The moral of this story is, when they are young, put your kids in lessons! Unless you are the big expert skier, even a 3 year old will bring you down. There are challenges to the 3 year old lessons. They aren't mature, sometimes potty trained and not very willing to cooperate. Most resorts only have private lessons at 3, which can be pricey, but worth it! A few resorts do offer group lessons for the 3 year olds, but they must be potty trained. ALL resorts will offer private lessons. Probably a good idea to call ahead.
The snow has arrived in full force and we're looking at a pretty great start to the season and hopefully a good snow year thanks to La Nina. That is a discussion for another blog.
So, we've rented the skis and we're ready to head out. Now, I'm not as mobile as my other fellow bloggers. With my equipment, Emily's, Brennan's and 2 kids in tow....it takes us awhile. The key is to pick a day when everyone is rested and happy....otherwise, you'll be very crabby by the end of the day :)
I thought I'd take Emily first alone. Just to get her "ski legs". What's that? Well, for those of you who have skied before, it is the first day of the season to take it easy and sort of "remember" how to ski. After our very successful season last year with Emily, I thought, no biggie...she's ready to go straight up the lift. NOOOO! Last run of last year was down the tram at Snowbird. For those that haven't skiied much, it is a challenging run for us adults let alone the kids.
There are 2 options with skis; season rentals or daily rentals. Season rentals are normally done in the fall. You rent for the whole season for a very decent price. If the kids feet grow, head back to the shop and they'll swap out your skis/boots. Also, you get free wax when you need it. Definitely the way to go with kids! After all, it's about saving money, isn't it? To buy them skis each year when you can't even keep them in shoes is hard to do. If you do daily rentals, I've got a deal for you! Ski n' See will give you an extra 25% off your daily or extended daily rental at any of it's locations if you go onto the rental page and in the promo code, fill out PRIMARY for the month of December. There are several different levels of skis to rent. The price of the daily rental depends on what skis you want. If you're like me, you don't really know the difference. The demo skis are the newest and best technology of skis. If you want to save some money, you can rent the sport package.
I'll do a little intro for those that didn't follow my blog last year. My name is Jodi Saeland and I am a Mom first and foremost and a Meteorologist second. A year and a half ago I decided to leave my Broadcasting job for the stay at home Mom job. Wow! Big shout out to all the Moms out there! Hardest, yet most rewarding job there is. I have recently started back to work on a minimal basis as a broadcast Meteorologist once again. So, I will be sharing my weather knowledge of this winter with you all.
The other part of my blog will be the trials of teaching, or continuing to teach, my kids to ski.
It is now the end of April and winter is in full swing. Snowbird has had over 30" in 2 days. Yep, spring in the Rockies.
We, however, have finished our season and what a great season it was. Emily exceeded all my exceeded all my expections. I thought maybe by the end of the season, she'd be able to ski green runs...but she was doing the blues and very well I may add!
I've lived in Utah long enough to know we rarely if ever finish a ski season with low snow. Now this year, it has been slow to come and some have complained. Come on...even a below snow year in Utah is high in most other areas. Such is the story of the last week. I'm going to use the stats at Alta. As of March 30th, we were at 396" for the season. That is slightly below the 500" per year, but still...that's a lot of snow. Then...Ma Nature changes it up....the jet stream shifts north from it's El Nino position of all season. Just like that, 2 huge storms blow in in the classic winter pattern...north flow, big low overhead, lake effect happens and just like that... we're at 493" at Alta for the season! Let's do the math....almost 100" with 2 storms, 7 days!! Yep, welcome to Utah.
I can't believe it is the end of March already and we are nearing the end of the season. Although...Mother Nature has other plans as a BIG storm is blowing in tonight. You always can tell the strength of the storm by the intensity of the wind. With temps in the upper 60's in Salt Lake, you know the cold front coming is going to be good. So, if you think it's time to hang up your skis...WRONG, we're just getting started. Check out the National Weather Service...good if you're not ready for winter to be done.
So, we had 5 consecutive Sunday lessons at Brighton and it was awesome! The terrain was so good for Emily to really get her confidence up. She was in and out of the trees (I can't even do that), and felt very comfortable. She grew from green runs to easy blues by the end. I've talked about the advantage of weekly lessons....same instructor, same students...they know the routine.
I've been in Utah for 13 years. I learned to ski later in life and have had a great time. A lot of my time has been spent at Alta. I love the drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon and the views once you get to the top of Supreme lift. You can see down the valley and the beautiful views of Mt Superior. It truly is stunning. I have so many pictures from this spot; me and Husband, me and Dad, me and friends, just me.... now I can add me and Emily! Something I never imagined at the start of this ski season.
If you're looking for something to do with the kiddos for a few hours, tubing is a great activity. It doesn't take a ton of energy and the kids love it. We decided to check out Gorgoza tubing hill. It is located just off the Jeremy Ranch exit off I-80 so quick access from Salt Lake or from Park City.
After a big day of skiing, now what do you do with the kids? Going out to dinner can be challenging with little guys if they're anything like mine...sitting still for 5 minutes at a time and then wanting to "get down" and hoping they don't break something. If you're vacationing, you always have your eye out for somewhere that is family friendly and has a louder atmosphere so it will drown out the noise coming from your own table.
I would definitely suggest the Sleigh ride and dinner at the Cabin Restaurant at The Canyons. The Canyons is the largest resort in Utah and is constantly expanding it's wonderful facilities. I have to admit I've not done a lot of skiing at The Canyons, but can tell you it has top notch facilities. Once you pull off the main road into Park City, you can park in a parking lot and take a Gondola right up to the resort. No lugging your skis and kids all over through parking lots...up you go!
After 6 Friday afternoon lessons at Deer Valley, we have arrived at the Ski Extravaganza. It is the last day of lessons and the kids put on a little show for the parents to show them what they have learned during their time. It is a beautiful day at Deer Valley and I've decided to take Brennan out to the moving carpet to see if he'll do a little skiing as well. After lugging all our equipment in and getting Emily sorted out, me and Bren head out. First off....way overdressed. Ok, up the hill we go anyway to get to the beginner area. I've done everything right...had snacks, water, change pants...what could really go wrong. Yep...you guessed it....he doesn't want to go! We go up once and he lays down on the ground and won't move. He's sweating because I've overdressed him and he's done before we started. Again, a lesson I've taught throughout my blog to everyone but myself, DON'T try to teach your 2 year old to ski. Get an instructor. At this age, if they don't want to do it...game over! So, we decide to lounge in the sun and wait for Emily's show to begin.
Let's talk Brighton. A very well oiled machine with lessons as you've seen in previous blogs I've done. First off, you can register online. The great thing is...you do it before hand. You will pay for the lessons and then get your waiver in the mail to sign and mail back. This is great so you don't have to worry about paperwork and chaos on the first day. If you need equipment....no worries. Go an hour early to get and pay for your rentals. If you want to rent for the entire 5 weeks, you'll get a discount. You'll pay and get outfitted the first day. You'll return at the end of the lesson, but every other week; you just need to go pick up your rentals. You've already gone through the rental/pay line, so get your gear and go. No need to stand in the pay line. Nice when you have wiggly kiddos anxious to hit the slopes.
Living in the Salt Lake Valley, you get spoiled by a short drive up to the Cottonwood Canyons. So, when I decided to go to Snowbasin, I packed up the car with snacks, extra clothes and water like we were driving to St George. In just over an hour with mostly freeway driving, we were there. If you've never driven it, a beautiful drive with wonderful views through Mountain Green. No lines, blue skies and easy parking. I just have to say that with 2 kids and 3 sets of ski gear, it is a JOB to get us all to the door. Snowbasin has a GREAT solution. Little equipment trolleys. Now why doesn't everyone have these? You pull up to the curb and unload all your gear into the trolley and away you go. Saved my back and arms!!
Everyone heads to the slopes to have a good time. With little ones, this means also staying warm enough, being well fed and NOT tired.
As far as clothes go...I go the cheap route. At least when they're 4 and under. I take Em to her lessons and see a lot of the kids outfitted from head to toe in designer gear. Not us... we have Target brand all over. You know it is hard enough to keep the kids in shoes, pants, socks from year to year let alone jackets and boots. So, I decided that for the first few years, we'd get our snowpants and boots from Target. Ok, I know it's not cool, but up until now; they've worn their winter gear about 10 times max. Now that Em is a skier, we're going for the big time next year! This time of the year is the BEST time to shop. All the winter stuff goes on sale and you can stock up for next year so your kids don't have to wear the Target brand. By the way, snowpants and boots aren't that warm. Check out Ski n' See. They post new deals every week and if you keep up on it, you can really save a lot over time. After all, we can't afford the $150 ski pants for our kids; but keep an eye on end of the year sales and it is worth it as they are waterproof and much warmer than my generic brands; but they've worked until now.
I've been waiting and the wait is over. Emily is doing the greens!! My goal by the end of the season was for her to do some green runs with me and we're already there!! It was such a proud moment!! We went up to Brighton because we decided to give Brennan another go at the skiing thing. As in previous blogs, I mentioned we bonded with Gina as an instructor. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a good instructor and sticking with him/her. Get a lesson, get their name and stick with the same person if possible. Especially when they are young. Brennan doesn't trust very many, so important for him. I also thought the green runs are so nice at Brighton. If you find runs you are comfortable with and know well, that is the best place to go when taking the little guys on your own.
Brennan has not been a daycare child. We've been fortunate that one parent has stayed home. For those that have boys...don't know if yours are like mine... but there is a little separation anxiety. A GREAT place to take them is to Deer Valley. Brennan has been there a few times and all experiences have been very positive. The good thing is that the child care and the ski lessons are in the same place. Once you register your child-have emergency contacts in mind and any allergies. What made me very comfortable is the security. You get an "invisible" stamp on your hand. In order to move into the child care area, your hand will be scanned and there is a person that must "buzz" you in through the door. As a parent, this makes you feel very secure.
Living in Utah and skiing in Utah...well, we get pretty spoiled. In fact, we get a bit snobby. If there isn't at least 6" of new snow every few days or a week, we feel cheated. When in fact, other parts of the country would be very excited to see even 1/2 the snow we get.
Besides the point, it has been an El Nino year and maybe not quite the winter we'd like to see....until now! During an El Nino year, there is warming of the waters off the coast of South America, trade winds weaken and the warm water pools in the western Pacific. Ok, so..what's my point? We oftentimes will see a ridge or high pressure over the west and storms go around the high. High is associated with sinking air=no storminess. El Nino also will shift the jet streams. This is important because the jet stream acts as a steering wheel for storms. You want that wheel over you, not around you. During an El Nino, we get a split jet. The storms normally go over southern California (like we're seeing the last few days with floods and if you are one that watched the Golden Globes :)) and scrape by southern Utah. Brian Head resort in southern Utah does well. The storms also go through Canada and drop into the Dakotas. (Remember the big Christmas mess?)
After only 3 lessons this season, Emily is doing GREAT at her skiing. As I've said before...enthusiam is key! We've had 2 private lesson, one afternoon lesson and now we've started consecutive weekly lessons at Deer Valley. As we all know, Deer Valley caters to your every need. Same goes with the little guys.
Some differences in lessons. Private lessons are wonderful and you get the one on one attention, but can be a bit spendy. Showing up to a resort and having a group lesson is great because you can ski for the day and the kids get into their age group and enjoy learning with other kids. The consecutive weekly lessons are really nice because you have the same instructor and same kids in the class week after week.
I love the holidays! As a child we all have traditions and I've now started my own with my family. 3 years ago when Emily was just over 2, we started going to Alta on Christmas Eve. At the time, she was too little to ski, so we put her in the day care. They have a program called a Pre Ski at the Childrens Center. They will take the young ones out and walk them around in skis so they get the ski bug! It was Emilys first time in skis. Mom and Dad got to ski all day. One year later, Brennan and Emily went into day care on Christmas Eve.
This year, Emily took her first class lesson at Alta's ski school. If your child has skiied before, you will have an idea of what level they are at. It starts at level 1 and goes up from there. Since Emily has been in a couple of lessons, she is at a level 2. There are advantages and disadvantages to private lessons vs group lessons. I would suggest the first time on skis be a private lesson. Let them get the confidence they need to get up and going and the individual attention. They need to really get the hang of it. It also depends on the child. Group lessons are great once they get their confidence going and are ready to keep up with the others. For Emily, she is outgoing and likes other kids. Being around others her age is a positive thing for her..besides, I feel they are pushed a bit.
After a successful lesson with Emily at Brighton, we decided to give it a try with Brennan. Since we had success with Gina, I requested her to teach Brennan. With the little guys, it's all about FUN. Let's make it FUN. Emily was easy, bonded with Gina and took off. Could Brennan do that? NOOO! Gina greeted him and was happy and friendly; Brennan turns his head and wouldn't look. Ok, now what...we've driven all the way here, I am a DEDICATED Mom and don't even have my skis. It is an ugly inversion in the Salt Lake Valley and we can breath easy up in the mountains. (That whole inversion thing is for another blog.) Brennan gets a little stuffed horse to bond with..it's working! We head outside and grab the skis to walk to the lift. Of course, I carry him since he won't look at Gina. How many of you have one like this? :)
2 good things: he has his boots on and is standing in the snow. No to the skis yet. You have to ask yourself if they will do better with or without you. We try with at first since he likes Mom around. Not working...so I get out of sight. Still not working. Gina is VERY patient and now at least he's talking to her, but laying in the snow. I head back and decide it's time for ultimatums. He likes to be outside, doesn't want to go home. I give him a choice...put skis on and go up lift like a big boy or go home. Well, no choice there...on go the skis and mission accomplished.
The snow has arrived and with nearly 40" of new snow...time to get out. Ok, I'm thinking if Emily gets a lesson, I can take some runs on my new demo skis..yes, I love the powder! What can I say, I'm a Meteorologist and know how to pick my days :)
I've talked with many of the resorts as to the best approach to getting Emily started and on her way to the best experience. All agree, lets start with a private lesson. Brighton has been talked about as having a great ski school for the little ones. The WONDERFUL thing about Brighton, is they WILL take Brennan at 2 years old! I am VERY excited for that one, but that will be another blog. As long as it is a private lesson, they will take a 2 year old out and encourage the parent to attend to learn how to teach the little guy.
There are 2 options for lessons, a private one on one with an instructor or a group lesson. I'm excited for the group lesson because it is a weekly lesson you can sign up for in which the child will have the same group and instructor every week. Like being in school, they learn to trust the instructor and get to know the kids in the class. I think it makes for a bonding experience and at times, a good competitive day for them.
Now that the snow is hitting, time to get the kids ready to ski!! A BIG thank you to SKI' N SEE here in Utah for outfitting us in everything we'll need to have a safe and fun ski season.
As we arrive, kids are in rare form and ready to go. The hardest part with the little ones is trying to get them to put the boots on and liking the boots. After all, we all know the ski boots aren't the most comfortable boots in the world. Bren and Em were very willing to sit for a minute as their feet were measured. I learned to take the liners OUT of the boots and stick their feet in works great. You should be able to put a finger length behind the heel to get the right fit. Also, NEVER wear cotton socks...they hold moisture. If you are on vacation and can't get some ski socks, your dress socks will be OK. Polyester is OK, but cotton is the worst. So, we got some new socks for the kids so their feet will be comfortable.
I also asked "why no poles"? Well, it is better for them to learn and get their balance without them, so they don't get dependant on them to get down the hill. Hmmm, maybe that's my problem.
Since we're new at this thing and the kids are so young, height isn't as big of deal as their weight; so when you head in to rent your skis, pop them on the scale real quick. I feel comfortable in looking at their skis and seeing they are TINY!! Yea...protective Mom :)
So, what do I have to do with this ski thing? Being in the TV world for years, I've been closely associated with Ski Utah and all the Utah ski resorts. I know Utah's weather well as I've been forecasting it for 12 years. When I decided to hang up my Broadcast hat, my Mom hat came on. My "blog beat" this winter will be a journey... A journey with my 4 year old daughter and my 2 year old son in learning to ski. Myself...not a great skier. I'm your average blue slope skier. So, what's the best way to teach the little guys?