Fair Weather Skiing

I grew up in Vermont. Skiing there often means braving severe weather conditions in the name of sport. So when we hit the slopes in the early 20s of December, and a wet “snain” was falling, I found it oddly comforting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a devotee of the 300+ days of sunshine Utah receives. I love the fact that skiing, most days, is a comfortable and fun affair, conducted in concert with the application of sunscreen, and proper layering to avoid the nearly-inevitable overheating on a bluebird day.  (No offense, Vermont.)

But we had so much fun making old-school jokes “How wet is it?? It’s so wet that…” and yep, making turns, my kids made only passing (and legit) complaints about the weather. 

It made me think what a service we do for our kids if we are not fair-weather skiers. It makes them see you can have fun even when the weather isn’t. It makes them hardier. If they’re going to compete on even the most casual levels, they’ll inevitably need to do it in less-than-stellar conditions, so they might as well learn to ski everything, right?

I risked sounding like one of those “uphill both ways to school” kind of moms, and said to Big Guy, “Can you believe that I spent most of my ski days in weather like this when I was your age? And I love skiing sooooo much?”

His response was one of those “Great Moments” parents live for. “Mom, I’m really lucky you still love to ski,” he said. “Because it would be a real bummer to live in Utah and have a mom who hates to ski!”

I thought, that night, as I did my usual toothbrush-time think on the day: This is what I wish for my kids—a lifetime of happy skiing, so they can share it with their kids.

 I’ll save the deeper thoughts for another post. In the meantime, don’t look askance at an overcast day. Use it as a skill-builder—hit overly-familiar terrain and remind your kids that their roll-with-it skills are as important a the perfect turn.

After the Storm! Ski Update from 12/30/10

Well another storm has hit us over this Christmas vacation. It was a great day of skiing and very cold, which actually makes for great powder. We received over 30” of snow out of the storm this week. I knew today was going to be the best day of skiing. Yesterday the wind speeds were high some of the mountain was closed. I gave my kids the night before warning “it’s going to be a powder day”. And this is where it went south. My son Lucas started to get sick soon after my powder alert and he woke me up at 4:30 a.m. needing medicine. All I could think was that he must have strep.  I immediately got a doctor’s appointment for 8:30 a.m. knowing if we were in the clear, we were still on for the powder day. The strep test was negative but the doctor asked “it looks like your planning on skiing”? I said “yes is this bad?” To my surprise she answered “No I think the fresh air will do him good.”

We pulled up to the mountain in perfect time for the lifts to open, BUT as we get on our first chair on Carpenter I saw that it is already 10:15 p.m. How the heck can it take us an hour to just get on the chair?! My son reminds me “there are no friends on a powder day” and I reply “maybe there should be no kids.” HA! I had decided to drop off their equipment at the loading zone area to make it easier on us and so far, so good. I then parked the car and Stefan says he forgot his helmet…ugh! Luckily I put it in the front seat. No I wasn’t wearing it! All still good…. Then I give my boys their season passes and much to my organized surprise Stefan points out that I gave him his dad’s pass. Is this my fault or his? Another ugh! Time to get all of us dressed. For some strange reason Lucas can’t get his boots on… another ugh! Time is ticking. The last 10 days he could get these boots on no problem, I don’t understand! I guess this is the get ready hour I just didn’t anticipate.

Finally we met up with our friends, the Davidson’s from Las Vegas.  The boys saw each other from the chair and we waited at the top of Carpenter for them to catch up. At this point I knew we needed more kids to even this equation out. As soon as the children saw each other all was good and the kids were game and eagerly asking me where we were going?

Since I hadn’t skied Mayflower yet this year and knowing that it wasn’t open the day before, we immediately headed east. We entered Mayflower Bowl at the top and shot down. The 4 kids stopped at the top of the rock face and all looked over discussing their lines. I stayed back to be the sweeper, however I was hardly needed as all the kids launched into the bowl and skied the powder effortlessly. I waited a bit so I could also enjoy what they skied after I saw they were all clear and didn’t need to be picked up. I skied down and had fresh face shots until I met up with the boys. My day could have been done right then and I would have been completely satisfied with just those few turns. There is nothing better than those first few turns in fresh powder…it that makes all the hustle of the morning just slip away. Of course, my son interrupts my moment with a “not bad mom.”

Our group then continued with my suggestions to ski Ruins of Pompeii to Triangle Trees. I have to say Triangle Trees are always the best! I wanted to make another run there, but we decided to continue on and keep hitting all the good spots. Sunset Trees were beautiful! Then it was on to Empire, where we skied Lady Morgan Bowl and X-Files too. My kids were getting hungry but the skiing was so good I told them to hang in for one more run OR go in and find us a table because I was taking one more run. They chose to find a table, but somehow I still made it in time to help them after taking my extra run. Hmmmm…looks like they decided to play in the snow instead. After lunch we went into Ontario Bowl, even at 2:30 p.m. the powder was still to be had!

I realize my kids are lucky to ski Deer Valley and after our rough morning the first run always takes away the worries! As you can see from these photos, Lucas was very happy and Stefan was skiing in snow as tall as him and almost as tall as me!!!!



See you on the slopes

Pulling the Plug.

Generally speaking, skiing gets the grumpies out of this family.

The kids get along better on the slopes than they do in just about any other setting. They are four years apart, and most of the time play beautifully together…until they don’t. And I have had entire mornings of bickering fall away as the ski boots get buckled.

 I was counting on this as my non-observant Christmas present. Except that I completely misinterpreted the source of the grumpies. Little Guy was in a thrilled mood…every turn on Candy Land brought bigger grins, worshipful ones aimed mostly at his brother. Little Guy can get pretty frustrated when he can’t make a turn or when he falls, but the minute the turns fall into place and he can show his big brother that he, too, is a skier, they bask in the glow of brotherly love.

 Still, Big Guy, saddled with the responsibility of skiing lesser terrain for his little bro’s sake, couldn’t hack it for a second day in a row. And he grumped and grumbled his way through lunch. While praising Little Guy for his Mad Skillz (something he boasts of to all who will listen, in exactly those terms) and his stellar behavior (stark contrast to the previous day’s shin-kicks!) we couldn’t cajole the big brother into a better mood.

So, we pulled the plug, explaining calmly that bad ‘tude ruins it for everyone.

I handed out consolation prizes of Swedish Fish (I now always have a stash in the cargo pocket of those ADORABLE ski pants of mine, so hit me up when you see me), and we headed for the plaza to check our skis and await pickup by Ski Dad who had gone to collect the car.

Meanwhile, the kids did what I love—bonded a little to comfort each other over leaving the hill early.