Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge owner Jenn Life began skiing Alta in 1990. She was a beginner skier when she moved to Alta, so when it was time to teach her kids how to ski she knew a little of what they would be experiencing, but there was one big difference: Jenn was an adult. Her children, Sophia and Anton, were toddlers when they learned to ski.
We checked in with Jenn to get her tips on skiing with the littles, not as a longtime Alta local, but as a mom. If you are planning on becoming a ski family, we have a few tips that may help, but the most important takeaway is to learn and honor what works for your family. Jenn humbly ended our chat telling us that she isn’t some super mom, she just figured out what worked for her family and learned from it.
- When the kids are little timing is everything and begins before you walk out the door.
- Get them dressed while you are dressing or after you are dressed. If you get them dressed first they will get hot and cranky. You don’t want to start any day with hot, cranky kids.
- Keep it short. Sometimes that may mean one run and a hot chocolate.
- Keep it fun. If it isn’t fun go inside.
- Learn what motivates your kids! For Sophia and Anton it was Trainer’s hot chocolate at Goldminer’s Saloon. Sometimes after a hot cocoa break they’d be able to get one more run in.
- If you are comfortable on your skis you may be able to teach them the basics yourself. If you aren’t comfortable on your skis or comfortable teaching your kids get a lesson. It will be some of the best money you can spend. Jenn recently booked her kids in a few day crash course of ski lessons to help them progress to the next level. She was able to teach them the basics, but it was time to call the pros to keep them improving.
- If you do choose to teach them yourself take advantage of tools to make the job a little easier. With Sophia, Jenn used a hula-hoop, which, as you can imagine, was adorable. With Anton she found the ski harness, which was a little easier as it gave him more room to roam but kept him contained.
- Chairlift safety is critical. Make sure you instill the importance of good behavior while on the chairlift.
- Be flexible! Sophia insisted on wearing a tutu over her ski pants for years.
- Get comfortable on the beginner hill.
- Dress warmer than you think you should. You’ll spend a lot of time resting and waiting.
- Be patient.
- Bring snacks!
- Consider a full-immersion, even if you live near a ski mountain take a ski vacation. Believe it or not, Jenn and family vacation each Christmas at Sun Valley to take advantage of the full ski vacation experience. It also helps to give the kiddos a few days of skiing in a row.
- Take advantage of spring skiing with the kiddos! Kids can be fair weather skiers. Sure you may love storm skiing, but the littles tend to enjoy those bluebird days the best especially early on.
Becoming a ski family was important to Jenn and Gerhard from the very beginning. A little preparation and flexibility will go a long way and the payoff is worth it in every way possible. These few tips that helped Jenn and Gerhard as they were teaching Sophia and Anton how to ski.
Don’t get too upset about missing powder days while skiing with your kids. Before you know it they’ll be out skiing you, and you’ll be longing for those days on Big Grizzly. These days Sophia and Anton are often waiting for Mom and Dad. The ski days are longer, but Trainer’s hot chocolate is still pretty important.