First Day on the Slopes

Teaching toddlers to ski- A rite of passage

My husband and I are avid, or maybe the word is addictive skiers, and have been most of our lives. We began with our families when we were young and as we grew older skiing became a getaway with friends, couples days and our way to unwind. It's important to us our kids take part in downhill and for us, the sport has evolved as our family grows. Our oldest child who is now a teenager was an easy learn on the hill. We gracefully traded off ski lessons and took our time teaching him not only to ski, but to be a skier. In between instructor change we would slide in a run or two on our own to keep momentum up. To be fully honest, most of the credit goes to my husband which is why our son is now an excellent skier, more aggressive on the hill than myself and has been side by side with us since.

Ski Whiteface

Chapter two of our lives, 10 years later involves toddler twins. At 2 1/2 they boast an activity level to be rivaled, with an attention span to match. We have our work cut out for us- of this we are certain.

Plan Ahead

Although we live in Lake Placid, close to Whiteface Mountain we have quite a few options for our first day. We could head to the golf course or a local recreational hill, take a trip to Gore Mountain, Titus Mountain or Big Tupper when it opens- or do what we did with our oldest and ski Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake. We made the decision to head to Whiteface Mountain Resort based on the amenities including the "Kids Kampus" with available learning tools, bright foam features, the scheduled visit from Santa's Workshop Characters and of course the beloved magic carpet.

For us we felt this would be the most manageable option; keeping the kids entertained and simple for us. If we were traveling to the area we would have scheduled half day child care for the kids in either the Bears Den Nursery or Snow Sports School to give us the opportunity to ski for a few hours. These programs are extremely well managed and organized, affording a parent peace of mind instead of stress over taking a "mommy time out".

Pre-ski prep- AKA dress up!

Prior to lesson one we have been sure to try all of the gear on the twins at home. Helmets have been well received and provide a newly found game of ramming into each other. Ski boots have also been a novelty and are also proudly worn. If you don't have the opportunity try on gear in advance consider reading a few books and watching a video or two about skiing to familiarize them with the process. Any sort of recognition builds anticipation in children and gives an element of excitement once the big day arrives.

All packed up

The gear list for our family ski adventure includes:

  • Mom and Dad's gear
  • 2 sets of 70cm skis  
  • 2 pairs of ski boots, mondo size 17.5 and 19 
  • 2 ski harnesses 
  • 2 helmets equipped with goggles  
  • 2 turtle furs to fit under the helmets
  • 2 snow suits to match
  • extra extra outdoor socks in case of cold feet or a wet lodge floor 
  • mittens to ensure their fingers stay warm
  • Everything in backpacks for easy hauling

 After packing their gear and then myself, it was decided I would be best served with a nap…

Toddle Skiing

Tuned and ready to go 

Parking was a dream at the Kids Kampus of the resort. We parked 5 rows back and it was a holiday week! With everything already packed we hiked up to the base lodge where I scooted into reception to grab lift tickets and my husband headed to the main lodge to set the kids up in their gear. Equipment rentals, gear, lift tickets and lesson sign up is all centrally located in one place. The secondary attached lodge is where you get dressed, dine and can grab a hot cocoa. 

Lift ticket pick up

By the time I registered the kids and purchased their tickets, my family was already in one of the play and ski zones getting a feel for the sport. We made the decision in advance to have Dad wear skis and I would be the one who rallied (or herded) the children within the different areas.

The kids loved watching Dad along with all of the other children skiing and snowboarding- the people watching was an activity in itself for them. Once we felt like they had a feel for the boots and snow we slipped them in their skis and pulled them through the cones and down the slight incline carved out in the snow. Clipping in was the most difficult part for them. The movement of walking and sliding in skis is a fun and playful experience for children and we just let them do exactly that. For the littlest skiers the biggest hurdle is getting used to moving around attached to skis. For day one, a child who is comfortable standing and walking while clipped in is deemed a success - we had no chair lift expectation.

kids ski Whiteface

Moving on up

After a half hour in the cone zone we decided to venture into the magic carpet area. The staff was great and let us in without riding up the carpet, giving the kids a chance to gage what was going on. Enhanced with larger than life flowers and foam cut out features instead of cones, the twins were in the land of little ones and became at ease instantly. Dad took a trip up the carpet first and skied back down to us, which encouraged the kids to hop on with him and give skiing a try.

Whiteface Mountain Kids Park

The kids made a few trips up and down the carpet and bunny hill until it was clear they had had enough. We un-clipped near a "baby tree" and took a break to eat snow.  We tried to get their skis on again, however the fascination of standing up the elephant foam creatures was much more interesting to these two. They ran around (with ski boots on) and helped all of the elephants up and then proceeded to lay them back down. I watched them play in the snow and quickly understood skiing and snowboarding is how WE big kids play in the snow- mission accomplished!

If you didn't all ready know in Lake Placid we also have a long standing tradition of playing in the snow!

Family skiing at Whiteface

My husband and I were extremely impressed with their first day out. We definitely made the right choice in a ski site for our needs to make for an excellent family day. Lake Placid NY is the perfect winter family vacation location, with all of it's off the hill activities, there's never a worry about what to do, or what if the ski day is a bust. Choosing Whiteface Mountain for a family ski trip that includes young children is a great choice from any travel point. The children had a great time and have asked about their ski boots and sleeping elephants over the last few days, which means we will head back for another visit soon.

Insider tips

  • If you are planning a lesson or child care book in advance
  • Don't stress if you don't have all of the gear- there are plenty of rental shops available
  • Enough can not be said about the ease of parking- bravo
  • Assisting sleeping elephants in ski boots up and down hill makes for a nice long toddler nap 
  • Book a Ski and Stay package if you plan to ski- and mid week boasts the best rates
  • Kids under 6 ski and ride for free- they receive a lift ticket to wear with no charge
  • MOM TIP: Fill your pockets with their favorite snacks and drink to save a trip inside
  • If there is a line at the rest room, there are more downstairs no one really knows about- - -go there