New Schools It’s National Safety Awareness Week but it’s also Learn to Ski and Ride month here in Colorado. When people think about learning to ski and ride their first thought is ski school. When people think about ski school their first thought is kids. Colorado Ski Country resorts are like the Ivy League of ski schools, we’re talking upper class, distinguished curriculum, the finest ski school education taught by the most sought after instructors, and, they offer scholarships. (photo: A-Basin/Casey Day)
For Learn to Ski and Ride month ski areas are emphasizing new ski school programs around the state and those that are so well know they are legendary. When you see junior or princess slide down the snow for the first time, dressed in their winter attire, pushing their little legs into the shape of a pizza that defies physiology, you will weep tears of pride and joy. You might want to take that ski school enrollment form home and frame it in the playroom.
My kids have been to Crested Butte’s ski school but not since they got this new program. In response to guest requests for snowboard lessons for younger kids, Crested Butte Mountain Resort created a new Mini Riders program. Mini Riders is a group lesson option for kids ages five and six who are interested in snowboarding. The resort guarantees an instructor to student ratio of 1:3, allowing the instructor to give more individual attention to each child.
They’ve also been to Monarch ski school where similarly, due to the demand for lessons geared toward younger children, Monarch Mountain now offers small group lesson opportunities for three and four-year-olds (skiing only) called Caterpillars and five and six-year-olds (skiing and snowboarding) called Junior Butterflies.Caterpillars is a weekly skiing adventure designed with lots of play that helps kids foster a love of snow sports and put mileage on their skis.Junior Butterflies is a program for young skiers or snowboarders that exposes kids to the mountain and develops all-around skiing or riding skills in a fun environment.
Copper Mountain‘s Ski and Ride School made new changes based on guest feedback too. Spurred by guests who have indicated that they want youth lessons to end a bit earlier so that the family can take a few runs together at the end of the day, Copper now ends ski and ride school youth lessons at 3:00 p.m. instead of at 3:30pm.
Lots of talk these days about what resorts are doing when family members of different skill levels go on a vacation together. Ski Country resorts take great care to accommodate families with beginners by focusing on enhancing the service and facilities side of the guest experience.
Aspen/Snowmass and Steamboat, whose schools both my kids have been enrolled in, are accommodating families with beginners this year with improved ski school facilities and terrain. Steamboats beginner lesson improvements include a $2.5 million remodel and expansion of the resor’s Kids Vacation Center and a new ski and snowboard school ticket office.
Aspen/Snowmass’ Elk Camp Meadows learning area, located mid-mountain at Snowmass, is dedicated to beginner skiers and snowboarders, both adults and children. The area has a new quad chair, two new surface lifts and a new ski school building for beginners. The Meadows is at the top of the Elk Camp gondola, giving beginners better snow conditions and a complete alpine experience with sweeping views of the valley. Trail alignments ensure that there is no cross-traffic in this area, making for an ideal learning environment.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort has a new program called the Beginner Adventure. This lesson focuses on the brand new learning center and linking the experience at the Learning Center to the beginner lift and Peachtree pod (one of the beginner/easy areas on the mountain). The resort also added a new beginner trail to this area this season.
Like the diploma at graduation, many resorts across the state offer specialized kids learning programs designed for young skiers and snowboarders. Many of these programs offer season passes to students after the lesson program ends and others specialize in instruction for toddlers getting an early start on downhill fun.
Winter Park’s Just Because I’m Three lesson program is a full-day program open to three-year-olds only. The instructor to student ratio is 1:4 and the three-year-olds now have a separate meeting place to check in. The students begin the morning inside, in a room with a little hill that the kids ride down on skis. There are fewer distractions indoors, so students progress faster before getting outside on the snow.
The Children’s Learning Center (CLC) at Powderhorn is a hassle-free, one-stop center for kids ages three through seven.The CLC offers group or private lessons, ski equipment rentals,lift tickets, snacks and playall in one place.
The Wolf Pup program at Wolf Creek allows children to progress their skiing abilities at their own pace. The Wolf Pups is an on-the-snow program designed for ages five through eight that teaches children the fun of skiing.
The Panda Cubs program at Ski Cooper also caters to the tiniest riders on the hill. The program, designed for four-year-olds, is a wonderful way to introduce children to skiing in a two-hour lesson.
Echo Mountain also offers a unique program for parents and kids to participate in a lesson together. Echo’s Parent and Me semi-private lessons offer personalized coaching to teach skiing to three-year-olds and prepare them for group/private instruction by age four. The program offers a 1:1 instructor to parent/child ratio.
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort’s Powder Pigs is designed for three-year-olds, offering daycare with an introduction to skiing. The program supplies a special Nordic ski, which allows the child’s heel to lift. This feature makes it easier for children to learn the concept of skiing.
As a family-oriented resort, Eldora also attracts many young beginner skiers and riders. To accommodate them, Eldora offers a range of lesson options, including lessons specific to first-timers, private lessons, and group lessons in its Mountain Explorers program.
The Sunlight Ski and Snowboard Education Center offers a variety of single-day lessons and four-week sessions. Threemosabes is a program for three-year-olds that gradually introduces children to skiing over a four-week session. Skimosabes is a four-week session for children age four to six, to develop and improve skiing skills.
Telluride Ski and Snowboard School offers daily children’s lessons providing age-specific learning experiences. Gold Miners is designed for three-year-olds to gradually introduce children to a world of snow and skiing.
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch offers a guarantee to succeed program for beginners of all ages. Called the Guaranteed Start to Ski/Ride, the lesson is a full-day group lesson and includes lift ticket and equipment rentals.
Several resorts include a free season pass after students complete a lesson program. Arapahoe Basin’s childrens ski lessons start at age three and snowboard lessons at age five. The ski areas guaranteed lesson program is for both disciplines and includes a 2009-10 Arapahoe Basin only season pass, three half-day group lessons, full-day equipment rentals with every lesson and guaranteed success.
Loveland offers the Loveland 3 Class Pass, which provides a free season pass to children who complete three lesson packages anytime during the season. Program includes full-day lessons, lunch, and a season pass.