The tips of my skis were suspended in the air; Lone tree Chute dropping away below my feet. If you’ve never stood at the top of Lone Tree, the views are vertigo-inducing and spectacular. Needles Peak rises rocky and majestic in front of you while the lodge slumbers down below.
If you look closer, you can see skiers and riders move along the cat track.
But it is best not to… as then you realize just how high you are.
While I am not new to the chutes at Snowbasin Resort, this was the first time I was skiing them with my three kids, ages 7 - 11. I know that many younger kids have skied these chutes before. Still, the first time on this steep of terrain with my kids pushed my mommy-instincts to the brink of sanity.
I oscillated moment-by-moment between thinking, “they totally have this,” and, “what happens if they don’t?!”
This 2017/2018 season has been a milestone year for us. All our kids are growing older, their skills are such that they can easily keep up with us on most terrain. They are eager to explore new places with new friends, to try harder things, and to express some independence.
After spending the last few seasons honing skills through ski lessons combined with family time on the slopes, this season was mostly about setting them free. Very purposefully, I approached this ski season with almost zero agenda. I didn’t sign them up for a series of lessons. I didn’t put them on ski team. I didn’t even set a goal of heading up to Snowbasin Resort every weekend.
My goal this season? Have fun.
And here is what I learned, fun can just happen, but often it is cultivated.
1. Seek opportunities for your kids to ski with friends.
Let’s be real. We are all busy. Factor in family life and it just seems like every time I try to organize a ski day with another family, we have to schedule it like a surgery! It takes work and if I am honest, often, I am just too lazy to make it work.
Not this season. I worked hard to connect with other ski families on the slopes, sometimes skiing days we normally would not have, meeting up after school on Fridays for a few hours, or making those plans weeks in advance.
2. Allow your kids, when age appropriate, to have some independence.
This season we allowed our kids to go off and ski with friends, sans adult. Gasp! We had time and location boundaries, and we were 100% assured of their knowledge of the terrain, so this didn’t seem so extreme.
However, it is also a major milestone as a parent, especially when my idea of skiing for the last 10 years, meant watching over my kids like a protective momma duck! I almost didn’t know what to do with myself once they were off on the Wildcat!
3. Give your kids ownership over the day.
On this particular day, when I found myself standing at the top of Lone Tree Chute, we had told the kids they were leading the way all day. We’d go where they wanted to, even if it meant lapping the terrain parks for hours.
And they chose the chutes… of course. I found myself simultaneously shocked and so proud.
My son, looked down at his dad below and said, “I’ve got this, Mom.”
I looked at my oldest, and also my most cautious child. “How is your head game, girl?” I asked her. “Good, Mom!” She said confidently.
And just like that. One, Two, Three. They each took the first turn (always the hardest), and picked their way down Lone Tree.
It was one of those days you dream of as a parent, but when you are picking up your toddler off the snow for the 413th time of the season, that dream seems so far away.
It isn’t folks.
It seems like yesterday we were stuck on the bunny hill. Now I can easily say my kids can ski any terrain on the mountain.
What is even more interesting? I learned to set aside my agenda. It took me awhile and a few failed ski days. But I set it aside. I let the kids set their own goals. And was surprised to find out that fun with friends, a little independence and a bit of ownership helped each one of my kids grow leaps and bounds in their skiing skills.
Not only that, I am hoping we laid some serious bricks in the foundation of raising lifelong skiers. The future looks promising!
See you next season friends!
Alyssa Erickson I am a wife, mom, rock climber, skier, coffee lover and all around adventure lover with a passion for writing. I have my B.A. in English Literature from the University of Colorado and am the founder of KidProject.org. I live and play near the Wasatch Range, partnering with my husband and teaching my kids to make the most of life and the One who gave it to us.