Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holidays at Bretton Woods, Whatever the Weather

On this first day of winter, the snow-covered Presidential Range is watching over the valley floor below where the Omni Mount Washington is decked in its finest for the holidays. The sense of magic in the air is palpable as I watch kids stare wide-eyed at the towering Christmas trees lining the grand hall of the Hotel. If there ever was a setting made for the delight of the holidays, this is it. It's hard to believe in its 113-year history, the Omni Mount Washington Hotel has only been open in the winter since 1999.

Although there certainly have been snowier starts to Bretton Woods winters, a fun vacation week is still in store for those of us lucky enough to spend it in the White Mountains. Bretton Woods is boasting the most open terrain in New Hampshire and I’m betting the Number One Groomers in the East will be out there ensuring perfect corduroy for everyone.

If you’re lucky enough to ski or ride on Christmas day, you’ll find the gift of $30 lift tickets at the ticket windows, and the lifts will be turning 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., giving you plenty of time to enjoy morning traditions before getting out for a leisurely first tracks.

In addition to hitting the slopes, here are some other great resort activities to enjoy this week:

  • Indoor Climbing Wall and Bouldering Cave - A year-round indoor climbing experience located on the lofty Slopeside level of the Bretton Woods Base Lodge. With routes up to 30 feet for beginners to experts, staff will ensure everyone in the family has a fun afternoon – rain, shine or snow. Also explore the 300 square-foot Bouldering Cave for more fun closer to the ground.
  • Bretton Woods Canopy Tour - I can personally attest that the Canopy Tour is not to be missed when you are at Bretton Woods, no matter what time of year. Descending over 1,000 feet of elevation, the tour takes nature lovers and thrill-seekers across a series of nine treetop zip lines, and is one of the longest zip line canopy tours in New England. Suspension bridges and hiking trails connect the highflying zip lines. Reservations required.
  • Dog Sledding (currently operating with wheeled carts) - Take in the spectacular winter scenery as you glide behind a powerful team of sled dogs. Experience nature as explorers have for hundreds of years. Reservations required.
  • Elf Tuck-In and Tea with Mrs. Claus - For a holiday treat for the kids, you can schedule a special bedtime story and treat with one of Santa’s own  with the Elf Tuck-In. Or for an afternoon with the lady who’s really in charge, Tea with Mrs. Claus is sure to delight as it fills their tummies.
  • Kids Apres Ski Parties (and ones for the adults too) are scheduled throughout the week. This free party for the kids takes place upstairs in the top level of the base lodge and will include live entertainment, games, activities, and refreshments for kids. Parents are welcome to leave their kids at this supervised program and enjoy entertainment at the Slopeside Lounge. 
I hope your holidays are filled with joy and wonder.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A New Season, A New Adventure For Outdoor Mom

As I woosh down the trail across the early season snow chasing my kids, I am suddenly struck by the fact that skiing with them is all of a sudden  easy. I am no longer picking up floppy bodies off the limited scope of the bunny hill while I watch the pristine corduroy of higher elevations from a distance. I’m not worried that my little guy might not make it down the interminably long distance of a run from the top of the mountain. There’s no threat that if we don’t finish this run up soon we might not make it back to the house in time for a scheduled nap.

But hitting the slopes is not all routine this year. The Bretton Woods Race Team is our new adventure for the season. Bridget has looked up to those red-jacketed bombers for a while now, and she’s now old enough to join their ranks.

As with any change, I’ve met this one with a mixture of anticipation and reluctance. With the joy of exploring the mountain on skis at a more comfortable level now, I’m not totally sure I want to give up that time with my kids. Chatting on the chairlift about which side of Bode’s Run has the best powder or scheming over hot chocolate at Stickney’s Cabin, planning which tree runs to conquer next, is the best part of these days. I know I won’t witness every moment once I hand them over to their coaches.

But my little birds are learning to fly. After a weekend of skiing with their new groups, even little six-year-old Timmy is carrying his own skis to the base of the lift. Eight-year-old Bridget is asking if she can take runs with her new friends on her lunch break.

And they’re learning how to be better skiers. Although the ultimate goal is become a strong racer, at their ages, right now their coaches are focusing on the fundamentals of good form, skiing with confidence, and most of all, having fun out there with other kids.

Like figuring out how to first get back on the slopes as new parents, the ski racing world is going to be as much of a learning experience for me as a parent as it is for the kids. Although I’ve been a skier since junior high school, I was never a ski racer. I’ve watched pro athletes like Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn take on the Olympics and World Cup, but my understanding of grass roots ski racing is pretty limited. Suddenly there’s age categories and different race categories and USSA memberships.

Luckily, we’ve got some great new coaches at Bretton Woods, and I know I’ll be relying on them to help us navigate this new world. I’ll have some posts on some of the fabulous new staff soon, but for now I can tell you that our head coaches have already made being a Ski Racer Mom a great experience. Gus Demaggio and Miki Fera are a husband and wife team who are not only experienced race coaches, but also parents as well. Miki has been coaching young athletes since 1998. A native of Romania, she has competed in three Olympic Games, three University Games and three World Championships. Gus developed and directed an international private race academy, Team Excel Ski Academy, which placed many athletes on national teams. He has also worked as a Head Coach and Ski Team Director. I’m so excited to have my kids work with them.

Any Ski Racer Moms or Dads have advice for this family?