FamilySkiTrips.com

Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Category: Family Skiing (page 1 of 4)

Blog on family skiing, teaching your kids to ski, where to take your family on a ski vacation and the best skis and gear for you and your kids for the winter.

Top Ski Resorts

We editors at Family Ski Trips love to rank our favorite ski resorts, based on terrain, scenic beauty, lifts, snow, ski village amenities and après ski, plus activities and programs for families. We have our favorites:
Top 10 Ski Resorts of the East
Top Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in Canada
Top Family Ski Resorts in the Alps

All of these we keep up to date with frequent personal visits (tough job, eh?!) and we reward those resorts with recent capital improvements, new programs for learn to ski, lodging and culinary enhancement, by moving them up (or down) our Top 10 Ski Resorts ranking.

We also love to see how other ski sites rank the top ski resorts in the world. We enjoy comparing their results, and metrics, with ours. Our ski resort rankings are quite similar to those of Ski magazine and their annual Top 50 Ski Resorts readers’ poll, with the occasional anomaly, see this year’s review of Ski Mag’s 2017 best ski resort poll.

TurnKey recently released their Top Ski Resort rankings, with cool data about the top three ski and snowboard states – not surprisingly Colorado, California, and Utah. These three states comprise almost 50% of their top 100 ski resorts in the US, Colorado has the most skier visits and 77% of their top 100 resorts. Here’s where we might disagree, since we like to steer families looking for a great ski vacation away from the highly ranked, highly visited ski resorts. We say ski Idaho, Montana and Wyoming… even Washington!

TurnKey’s top 25 ski resorts only has 3 Eastern Ski Resorts, #15 Killington, #18 Sugarloaf and #23 Whiteface. We respectfully have very different New England ski faves: Stowe, Sugarbush, Sunday River, Okemo, Bretton Woods and Smuggs are all deserving ahead of Whiteface! Out West, we agree with Big Sky at #2 but Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Vail, Telluride and Deer Valley all move ahead of Park City.

We did find very interesting the lift ticket prices, with Winter Park and Vail topping out at $159 a day. $68 is the average ticket price among the 260 resorts in TurnKey’s study.

Let us know your Top Ski Resorts, and why? What makes a perfect ski resort for you and your family ski vacation?

Copyright 2017, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

Holiday Gifts for the Skier and Snowboarders on your List

It’s Christmas time, and you’d rather be skiing than shopping, right?! White snow versus Black Friday – yes?! So here are some easy holiday gift ideas, you can get online, in no time, and be skiing before you can say “there’s no place like snow for the holidays.”

Our top ski and snowboard gifts, from cheap to steep, for friends, family, kids, and après ski fans who never plan to hit the slopes but want look the part for the party!

For the Kids
How cool – literally – is the Lego Ski Resort Kit? I love Legos, my son did too – and he went on to study engineering. Let your kids be creative this Christmas – and all season long, use their imagination and build their own snow resort. I can picture kids in their cuddly long undies on the floor by the fireplace playing with these ski themed Lego for hours, après ski! Check out the adorable ski chalet kit with multi-racial skiers, a snowmobile, fireplace, hot tub, and a husky – of course! Ok, I wish I was a kid, let go of my Lego!

For Fun
Check out Till I Die  for hilarious après ski inspired shirts, from Killington Vermont. You will want some of this humorous ski swag for your #selfie as well. We love the Black Diamond “I’m Difficult” shirt (it also comes in Green Circle “I’m easy”) and the Pizza Pie French Fry Ski Till I die shirt. For the older folks on your list, they even have rear-entry ski boot graphics on a retro t-shirt. We respect the culture of Till I Die and creator/ founder Ryan Orabone’s comment, “To us skiing is more than just a recreational activity. It is a brand that reflects our attitude and a way to live.” Get your tillidie, while they last, before you die. Morbid maybe, but you get the mantra…

For the Feet from cheap to steep
Heat Factory hand and toe warmers are a cheap but cozy thoughtful gift. These pocket-size hand warmer packets are my personal life saver. Heat Factory or Grabbers chemical heat packets provide about seven hours of warmth, and extend your time on the slopes between lodge breaks for frozen fingers and toes. I have a pack a day habit – so I am always happy to give and receive (hint hint) hand warmers by the case. Give them to your ski buddy so they don’t bum yours all season.

Ski socks… Ski instructors, pro skiers, and racers all agree – if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t on top of your ski game. Ski socks are your base and the basics to comfort and performance. Quality merino wool ski socks provide foot warmth, and wicking of funky foot sweat and odor. Ski socks cost $10-30, worth it for the technical fabric and fit. SmartWool  and Vermont’s Darn Tough come in fun colors, shapes and sizes for skiers and snowboarders.

The Best Ski Boot Bag is by Kulkea. For $120 you can pack for a day, weekend or week out west with the versatile Powder Trekker backpack. They also have a heated Thermal Trekker boot pack ($229)! How sweet is that – you can warm your ski boots, and your breakfast croissant on the way to the ski slopes. Kulkea boot bags are compartmentalized to hold your ski boots in separate waterproof sleeves, helmet, goggles, and gloves, with lots of smart pockets for your pass, sunglasses, and a surprisingly roomy center compartment for base layers. Kulkea’s boot bag is super lightweight, made of performance fabric, looks moderately stylish (for a backpack), and keeps you organized on a powder morning. Kulkea means “to go” in Finnish, and this will be your go to ski boot bag. We also love that the Kulkea brain children are East Coast skiers.

Skis, Beautiful Skis
Blizzard’s Coming! Get your loved one some cool new skis. We are big Blizzard fans (snow pun intended) so we gifted each other Black Pearls (for her) and Bonafides (for him), all mountain skis at 98mm underfoot we are ready to conquer any conditions together. Merry Christmas my dear… bring on the blizzards this year. See our Top Skis Review

For the Graphic Obsessed Skier
J Skis are the ski to be on. Designed by Jason Levinthal, creator of Line and Full Tilt, these J Skis are his latest baby, 6 unique designs with a variety of custom graphics J’s. We love the construction and creativity behind the Vacation Skis – complete with cute babes on the top sheet. The Hot Dogger comes topped with condiments – smear of mustard please. For gals who rip, the unicorn inspired pink Whippit looks wicked fun. These high quality, head-turning skis are hand made with carbon fiber and maple core (made in Quebec Canada eh?!). J Skis are sold direct with 100 % guarantee from Jason himself – so you save on “retail markup” and your skis are autographed by the man, the legend since 1995.

A Liftopia gift card. Liftopia sells discounted lift tickets at over 250 alpine resorts across North America, so giving the gift of this versatile vertical card is easy, for a downhill deal like $49 tickets to Sugarbush. You decide the amount, $25 to $1,000 denominations, and your friend can ski when and where they want – at serious savings.

Ski Keepsakes For great retro ski posters, pillows, mugs, ski t-shirts, games, and snowflake jewelry, The New England Ski Museum has a great location, at the base of Cannon Mountain, and an online store, with unique ski gifts for as little as $12. Best of all, your purchase benefits this non-profit ski association that is preserving ski history in New England.

For your best ski bunny
Alp N Rock  makes gorgeous après ski shirts. I splurged for my #selfie – Merry Christmas to me, and I LOVE it. If you want your gal to embrace skiing, buy her a beautiful wool henley with alpine motifs and cool graphics from Stowe to Aspen to Zermatt – this stylish shirt goes from the slopes to the après ski bars, anywhere you want to make a ski statement ($160). Did I mention its warm, with soft merino wool, no itch?! Alp N Rock makes crew necks for dudes too, it’s like Affliction goes alpine.

For the Downhill Dude on your list
We love All About Après ski swag, from caps, to T-shirts, hoodies and hats, this wearable-art ski gift will be the talk of après ski – especially the lovable St Bernard Ski Shirt. Also we love the First Tracks Bloody Mary T, perfect for those pretty gals that dress Sunday morning to ride the lift to the on mountain bar for their booze infused lycopene cocktail!

Or give them snow, take your family to a New England ski resort – they have been blowing snow whenever it’s below, and it’s surprisingly white on the slopes due to the extensive, expensive snowmaking the ski areas have been putting out.

Copyright 2017, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

 

What’s New @The Best Ski Resorts for Winter 2017-2018

At Sunday River Maine, the new Spruce Peak triple will open, a complete $2.1 replacement of the old lift (which was not operational last season) will shorten the ride time from 11 minutes to 8 minutes. Other improvements at the River, New England’s 3rd largest ski resort, include a beginner-friendly trail “Bear Paw” on Locke Mountain, and the launch of a new Holiday pass- just $299 for peak Christmas New Years skiing Dec 23- Jan 1, available by flash sale thru Nov 17. The River opened for skiing November 11 for skiing, 1st in maine,  2nd in the East following Killington on Nov 9!

Sugarbush Vermont will replace both the Lincoln Peak Village Double chairlift and Mt Ellen’s Sunshine Double chairlift with two new fixed-grip quads. Sugarbush also has some very cool new season pass deals, like the For30s at $599, and For20s at $399, and The Boomer for 65-89 midweek just $139. Sugarbush is now part of the Mountain Collective Pass, and introduces RFID technology for quick scans at the lifts.

Burke Mountain in Vermont gets a new “high-speed t-bar” to replace the World War II vintage poma. Burke has been declared an official US Ski team Development performance site, with a new dedicated slalom hill. We love the new slopeside Burke Mountain Hotel, btw.

Magic Mountain is under a new ownership group will finish installing the Green chair – a double from the base to mid-mountain.

Saddleback Maine is under new Australian ownership, after being closed for two winters. A new Rangeley fixed grip chair is on order to replace the aging double, as well as a new surface lift, however completion of the lift upgrades and re-opening is unlikely till next season.

Sugarloaf Maine will offer cat skiing on Burnt Mountain, via two snow cats, skiers and riders can access 1400 vertical and 100 acres for single laps at $20-30, by booking their seat in the snow cat, which depart every 20-minutes 9:30-2:45)  in advance.

Whaleback in New Hampshire gets a new T-bar, this locally operated ski hill is part of the Freedom Pass of independents- Bolton Valley, Black Mountain, Dartmouth Skiway, Granite Gorge, Lost Valley, Magic Mountain, and McIntyre Ski Area.

Out West
Vail Mountain replaces the Northwoods Express (Chair 11) with a six pack – Vail’s 10th new lift in a decade. Vail’s Epic Pass at $859 for unlimited skiing at 14 resorts remains the best deal in skiing!

Beaver Creek will replace the summit Drink of Water lift with a high-speed quad that will be known as Red Buffalo Express Lift #5. The lift serves the resort’s higher-elevation beginner terrain.

Copper Mountain replaces the Kokomo triple-chairlift with a high-speed quad with better access from Copper’s West Village and beginner terrain.

Breckenridge will upgrade the Falcon SuperChair from a quad to a six-pack, serving advanced and expert terrain on Breck’s Peak 10.

Keystone upgrades the Montezuma Express Lift on Dercum Mountain to a six pack on the front side.

Alta’s new Supreme detachable quad will replace the two old Supreme and Cecret lifts extending lower, with loading by Alf’s Restaurant, reaching the Supreme summit. Alta remains one of three ski resorts in the US that bans snowboarders, a true skiers only mountain.

Snowbasin will replace the Wildcat Triple Chairlift with a high-speed six-pack, reducing the ride time to five minutes.

Whitefish Montana moves the Chair 5 Glacier View lift from Ptarmigan Bowl to the East Rim, with a new bottom terminal at the intersection of Russ’s Street and Moe-Mentum.

Taos New Mexico opens a new Children’s Center and Strawberry hill beginner area, the Rueggli lift has been upgraded to a triple fixed grip chair, and a new gondola connects the resort plaza.

In Europe, Kitzbuhel gets a new 10 passenger gondola replacing a six pack, St Anton also gets a new gondola.

Among the biggest ski news is Aspen/KSL $1.5 billion purchase of Intrawest resorts, and a portfolio that includes  12 mountain resorts:  Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain,  Snow Summit and Bear Mountain also in California, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort, Colorado, Stratton Vermont, Tremblant in Quebec,  Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia,  Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario, and  Canadian Mountain Holidays heli skiing.

Vail Resorts now owns 14 ski resorts with its most recent acquisition of Stowe Vermont, Whistler Blackcomb and Park City Utah in just two years. The good news for season pass holders:you can enjoy multi mountain ski benefits, often for less than the cost of previous season pass to one of these top ski resorts, at $859. Stowe’s pass was over $1,800.

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Ski Magazine Top Ski Resort rankings?!

Dear Ski Magazine,

I love you – I always will…but… your top 50?! I’m not sure…

Seriously I have loved you since my youth, you made me want to be a better skier, and to be a ski journalist. I love seeing you, Ski mag, in my mailbox… it makes my banal schlep to the Post Office feel like a powder day. And your fall edition, with the Top 50 Resorts Readers’ Picks, has always been my favorite flavor of the monthly issues.

In recent years, however, this Top Ski Resort Guide evokes skepticism on my part… like this year…

Best skiing in the west: Sun Valley #2? Really?! Jackson Hole is awarded the most “terrain variety” … I beg to differ. I’m a well-traveled skier, at 165 ski resorts and counting…  Big Sky (at #13?) in my opinion ranks much higher than Keystone. Similarly Snowbird (#17) is far superior skiing to Crested Butte (#14). Same can be said for Snowbasin at #25.

In the East, I love seeing Sugarbush climb to #2, but Mount Snow is surely not #3 in New England. Stowe (#8) should earn much higher in ranks than Jay Peak (#5). Surprising to see Mad River Glen at #6, but I appreciate the authenticity of the skiers-only mountain. Same goes for Sugarloaf and its loyal following and avid voters deeming it #7 (Sugarloafers probably think this number 7 rank is a travesty for their beloved Maine mountain, should be #1 in their minds). I’d put Sunday River and Killington well ahead of Loon for that matter.

Here’s our Top Ski Resorts in The West
Aspen Snowmass
Big Sky Montana
Steamboat Colorado
Vail Colorado 
Deer Valley
Telluride
Snowbird Utah
Jackson Hole Wyoming
Mammoth Mountain California
Snowbasin Utah
Honorable Mention:
Whitefish – aka Big Mountain – Montana

Top Ski Resorts in The East
Stowe Vermont
Okemo Mountain Resort
Sunday River
Sugarbush
Bretton Woods
Sugarloaf
Smugglers Notch
Loon Mountain
Wildcat New Hampshire 
Le Massif in Quebec

Top Ski Resorts in Canada
Sunshine at Banff
Big White
Kicking Horse
Whistler Blackcomb
Lake Louise
Revelstoke
Panorama
Le Massif Quebec
Tremblant Quebec
Mont Sainte Anne Quebec

I respect that your Readers’ Choice Top 50 Resorts are the result of a ballot, but given the weird results – I wonder if some ski resorts might be ballot-stuffing, or perhaps cultish ski locals are over-voting to put their beloved ski area on top. Or maybe personal taste is just that… no accounting for it…

Thanks of listening, and let me know how you find our Top Ski Resorts Reviews… keep skiing and striving to be the best.

Sincerely,

Ski Magazine reader and passionate skier, forever Heather
Editor FamilySkiTrips.com and TheLuxuryVacationGuide.com

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide

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Aspen Ski Resorts Epic Merger

What does $1.5 billion in the the ski biz? A bunch of great ski resorts, so says the Crown family, of Aspen Resorts, with their recent acquisition of Intrawest, KSL and Mammoth.

Aspen owns a mammoth ski resort conglomerate now – competing with the likes of Vail Resorts which now tallies 14 ski resorts.

This new Aspen ski company, yet to be renamed and branded, includes 12 mountain resorts and six million annual skier visits, including:
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows
Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain
Snow Summit and Bear Mountain also in California
Steamboat and Winter Park Resort, Colorado
Stratton Vermont
Tremblant in Quebec
Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia
Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario
Canadian Mountain Holidays heli skiing operations

Boom!

Aspen Resorts, and its four ski mountains, Snowmass, Ajax, Aspen Highland and Buttermilk, remain a separate company owned by the Crown family. If you were to count them in the overall ski picture that would be 16 ski resorts, more than Vail… but Vail is still the big daddy in skier visits with busy resorts like Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge and Keystone.

KSL Capital Partners and the owner of the four Aspen resorts, Henry Crown and Company, are the backers of this 1.5 billion ski bundle.

For now, Aspen and the new company says they will honor existing passes this ski season 2017-18, including the Rocky Mountain Super Pass +, the M.A.X. Pass, and the Mountain Collective.

It will be interesting to see what mega mountain pass Aspen’s new entourage  will roll out in future ski seasons to compete with Vail Resorts Epic Pass – 14 ski resorts for about $800 bucks. While we don’t love ski monopolies and downhill dynasties, you can’t beat the value of a multi-venue unlimited vertical ski pass for under a $1000….

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

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Norway Glacier Skiing at Fonna

A ski resort that’s only open in summer? In the northern hemisphere? Yes, that’s Fonna in Norway. And you can arrive by boat…  it’s just a half hour from a magnificent fjord. Fonna Glacier Ski Resorts is very cool, literally – located on the northernmost of four glaciers in Foglefonna National Park in western Norway along the Hardanger Fjord. Folgefonna is the most southerly Norway glacier- and the 3rd largest largest.

Summer skiing on a glacier is amazing, at this high alpine winter wonderland with brilliant sea views of Norway.

Fonna is not a big ski area, especially by Europe’s Alps standards, it’s just one T-Bar serving four wide trails and several terrain parks. Fonna’s ski slopes are not particularly steep either – its intermediate terrain.

The most black diamond aspect of Fonna is the road up to the glacier. Its a 16-km bus ride to Fonna Glacier ski resort, a one lane road with crazy hairpins turns, climbing swiftly from sea level up 3,900 vertical feet.

Take the ski bus from Jondal, which makes one trip a day from the ferry docks at 9:50am ( so you can boat and ski in the same day). Let the expert bus drivers steer while you enjoy the scenery of rivers and waterfalls, pastoral farms with grazing sheep, then massive boulders and cairns balancing on huge granite slabs. Fonna is closed in winter because of this precarious road and the 30+ feet of snow pack received during the cold dark winter in Norway.

Fonna Ski Resort opens mid-June through mid-August – that’s when the best glacier skiing occurs and it also allow the town of Jondal to share the same bus for skiing as for the school kids September to June (a quite luxurious bus for children, with panoramic windows).

Fonna’s spectacular mountain road ends in a small parking lot by the glacier, where you find Fonna’s humble facilities – two 1970’s vintage chalet buildings. The first hut sells lift tickets ($390 krone for the day) and rents skis, boards, boots, poles, helmets – everything you need to ski if you arrived by boat. Fonna’s modest lodge serves home cooked food cafeteria style and restrooms. Picnic tables outside are the best seat in the house on a clear day.

Visit Fonna on a blue sky day – it’s all about the view, and a picnic outside to truly savor the setting. We had a perfect blue-sky ski day at Fonna in late June, with a fresh dusting of sparkling snow on top of perfect groomed corduroy.

Fonna’s T-Bar is the only lift – intentional to withstand the ice movement on the glacier, it climbs efficiently up 800’ vertical. Fonna’s trails are very wide, moderately pitched, and well-groomed, even salted to harden the snow from melting on warm summer days.

Fonna skiing can get busy with alpine race teams training from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. But the alpine racers are relegated to one big trail, training in several courses with gates side by side. The majority of other skiers and snowboarders hit Fonna’s terrain parks. That leaves the other ski routes on the wide open glacial plateau to us. Fonna also offers 5 km of Nordic groomed trails above the alpine skiing on the plateau.  We made a short climb from atop the T Bar to the cross-country terrain and scored a few beautiful off-piste turns and even better views of Hardanger Fjord and the North Sea.

Your panorama from Fonna is striking blue water below and lush green mountains in contrast to the white wintery glacier. You can see Rosendal’s towering Alps and the North Sea in the distance. For non-skiers, guided glacier tours depart from Fonna’s base lodge. Sunscreen is a must, beware the sun’s refraction from the snow at high elevation even though it feels cool on your face.

Dress in layers for glacier skiing, its winter-like and very exposed, but you can be blessed with intense sun and summer temperatures. We skied 14 laps on the glacier, with a few stops for water in the lodge and a picnic of Norwegian cheese, smoked fish and fruit. The only bus back to Jondal is 3:50pm, get a front seat as the descent is as stunning as the ride up. We were back to town, on our charter sailboat in Jondal harbor by 4:30, for drinks at Hardangerfjord Lodge overlooking the water. Don’t be surprised to see local kids jumping off the ferry dock into the “refreshing” Hardanger Fjord – after all it is summer – and you were just skiing.

Fonna Glacier Ski Resort Stats
Elevation: 1,450 meters, 4757ft
Vertical: 250 meters, 820’
Lifts: 1 T-Bar
4 Trails, 3 Terrain parks and 5 km Nordic groomed trails
Open 9 – 4pm mid June to Mid-August

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Most Epic Ski Winter Ever?

Entering this winter I had lofty ski goals. I vowed to ski my age in days, and pledged to do so at a big birthday party with all my friends as witness. Not only did I hit my mark, I exceeded 50 with a bunch of bonus ski days! This was the best winter of skiing EVER. How was your ski season?

My amazing ski season brought first tracks in Maine and a White Christmas in Vermont, cat skiing Canada to Courchevel France, ending with perfect spring corn in Colorado. 69 days at over 28 ski resorts. It was truly epic, thanks in large part to the EPIC Pass. Did you achieve your ski goals? Ski anywhere new and different?

My skis are put away, so I am reminiscing about this best-ever ski season, already dreaming of next winter’s snow and where to go!

My Top Ten from a Top Ski Season:

1. Skiing Vermont over Christmas with my daughter and husband was snow globe magic. I grew up in Vermont so I treasured being back in the Green Mountains all covered in white at Jay Peak and Burke.

2. Cat skiing in the Canadian Rockies. How ironic that we flew from Maine to the remote Monashees only to find that our cat ski companions were all from Sugarloaf! What followed? Four days of fantastic camaraderie, untouched powder, steep and deep tree skiing and hot tubbing amid Alpen Glow with our new ski friends.

3. Discovering Big White was a big win, this cool Canadian ski resort is friendly, fun, with fantastic frost-covered trees. What’s
not to love? Good snow, gorgeous groomed trails, genuine Canadian hospitality in the village, and a bonus 25% exchange rate for beer, eh?!

4. Skiing five Colorado ski resorts on one Epic Ski Pass in January was, well, EPIC! The snow goods blessed Colorado, and we skied fresh powder at Vail, Beavercreek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapaho Basin. We followed that trip with Utah, where we hit Park City and Canyons also on our Epic Pass. A lot of ski bang for our $800 bucks.

5. Powder Mountain in Utah lived up to its name. What a cool powder stash, and an up-and-coming indie resort, owned by the Summit Group. If you want to get away from Vail Resort conglomerate and crowds, Snowbasin and Powder – just a half hour apart, are gems with huge terrain, few peeps, and terrific scenery.

6. Skiing The French Alps! It had been 30 years since I’d skied France and the alpine ambiance was just as “charming” as I remembered. Jagged snow covered peaks, vast vertical descents at the biggest ski resorts in the world, alpine chalets serving fondue on the slopes, après ski dancing and drinking, followed by more refined cuisine and fine wine at five-star French hotels. Fantastique!

7. My new favorite European ski villages are Courchevel and Méribel, on par with Kitzbühel and St Anton. Val D’Isère is another classic ski town – historic and happening apres ski with La Folie Douce on-snow party that’s off-the-hook.

8. The best culinary event on the snow is “Taste of Vail” combining my three favorite things: wine, food and skiing. This is an extraordinary culinary event for the vertically obsessed. I’ve never tasted such wonderful wines – the perfect après ski in quintessential Vail resort.

9. The big splash to our end of season – watching
Vail’s World Championship Pond Skimming at Spring Back to Vail
which also featured a big name band live concert, free, with Magic in Gerald Ford’s presidential park at Vail. A musical magical ending to a 69 day ski season!

10. Two scary moments that make the highlight reel: Escaping a horrendous car crash on Vail Pass on our way to the slopes at 7am. (When it says icy roads may exist, you need to slow down even if you’re driving a four-wheel-drive Subaru. No one is invincible on ice). Surviving food poisoning in France (eating raw scallops at 10,000′, even at a Michelin 1 star restaurant, is a bad idea).

What were your top 10 ski memories of 2016-17 ski season? Remember, if you don’t set ski goals, then how can you accomplish them? Skis are stowed, pulling out the Paddleboard, the bike and the boat… but dreaming of next ski winter!

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

 

Top Spring Ski Events in the East & West

Don’t you love spring skiing? Warm temperatures meet a winter’s worth of snow depths. Ski conditions soften and so do bulky dress codes at the best ski resorts. From music to moguls to general mayhem – these spring fests are super fu:

Top spring ski fests in Colorado, Utah, California, and Montana:
Taste of Vail is a fun food, wine and ski fest – what could be better than skiing spring conditions followed by wine tastings and food from Vail’s top Chefs April 5-9!? Spring Back to Vail April 14-16 brings live headliner bands for free concerts to Vail Village. Après ski at Vail just got big and FREE which rarely happens at Vail, right?! Look for parties on the mountain too – like Tiki & Tunes Luau at mid-Vail.

Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships is the biggest, April 16 at Golden Peak. Enjoy a BBQ and beers overlooking the big pond where the best and worst) dressed in crazy costumes attempt to cross the big expanse of cold water to the cheers and jeers of a big crowd. Like everything in Vail, this pond skim is massive, so is the crowd of spectators.

Whistler Blackcomb World Ski & Snowboard Festival April 7-16 is a top ski event, bringing together skiing, film, art, professional ski and snowboard competitions, plus top concerts and après ski parties that go crazy late! If you’ve watched Bravo’s Après Ski and Timber Creek Lodge- you know Whistler’s party scene is out of this world.

Park City’s Spring Grüv in Canyons Village starts late March with awesome free concerts and après-ski parties – culminating April 8 with the 21st Annual Pond Skimming Contest at Red Pine.

Squaw Valley celebrates PAIN MCSHLONKEY for Shane McConkey, posthumously and humorously – skiers are encouraged to dress up in vintage gear and pay tribute to the legendary free skier by going big March 18.

Steamboat’s Springalicious 37th annual cardboard classic is April 15 – locals recycle by creating box-cars to derby to fly downhill. The crashes are spectacular, so is the après ski scene at Steamboat.

Breckenridge’s annual Spring Fever Beer Festival April 8 marks its 11th year. This Colorado spring ski event is perfect for craft beer lovers and spring skiing lovers – that includes everyone right?!

Aspen Highlands Closing Day is an elevated spring ski party – the spring ski celebration above 10,000’ in the Rockies gets wild, with ridiculous retro outfits, serious drinking, even Champagne spraying! Did we mention you’re at 10,000 feet?! High times in Colorado.

Top Spring Ski Events in The East

New England skiers know the best skiing is typically in spring. Put away the facemasks and hand warmers for much welcome warmer sunnier ski days. The hard snow softens, those man made base depths turn to cream corn by mid morning and the BBQ fires up mid afternoon for sun and fun by the slopes. Spring is also a time for pond skimming, zany costumes and competitions on the ski slopes, even tailgating in muddy parking lots. No one said Eastern skiers were sane? But they are hard core! Here are some Eastern spring ski rites of passage and grand season finales full of fun and games, music and grills.

Cannon Mountain Bodefest on March 25 with Bode Miller himself.. I think he still “hates the media” so don’t bring the news crew.

Killington Bear Mountain Challenge NOR’BEASTER is April 8 as Bump skiers go all out on Outer Limits moguls. Cheers and beers (sponsor Dos Equis) flow at the base of this spring ski party. The Beast of the East will keep skiing in to May.

Sugarloaf Reggaefest – now in year 29 April 6-9 is like Jamaica comes to Maine’s mountains. Top reggae bands set up on the Sugarloaf beach by day, and in the base lodge by night for some rocking island music. Wear your tie-dye and tie on a good time. Ironically few reggae fest attendees ski, so this is a great weekend for spring ski conditions at the Loaf, especially when the snowfields are open.

Sunday River’s Spring Festival April 1-2 was once called Parrot Head, so expect Jimmy Buffet music, margaritas flowing, palm trees, tropical outfits and general island vibe outside the White Cap Base.

Loon has 80’s Day April 1- no foolin! Dress in your best (or worst) 1980’s outfit and get out on Loon’s soft slopes. Be totally rad for this spring weekend at North Peak, South Peak and Paul Bunyan’s for après ski! Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Wet Tug-O-War is April 8.

Wildcat has their Annual Cat Scratch Fever event April 7-8 as skiers compete to be the Cat’s Meow before the judges. If you’ve seen Wildcat’s Kitty Litter Box Derby in February, don’t miss this wild spring event at the Cat with live après ski entertainment in the Wildcat Pub .

Sugarbush Gelandesprung & Mt. Ellen End of Season Celebration is April 1, this traditional ski jump event is a classic – to watch – even wilder to get sprung.

Sugarbush‘s Pond Skimming at Lincoln Peak April 8 is also a big splash, followed by the legendary Steins’ Challenge on April 22 which is spring mogul mania – bring Z rubber knees to Sugarbush.

Okemo’s Slush Cup and Splash for Cash April 8 is a wet and wild good time with a pretty good pay day for the winner. Okemos 80 Retro Jam is set for April 15 – rock your most rad 80s attire – totally awesome dude as Okemo wraps their season!

Jay Peak has Pond Skimming and their Annual Tailgate Party April 15, so bring your bikini and your bbq.

Easter Sunday at East Coast ski resorts brings sunrise services at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Killington, Stowe and Jay Peak….. Most ski resorts have Easter Egg Hunts on the ski slopes for kids, and costume parades, even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Look for a few snow bunnies on the beginner slopes too! Easter weekend is the season finale Sunday for most New England ski resorts.

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

 

Extreme Sports, Even Skiing, With a Disability

How ‘Extreme Sports’ Can Be Adapted for Those Living with a Disability

Staying active is just as, if not more, important to those living with physical disabilities as it is to those without. Not only does staying active promote better physical health and help prevent further complications arising from one’s disability, but it also provides a boost to one’s mental health. There’s nothing like exercise and enjoyable activities to improve one’s mood.

But how do you get this physical activity? If you live with a physical disability, are you confined to swimming laps at the pool, or casually walking around the neighborhood?

Of course not. In fact, people with disabilities can participate in the excitement of “extreme” sports and activities. With the help of modern technology, service dogs, and various organizations devoted to helping the disabled stay active, you can put the thrill back into your physical fitness routine.

Image: Pixabay.com

Skiing

Your disability should not keep you off the ski slopes. Skiing is a wonderful activity that improves balance, coordination, and provides a serious amount of aerobic exercise. With adapted skiing, the disabled can experience the thrill and benefits of skiing while minimizing risk.

In fact, my best friend, who lost his leg in a car accident a few years ago, is still hitting the slopes. He is also passionate about getting others with similar issues to do so.

“Adapted skiing requires intense upper body strength, dexterity and reaction times, and can provide one of the most exhilarating experiences available on this earth. So it’s only natural that people with various bodily injuries and disabilities would want to find ways to start or to continue to enjoy this beautiful adapted sport,” notes Disabled Sports USA.

Adaptations include the mono-ski, bi-ski, and sit-ski. The mono-ski involves a chair placed atop a single ski, and uses shorter ski poles and upper body movement to direct the ski. Bi-ski involves dual skis, and is “for people who have intact lower legs but poor control of their extremities. This can include people with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.”

Canoeing, Kayaking, and Rafting

Some of the most enjoyable sports out there involve paddling down a river or lake, and they are perfect “extreme” sports for those with disabilities. Most canoeing, kayaking, and rafting vessels can be upgraded to group or tandem models, which allows those with disabilities to safely participate with the help of friends and/or a guide. Even those suffering from visual impairment can safely participate in watersports due to this.

Image: Pixabay.com

Rock climbing

“Rock climbing is a powerful tool in building confidence and reachable goals. It demonstrates how a successful climb is the result of fundamental teamwork. Climbing is not only a fun and challenging sport, but provides tremendous health benefits by improving strength and flexibility,” notes Abilities.com.

There are plenty of adaptive technologies out there for those with disabilities who wish to get into rock climbing. These include adaptive harnesses, ascending devices, and foot and knee prosthetics.

Hunting and archery

For those looking to add some firepower to their activity list, there’s always hunting, sharpshooting, and archery. Modern technology can assist those who are unable to shoot using traditional means, and various organizations provide opportunities and support for the disabled. For example, the United Foundation For Disabled Archers has been working for over 20 years to give disabled people the opportunity to live out their bow-hunting dreams.

Image: Pixabay.com

Wheelchair sports

You’ve surely heard of wheelchair basketball and wheelchair polo – both of which are rather self-explanatory. But those in wheelchairs can kick their sporting up a notch if they wish. Did you know that there are communities devoted to things like wheelchair skateboarding and even wheelchair parasailing?

Author

Travis  White is a proud member of the LearnFit team, which provides people with information on healthier and happier living. We are happy to have him as a contributor to FamilySkiTrips.com

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Get Your Kids Ready to Ski

2-ski-timberline2The PSIA and I agree on how to get your kids ready to ski. Here is sage ski advice from the Professional Ski and Snowboard Instructors of America with our own Family Ski Tips. Confession: I was a member of PSIA when I taught skiing at Smugglers Notch Resort in Vermont in the 90s. Flash forward, as Editor of Luxury Ski Trips and FamilySkiTrips.com, I have similar ski tips for parents on how to make skiing fun with less stress for everyone.

PSIA Ski Tips
1. Be active as a family before your ski trip

Skiing and snowboarding require physical fitness, so start an exercise program for you and your family. Whether it’s enrolling kids in soccer or another sport, to taking walks together as a family, it’s important to get moving. See my similar tips on quad strengthening wall sits with the kids pre ski season.
2. Do your weather homework 
blizzard-heatherSki resorts have mountain cams,  temperature updates, even meteorologists on retainer. Know before you go –  what the weather and temperature is like on the mountain and where you are staying, so you can dress your child appropriately for conditions. At some resorts temps vary greatly from the town versus the mountain, mind the elevation too!
3. Try on ski/snowboard  gear before you go
For younger children getting used to putting on ski or snowboard equipment and clothing helps them adjust to the mountain environment more easily. You can make it a game, we call it the pre ski season fashion runway show,  and help them see their ski/snowboard clothes and equipment as something fun to play in versus something strange or bulky to wear. For older kids, it also helps to check to make sure everything still fits and is working properly before you arrive on the slopes.
3family-lookout-pass4. Invest in lessons for your kids
Having your kids learn from an expert can make their ski/snowboard experience more fun, see our Top Tips for teaching kids to ski,  and also gives you time to enjoy the slopes. Set the expectation that the lesson is more like a sports practice than going to school and that they’ll have fun while getting to learn new skills.
5. Watch ski/snowboard movies or videos to get everyone excited
We couldn’t agree more – nothing like a Warren Miller family ski movie night to amp up the alpine enthusiasm among the fam! Use media to motivate your kids and set expectations of what their experience on the mountain and lessons will be like. Check out ski and snowboard clips on YouTube and PSIA-AASI’s  YouTube Channel.
6. Pack the right gear
family-ski-trip-packingYou don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ ski and snowboard gear. Just make sure they have a good snowsuit that’s wind/snow resistant along with goggles, long socks pulled up below the knee, snow gloves and insulated layers. If they become more involved in the sport then you can invest in wicking base layers and more expensive jackets when they will be out on the mountain for longer periods of time. There’s a science to packing properly – see our guide to packing for a family ski trip.

Get your kids ski bags and gear and get ready! See our reviews of the Best Family Ski resorts in the World and we’ll see you on the  ski slopes!

By Heather Burke, photography by Greg Burke www.luxuryskitrips.com

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