Two weeks ago, I took my girls, Clare (age 10) and Kate (age 8), to Liberty Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania for their first-ever ski lessons. We went on a Friday and it was the perfect day to go because it was a weekday, so it was less crowded, and the girls had the day off from school due to a snow day, so I didn’t need to pull them out of school for the day.
The drive to Liberty Mountain Resort was just under 90 minutes away from our home in Northern Virginia, which made it very convenient to go up for a day of skiing (they also have snow tubing). However, if you live in the DC/MD/VA area, there are plenty of ski resorts across Pennsylvania worth checking into this ski season. Many, including Liberty Mountain Resort, are offering fantastic ski specials, too.
Since it’s been exceptionally cold this winter, I made sure the girls were prepared for 12 degree weather on the mountain. Each wore t-shirts, thermal underwear and long-sleeve t-shirts (a cotton/polyester blend), sweatpants, sweaters and ski socks. So, three layers on top, two layers on bottom. They each also had ski jackets, ski pants, gloves, goggles and neck gaiters to pull up over their noses in the cold. I can’t stress enough how important it is for your kids to dress warmly and in layers.
We arrived at Liberty Mountain Resort at 8:45 am because I needed to buy the ski goggles and neck gaiters on-site. The two-hour lesson at the Children’s Learning Center started at 10 am and getting there early gave us plenty of time to buy what we needed and get our rental equipment. When you sign up for lessons, you provide your child’s height, weight and shoe size, so rental skis, boots and helmets were there waiting for us when we arrived.
The lesson started on time and the instructors and junior instructors were prepared for the cold, giving each child hand wand warmers to put in their gloves. They also had a break mid-way through the lesson for hot chocolate and snacks. I even got a cup of the hot chocolate and it was delicious!
At Liberty Mountain Resort, they break up ski school students first based on ability, then based on age, so the girls were in a class with four or five other little ones learning to ski for the first time. They learned all the important moves, like the “pizza slice,” which involves pointing the front ends of the skis together in order to slow down on a slope.
After about an hour, the kids were ready to take the magic carpet up the hill to make their first run down the bunny slope (it was a very slight hill, so maybe it was a baby bunny slope). Due to the quality of the snow that day, the kids weren’t going anywhere fast, so the instructors quickly opted to go up the real bunny slope on the chair lift. Away they went, and off they came down. It was fabulous.
While I was uncertain how my kids would do with skiing, I was so proud that they did so well. Even Kate, who’s usually quite trepidatious, looked quite agile skiing down the mountain. If you decide to take your kids to a learn-to-ski class, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Get Your Kids Started Early: Sure, it was a weekday so many kids were in school, but I was amazed at how young the children were. Kids as young as four. Some resorts have age minimums, like four or six, but look into it and get your kids on the slopes as early as you can (when they have no fear!).
2. Go on a Weekday: If you can, go to a ski resort for lessons or skiing on a weekday. This is probably easier when your kids have not yet started school, but if you can do so, take them out for the day to enjoy a fairly crowd-free day on the slopes. Weekends can be a madhouse at popular ski resorts.
3. Arrive at Least One Hour Ahead of the Lesson: It takes time to check in and get set up with ski rentals and boots. Both of my girls were wearing two pairs of socks, so that took extra time to take off one pair to fit their feet into the boots. You don’t want your kids to get flustered rushing around to get to the lesson on time.
4. Stay Out of Sight, Out of Mind: My kids are old enough where they are not begging me to stay, but if you can, leave the lesson area so your kids can focus on the instructors and what they are being taught. No need to have them focused on you, and not the lesson, the entire time.
Also, do check out my recent post, 5 Tips to Ensure Happy First-Time Skiers, for more tips to help your kids enjoy their first experience on skis. Good luck and have fun out on the slopes! But first, please enjoy a quick commentary from Clare on her day at Liberty Mountain Resort.