Have you ever had an epic ski season where you counted every day on snow?
I’m thinking back to winters spent in Fernie and Whistler, winters where the mountain was my playground and getting first tracks on Morning Glory was all that mattered.
At the risk of making myself sound old (shudder), I can’t help but think that all seems like a really long time ago. I am in a new era of my ski and snowboard life now: The era of the family ski day.
This new era includes a shift in focus: From backcountry beers to hot chocolate, from après ski wings to baby carrots and PB and J sandwiches, from epic powder lines to laps on the magic carpet.
This year, I have ridden just one day on a top to bottom blue run, and that was opening day. While we’ve been to Blue Mountain over a dozen times this season, the remainder of my runs have been on the magic carpet or Big Baby, with the odd off-piste foray onto Mary Jane’s Lane.
One of my favourite moments so far was a group of friends heading out for a New Year’s Eve night ski. Four grown men followed two four-year olds up the carpet. A few runs later, the kids were ready to pack it in, and the grown ups were ready to ski the resort end-to-end. As my buddy fired up his GoPro to document their posse, I joked that he’d missed out on some sweet carpet footage that might have been a YouTube hit.
A few weeks ago, my sister’s family began the same journey. They drove over from Sauble Beach, ready to put their three-year-old on skis for the first time. The excitement was high, even for my daughter who envisioned she and her cousin doing laps on the magic carpet. In the end, Claire wasn’t quite ready for the carpet. She did half an hour on the gently sloped snow bank at the bottom of the beginner hill, focusing intently on bending her knees and keeping her weight back. On that first day, the dream of skiing as a family seems a long way off but parenting perseverance prevails.
Skiing blue runs or even hitting the pitches of Whistler Mountain on a two-week trip together takes time, a long time. But in the end, passing on the love of the sport and sharing those frosty moments together is the ultimate payoff.
Next time you see a fellow ski parent on the magic carpet, give them a friendly nod. Then schedule a few days for yourself, ski Blue end-to-end and stop for an après beer. Before you know it, your kids will be hitting the half pipe solo and you’ll be longing for those days on Big Baby.