Skiing with my son: Fifth Grade Passport allows my kid to get bit by the skiing bug on a discount
March 23, 2017
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If you want more information on the Fifth and Sixth Grade Passport for next year, go to http://coloradoski.com/passport.
I'll be honest. I wasn't looking forward to teaching Jayden how to ski.
Jayden is my 11-year-old boy. We get along really well, partly because he's not a teenager yet and partly because I'm basically 11 myself (we have, for instance, been on many Pokemon Go hunts together that lasted many hours).
I didn't want to ruin that. It seemed like teaching him how to ski would do that.
I remember what it was like to learn how to ski. I took a lesson, which taught me enough to not die, but just enough.
I fell, a lot, and French fried when I should have pizzaed a lot, and got sprayed in the face a lot by snow from my helpful college friends who could ski blacks and thought it was funny that I hadn't learned how to ski until I was 19.
Well, I had an excuse. I lived in Kansas. Kansas, as you may know, does not have mountains. It has a nearby ski hill, which was a ski hill in the sense that Taco Bell thought fried chicken could be a taco shell. We went to the mountains every year, but that was in the summer, when the trails were dry so we could hike and not ski.
We now live in Colorado. And as a result, I wanted Jayden to learn how to ski so his college friends would not spray snow in his face. Plus, I thought it could be yet another good activity for us to do together. You know, besides hunting Pokemon.
I waited until Jayden was in the fifth grade because of the Colorado Ski Country USA Passport. Newspaper employees don't make a lot of money, and my wife is a teacher.
Skiing is fun, but it is also expensive. I couldn't pay $100 for Jayden to fall down all morning and want hot chocolate by noon. The Passport gives Jayden and all other fifth graders a couple free days at many resorts, including Winter Park, what I think is the most family-friendly place.
I was thrilled, though, to discover he could apply for a package of lessons and rental gear, all for free, too. This meant I could ski by myself for the day while he learned from someone who actually knew what they were doing.
When I picked him up at the end of the day, he asked me three questions:
• When can I go again?
• When do I get my own pair of skis?
• Why do you have a bruise on your cheek?
Next month, I told him, and not until you prove to me you will want to ski for years to come. As for the third question, apparently I still need lessons.
We did go nearly a month later, and this time Jayden got another free day at Winter Park, but he would be with me.
I knew I wouldn't have to teach him much, but I thought I would have to be patient, in the hopes that in a couple years, he would be patient and wait for me when he blasts by me down bumps.
As we headed up the ski lift, I filled his head with advice on how to get off. I was still talking when we reached the end of the lift and he got off without falling. It took me three full days of skiing before I could get off a ski lift without falling.
That's how the day went. Jayden went down a green without falling. I gave him one piece of advice — like to turn every once in a while — and he absorbed it beautifully. By the end of the day, he went down his first blue, and though he looked at me a bit wild-eyed after the speed it takes to navigate down one of those, he loved it.
He wondered when we could go again.
The answer was not this year. But we would definitely go again next year.
I realize that's the goal of Colorado Ski Country USA. Skiing is expensive, and it's a good way to hook kids into the sport by giving parents a no-risk way to see if they like it.
But it's also a good goal. This will be something Jayden and I can do together, if I can find a way to pay for it, and maybe even find him a pair of skis.
In fact, my twin girls are in the fourth grade. Next year, both of them will have the same pass.
We'll see if they like it as much. I wonder if I can get a two-for-one deal on skis.
— Staff writer Dan England is The Tribune's Features Editor. His column runs on Tuesday. If you have an idea for a column, call (970) 392-4418 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter