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.