January 22 2010 by Amy Graff
My memories of downhill skiing with my parents as a child are full of embarrassing moments. There's the time I skied into a tree. The end of my pole hit my eye and I had a shiner the rest of the trip (thank goodness for sunglasses).
There's the time I wet my pants on the chair lift. And the time I fell off the chairlift and a boy from my high school happened to be in the chair behind me. Ugh!
I never took to the sport, yet I was frequently dragged to the snow because my parents and brother loved to ski and they were good at it. I hated the cold, the scary downhills, the long lift lines, the crowded slopes.
I decided to introduce my kids to the snow through a different activity: cross-country skiing. It's mellower, less-intimidating, and a much friendlier sport for kids (and I like it).
This past weekend, we made our first big trip to the snow. We rented a cabin with some friends in the Tahoe area that's only four hours from our home in San Francisco. And we planned to spend a full day cross-country skiing.
We opted to ski at Kirkwood, south of Lake Tahoe, because they have a cross-country center with 50 kilometers of groomed trails, equipment rentals, and lessons.
For $48, adults get, an hour introductory lesson, a trail pass for the day, and ski, boots, and poles. The price for kids is $25. For our family of four, the total came to $150. If we skied at Kirkwood's nearby down hill resort and put the kids in half-day lessons, we would have spent $330.
Our family started the day with a one-hour lesson. We had the instructor to ourselves. She taught us how to hold the poles, glide across the snow, snow-plow down a hill. Simple stuff. My husband and I had skied five years ago so the class was a refresher. The was the kids first lesson and after an hour they could cross-country ski.
After the lesson, a little practicing, and lunch, we decided to ski the 5-kilometer trail that circles a giant meadow. We glided over gently rolling hills through a snowy expanse surrounded by mountains. "Is this a winter wonderland?" my daughter asked.
The kids easily made it around the trail and near the end my daughter said, "I think I might like to try that downhill kind of skiing, Mommy."