First Ski Lessons at Whistler, BC

This trip was sponsored by the Tourism Whistler who generously covered our lift tickets, some ski lessons and childcare, ski rentals, tube park passes and breakfast, and by the Four Seasons Resort Whistler who provided us with three nights hotel accommodations, dinner, breakfast, and a spa visit. Neither organization requested that I express a particular point of view, and my writing always reflects my own opinion and experiences.

Whistler Mountain
Whistler Mountain

We've hemmed and hawed about ski lessons for the kids for a year now. Weekly lessons seem like a good way to go, but we've been afraid to commit. What if the kids hate the cold? What if they hate skiing? Is once a week enough time to get "over the hump" with the tricky parts of skiing and start to enjoy yourself? Finally we decided to take a family ski vacation, enroll the kids in lessons at our destination, and play it by ear. Frankly, I thought, I'd be thrilled if they make it through a day with a positive attitude. Liberal doses of hot chocolate would soothe away bruises or bruised egos.

The fact that we made the trip so late in the season (luckily the Whistler ski season lasts until the end of April, and Glacier skiing is available into July) is a sign of our own confusion. Both my husband and I had muddled our way through the process of learning how to ski. Neither of us has the first clue how to teach the kids the skills they'd need to ski safely. Even more intimidating is that we don't have a mental model for what a ski vacation would look like - what is the flow of the days? How do we schlep all the stuff and the kids to the slope, how long should we expect it to take before the kids get their ski-legs? It was all one big mystery.

Darya gets fitted for ski boots at the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, Canada
Darya gets fitted for ski boots at the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, Canada

And then we just dove in. Like everyone else I had watched the 2010 Olympics at Whistler, and oohed and awwwed at the images of those huge dual mountains (Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb mountain sit side by side) It seemed silly to go anywhere else when we live so close to a world class ski resort. (Whistler is approximately a 4 1/2 hours drive from Seattle). Friends had recommended the resort's ski school, "Whistler Kids," for years.

I wasn't quite sure how to prepare the kids for the trip, they wanted nothing to do with YouTube videos of skiing, so in the end it was a shopping excursion to buy helmets and warm clothes that made the trip seem real to them. They were strangely excited about their gear - Everest was just positive that the "K2" on his helmet referred to the fact that he is in the second Kindergarten classroom at his school.

Everest heads to Ski School at Whistler Kids
Everest heads to Ski School at Whistler Kids

Everest and Darya, who are usually reticent to try anything new - especially if it is a "drop off" were surprisingly calm about walking into ski camp at Whistler Kids on that first day.

Kids learning to ski at Whistler Kids Ski School
Kids learning to ski at Whistler Kids Ski School

My husband, in contrast, was surprisingly emotional about sending the kids off for their first day at Ski School. After his first run, he realized that he was just too drained emotionally to ski. Instead, we met up for hot chocolate at the Mallard Lounge, a cozy sofa filled lounge just at the base of Blackcomb mountain. We cuddled up on a couch and sat chatting for over an hour about how big the kids are getting, our hopes and aspirations for them, and about our life in general.

Everest at Whistler Kids Ski School
Everest at Whistler Kids Ski School

There's something strange about dropping your kids off to learn to do something that you cannot teach them yourself. Talking with Peyman made me realize how much was wrapped up in our decision to start the kids skiing. This was the first time we had asked them to do something we weren't sure they were ready for without being there to provide comfort if they needed it. Our decision, it turns out, was all tangled up with our aspirations for raising kids who are physically active, for empowering them to join the ski trips in College, and in wanting them to have the confidence in their bodies that you learn from hurtling yourself down a mountain just a little faster than absolutely necessary. That's a lot of pressure to put on two kids for one activity! In retrospect it's a good thing we weren't there to watch the lessons.

Still was a rare treat to have time and energy to talk with one another in the middle of the day, and when we did go pick the kids up at the end of the day seeing them cruise down the mountain seemed absolutely magical. By the end of the second day, Darya was skiing well enough to ride a lift and ski green runs. Everest was coming downhill and making turns too! Wow were we impressed.

And the kids? They've taken to skiing around my kitchen in their socks after school. They have wonderful memories of our trip (Everest says we're going for two weeks next winter), and they've got a great basis for weekly ski lessons and more ski vacations next winter!

Related Links
What to do in Whistler with Kids - City Guide
How I skied my troubles away at the Four Seasons Resort, Whistler

 Subscribe to our feed

Subscribe by email:


  1. Anna Moffat on April 12, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.

    Sounds like a great trip for the kids (and how lovely to get the chance to spend a few peaceful moments with your husband!) Whistler has been on the bucket list for a while but I haven't skied in about 15 years so could do with a session at Whistler Kids myself!

  2. Sarah V. on April 12, 2011 at 6:58 p.m.

    I was really interested to read this because we've been contemplating when the best time would be to start teaching our daughter to ski. My husband and I aren't the best skiers, but we enjoy it and would love to try a ski vacation with our daughter.

  3. Torque Wrench on April 13, 2011 at 7:09 a.m.

    those were really cute, this just give me an idea to bring my little Andrea out for a ski lesson..

  4. Kristina Doss on April 14, 2011 at 7:50 a.m.

    How old do the kids have to be to take lessons? I have a toddler and would love to try and take a family-ski vacation next season.

  5. Debbie on April 14, 2011 at 10:36 a.m.

    The lessons begin at age 3 (and the younger kids are in smaller groups than the bigger kids).

    Kids under 3 can go to a daycare program at Whistler Kids, and that is what Eilan did while I was skiing. It's the first time I have used that sort of program when we traveled, and I thought they did a great time. It was clean, there were lots of toys, and there were plenty of caregivers. The kids went outside each day, and I got a report card at the end of the day telling me what he ate and what he did.