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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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