At age 1 1/2 my friend Paige gave me a plastic pair of Fischer Skis for my baby boy. It was such a joy to have him in the driveway walking around on those skis. First with one ski and then with both, headed right down the driveway. Early days having that natural balance. Now that he can walk, he can ski with his mommy. Training a ski partner from the womb – I remember being 6 months pregnant and jumping little cliffs off of Goose Bumps and making my guy ski buddies promise not to tell. As soon as he got those skis I brought him up to the mountain and carried him on my shoulders to South Peak… we rode the carpet and he skied the trails with me that year, probably 15 times. It was cold, but we were out there, getting used to this life on the snow.
At age 2 he donned his first pair of hard shell boots and another pair of little Fischer skis from Auntie Paige, Ilze, (our aupair from Latvia) and I skied with him on the little carpet that year and he smiled with glee as he skied his first straight run and turn. Definitely skipping the wedge using that “straight to parallel technique, that wedge would eventually come with time. I tore my knee that season and it was really tough for me to miss skiing with him. Ilze was great and I used to hobble around with my leg in the splint around the area and hiked the big carpet many times, it was tough for me to be up there and not skiing, but such a joy to see him learn and get better each day.
At age 3 he was still wearing those Fischer blues and new hard boots to fit his growing feet. He loved to go fast and straight down the hill. “You can’t coach speed”, Uncle Steve used to say… I had Schuyler off my pole and skiing all the greens that year. We went up to the top of the mountain. I remember the look on his face as we got off the lift looking down at the big lake. My little “mountain man.” I am so proud of him… He skied the whole length of Ridge with no pole, even the blue sections. Pretty scary for mom to trust, but he did it – a little cautious at times… which was actually a good thing, he only would fall sparingly (and I would train him not to cry on the hill – only if there is blood do you need to cry – he remembers that to this day). He skied with Priscila – they skied the mountain together, Priscila had never even seen snow when she arrived from Brazil. It was fun to watch her learn and ski the blue trails by the end of the season too.
At age 4 I bought a pair of K2’s at a ski swap and his first pair of Technica boots at Skinners. He was putting it together and racing down the hill with his friends Carson and Cameron. They had fun when they were together, but Schuyler had many other days with Jessica who arrived back to work with us from Costa Rica. She had one day under her belt when we bought her first ski pass. It was part of the job to ski with Schuyler and he loves to “teach” people how to ski “just like Mommy”. He would use the same commands and exercises that I had used on Domitila (from Brazil, who left our family after 3 long months). Schuyler insisted in having poles, which Uncle Steve didn’t agree, but I was not one to argue with “the Prince” and it worked out to help him balance himself and he figured it out right away. Pretty amazing little man. I had him in the “kinder program” once a week for 10 sessions and Hank took him up the chair. He progressed much better listening to other instructors and really loved being up on the hill.
Now Schuyler is 5 and even though I inquired late, Jill at the Alpine Center squeezed us in the Mighty Mite race program that fills up in October (it was December when I finally asked about how to get him signed up). My buddy Mark put in a good word and I had taught with Jill on the mountain so I was thrilled that we could have him take advantage of being a part of this program.
Mighty Mites has been a great experience for everyone. Schuyler LOVES his coaches. Coach Dan, Coach Skip, Coach Norm, Coach Joe and Coach Caitlyn. They do this great little warm up before they start and they ski 9-12 every Saturday & Sunday. They began with drills on South Peak early in the season. Schuyler has been out there every day, in the rain, the cold, the lack of snow every day that he has available including the vacation weeks. It is really building a sense of commitment and love for the sport of skiing. He encourages others, is making new friends and is showing competitive nature in reaching his potential at his young age. This year he got new skis – Dynastar red/white/blues and LOVES his skis. Coach Skip said he needed a longer pair and by moving him into carving parallel turns 90% of the time.
It took me a little while to get used to his speed on the slopes, scared me to see him ahead of me and making turns where I didn’t know he could control his speed. But he can do it – – They do the last run of the day in the race course… he races his buddies, he really doesn’t know if he won or not and after his first race (Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge) he just wanted a prize, but seemed to be OK with no medal. Not everyone can win – that is a lesson in life… but everyone can compete and have fun.
I saw Schuyler this past season crash 3 times pretty huge – – once he approached a boy (said he was racing him) and ended up in his blind spot and was line sided. Yard sale all over the bumps on Calypso. I was a little scared, checked him out and he was ok. Cried just a little, but skied on. The next time was just this past weekend crossing the bottom of the Ridge to the cut through to South Peak. He slowed down but didn’t stop and it is worse than a highway of people that don’t know how to ski – – A man 5 times his weight crashed into him and there was equipment everywhere. I really thought he was hurt bad this time – – but he was holding his knee and then was able to stand eventually. No repercussions from that one and we skied on to the “Piggy Back” before going back to the race course. We had 2 runs on the course and the second run Schuyler blew out of all his equipment – flattened on the course. “My hip is bleeding mommy!” (code for it is ok to cry) and I did a hip assessment – “does this hurt” – – NO – – “Did I win mommy?” – – “Well Schuyler you haven’t finished yet, but the clock is still going, let’s go!” – – My friend Mark was there and this course marshall came down to help us and see if Schuyler was ok. The course marshall guy helped him into his skis and he finished the race! Just an amazing child in my mind and I am so happy he loves this sport like I do. He says to me on the way to school this morning… “Mommy, do you know what I want to be when I grow up? A ski teacher just like you!”