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New to Colorado and new to skiing? Follow locals’ advice on getting up to speed on the slopes

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There are a lot newcomers to Colorado—U.S. Census Bureau data from 2018 estimates nearly 5.7 million residents, up from around 5 million in 2010, more than a 13-percent increase. That also means plenty of newcomers to skiing or snowboarding. But for families, the prospect of learning may seem overwhelming. Not to worry! Here’s some advice from local parents to get you and your kids up to speed on the slopes.

Take a lesson.

Whether you’re a kid or an adult doesn’t matter: Spending the money on at least one lesson will help set up you and your family for success. For kids especially, that can vary from one lesson to full-fledged ski schools that last an entire season. Mom Katy Ferrero says lessons at Eldora Mountain Resort, located roughly 20 miles southwest of Boulder (and 50 miles from Denver), were a good starting point for her family. Her two older boys learned to ski around age 4 in multi-week lessons, and she improved her own technique with the resort’s Women’s Program. Also a multi-week program—the day begins with a European breakfast followed by a four-hour guided, on-mountain experience and ends with an hour-long gourmet lunch—Ferrero says she improved her skills while also enjoying time with friends. “It was such a treat to ski without worrying about kids and their equipment, and be able to ski at my pace.”

Invest in warm gear.

It’s no secret that all the components of getting on the mountain—from warm-weather clothing to skis, poles, boards and more—can add up. But if you’re serious about getting the family excited about the sport, don’t skimp on the clothing that’ll keep you warm on Colorado’s slopes. “It’s worth it to buy quality gear, particularly gloves,” says Christine Kjeell, mom to a 10-year-old son who boards and a 6-year-old daughter who skis. “And those handwarmers are indispensable.”

Let the kids learn—even if you don’t.

Take it from a Colorado native whose farm-raised parents didn’t ski: Get kids on the slopes, even if you’re reluctant to do so yourself. I don’t blame my parents—after all, skiing can be expensive, and we didn’t have a ton of money—but I do feel like I missed out on a lot of fun times with friends, who skied many weekends while I sat it out. It’s the philosophy Silvana Bartra is following for her two kids, ages 5 and 8, allowing them to experience skiing despite her own knee injuries that prevent her from doing the same. “I thought they had to be introduced to skiing despite my fear of them injuring their knees,” she says. After signing up her children for a full-day lesson, they’re already confident enough to ski with Dad. “My husband is a Colorado native and an experienced snowboarder, so they go down the slopes together while I watch.” 

Maintain realistic expectations.

Many experienced skiing or boarding parents opt to teach children on their own, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be patient with the process, Kjeell says. “I had to accept that I wasn’t going to ski on black diamonds for a couple of years; we called it baby prison,” she says. “But it was worth it because now we’re on the other side of it. It’s a lifelong skill.”

Learn with friends.

It doesn’t take long for parents to figure out their kids don’t always want to hang out solely with Mom and Dad. So it never hurts to invite other families whose kids are also learning to ski and board, turning a day of skiing or boarding into a fun playdate. “The kids go off together, and suddenly they’re having a good time,” Kjeell says.

Freelance writer Heather Mundt is a Colorado native from Longmont who didn’t learn to ski until her late 20s. Now she spends ski season barely keeping up with her husband and two boys. Read more about her family’s travel adventures at www.momfari.com or read more of Heather’s skiing stories here