- Insider’s Jennifer Cunningham and her husband took their toddler skiing to Vermont in February.
- As new to skiing, they focused on the training slopes and stayed safe while visiting on off-peak days.
- An instructor also taught their 2-year-old the basics of skiing before hitting the slopes.
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After almost a year of barely leaving our apartment, thanks to COVID-19, I knew my family had been waiting for a vacation for a long time.
My husband is reluctant to take planes, and our 2 year old is a bit hostile to masks, so our options were limited. After having analyzed driving distance trips around the northeast, where we live, we settled on skiing in vermont.
With mountains, fresh air, lots of snow and a rural feel, a ski vacation in Vermont in February seemed like the antidote to the several crazy months we had spent at home.
At the same time, we had major concerns. We had never skied before. Was it dangerous to ride a ski lift with a rowdy toddler? How to keep the baby out of danger on the slopes? And most importantly, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, would a ski trip be safe?
Doria Ware, preschool teacher and ski instructor at the Suicide Six Pomfret, Vermont ski area – where we visited – said parents and caregivers can enjoy the slopes with a toddler while keeping them safe.
âYou have to have a sense of humor and fun,â Ware said. âYou have to be prepared for mood swings and be prepared to make changes. They may see a snowman and want to play, and the child may need a break.
Despite our concerns, we had a memorable time in the snow – and luckily, without any injuries. This is how we skied safely with a small child.
Don’t skimp on ski equipment
You wouldn’t send your child outside to cycle without a helmet, and the same rules apply in a ski area.
Besides the helmet, parents should invest in a warm jacket, ski pants, mittens and ski boots – and practice putting on all the gear before the trip, Ware said.
Get away from the face and the chairlift
My husband and I were not at all comfortable with the idea of ââbringing our 2 year old on a mobile chairlift. And the prospect of skiing the “face” of the ski area, or main ski slope, also seemed out of reach for our new-to-ski family.
Instead, we spent our time skiing around Pearson’s Path, a small hill just for training.
There the skiers climbed to the top via a J-Bar, a âJâ shaped metal hook that gently towed us up the hill.
Like the one we visited, most ski areas have slopes dedicated to beginners.
Register for the ski school
We chose to hire a ski school teacher who had experience working with young children. As new to skiing, we wanted to leave it up to a professional to teach our little one the basics of skiing.
By teaching our child, Ware, our instructor, also gave us peace of mind.
Look for a ski area’s COVID protocols before you go in the snow
Make sure you and your child not only follow state COVID-19 safety protocols, but also ski area rules and regulations.
Suicide Six, for example, had a requirement for face coverage, temperature controls and social distancing rules in place, and traditional aprÃ¨s-ski meals, which are typically found inside a ski lodge, were moved outside.
Try to ski in the middle of the week, when it is less crowded
While skiing and snowboarding are naturally socially distant sports, we visited on a weekday during off-peak hours. The crowd was thin on the mountain and there was no waiting to warm up with s’mores and hot chocolate for our aprÃ¨s ski.
When you ski with a child, stay together on the slopes
It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s especially important that parents and caregivers know their child’s whereabouts at all times when they are skiing.
Not only will this give the adult peace of mind, but Mr Ware also said the child could look to the parent for reassurance and support.
âThey want to know you’re there if they fall or need to put their mittens back on,â Ware said. “Any little thing, they want to know you’re nearby.”
Overall, taking our toddlers to ski was a great decision for us. We were able to safely experience an invigorating new outdoor activity together – and our tyke was so happy with our day in the mountains that she burst into tears upon leaving.
“Ski! Ski!” she said.