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Ski school

Started: 2014-04-13 14:24:02

Submitted: 2014-04-13 15:54:17

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator takes his preschooler to ski school

After my ill-fated attempt at joining my employer's ski trip in early March, I went skiing on my own at the end of March. I headed up to Copper Mountain for the day on 29 March, which happened to be the day after Copper got ten inches of snow. Despite being the end of March, the snow was deep and fresh. On easier runs the previous day's snow had been groomed down, but on more difficult runs it had not yet been packed down and laid, somewhat haphazardly, on the bumps and steep slopes. After a few easier runs to get my ski legs back, I spent most of the morning in the Spaulding Bowl, dropping into the steep double-black-diamond slope at the top of the Storm King surface lift. The snow was still soft and forgiving from the previous day. On one run I saw a skier with a vest identifying him as a blind skier who was skiing with a guide who spoke into a microphone to guide the skier, "follow my voice and we'll start the traverse." I was impressed since I was barely holding my own while being fully sighted.

I finished out the morning skiing the bumps under the Resolution lift. The bumps were beautiful but they wore me out; I went back down to the base for a late lunch and barely had enough energy to take the lift back up to the top for one final run, finishing my day with more than an hour left before the lifts closed at 16:00. The weather was beautiful and the snow was good, but there were far fewer people than I expected; I barely had to wait for any of the lifts I rode.

Calvin heard me talking about skiing and said that he, too, would be interested in skiing. I quizzed him about what exactly he knew about skiing and I couldn't get a good answer; I assume his classmates at preschool must have mentioned something about it. I have very little interest or aptitude in personally teaching Calvin how to ski as a beginner, but it eventually occurred to me that I could send him to ski school and he'd be occupied all day long, while I skied and Kiesa hung out in the ski lodge and read. We didn't plan sufficiently in advance to turn my day at Copper Mountain into a family ski trip, so we settled on going to Eldora, our smaller local ski area, this weekend. (I assume Calvin could get roughly equivalent ski school experiences at any ski area, and while I'd generally prefer to ski at a larger ski area with more variety in terrain (and therefore more opportunity to find just the right size of bumps to keep me entertained), starting at Eldora seemed like a good idea since it was much closer and somewhat cheaper.)

We headed up to Eldora on 12 April. We found the ski school in one of the new buildings that had been built since my last visit to Eldora (at the end of 2007) and got Calvin his preschooler-sized ski equipment.

Calvin prepares to go skiing
Calvin prepares to go skiing

We headed out to the ski school rendezvous and waited to be sorted into classes while Calvin played with his skis.

Calvin with his ski gear
Calvin with his ski gear
Calvin skis with Kiesa
Calvin skis with Kiesa

We found Calvin's instructor and I handed Calvin off for the day to go skiing myself. Spring ski conditions dominated the day; the snow was crisp and a bit icy in the morning, and promised to turn soft and slushy into the afternoon. I ended up skiing in the Corona Bowl most of the morning, and found a few bumps off the side of the liftline to keep me amused for a few runs, then headed back to the front side to try the handful of black-diamond runs there. I amused myself on Challenge for a while before meeting Kiesa for lunch. We spotted Calvin eating lunch with his ski school in the cafeteria but let him eat uninterrupted.

After lunch afternoon spring ski conditions were in force: it was warm and sunny, and the snow was soft on its way to becoming slushy. On flatter terrain I could feel my skis sticking to the snow. A bit of cloud rolled in, promising to bring up to a foot of snow for the next day (Eldora's scheduled closing day). I skied in the Corona Bowl for a while and tried the double-black-diamond West Ridge, only the third time I'd skied that corner of Eldora ever. (The first time was on a powder day in high school; the second time was that morning.) The top half was a good deal steeper than I was comfortable with, but the bumps on the bottom side were much better than any I found elsewhere on the mountain.

I soon grew bored with the Corona Bowl and headed back to the front side for a few more runs before I decided to call it a day at 15:15. The clouds had started to increase, and the crowds had all but vanished; the lift operators had taken down the entire queue structure in front of the main lift. I found Kiesa and Calvin in the all-but-abandoned ski lodge; Calvin had done well in his first day of ski school and passed from the "Red - First Timer" level to the second level (though the ski instructor suggested giving him a refresher in the introductory level if we didn't return this season). He rode the Tenderfoot surface lift (basically a giant rubberized conveyer belt going up the side of the mountain) and could use the basic "wedge" technique to slow himself down. He also enjoyed himself, and Kiesa got to hang out in the ski lodge reading, so we declared the whole thing an unqualified success.

Now I can say that both Calvin and I learned to ski at Eldora, though he clearly still has a lot to learn.

I have more photos of Calvin's first day skiing at Photos on 2014-04-12.

(In another amusing insight into Calvin's thought processes, last week I read Calvin a picture book (The adventures of Beekle, the unimaginary friend by Dan Santat), which included a picture with a ship named Sir Edmund Hillary in the background. I exclaimed at the name and told Calvin that Sir Edmund was a famous mountain climber who was the first person to climb Mount Everest (along with, I hastened to add, his friend Tenzing Norgay). Calvin said, "Oh, he's a mountain climber like you?" and I allowed that we both climbed mountains but Sir Edmund was somewhat more famous and talented than I am.)

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