Fact: You don’t have to stay until the fireworks (read: way past bedtime) to get an awesome World Cup experience. Here’s why: opening night was, in fact, a school night. So, we high-tailed it from afternoon karate lessons to Deer Valley to watch some practice runs, a few competition runs, and soak up the atmosphere, knowing that we’d need to leave as the competition heated up. Still, I figured my kids would have enough atmosphere to soak up and that the gamble would pay off. Hey, once in a while, Mom gets it right…
My kids were as excited to ride the chairlift in street boots, at dusk, as they were to see the freestyle skiers hit bumps, jumps and tricks. As we approached Burns chairlift, an unexpected treat greeted us—in the form of the IHC LifeFlight helicopter landing at the top of Wide West ski run. (The chopper remains parked there, at the ready, in case an athlete needs quick transport to a hospital.) “I want to touch the helicopter!” screamed Seth.
Soon, we were loading onto the chairlift, bringing him ever-closer to having his wish granted. On the ride up, he was filled with questions: “How will we get all the way to the race course? What kind of food will we eat for dinner? Do you think the pilot will let me fly the helicopter?” I like how he asked two no-brainers before sliding in the “request impossible.”
No sooner had we run “like the wind” off the chairlift, the kids were racing over to check out the chopper—and to stage a gag shot that they wanted me to capture. (“Mom, does it look like we’re holding the helicopter in our hands, Mom?”) Soon enough, we were hiking up to the venue, with big brother, officially an expert VIP attendee after last year’s outing, authoritatively explaining the ins-and-outs to little brother.
The VIP tent didn’t disappoint—an inventive Mexican feast awaited us, and we dove in. The kids were mesmerized by the fact that they were rubbing elbows with athletes from all over the world (and by the unlimited supply of hot chocolate). Seth improvised a bean burrito from the Fajita station, Lance enjoyed the Fajita chicken, and Jeff got smart and hit the dessert table post-haste, so that the kids (ok, so that WE) could dig into the chocolate bread pudding with nary a delay.
Outside, I realized I was in trouble when Seth stood in slack-jawed awe, staring up at the moguls course. “I want to do that,” he said as one of the athletes landed an Iron Cross. Just as quickly, he identified the helicopter pilots, and went up to introduce himself. “I want to fly your chopper!” he announced. The pilots offered a friendly chuckle, and redirected the conversation to athletes competing. “Do you ski like that?” they asked. “Not yet,” was my little guy’s swift, decisive reply.
Soon, they were settling in to watch the skiers—on a sofa of their own making. “Mom, this is just like the one we saw on your birthday last year!” Seth announced. Lance, ever the innovator, was quick to create “cup holders” for their hot chocolate cups. Nice. They drank hot cocoa and screamed loud approvals for all of the athletes. They even complied when we said it was time to leave.
Then, we discovered the “bonus round.” The “walk” down from the bottom of Solid Muldoon to Snow Park Lodge became something of a boot-ski run.
VIDEO The kids thought they were getting away with something by skiing down to the bottom on their boot soles—and I knew they’d be extra-tired by the time we got home.
We’re counting the minutes until the 2014 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January!