Making a Skier

Little Shredder: We all have seen you. That little ankle biter flying down the hill at a neck breaking pace, charging past adults and making even intermediate skiers look bad. You rip, you jump and you LOVE being on the mountain. You are also 7 years old, and can ski like a champ. Let’s not forget how you got here little shredder, because to be a little shredder, you have parents who helped you get here – and they are real life superheroes.

Powder Princess Claire – 4th season, 5 years old at Fernie Alpine Resort

This is the pre-lesson era, because in order to take a lesson with an instructor, you have to be 3. Then, to get into a program you have to be 6. So let’s talk about the pre-program phase of life. The phase where your parents want so bad for you to experience the pure glory and love of skiing, that they sacrifice their season pass to spend hours on the magic carpet, harnessing babies and sweating full gear so that you can complain at the end of 2 runs being cold. Walking in ski boots is a learned thing, and then you do it carrying a child in full gear, in your full gear, carrying all the gear along with it – for a solid walk across parking lots, through the ski village, to the magic carpet.

Cassy and Claire, RMR Winter 2015/16.

Now that you are here, you are soaked in sweat, and little one can barely stand up in the ski boots (even though you carried them here), and you are strapping them in the harness and locking on the skies. Smile guys, you made it. And you also are making a skier.

You get 2-3 good carpets in and then they are so tired, its hard to keep going. And that is perfectly fine. Kerry and I strongly feel that making the skiing experience fun and enjoyable is the most important concept when it comes to skiing with babies.

“I got this Dad” – Claire Penney, 20 months old
Claire’s first day EVER on skies, Nov 28, 2015 – she was 18 months old, and by pure coincidence was also my 25th birthday 🙂
Claire ready for the legendary Revelstoke Powder.

Claire was 18 months when she had her first season pass at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. She was the cutest little skier I had ever seen in my life. The smallest boots we could find were still too big, and I vividly remember stuffing the toes with socks to fit her tiny feet.

Revelstoke has 2 magic carpets which we really loved. One at the base, and one at the day lodge. It is the mountain that we have the most time on, and the town itself offers a beautiful place to raise a family. Claire and Julia had their first seasons pass at RMR, so its a place that will always have significance to us, and them as skiers! One day we will be back with our Powder Princesses!

The Penney Family at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Winter 2017/18.

Julia was only 6 months old with her first pass – although she couldn’t walk, she was packed into the Deuter backpack and daddy carried her up and down the hill while I had Claire on the harness.

Little Julia heading up the carpet! Apex Mountain Resort Winter 2018/19.

As the parent, you are working SO hard, it actually feels insane at times. You literally spend THOUSANDS on season passes to spend the bulk of your season on the magic carpet. There hasn’t been a single experience until just now that we have not been questioning our sanity as we harness kids and pick them up as they fall down, pole drag them between cat tracks and chair lifts, with a backpack full of winter boots and changes of clothes, snacks and not really “skiing” ourselves. We could abandon the concept and go on our own, which here and there we do – but our family time at the hill is something that is so cherished for us, the bonding and relationship building is so amazing, that even though we are drenched with sweat ready to pass out carrying them back to the car at the end of the ski day, we would repeat in a second.

Julia’s second season pass at Apex Mountain Resort – first season skiing, 18 months old. Big sis and mom ready to coach.

I vividly remember the exact moment last season that we took Claire off the harness. Watching her go down without me either harnessing her or catch/releasing free skiing, or having her between my legs for the most incredible thigh work out EVER, was seriously one of the top 10 best moments of my life. It was so gratifying. All the effort and sweat put out from all of us to get her there was so worth it. We did a victory lap on the bunny hill, now Julia between my legs, but omg. All of us skiing together was incredible.

CLAIRE OFF THE HARNESS! Thumbs up for progress. Apex Mountain Resort, Winter 2018/19.

This season Claire is skiing green and blue runs independently, and she is 5 years old. She is so confident, and has never once complained about her ski boots – which is a huge win, because I still do! Its a true testament to all of the years before. It may not feel like much progress at the time – but it definitely is. Hearing their sweet little voices say “again!” at the end of a run is just the most amazing feeling. As a parent, you never want these moments to stop. You want to reach deeper and just absorb every second.

Cassy & Claire, Winter 2019/20 at Fernie Alpine Resort. No more carpet for this girl!

So parents of little shredders, I see you. I am you. I promise all of those sweaty days are worth it. You are not only shaping your baby into a skier/boarder – you are making memories that you and they will have for the rest of their lives. Enjoy it, and whatever you do, don’t stop!

Published by Cassandra Penney

I am the owner of Powder Renegade Lodge, along with my husband Kerry. Our family has been on an incredible journey into creating the newest cat skiing operation in BC, Canada.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: