Plenty of light fluffy snow—close to 400 inches a season. Plenty of sunshine. A place that really loves families.Welcome to Park City, Utah, home to Park City Mountain Resort, famous for its world-class parks and pipes that tweens and teens especially love, as well as innovative children's programs that are changing the way kids learn to ski and snowboard.
Eleven-year-old Nate Gourd, an avid snowboarder from Manchester, Vt., couldn't agree more. "You feel like you're flying when you come down the mountain," he says, adding that kids "definitely should wear helmets." Meet Vermont's vice presidents of fun. Bridget -- who says she's always waiting at the bottom of the mountain for her "slowpoke" family
A gem of a mountain (no lift lines here!) just minutes on a free, festively painted shuttle bus from the tiny (less than 2,500 people) town of Mt. Crested Butte, so steeped in mining history that most of the downtown area, with its wooden, multicolored, 19th-century buildings, is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Ever see a two-story outhouse?)
We’re in family ski trip mode. Everyone having a big bacon and eggs breakfast in pajamas. A lot of teasing is afoot. Thirteen year old Eva decides she’ll ski with us rather than go to ski school. We’re all impressed at how well she skis.
Mel seems to be rebounding from her fall and disappointment during the Junior Extremes qualifying run down a terrifyingly steep slope. Everyone has been telling her it’s a lot better to give your all than to not try. That she didn’t succeed just goes with the territory. It helps when she learns a lot of other kids fell on the same run.
All Mel wants is to qualify, which means skiing in control down what looks to me like a sheer cliff studded with rocks and boulders! Only about half of the teens who are here will actually qualify.
It’s a perfect blue sky day. The sun is shining...the snow crisp under our snowshoes. There’s hardly anyone else out on the trail -- just a few other snow shoers and Nordic skiers with their dogs, and an occasional snow mobiler. We see the tracks where hardy skiers have come to back country ski, hiking up so they can ski down pristine powder.
The first phase is the new Lodge at Mountaineer Square and the Mountaineer Conference Center where we’re staying, just steps from the lifts. The lodge and conference center wrap around a cozy courtyard, in which guests can find visitor services, dining and shopping. Here the Crested Butte Adventure Center serves as the “resort concierge,” a one-stop shopping venue.
Organized chaos. Three adults, four college kids, two teens, and a five year-old and three year-old getting ready for a ski day. I‘ve got a sinus infection so I opt not to ski today. I take 13-year-old Eva to the “teen” class. Ellen Osterling, who oversees the kids’ programs, says the ski school tries to offer teen classes every day -- even if they have to send out a teen with his own instructor.
We’re heading to Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado to meet up with an assortment of family, all staying at a condo in the spanking new Lodge at Mountaineer Square, which is part of the hundreds of millions of dollars of improvements here.