Skiing as a Family

 

“Daddy, I can get off the lift by myself?”

“OK Jane, I won’t help, I promise,” I tell my 4-year-old as Sky Express zooms high above frozen trees and rock outcroppings.

“No!” Jane wiggles away from me and toward the edge of her seat. “Don’t put your arm behind me!”

“But Jane Dear, I don’t want you to fall off. It’s a long way down.”

“I can do it.”

“Will you scoot back a little more in your seat for me?”

“Daddy, keep your hand there?” Jane gestures forcefully to my side of the chair as she scoots her bottom back a little bit deeper onto the lift.

“OK. I’m going to lift the bar up now. Don’t try to hop off until we’re all the way over the platform.”

“I will, Daddy.”

I will what?  I think to myself and take a deep breath as I raise the safety bar.

Our chair enters the unloading canopy and does a particularly violent jostle as it shifts from the high-speed cable to the unloading track. I lunge to grab Jane.

“No! I’m fine.”

“OK. OK.” I put my arms back at my side. “Now wait for it…  and, Now!”

Jane jumps down off the chair and easily zips forward onto the slope, but I don’t fair so well. In the heat of preschooler negotiations, I forgot to remove my poles from between my legs and make a stumbling exit from the chair bent over like dog trying to chase his tail by thrusting his head directly between his hind legs while running forward.

Ah yes, skiing as a family.

The past month or so has been the first time that the 4 of us have been able to go skiing together: Michael, Jane, Wifey and I. We’ve been up on the mountain together before, but you couldn’t really call the Neanderthal-hunched-over-snow-plow-fest actual skiing. Invariably, one of us was always holding a kid between our legs or had them connected to a harness, hula hoop, or even an ice scraper. The broom/ice scraper was actually the best tool we used.

Now, we can actually turn. Let me repeat that and revel in its simple audacious majesty, now we, as a family, can go skiing and actually make turns. Not just cautious, follow-your-kid turns, but real, honest-to-God carving and around the trees and back onto the slope, turns. And that is something for which to be thankful.

I’m also thankful to Heavenly Ski Patrol. The crew in red actually let me do a little beacon scavenger hunt for Michael’s birthday party and gave us a simplified talk about snow safety before turning our small group loose on Ridge Run to play hide-and-seek with a Teddy Bear into which I had inserted one of our avalanche beacons. Michael and some of his friends took turns hiding the bear with adult supervision and then 5 minutes later the other kids skied down to just above the “burial,” snapped out of their skis and started looking. It was fun. Thanks, Ski Patrol.

Jane has taken to skiing with more gusto than her older brother. Maybe Wifey and I are less protective of the second child or maybe Jane feels compelled to keep up with her older brother. Most of our offspring’s skiing prowess can probably be attributed to special recipe of peer pressure, professional encouragement, and fun that is Heavenly Ski School. Jane is a “Comet” and Michael a “Nova.” More importantly, Wifey and I have been able to finally have ski dates again and we definitely choose the right season.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, Jane.”

“Are we going skiing after school today?”

“I have a lot to do today, Honey.”

“But Daddy. Please.”

“It is a nice day, isn’t it?”

“I won’t cry even when I fall down.”

“OK, Jane. But you have to do well at school. I’m going to ask your teacher.”

“Yay!”

Who would have thought when Wifey and I moved to Tahoe from a big city over ten years ago that our children would be the ones pulling me out to the slopes and out of the office.

 

Skiing as a Family, Do:

  • Get out and revel in this awesome winter!
  • Teach kids that skiing in a blizzard is normal and fun.

 

Skiing as a Family, Don’t:

  • Underestimate the power of sibling rivalry and peer pressure to get kids to ski.
  • Forget to remove your ski poles from between your legs when exiting the lift.