The Child Ski and Play program allows for ski lesson time with professional instructors experienced in teaching beginner skiers.
Photo courtesy of PAUL DALHOUSE/SnowSeekers.
WHITEFISH, MT — As I headed to Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana, ready to hit a USA ski hill for the first time, the same thoughts ran through my mind as any other inaugural road trip: What are their runs like? What kind of weather can we expect? Would I find pockets of untouched powder? What kind of apres trouble would I get myself into?
But on the drive from Edmonton I was hit with the realization that this was to be my first weekend trip to the mountains since the birth of my daughter. I started to reflect on how these trips are now likely going to be much more of a rarity, how my riding time would now be shared with little one as opposed to weekend warriors.
As we arrived at the hill the mystery of skiing with children was now deeply ingrained in my psyche, and I found it materializing even while trying to reconnect with the hard riding (sometimes partying) former self that I look back on so fondly. My mind was wandering, looking for answers as to how this next stage of my enthusiasm for snow would play out on the hill. I had so many questions floating around, especially within the context of this new destination I was discovering. Luckily, with a little planning I was able to set up a meeting with Bob Heim, Snow Sport Supervisor at Whitefish Mountain Resort, and examine the opportunities that are available for families venturing to the resort with a little one in tow.
One of the things that really stood out was the sheer number of different options available for almost any family structure or skill level. "We try to provide an a-la-carte menu style of options," said Heim. "We have programs and facilities to cater to the needs of families that may have varying ages and skill levels in their group."
Whitefish features a very well-equipped Kids Center.
Photo courtesy of PAUL DALHOUSIE/SnowSeekers
As an inexperienced parent hoping to get my child skiing as soon as possible, I often get apprehensive on the logistics of being at the hill for a whole day with a toddler. Where a whole day of lessons would likely end in a screaming mess of tears and frustration (for all involved), there is a sense of guilt with ditching a child in a daycare while I rack up turn after turn; after all, we do want to eventually ski together.
The Whitefish snow sport program provides a near-perfect solution with its Child Ski and Play program. This program allows for ski lesson time with professional instructors experienced in teaching beginner skiers, as well as play time at the very well-equipped Kids Center. With a lunch and gear storage included in the package, the idea of fresh turns in Hellroaring Basin became a lot more realistic venture.
Whitefish also provides a rather large beginner ski area. Tucked away just off of the ski lodge at the mountain's base, this area has ample space for new riders to find their legs, an enclave away from the higher-traffic and faster-skied areas on the mountain.
For those who feel they may be ready to take their brood for a full mountain adventure, Whitefish offers exceptional value. There are discounted tickets for kids 12 and under, as well as an array of other options for more advanced lessons.
Heim was also able to offer some advice. If you do plan on bringing smaller children (under three), call in advance as the space available may be limited.
It's often said that kids grow up too fast; however, after looking into the options that are available at Whitefish, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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