Saturday, April 11, 2009

Learning to Ski at Northstar - The Nephew Day Part I

Now back to my original post and the ski day with my nephews. This is a whole new spin on "working for your turns" if you ask me. This post will be in 2 parts. The "experience" is Part I, the "logistics" will be Part II.

Noah is 5, Nathan is 7. The day starts out early with a lot of not wanting to ski. Whether it be because it was their first and second times, or because it was just plain cold out, we'll never know. Off we go.

There are several keys to success with the kids ski day:

1. A parking spot. I am fortunate enough to have one through work, otherwise that would be a whole other adventure. Without a spot, you have three choices: to pay, to shuttle in, or to buy a condo.
2. Starbucks
3. Reservations for ski school and your confirmation code with you. (MUST do this ahead of time)
4. Favorite toys and/or snacks and treats for bribery.
5. Sunscreen
6. Camera
7. Starbucks
8. Last but not least, the EVER important Northstar pull cart. See picture above. This, incidentally, is the best improvement that Northstar made in the past year. You can tow kids, equipment, and odds and ends around. If you have to schlep, you have to have the cart.


The Northstar ski school is a machine. You get there, figure out what line you are supposed to be in, give them your confirmation info, equipment, slather the sunscreen on the boys, take a picture, and before you know it (or before any tears can be shed), the boys are whisked away to a day on the slopes. It is an intense 20 minute experience. (Hence the need for the second Starbucks).

My sister and I take a deep breath, a quick glance behind our shoulders to make sure they are safe, and then we (gleefully?) skip to the gondola for our adult ski adventure.

Our day was fabulous: sun, a posh lunch at Schaffer's Camp, no calls from ski school and a fine Tahoe spring ski day.

In the blink of an eye, 3:30 rolled around and we skied down to find the boys. There are TONS of parents and kids being reunited-the instructors are downloading their interpretations of the progress of their young skiers/snowboarders, the kids are looking ragged, the parents are anxiously awaiting a report about their little snow looks like chaos, but somehow the folks running the operation seem to know who belongs to who.

We find Nathan first, he had a great time. He had skied the season before and his interest and confidence are blooming. Then we find Noah and get a luke-warm report. He catches on quickly and appears to be bored with just "pizza" (or snowplow). He was ready for some "french fries" (going straight down). Both of their feet HURT from their boots. Should I tell them now that their feet will always hurt in ski boots? No.

The boys receive an oozingly sticky sugary delicious churro and waffle for their valiant efforts, we find a Northstar cart and tow "Team Ski Tahoe" to the drop off, get everyone in the car, and the naps are on.

The next day my sister and I took the boys up ourselves to Bear Paw (beginner ski run) and the magic carpet area at mid-mountain Northstar. We had a blast. The progress they made was amazing and the sense of pride and accomplishment that shone in their blue and green eyes made the weekend worth every bit of the effort. It looks like Nathan will be taking on the Big Mountain next time, and Noah may do a bit more of Bear Paw before he is ready for the Olympics.

There is something special about being a small part of the growth and development of a child's life, to see and feel their successes, and celebrate their victories... you parents know all about this and that is why you can't imagine your lives a different way.

Northstar has a great ski program for kids, but nothing beats getting them on the slopes with you and sharing the experience.

Next post will include details such as where to park, how to get ski school reservations in advance, where to get sunscreen, where to get equipment, where ski school is located, and most importantly, where to get the Northstar Cart.

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