We all know that Vermont is a beautiful state with 5 seasons: winter, mud, spring, summer, and fall. In order to get outside, Vermonters need to find ways to enjoy each season. As a kid, my mom enrolled my sister and me in ski lessons. Within a few hours, we were freezing cold and crying, with frozen eyelashes and a promise to ourselves to never ski again.
Now, as a mom with two girls and a husband who enthusiastically love skiing, I finally succumbed to the begging, nagging and negotiating of my family, and agreed to learn to ski.
Luckily, we live in an area with several ski resorts, all offering their own menu of lessons and learn to ski programs. Here are some tips to get started and make it a little more enjoyable to learn to ski as a mom!
- Bring along a friend– This was key for me. Luckily, I had another mom friend whose husband was “strongly encouraging” her to learn to ski. Together we said yes, and went into it knowing we would have fun and be more comfortable knowing we had someone else to commiserate with.
- Sign up for several lessons at once– We all know it takes more than one try to decide if you really like or dislike something. Buying more than one lesson at once almost ensures that you will give skiing a fair chance! A local ski resort offers a program called The Learners Permit. By purchasing this, we got 3 ski lessons, rentals and a pass for discounted tickets for the remainder of the season. The 3 lessons could take place whenever worked for us. This gave us the opportunity to look at the weather and choose days with pleasant temperatures.
- Make a day of it– While the lessons we had were only 2 hours long, we would often do some skiing before or after our lesson. Going out for breakfast or lunch was also a nice perk, and made the day that much more fun.
- Dress appropriately– We always tell our kids to dress appropriately for the weather, and honestly, this is key to having a pleasant day. Make sure you have decent long johns, a warm jacket and ski pants, as well as warm mittens, and a face mask or balaclava and a helmet. You don’t need to buy a bunch of new gear, look through what you already have, borrow from a friend or buy second hand. Wait to buy anything that will cost you a lot or be single use until you decide that you really like skiing.
- Rent gear– Our skis, boots, and poles were included with our lessons which worked great. Until you have taken several lessons and have done many runs on your own, don’t invest in equipment until you know that you are going to stick with skiing as a new hobby. Also, renting gear and trying different skis will let you know what type of ski you enjoy using.
- Get a proper boot fitting– The rental shop doesn’t typically fit your boots for you. You give them your regular shoe size and that is the boot size you get. It took me nearly losing my toenails before I went to a pro-shop and got properly fitted for boots. Turned out I was wearing boots that were two sizes too big.
- Ski on days you don’t take a lesson but without your family– I made the mistake of skiing with my family after my first lesson. I have a hard time taking feedback from my husband, and my kids were clearly irritated that I was going so slow and holding them back. I felt anxious and irritated and really had no fun. Plan to go skiing with another friend who is learning, or even by yourself. Same as any other activity, the more you do it, the better you will be.
- Have fun– This seems like a no-brainer, but having fun while learning to ski doesn’t come naturally. Every instructor I had would remind us that skiing is supposed to be fun, but it wasn’t until my third lesson that I actually believed them!
Thanks to a little pressure from my husband and kids, I was able to overcome my fear of skiing and put aside my memories of frozen eyelashes and frostbitten cheeks. Skiing is now an activity we look forward to doing as a family and we all scour the Weather Channel for weekends with good snow and above zero temperatures.
One of the downsides of having a family who skis is the cost. We have yet to purchase a family season pass, as the weather the past few winters has been so unpredictable. This leaves us with paying for day tickets which can also be quite costly. Luckily, there are a number of local deals that we have been able to take advantage of. Here are what we have found:
- Bolton Valley Night Skiing and Monday Deal- Bring your family to Bolton Tuesday- Saturday after 4pm and pay $25 a ticket. Lifts are open until 10pm, so you get 6 hours of skiing and fun for the family. Bolton also offers $25 Mondays, where you can purchase an all-access ticket for $25 which is good from 9am-4pm.
- Cochran’s Friday Night Lights– This is the best deal around! From 3pm-8pm you can purchase tickets for $5 a person for 5 hours of skiing. They also offer a dinner option which includes dinner and dessert for $12 an adult and $6 per kid. Not into night skiing? No problem, Cochran’s regularly offers $25 adult lift tickets and $20 child tickets.
- Smuggs Vermonter Days– On Fridays, and with proof of Vermont residency, you can pay half price for lift tickets, rentals or lessons.
- Burke Mountain– Burke offers Wicked Wednesdays. For a party of 3, purchase one ticket at $69, get 2 free (to be used in the same day, and all people need to be present to purchase) but that turns out to be $23 a ticket per person for a full day of skiing.
- Talk to Friends– Have a friend who works at a resort? They often have vouchers that they can give to friends for discounted lift tickets. Have friends who own season passes? They also sometimes get discounted tickets, so spread the word that you are looking for a deal!
Another option is to check Liftopia and The Point Ski and Ride Card. Both offer discounted tickets to various ski areas. Disclaimer: Always check websites before venturing to the mountain. Most have black-out dates and holiday rates that you will want to avoid.