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An Apres Ski Guide

Do you have to ski to enjoy après ski? It’s an interesting question that has been posed to me more than a few times.

Some of my girl friends don’t love skiing, that is actually an understatement. They find it cold, scary and potentially hazardous to their health. But they want to participate in the rituals and rewards of skiing – namely the après ski. Is that legal? I say yes. Skiing is a lifestyle as well as a sport, and supportive spouses, even a non-ski entourage, should be allowed to partake in the social aspects of skiing.

I wonder how many skiers don’t go to the slopes on certain weekends and holidays because their S.O. (significant other) doesn’t ski. That seems sad to me on both counts. One of the best parts of skiing is the afterglow, sitting by the fire with your friends sharing tales from the trails. This is something you can certainly share with your non-skiing spouse or friend.

Here are some ideas to include your not so vertical Valentine in your ski plans:
Meet your non-skiing friend for a slope side lunch or a beer. Some of the best apres ski bars  are right on the slopes - The Bag in the  village at Sugarloaf, The Swig and Smelt at Saddleback upstairs in the post and beam lodge, or The Foggy Goggle at Sunday River’s South Ridge Lodge. At Grand Targhee in Wyoming - the Trap Bar rocks, and Jackson Hole's Mangy moose draws a local downhill crowd, while The Four Seasons Jackson Hole has outdoor fireplaces and fine cocktails at Peaks. Big Sky Montana's Carabiner Bar is perfect, with cowhide bar stools and a view of the slopes. While your attire will be different, you in ski boots and your friend in civilian clothing, you can share a bite and a view of the slopes. Just be sure to explain that you might skip dessert since you are twitching for more downhill time.

Make your ski trip into an overnight with your S.O. This season in particular, there are some exceptional lodging packages in most ski towns. Resort towns typically offer just enough day time diversion for your friend while you hit the nearby slopes. While you are tackling the alpine trails, encourage your non-ski buddy to go snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or get a spa treatment– most resorts offer these amenities now. Then meet up for après spa, après snowshoe, or après-shop – call it what you will. Don’t belittle your buddy’s non-alpine activity regardless of its rigor or lack thereof, this is an inclusive exercise not an exclusive one.

Who knows? Maybe bringing your non skiing or snowboarding friend to the resort environment will tempt them to try the sport of skiing or snowboarding anew. If so, resist the urge to teach them yourself. Hire a pro instead, ski areas offer great first timer rates on learn to ski and snowboard packages with lift ticket, lesson and rentals all included (resorts are looking to lure new skiers and riders into the expensive and addictive sport at all costs).

In my experience as both a female and a former ski instructor, there is nothing worse than learning a new sport from a loved one. Despite all the best intentions, the formula of boyfriend teaches girlfriend or husband teaches wife (and vice versa) has too much familiarity - there is bound to be a fight or a bad fall which leads to the blame game. Comments like “I can’t believe you aren’t getting this?” can only lead to responses such as, “maybe you’re just a lousy teacher.” And your day goes rapidly downhill from there.

Needless to say, the nice gesture of spending time on the bunny slope trying teaching your sweetheart to turn would have been better spent splurging on a lesson. Your new inductee gets professional instruction, which does not typically include familial temper tantrums or arguing, and you are rewarded with self-fulfilling skiing until their lesson ends. Then, you can reconnoiter and share in your parallel (or snowplow - as the case may be) experiences during the much anticipated après ski.

At après ski in the outdoor heated hot tub together, you can talk about the first tracks you scored on freshly groomed cord with that delightful soft dusting of snow this morning, while your new skier or snowboarder can bask in their beginner glory, making three magic carpet runs without falling. Be sure to be incredibly impressed and supportive.

And remember that recreational skiing, or coming along for the ride as a non skier, is not a competitive sport. It’s not about bagging x number of runs or moving up the rungs from green to blue to black as quickly as possible. Skiing should be about embracing the scenery, celebrating the snow season, and having a successful day that you can celebrate over convivial après ski social hour. The hot tub and happy hour will be there regardless of whether you ski, will you?

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