Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Professional help to go on skis....

Living in northern California and close to Lake Tahoe there is a abundant amount of ski resorts to pick from...and with that means an abundant amount of kid's programs as well. Everything from your standard ski school to the 1 hr private...all the way up to Squaw Valley Academy which is a College Prep School for grades 6-12 and Sugar Bowl's Academy. Honestly it is all a little overwhelming. So with our daughter turning 4 years old and starting to qualify for some programs we went with...the most talked about for this age group...Alpine Meadows' Locals Program. And having just completed the program...we have to say all the hype and expectations were met...if not exceeded.

Alpine's Locals Program is designed for children 4-12 years old who don't necessarily want to be in a team/competition situation, but still get the incredible instruction and coaching to progress their skiing/snowboarding abilities. This program is offered on half day, 2 half days, full day, or 2 full days on the weekends from early January through early March for 8 weeks (avoiding the holiday weekends). Class sizes are generally 4 or less except for the first week when there are larger groupings with several instructors while they ski/board off to determine exact abilities. From the second week on the child has the same instructor and classmates. For my 4yo this was huge! She looked forward every weekend to seeing her ski friends and teacher.

I am not sure if our results were normal, above, or below....but the important piece to me the paying parent (which this program is a steal if you calc it out) was it more than met my expectations and my daughter had a great time. In 8 half day sessions (and really 7 as we missed one for our Park City trip)...she went from wedge turns, assisted on/off the chairlift, and never used a poma or went through a terrain park to...parallel turns on more graduated slopes (we still wedge on the steeps), getting on/off the chairlift with no assistance (we still ride with an adult though), using the poma, and going off the rollers in the terrain park. Laura (her instructor) if you are reading this...we went to Homewood Sunday and she was laying them over carving. My husband said if he would have seen this prior to us giving you your tip he would have doubled it!

The instructors were always prompt and very communicative and friendly. They would discuss with each parent after class what was done during class and their child's progress. Kids generally got a break halfway through for nature's call and a little hot chocolate and graham crackers in the Kids' Camp area. The director of the program was very much on top of things...communicating out schedule changes due to weather, class/instructor changes, etc.. It was an impressively run program.

So I noted we are finished and will have choices again next year....Ally could continue in Locals and increase to a full day, 2 half days, or 2 full days. Or if we/she desires move into the Mountain Rangers program which is more money, but includes their season pass if they are 5 or older when they have to start purchasing one. Mountain Rangers is a lot more days starting in December and going into April. It also is held during all the holiday periods. And is perfect at half days for the 4-6yr old stamina and maturity. It is seen as a stepping stone non-competitive development teams which start at age 6.

But we have until approx Sept 1 to figure that all out and get the early bird discounts. Until then we hope to enjoy some spring skiing with our little parallel skier. We also apparently need to have a talk with the Easter Bunny about some poles....
If you know a great children's ski program or an instructor in your area...please leave a comment.
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1 comment:

David LaPlante said...

Great post! Stoked for your little girl.

Both of our boys have grown up in the Alpine program and I can tell you that the coaches are amazing people. And that's made my kids into amazing little skiers that know the mountain better than 99% of the people that ski there. Logan's (9) is on his 5th year and his little brother Cody (7) is on his third.

They've made dozens of friends of all ages, adults included. I'm willing to bet many of those friends will be 'friends for life'. And since Alpine is small, once you and your kids become 'known', it's like having a dozen extra set of eyes on your kids at all times. This is generally a good thing and makes you feel much more safe about letting them run amuck around the mountain and lodge. Except when they're on sugar high ;-)

Most important, they've developed a tremendous sense of independence and responsibility with a passion for the sport.

In fact both boys are playing hooky today and schrAlpining around the Mountain with their Mom. How cool is that!

Again, awesome post! Hope to see Laura shredding the hill next year!