Posts Tagged ‘skiing with kids’

Austria's alps from the top of Obergurgl, Solden's nextdoor neighbour.

Austria’s alps from the top of Obergurgl, Solden’s next door neighbour.

Salut from Sölden! Last March we explored this monstrous ski resort situated in the Ötztal Valley of the Austrian Tirol.

Back home in North America, we know it for the World Cup ski race it stages on its glacier every October. But Sölden is a lot more than just a glacier — it has more than 70 lifts and 186 miles of ski terrain.

This photo was snapped at the tip of Obergurgl, Solden’s next door neighbour, in the midst of the glorious Tirolean alps.

Our adventures in Sölden have been documented (by two 10 year olds) in the latest Winter edition of SNOW Magazine.

For more on exploring Solden, see www.Soelden.com


Lori Knowles

Lori Knowles


Lori Knowles is a ski and travel writer/editor based in Toronto, Canada. She is the editor of SNOW Magazine. See past work at LoriKnowles.com or follow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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Lori Knowles

Lori Knowles

I guess a Tuesday at the start of November is as good a time as any to start planning our 2014/15 ski season–yours and mine. In truth, as someone in the ski biz, it’s been on my mind since July… or earlier. But I’ve waited ’til now to get you revved up, otherwise your engine might burn out.

I hope to tell you the few tidbits I get now and then on new stuff in the European and North American ski markets: new ski lifts, new runs, glades you can’t miss, or an apres-ski experience neither of us can pass up. Let’s see how it evolves. Hopefully the info will help you plan our next ski trips.

I’ll start with some news from a sunny ski area in British Columbia (BC) called Sun Peaks. Here it is, in a photo courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort, taken by Adam Stein:

The Village at Sun Peaks, BC. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks.

The Village at Sun Peaks, BC. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks.

Sun Peaks is in idyllic ski spot in near the Canadian city of Kamloops. Its village is auto-free, its runs flow along a consistent and excellent fallline, and its trees are spacious and not too steep, which gives any ski area an A in my playbook.

Tree skiing at Sun Peaks. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

Tree skiing at Sun Peaks. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

All this you can learn by visiting its website. My news is this: For 2015, Sun Peaks has expanded to a point at which it’s now Canada’s second largest ski area. That’s pretty big — Canada’s largest is Whistler. This season Sun Peaks has grown to more than 4,200 acres of in-bound ski terrain with the addition of two new areas: West Morrisey and Gil’s.

“New runs in the West Morrisey area will be expert ability level and utilize the same aspect as the popular Static Cling and Agitator ski runs,” says a recent press release. “The second section, Gil’s—a popular backcountry ski area at the top of Tod Mountain—will see the area’s vertical double with the creation of a lower ski out back the main ski runs.”

A panoramic shot of Sun Peaks taken from Mt Morrisey. Photo by Adam Stein courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

A panoramic shot of Sun Peaks taken from Mt Morrisey. Photo by Adam Stein courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

In short, this expansion just might move Sun Peaks onto your short list of top spots in Canada to visit. I hope so. As I said, the resort is idyllic.

That’s it for today. More tidbits soon — news to help you explore your ski travel options. Let me know how your planning is progressing. I’m @LoriExploring

Lori Knowles is a ski and travel writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. She is the editor of SNOW Magazine. See past work at LoriKnowles.com or follow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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We feel a little like Alice must have when she slipped through that hole and found herself in Wonderland.

The condo at Smuggler's Notch

We’ve arrived in a the very snowy US state of Vermont from the very rain-soaked town of Toronto. We’ve gone from puddles the size of Canadian skating rinks to mountains, clapboard Colonial houses and sugar bush, all covered over by a smooth white blanket. For a skier, it’s better than Alice’s Wonderland.

This is March Break for Ontario, Canada kids. Half the province has packed Siennas and Pilots full of children, DVDs, DSs and winter or summer gear, then hit the road one direction or another–most for sunnier climes. Our valiant MPV was loaded with my two kids, a cousin, Peter and I, skis, about 14 suitcases, and enough loud ’70s music on the iPod to drown out the sounds of two eight-year-olds shouting “RATS, YOU KILLED ME!” at their dratted Nintendos.

Our destination: Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont.

We left Toronto Saturday a.m. and travelled through the weekend via the 401 to Cornwall. We spent the night at a decent Ramada hotel with a pool full of other March Break kids and their bleary-eyed parents, many of whom were heading to Stowe, Vt, Tremblant, QC, and Smuggler’s. We ate a maple-sugar-laden meal Saturday

The Ramada Pool

night at our beloved St. Hubert’s (a chicken place we only find these days in or near Quebec). Then on Sunday we rose a little too slowly, swam, visited Tim Horton’s one final time for the week, then headed across the Canadian/US border into New York and eventually Vermont.

Our Sunday drive was a little slower than anticipated. The road to Smugg’s is a two-laner full of slow Sunday drivers and anxious, heavy-footed skiers. It was a mix of rain and snow, with the clouds slung so low we missed sighting the rolling scenery.

But the good news is, we made it safely , first to the friendly front desk at Smuggler’s Notch guest registration (I don’t know how they managed such friendliness under such check-in chaos), then to our new ski home in the Tamaracks at Smugg’s, with the kids’ crying: “THIS IS THE BEST CONDO EVER!”

Tamaracks Condo

I’m happy to admit, this condo is pretty swish. Keep in mind, in my travel writing career I’ve seen a lot of condos, but this one rates right up there. First, it’s massive, with two huge bedrooms, loads of windows facing the woods, two bathrooms (including one with a jacuzzi tub) and four flatscreen TVs (one facing aforementioned Jacuzzi tub). We’re all in heaven.

But the best part of yesterday had to be our visit to Smugg’s Fun Zone, a covered dome, kind of like a tennis bubble (actually it is a tennis bubble) filled with stuff kids under 10 consider “Awesome!” There are bouncy castles, bouncy slides, bouncy obstacle courses… there’s a lot of hot air blown around Smuggler’s. There are ping pong tables, fooze ball tables, mini-putt courses and ladder courses. Upon entering, our two eight-year-old boys disappeared instantly and for about two hours we barely saw them. Our four-year-old daughter even made a quick friend, and became content sliding down… what else?… the bouncy slide over and over. I lost count around 100…

Smugg's Bouncy Castle

When it was over we were all so tired we caught a shuttle bus the 100 yards back to our condo! Now it’s Monday morning and they’re all still sleeping.

All this, and we haven’t yet been skiing. So far, Smugg’s is better than Wonderland. More soon.


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I knew my seven-year-old son was having fun in his ski lesson when he refused to take a pee break. I know, because I would have done exactly the same thing at his age.  And I also know it usually ends badly. 

Despite a solid -18 on the slopes of Sun Peaks, and despite two hot chocolates demanding to be let out soon after they were let in, there was no way Emmett would agree to pee. I’ll let you know the ending… but first let me tell you the beginning: 

“How good a skier is he?” his private ski pro, Hamish-with-the-un-identifiable-accent, had asked at the start of the lesson. 

“Pretty good,” I’d said. “Great, actually.” Modesty is not a trait I boast on the ski hill. “He skis parallel. Loves trees.” 

Hamish-with-the-un-identifiable-accent pulled at his beard and looked at Emmett sideways. “I’ll be right back.”  

The ski pro clomped away, and returned moments later with a radical set of twin-tips.  “Whoa,” I said. “He’s got his park skis now.” 

Emmett and Hamish, Sun Peaks


Emmett, who hadn’t been looking forward to me ditching him on this ski lesson, instantly reconsidered. He checked out Hamish’s skis, then his face. He took in the beard, the bandana, the badass helmet. 

“See ya, mom!” And with that I was ordered to take a hike. Hamish was in the building. 

I can’t tell you much about the actual lesson. I used the time to explore Sun Peaks’ sidecountry with a pack of really good guys intent on trees and untracked powder.   

But I can tell you with some authority, that the lesson went extremely well, ’cause like I said, at several points during the lesson Emmett had refused to go in to go to the bathroom. 

“He’s had an accident,” Hamish-with-the-un-identifiable-accent said to me at pick-up. 

I looked down at Emmett’s limbs, which looked like they were still intact. No sign of tears, either. “What did ya hurt, bud?” 

Emmett didn’t speak, but vigorously shook his head. 

“Not that kind of accident,” Hamish said in his unidentifiable accent. “I asked him if he had to pee. Twice actually. But he said he didn’t.” Hamish was talking faster now. “Then we got half way down our last run and he… well, he…” 

“Let it rip?” I asked… knowingly. (Like I said, I’ve been there. Just not lately.) 

“Uh. Yeah,” Hamish said. “And I asked him if he was cold now and he said ‘No. Actually, it warmed me up!'” 

“I bet.” I said to Hamish. We smiled at each other. At least I think we did. It was so cold, both our mouths were covered by bandanas.  

“Better go, huh Emmett?” I asked my son. He nodded, again vigorously, and started to slide away on his skis. He was walking a little funny. 

“How’d the lesson go?” I asked as we headed for the Delta Sun Peaks’ laundry… though I already knew his answer. 

“Great!” Emmett said, waving his poles in the air to make a statement. “We skied the best trees EVER!” 

I believed him. I knew he had a good time… he peed his pants on the ski hill. 


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Wide-open ski runs are of little use at a ski resort from a seven-year-old skier’s perspective. The more trees the better — add a few jumps, plus some stumps and boulders to ski over and you’ve really got it going on. The only thing cleared trails are good for is getting from one set of glades to another really fast. Other than that… “Nah. Pretty useless.”

Little people, big ideas.

This from my son, who’s skiing Sun Peaks, BC for the first time, and is showing remarkable talent for sniffing out good glades. It doesn’t matter how steep they are, how tight they are, or even if they’re tracked. He beetles from one set to another like a remote-controlled stock car commandeered by Bart Simpson.

“C’mon Mom! You can make it! It’s not that steep. Whattya mean the branches are too low? I made it!”

And this kid’s got more than an opinion or two on how a ski area should be layed out. “5-Mile (a green-circle Sun Peaks run) is good ‘cause it’s long,” he says. “But it definitely needs more trees. The ditches are good on the sides, though. You can get some good jumps in those.”

According to Emmett, the best treed runs at Sun Peaks so far are the Cahilty Glades off the Sunburst Express — well spaced, but not too easy; the trees between Granny Greene’s and Homesteader on Sundance; and Mt. Morrisey’s “easy-peasy” The Sticks.

Emmett skied Cahilty Glades Sunday with a pack of Nancy Greeners (ski racers in the Nancy Greene Ski League), led by Nancy Greene herself, and followed by a CTV camera crew. (The footage will run preceding the Olympics.)

Nancy Greene with the Nancy Greeners!

Nancy was cool about heading into Cahilty trees on the first run of the day — she had to be, otherwise the kids on the ski team would mutiny — but the camera crew was a little challenged!

They duck-taped a wide-angle camera to her skis and got action shots of her skiing with all the kids around her. “Kind of hard to ski with one ski slow and the other fast,” she said, waving the ski/camera around. She blew it off eventually–made one of her quick slalom turns through the trees and the camera went rolling.

Nancy gave the kids a few tips on skiing trees safely. “Ski with at least three people in trees,” she says. “That way, if you’re hurt, one can stay with you, while the other gets help.” She wisely adds: “And you don’t ski through trees… you ski around them!”

At the bottom of Cahilty she stopped — a rare occurrence for energetic Nancy — and pointed back up at the glades.

“You guys know Bode Miller?” she asked? “The American ski racer? He was here once for a Nor-Am race and missed his start ‘cause he thought he could squeeze one more run through Cahilty trees.”

Emmett nodded his head. He totally got it. When you’ve got glades, who needs gates?

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