Christy Sports The Ridge Report
A Blog About Everything Skiing & Snowboarding in Colorado & Utah
Ski Trip Travel Tips

One of my favorite parts of winter is our annual family ski trip.

While we ski most winter weekends (a definite perk of living in Colorado), spring break is when we venture further afield, if not afar, to sample new mountains and new resorts.

While planning a ski vacation should be fun, it also requires some work and attention to detail.

Today, we share some tips for planning your best winter getaway.

Dream

We all have lists of ski resorts we’d love to visit. We also have lists of favorite resorts we return to again and again.

When planning a ski vacation, you have to choose between the familiar and beloved and adventuring to a new destination.

Start with who will be going on the trip.

If children are coming, how old are they? Do you need services like childcare or ski school? While almost all resorts have dedicated programs for children, some, like Snowmass and Keystone, specialize in families.

If this is a girls’ trip, is it all about skiing or do you want shopping and spa, too? If skiing will be front and center, you might look into a women’s ski week or camp at somewhere like Alta.

While I’ve obviously never been on a guys’ ski trip, I hear it’s all about skiing, drinking and eating.

So here’s a question for the men: Do you want to be in the middle of the après action?  Or, would you be okay with a more remote resort like Snowbasin, Utah that has great skiing, but no lodging base or nightlife?

Next, ask yourself how many mountains you want to visit. Do you want to stay at one resort and really get to know it or hop between several resorts and sample them all?

In Colorado, this could mean choosing between a multi-mountain destinations like Summit County or picking a more isolated ski town like Telluride.

Make a list of what you want and use it to narrow down your options. Ask your friends for their suggestions and look online for ski resort reviews.

Best Tip for Choosing a Resort: If you have a season pass, check for reciprocal deals with other mountains. You may find that you can ski for free or at a significant discount. This makes choosing the “right” destination a no-brainer.

Plan

As with any vacation, you have to know how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay and what you’ll need to bring.

1. Getting There

While driving has some serious advantages (think bringing your own gear and having maximum flexibility), flying can take you anywhere.

Whether you fly or drive, factor in how much time you’re willing to spend in transit.

Do you want to fly into a city and ski the same day? Are you willing to rent a car or take ground transportation to the resort?

If time is a major consideration, look for resorts with nearby local airports. Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Whitefish, Montana come to mind.

Best Driving Tip: Be prepared for winter weather. The Colorado Traction Law now requires passenger cars to carry and use chains (or their equivalent) during some storm conditions.

No matter where you are, check the state department of transportation website or download an app to keep you updated.

Best Flying Tip: Ask the airlines if your skis and boots can fly for free. Rules vary with each carrier, but skis/snowboard and boots are free on United if packed in ski boot bags and ski bags.

If you pack your boots in a duffle bag, or your skis in a box, you’ll pay. Plus, you have to check both skis and boots. We tried to fly with just boots and got dinged.

2. Sleep and Eat

Resort websites often have links to extensive lodging and last-minute deals. But for some trips, renting a home through a service like VRBO might be better.

Make a list of what you need and want.

Do you need a kitchen? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? If you’re staying off-mountain is there a shuttle or public transportation? Are there slopeside or ski-in/ski-out options?

Best Lodging Tip: Check out lodging in nearby communities to save money. For example, stay in Basalt if Aspen is too pricey.

Or take an urban ski trip. Stay in Salt Lake City (the Salt Lake SuperPass scores discounts on tickets and lodging) and commute 30-40 minutes by car or bus to four world-class resorts.

3. Gear

We recommend taking your own boots if you can. But leaving skis/poles or snowboards at home can make life much easier (especially when you’re trying to fit everything and everyone into a rental car or SUV).

Best Gear Tip: Make your life easy with ski and snowboard rental delivery services like Door 2 Door from Christy Sports. Reserve everything you need online. When you arrive, a ski tech brings the equipment and fits it to you at your convenience.

Execute

Online planning is key to maximizing fun and limiting ski vacation hassle. Study resort websites to find out what activities and special events are available.

Save money by purchasing lift tickets in advance on resort websites or from vendors like Liftopia.

Also, reserve lessons, dining and other special events (perhaps snowshoeing, a snowcat dinner in a remote cabin, or a western family BBQ) in advance to avoid disappointment.

Best Overall Tip: Be flexible. While it’s good to plan ahead, don’t schedule every moment and be prepared for changes. It’s a vacation after all, not a marathon. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, let everyone set their own pace and agenda.

Then reconvene each afternoon to share stories, photos and fun (with an emphasis on fun).

Enjoy!

 

Tips For Teaching Kids How To Ski

The first time my husband and I took our three-year old son skiing, we made a rookie mistake. We thought we were prepared.

We put ski boots on his soft, tiny feet and let him march around the house. We popped a helmet and goggles onto his head and played “pretend” games. We watched videos of children skiing and talked about the fun we’d have together.

Being lifelong skiers, my husband and I smugly thought we had it nailed: We’d put him on snow. He’d love it. We’d ski together as a family.

Not surprisingly, things did not work out as we planned.

Getting him on snow was easy. He was game, but we were naive.

While the coat he was wearing was cute, it wasn’t warm. Soon, he was cold and unhappy. Not even hot chocolate could staunch his tears.

I was a full year before we got him on snow again.

This was just one of the lessons we learned when teaching our kids to ski.

Tip #1: Get the Right Gear

The next time we skied, our son wore a proper ski coat and pants. He also wore one pair of thin wool socks, polypro base layers and a fleece. We put mittens on his hands and had hand warmers at the ready.

Plus, since we rented skis and boots for him for the season, we knew the hardware was tuned, properly fit and ready to go. At the suggestion of our ski tech, we purchased an inexpensive bungee that clamps onto the ski tips to keep them from crossing or spreading too far apart.

This time, he was physically comfortable and ready for fun!

Tip #2: Focus On Fun

Sometimes, adults forget that kids are motivated by fun. The first few days on snow are not about learning technique. They are about happily spending time together and building a positive association with skiing or snowboarding.

Find a flat or nearly flat place to practice basic movement. Pull your child around with your ski poles. Encourage them to shuffle their skis and start sliding. Make up silly games and use funny noises. Laugh a lot. For like 30 minutes. Then take a break for hot chocolate.

When your child is ready to go back outside, get out there and play some more.

Don’t even bother putting on your ski boots and skis.

Tip #3: Take Lessons

When your child is ready for the next step, sign him or her up for a lesson. Group lessons are usually the most economical and enjoyable, since kids like being with other kids.

If you can, take a tour of the children’s center a day or two before the lesson. Point out other kids skiing with their instructors when you see them on the hill. Look at a resort map and find the magic carpet and ski school. Each of these things will help familiarize your child with the idea of lessons and build a sense of comfort.

Although you won’t be with your child during the lesson, let him or her know where you will be and what time you’ll be back for pick up. If you’re anxious, hide your concerns. Don’t give your child any reason to worry.

If your child has separation anxiety, talk to the instructor and come up with a game plan. Remember, they’ve seen it all before.

On the day of the lesson, arrive early so that you aren’t rushing. Introduce yourself and your child to the instructor and then leave. Although it’s oh-so-tempting, don’t “spy” on the lesson. Instead, click into your bindings, hop on the lift, and enjoy some adult skiing.

Just remember to be on time for pickup.

Tip #4: Reinforce What Has Been Taught

After the lesson, check in with the instructor and get a report.

Find out what was taught, where the child skied and specifically ask how you can reinforce what your child just learned.

To minimize confusion, learn and use the same terminology as the ski school. Get recommendations on what runs and trails to try. And find out what level lesson to sign up for the next time.

Tip #5: Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

According to Kevin Jordan, the Children’s Coordinator at Snowmass, one of the biggest mistakes parents make is taking a child down a trail that is too difficult. As Kevin puts it, “This is a sure-fire way to regress, rather than reinforce, what your child has learned.”

Although it’s hard, parents need to have realistic expectations. Most kids aren’t going to grow up to be the next Ted Ligety or Mikaela Shiffrin. And that’s probably not your goal anyway.

So don’t push your kids too hard or too fast. Remember to laugh and play together. Create positive opportunities and experiences that will instill a love of skiing in your children.

Most of all, be patient and focus on fun. Before you know it, you and your kids will be skiing the same runs. And then one day, they’ll pass you by in a puff of powder and perfect turns down a steep line.

At that point, your job is done. Now you just have to keep up.

 

Enjoy!

Christy Sports is the presenting sponsor of the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. With this pass, 5th graders ski free (and can get a free 1st-time lesson and rental) at 20 member resorts. 6th graders ski at each of these resorts for a one-time fee of $99. It’s the best deal in Colorado for skiing families!

 Also, January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, with great deals on children’s lessons at resorts throughout Colorado and Utah. For more information, find your resort on the LSSM webpage.

With all the hype surrounding Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be interesting to offer you a guy’s and a girl’s perspective on great dates. So, we wrote a dual post giving you some non-traditional ideas for your mountain-loving sweetheart. Here is what we came up with:


What Your Mountain Girl Really Wants for Valentine’s Day 

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Written By: Emily Scott

For the girl who owns more snow pants than dresses, a box of chocolates and some flowers for Valentine’s Day just doesn’t cut it. Girls that like to slide down snowy mountains crave adventure and adrenaline. So what do you get your Valentine that likes to play hard in the mountains? Nothing. You take her to do something that will get her heart pumping instead. Here are a few V-Day date ideas that will impress your mountain gal:

Guided Ice Climbing – If she’s never been ice climbing before, chances are she would dig it. It’s a challenging winter sport that the two of you can learn together. Go with a guide because they provide all of the equipment and show you the best spots to go, as well as make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for you both.

Sledding – Find a steep hill with plenty of snow, buy a sled, and you’ve got a recipe for a great date. This is a win because she’ll get to play in the snow and you can each bring out your inner child.

Snowmobiling – What’s more awesome than blazing powder trails on a motorized sled? She’ll be stoked. You can rent them for a few hours and go at your own pace or take a guided tour. Make sure you rent two though, because she will want to drive her own. None of that riding on the back nonsense.

Rock Climbing – Indoor or outdoor, this will be an awesome time. It’s also a great way to bond and build trust with your sweetheart as you take turns belaying and climbing. You can take a quick lesson if it’s your first time or you can try your hands at bouldering which doesn’t require ropes.

A Dog Sled Tour – It will be just like the Iditarod! Okay maybe it won’t, but it will still be a really unique experience. You can snuggle up with your Valentine on the sled while also having an adventure. It will definitely sweep her off her Sorels!

All of these dates could be followed by a quiet evening by the fire, watching ski/snowboard movies, and drinking hot chocolate, or let’s be honest, her favorite beer. Save the cliché gifts for another time, and make some memories with your betty this Valentine’s Day.


What Your Mountain Guy Really Wants for Valentine’s Day

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Written By: Mic Wilborn

Come on ladies, we all know the truth.  Valentine’s Day isn’t for your guy; it’s for you.  Sure, there may one or two dudes out there that love February 14th but they don’t represent the majority.  All of that pressure to impress used to make me anxious.  Like a heartburn inducing, shortened breath, sweaty hands, panicky type of anxious.  Then I began dating an avid skier and things started to get better.  It turns out that a shared experience based on a common passion was better for both of us.  If you love adventure as much as your guy, here are a few date ideas you could surprise him with that he might actually get excited about.  

On-Mountain Dining- Regardless of the occasion, a perfect day for me includes snowboarding with my wife (that avid skier actually married me) and then having a slice of pizza while enjoying a few beers. Call me easy.  So, in order to set Valentine’s Day apart from all the others, schedule a sleigh-ride dinner to an on-mountain restaurant.    You will still get to ski or ride all day, but instead of the standard pizza/beer combo, you get to head back up the hill and enjoy a good meal together after the lifts stop turning. 

Night Snowshoe Hike- If you pick really mellow terrain that you are both comfortable with, the only thing you will have to worry about is whether or not the stars are hiding behind the clouds.  As an added surprise, pack a bag with some snacks, a blanket, candles, and a bottle of wine so when you find a cool spot; you can stop and have a mini picnic. 

Moonlit Backcountry Laps– If conditions are right and you are both experienced and prepared backcountry travelers, getting in  a few laps together under the moonlight is about as good as it gets.  Even if it’s an area you are both super familiar with, the mountains have a different vibe at night.  You can fit snacks and drinks in your pack for a surprise picnic at the summit, or leave them in the car and toast each other in a successful Valentine’s Day afterwards.  

I’d really like to provide you with a few more date ideas, but I’ve unfortunately drained my shallow pool of romantic notions. If you’re going to try to surprise your mountain-loving man (short of canceling Valentine’s Day altogether) the above three brainwaves might just be enough to make the day special for him; plus, you’ll have fun too!


If you have any other date ideas, share them with us in the comments below. We love hearing your stories!

 

The most overwhelming part about a shredcation is not knowing where to ski, what to do, or where to eat when you arrive. Luckily for us, it’s 2015, and although hoverboards haven’t become a viable mode of transportation, we do have access to the world’s information through smartphones. Here are a few of my favorite apps to help you make the most of your ski vacation:

Liftopia App1. Liftopia – Instead of paying full price for your lift tickets at the window, check Liftopia to see if there are any discounts or offers for the resort you’re visiting. Beware that you may have to purchase a few days in advance to get the deal, but sometimes you can get 50% off or more.

On The Snow App2. OnTheSnow – Want to find out which resort near you has the best snow conditions? OnTheSnow will give you the daily snow report for over 2,000 resorts worldwide to help you decide where you want to ski. It also lets you view trail maps, ski news, and live web cam feeds.

Trace Snow App3. Trace Snow – This app is loaded with cool features for the shredder that wants to track their day on the hill.  Record how many runs you’re taking, how many calories you’re burning, how fast you’re going, and how many miles of terrain you skied. Your GoPro can even sync with the app and track how high your jumps were. Most importantly, you can also add your friends to prove who shreds harder and share it on social media.

Yelp App4. Yelp – In case you’re not familiar with this popular review site, I’ve just introduced you to your new best friend. Yelp has customer reviews for just about everything. Need ski rentals? Check Yelp for the best ski rental shop near you. Looking for the best, cheapest place to grab a bite to eat? Check yelp for the highest rated restaurant with an average price per meal of $10 or less. Yelp has a great selection of filters that help you find the best of what you’re looking for wherever you go. Use it on your vacation to find the highest rated establishments so you never have to deal with poor customer service. Some places will even offer discounts if you “check-in” using the app.

Trip Advisor App5. Trip Advisor – Maybe everyone you’re traveling with doesn’t ski, or you’re wiped out from the day before and want to do something else. Check Trip Advisor for other local attractions to keep the gang entertained. Read tips from other travelers to see what they recommend for “Things to Do” in your vacation spot.

Skiing Fred App6. Ski/Snowboard Games – What better way to keep your stoke up than with some ski and snowboard games? If you’re flying or driving a long distance somewhere to ski, playing some ski games will keep you excited to hit the hill while you’re waiting to get there, and are more fun than reading a book or scrolling through Facebook. A few Christy Sports favorites are: MyTP Freeskiing 2, Skiing Fred, and FreshTracks Snowboarding.

What apps do you use for skiing and snowboarding? Have you tried any of these?

Getting out on the hill and skiing or riding is fun, right? Right! So it is understandable that skiing and snowboarding evolved into a lifelong passion for so many of us. For those of us that have kids, it’s equally understandable to want to pass that same passion on to them. Still operating under the premise that our chosen winter sports are fun; on any given day at any given resort, why can you always find an upset child accompanied by a harassed looking adult? Well that’s a head-scratch-er, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it might be a combination of over-zealousness and lack of planning.

I get it; you want your kids to love the winter as much as you do, so with that in mind, I’ve put together a list of tips to help make those first days on the hill fun for the little ones who aren’t quite ready for ski school.

Christy_loveland2014_budd_1-39 PM 2CCBuy a Sled. Getting everything from the car to the base area can be a pain if you don’t have a cheap plastic sled and some bungee cords. Simply pile all of the gear into the sled, strap it down and tow it behind you. This also lets you carry one of the kiddos, preventing them from getting tired before they ever get on their skis or snowboard.  You can stash the sled somewhere at the base area and retrieve it for the return trip to the car.

Bring Their Shoes. Let them wear comfortable shoes from the car to the lift, and just put on the ski boots in the lodge right before the first run.

Dress Them Appropriately. Although it might be cold outside, overdressing your kids is as detrimental to your day as under-dressing them. Also, if you are hauling your kid up the hill all day, you will probably want to dress on the lighter side so you don’t get overheated.

Make Yourself Comfortable. Don’t wear your ski boots all day if you are going to spend most of your time walking up and down the beginner area. Instead wear comfy boots and bring your ski boots with you just in case.

Christy_loveland2014_budd_12-03 PM 2CCBe a Sherpa. Be as prepared for your little ripper as the most experienced Sherpa in Nepal. You should have plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen and extra layers with you just in case.  It’s also easier to sometimes just pick them up and carry them or push them back up the hill.  Consider it a bonus workout!

Mentally Prepare. Get ready to be patient and flexible. I know this seems like a no-brainer…but still, it’s worth repeating; be patient and flexible.

Make Good Terrain Choices. If it’s their first time skiing or snowboarding, don’t take them up the highest lift and just assume they’ll figure it out. I’ve seen that happen a few times, and it never works out well.

Take a Lot of Breaks. We all know that kids tire out pretty quickly, but it’s a surprisingly easy thing to forget when you’ve made the trek to the resort and are excited to finally see your kid on their skis or snowboard. Just let their attitude du jour dictate the pace of the day.

Trumpore_2014_Christys_-104CCHave Your Kid Wear a Helmet and Goggles. Even though they will probably go about 1mph, it’s always a good idea to start positive habits on the first day.  Helmets and goggles help keep them dry as well as protected and are available in different sizes and styles for kids of any age.

 

Be Realistic. Don’t plan on having the little ones on the snow from first chair to last chair. Even with plenty of breaks, they probably won’t spend more than a few hours on their skis.

Focus on the Fun, not the Technique. If they’re not having fun right away, it may be a fight to get them back up to the hill to learn about technique, so when you see them starting to lose interest, forget about the skis for a minute and play. Snowball fights, snow angels, and building snowmen are all free, fun and easy things to do in between magic carpet laps. Some resorts even have different activities like tubing, ice-skating, and zip lines which provide a great break for kids.

Rent Smart. Check out the kid’s ski free program at Christy Sports or check the availability of season rentals so you don’t break the bank on renting equipment for your kids.

Enroll Them in Lessons. After you’ve successfully introduced the fun of skiing or snowboarding to your little rippers, get them in a lesson. A good instructor will build on the foundation you’ve laid.

Remember that skiing and snowboarding is fun and focus on that. Your kids will pick up on your enthusiasm and after a while, they are going to want to head to the hills as much as you do. Pretty soon, you will be following them down the hill, watching them in the terrain park, and cringing at their GoPro footage. Those first few days on the hill are special though, so enjoy!

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If you have any other hard won tips for skiing or riding with kids, please let me know!

It looks like Colorado is on Ullr’s good side this year, and the early ski season is shaping up to be pure white. We’ve already seen great skiing and riding conditions throughout November and December, so, if you’re not in the mountains, get here! And when you’ve gotten here, poke your head into a local ski shop before you hit the slopes. Get ready: I’m going to fill you in on why this should become a part of your ski day routine.

There is no better place than a ski shop to feel the buzz of a mountain town. They’re the focal point of every ski town because it’s where locals go to catch up on insider mountain news and visitors go to get equipment and establish ties with the community. Plus, you never know who you’ll bump into. It could be anyone from the old guard; the ones that founded the ski area and scoped the runs in the pioneer days of skiing before grooming and chairlifts. Or you could meet one of the new schoolers; the young kids who are hucking themselves in the park or ripping up the racecourse, basically the ones you’ll likely see in the next Olympics. These people go in and out of ski shops on a regular basis for a couple basic reasons: to keep their gear maintained and get the pulse of the community. To immerse yourself in the culture of skiing and to really get stoked on your trip this year, there’s no better way to kick off your visit than by talking snow at a shop. It’s a part of the culture that you won’t want to miss out on.

There are a few reasons that people tend to miss this great opportunity to tap into the local knowledge base, but believe me; none of these excuses are worth it.

I get it. It’s been a long drive. Perhaps even a stuffy flight before that. You just want to jump to the après ski scene – before you’ve even skied – by relaxing in the hot tub with a cold one. Instead, when you roll into town, the first thing you need to do is get the scoop. What’s the snow like? Where’s it thin and where’s it loaded? When’s the new terrain going to open? Where can you get some grub that is delicious but not overpriced?  Where are the cheapest parking lots? And, most importantly, where can you find the best breakfast burrito? These are all crucial pieces of intel, and without each piece, your first day on the hill may not meet its true potential.

By stopping in at a local ski and snowboard shop, you give yourself a chance to understand the culture and get the insider info on where to go, both on the mountain and off. The folks at a true local shop will let you know where to fuel up in the morning, where to replenish midday, and the areas to check out around the mountain that will be right for you. The number of interactions you make with people in a ski shop will surprise you, and probably lead to some quality lasting relationships. You’ll meet fellow visitors, ski bums, patrollers, ski techs, ski pioneers, free-skiers, racers and locals.

There’s no better way to get the local down low. You don’t even have to stress about finding the best shop, because Christy Sports has locations all over Colorado and Utah. They’ve been around forever and the employees are genuinely happy about sharing their passions with others. So, whether you’re a ski town local, weekend warrior, or vacationer; get to know the guys and gals at the local ski shop. It’ll certainly pay off.

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If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, you’ve probably experienced the seasonal struggles of dragging all of your gear out of its summer hiding place only to have it scattered amongst your car, your entryway, and your bedroom throughout the winter. AWOL socks, glove liners, and beanies are the result of not having a designated space to put away your outerwear. Having a space to easily grab what you need on your way up to the mountains and store it when you return will save you time and sanity this season. Be proactive this season, and create a space to keep everything together.  There are a ton of ways you can do this, but this is what works for me and it costs less than $25 to make.

 

What you’ll need:

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Hangers

Strong hangers will hold up your heavy jackets and pants. These hangers are also wider which helps fill in the shoulder space on jackets so that they hang more naturally. I found these for $3.99/8 pack from Ikea. They also have pants hangers for $0.99 each.

 

 

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Clothes Rack

Clothing racks come in a variety of sizes and heights. I found this one for $12.99 at Ikea. They had some cheaper ones and some more expensive ones, but I liked this one because of the adjustable height and wheels that made it convenient for storing in the summer. If white doesn’t match you décor, you can always spray paint it to fit.

 

 

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Hanging Shelves

Lastly, you’ll need some sort of hanging shelf to store your accessories and base layers. You can either sort by items (socks, layers, mittens, beanies) or by weather conditions. For instance, if you know it’s going to be a warm day you can keep all of your light layers together so that you can just grab the whole pile and go. I already had some hanging shelves I wasn’t using, but you can find an assortment of options like this one for $4.99 at Ikea. Consider an organizer that has compartments large enough to hold a helmet, but small enough to separate smaller items like goggles and glove liners.

My favorite thing about this set up is that all of the pieces are easily collapsed and can be put into storage when it’s not being used. You can rotate items into it for your summer activities as well. Save on this idea by using a coat closet if you have one, or by using hangers that you already have. This is just one idea of how to organize your gear for the winter. What does your winter gear storage look like?

Organized Outerwear