.  This fall when we had received our first SKI Magazine of the season, my husband found him leafing through the pages.  Uncoached, Timmy declared, "Daddy,  these are the skis I was looking for....they are tall and fast and will beat Bridget." Matt later said, "Somehow, I think I may be repeating that quote to an ER doctor sometime soon."

Last year, Timmy's drive to just get down the mountain fast lead us to investing in a harness to help steer him down the hill, because he often refused to try to turn or snowplow to slow himself down.  I'm sure a lot of his progress this year has to do with a growing mind and growing body - he's beginning to understand mentally why he needs to be able to control his movement on the slope, and also those little legs are getting stronger, making it easier for his brain and muscles to work together.

This past weekend on the bunny hill, he was making strides in all of the essentials:

  • he could shuffle his skis forward to get in place for the lift to whisk us up the mountain
  • he was standing up and skiing straight off the lift at the top
  • he was leaning on to his ski edges to make turns on the gentle slope
  • he was using a snowplow to stop or slow when he was coming close to hitting another skier
This is all not to say that he'll be ready for the World Cup next year.  He's comfortable on the Learning Center, but even a run on gentle Range View required we strap on his harness again - he was just getting going too fast.  On the bunny hill, I cringed several times when I had let him get ahead of me, and thought to myself, "oh geez, this is going to hurt!" when I saw him careening towards a group of beginner skiers or precariously close to the tree-lined edge of the trail.  But he would turn at the last second and save me from that trip to the ER, at least this time.

The good thing is that now that his little legs are starting to catch up with his ambition, he's comfortable with the routine of strapping boards on his feet.  He chats with the very friendly lift attendants and tells them about his adventures on the hill.  He talks of skiing "black diamonds" with his sister one day, even if he might not be sure exactly what that means.

So yes, I'm enjoying this moment with my kids.  And I'm looking forward to all the moments we have ahead of us.