Snow Sunday: Skiing With Toddlers

Snow Sunday: Skiing With Toddlers



MorganAfter getting both of them dressed in long underwear, ski bibs, jackets, mittens and helmets, loading up their skis, driving 40 minutes to town, and getting them out of their car seats, the 2-year-old lay down on the asphalt of the parking lot. “I don’t wanna ski.”

I still had to schlep three pairs of skis—theirs and mine—to the ski lift. “C’mon, Ozzy,” I said hopefully. “Yeah, c’mon Ozzy,” chirped the 5-year-old. But then she sprawled out, too. “I don’t wanna ski either, Mom.”

And so it goes. Every week, in the same ritualistic fashion, I schlep, carry, bribe, and finally get them on their skis. I spend much more time dressing and carrying and begging than we ever get on the ski hill. This time a man who had parked next to us chimed in. I recognized his face and his sympathetic look from pre-school drop-offs. “Aw, guys, do you know how lucky you are that your mom is taking you skiing? It’s going to be fun.”

And it is fun—sort of. After a prolonged period of whining and cajoling, they stood up and followed me to the ski lifts. We spent the next hour or so enjoying some nice chairlift talks and a couple of exhilarating runs on the gentle, sunny slopes. When I have both kids by myself, I have to put Ozzy on a leash and try to keep Cricket from skiing too fast in front of us. If you had told me ten years ago I would be a parent who put their child on a leash I would have scoffed—I rarely even put my dog on a leash. I can recall seeing the occasional unruly child on a leash in an airport or a shopping mall and thinking haughtily, what kind of parent puts a LEASH on their child? But when you are responsible for one child who can snowplow, turn, and stop, and another who becomes a 30-pound missile that picks up momentum and has absolutely no awareness of where he might land, a leash is your best option. They make special ski leashes for parents like me, handy backpack-style gear with webbing that you can hold, helping you to slow them down and cue their turns while keeping enough distance between you and the inevitable crash landings. And they’re ubiquitous in Telluride. Apparently I am not the only parent who martyrs herself on the ski hill with a toddler, exchanging powder and steep, fun skiing for the privilege of teaching them how to do something you love.

That same evening I saw one of my friends, a professional ski mountaineer, and he mentioned casually that he’d been in the ICU for four days. An accident, he said. Four broken ribs and a punctured lung. How did it happen? An avalanche? Dropping off a huge cliff? Nope. He was taking his 8-year-old skiing in the terrain park and he tried to hit one of the boxes. So I’ve got that to look forward to. Someday they might be able to dress themselves and carry their own skis, but one of us is probably going to end up in the hospital.

So why do we do it? It’s for the kids, right? Not really. I think if ski moms and dads are honest about it, it’s for us. We dream about the day that our kids will be grown up and when they can ski with us, when we can share this passion of ours and see it ignite the same ardor in them. We don’t need to see them on a podium someday, we just want to see them grinning next to us on a powder day. It’s the same reason we live in a ski town, and spend ridiculous amounts of money on gear and ski passes and ski vacations. We sacrifice urban career tracks for first tracks on a powder day, we trade moderate climates for frozen fingers and toes and the daily grunt work of scraping windshields. Because, really, anyone can live in coastal California or Florida. Surfing is fun, too. We do it because we love to ski. The pure ecstasy of a perfect turn in perfect snow is worth every bit of work it takes to get there. And we hope that someday our kids value it in the same way.


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