After 10 weeks of a great program for Emily, her Saturday Adventure at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) is over. It was everything I thought it would be and more. There are events in your kids life you will remember and look back on...this is one of them for us.
It started back in early January with placement day. Em was placed in a class with kids of equal ability and she developed new friends and especially a true trust and bond with her instructor, Lacey. Every Saturday we got up really early, packed the car and made the journey to Park City. I packed the car with enough stuff that my husband asked "are you going skiing or camping?" The class started at 9:15 a.m. and didn't end until 3 p.m. A big day for a little girl, and a big day for this Mom bonding with her 3 year old, just turned 4, Brennan. Of course, this program isn't for everyone. If you're a visitor to Utah, you obviously are going to do a one day or multi-day lesson for your child. If you are a seasonal or local Utahn, this is the program for you! I've done many lessons and programs over the last couple of years. They are all different and have different things to offer. This program proved to be all the good things in one. We were lucky to have been placed with Lacey. I can't say enough about the role of a good instructor. It either makes or breaks a child. If they bond, have trust and have a big smile at the end of the day...you scored! We scored in Lacey. I found the combo of caring and tough love a great balance. As I observed other instuctors at PCMR throughout the program, I observed many of those same qualities. Which makes me come to a conclusion about PCMR....they put a lot of time in selecting their instructors..esp for this program. They are with your child for 6 hours a day for 10 weeks! That takes a certain love of children for that instructor, not to mention having the patience. I also learned that PCMR teaches to push your child. They aren't there to make artwork, make snowmen and sing songs. They are there to ski! They are there to make these kids great skiers! If you look at the training history of recent Olympians, you'd be surprised at the names that did learn or train at PCMR. It is a credit to programs like this. Start the kids early, get them great instructors and you will see results. There were times that I thought maybe Em was not ready. She proved me wrong, as did Lacey. I'm glad we stuck with it.
Again, if you vacation in Utah...no matter which resort, I would put the kids in lessons. Not every kid is going to be the same, not every resort is going to be the same. I've found the key elements of skiing are the same, the way of teaching is a little different. I know you're going to ask me "Who is the best?" I've been asked that before. Guess what...I'm not going to say who is the best, because they are all different. It's like asking "do you like Kauai or Maui?". Well, it depends on the way you like to vacation. Where you can make a difference is by providing enough info to the Ski School wherever you choose and being honest. When you sign your kids up, be honest about their ability and also give the Ski School a little background about your child. "They are afraid, they like to whine, they need tough love, they are go-getters". Just be honest, it helps the school place them with the right group and instructor. If you are in Utah for a few days or a week...do consecutive daily lessons. They will benefit from that vs you getting frustrated, them crying and no one has fun. If you have an all day option, I would take it. Or at least a 2-4 hour option. Obviously, it depends on age. In this order, if it's in your budget, I would:
a. Put them in a private lesson for at least 1-4 days.
b. When they are ready, put them in a small group lesson for 1/2 day.
c. Go to the full day option.
c. If you're here for a long time or local, look for the consecutive weekly lessons that are offered. They get the same kids and instructors which in my opinion, is the most beneficial.
As for when is the right time for a child to learn to ski...I'd say at 4...things click! Again, it depends on the child. I'd stick them on skis at 2 and 3 and see how they do. They will get out and scoot around, but many aren't quite ready...but, they understand what skiing is. I felt at 4, the brain and legs got together and worked as a team. If they aren't having fun, no worries, try again another time. As with anything, don't push...remember, it's supposed to be fun!
So...back to our last day of the Saturday Adventure, of which lessons for me were learned. Me and Bren drop off Emily as always and we go ski for awhile. We meet up once more for lunch to see the group. As I look across the restaurant, Snowed Inn, where they have eaten every week, I think how fun for a 5 year old! What a great experience for Emily. I've included a few pics of the adventure. The restaurant serves just this group during lunch time. They rest, eat, act silly and then get back out.
This final day, Emily is doing her "Cookie Race". Named as she gets a "cookie" medal at the end. She has been doing the Nastar race course the last few weeks, but today she's on the big course. (I've included a pic of Em at the start gate of the Nastar race course courtesy of Lacey.)
Big deal...even I'm nervous! I'm armed with more cameras than the paparazzi. One thing I'm armed with is a new camera with a big zoom lens. You know where this is going...don't go to an important event of your child's with a new camera. Bren and I head up early to the bottom of the Eagle race track to get a good spot. I'm checking out my camera and making sure I can be fast enough to go between video and still pics. One thing about me, I'm a photo fanatic! When I grow up, I'm going to be a photographer! I have so many pictures hanging in my house and everywhere. It's my hobby and this race is one for me to add into my wall of memories. So, here they come. Em's group is fairly early on. I'm ready and start recording as Em's little friend comes down first. I'm thinking to get a clean video, I zoom in and stop the video...ready for Em. I follow her down with the zoom lens to the bottom and am so proud. Until....I get home. I didn't hit the record button again! I am so upset. What!??? I hear on the video, "Brennan, here comes Emily." Then, cut to Emily at the bottom of the hill. 2 things..I'm going to make a plea to anyone who was at the race, please contact me if you did take video. I'd love to have it. Second, Rossmiller photography. They are the photographer that is always at different places on the mountain taking pictures of you or your child as you are coming down the mountain. If you see them taking your photo, you can go onto their website and order an action shot. They have kindly given me one of Emily's photos to use as she is coming down the track. A great action shot...a big shout out to Rossmiller!
Back to the race...Em does great! She has a fall toward the top, but gets back up and keeps going. Good girl! I probably would have given up, but hey...even Lindsey Vonn has a crash and gets back up!
There is a tailgate party at the bottom, awards from the instructors and lots of hugs and good-byes. Emily gets the "giggles" award for her group. Emily is a very happy child with a postive attitude and also very sensitive. As we say our good-byes to Lacey..Emily has made her a card with photos, we head to the car. I say to Em "do you want to say one more good-bye to Lacey?" She says, "no, i already did". She places her goggles back on and we walk to the car. Now...I know Em. We get to the car, I look down and her lip is quivering. Then, a big cry. She is sad to leave Lacey. She doesn't want it to end. Thank you Park City, thank you Lacey... for the great experience and obviously the touching end to our Saturday Adventure!