This past week, the kids and I headed to Northern Michigan for the Canadian Ski Week at Boyne Highlands.
During the day, the kids attended the Boyne Ski Academy which offers snowboarding and skiing lessons to kids and adults. During Canadian Ski Week, adult lessons are included in the resort ski package.
On Day 1, there is a ski-off and kids are placed in groups based on ability. Will and Charlie had never skied so they began on the tiny hill next to the hotel. We were greeted by wonderful instructors, Priscilla, Sarah and Meghan, who quickly popped the kids onto their skis and ushered me away. The instructors clearly know what they are doing with this age group and not once during the entire week did I hear from them with a problem.
The morning lessons for all kids begin at 9:45 am and run until 11:45 am. The kids then break for lunch and activities which include crafts, downtime and if the kids are old enough a chance to go tubing. Afternoon lessons run from 2:30 pm until 4:30 pm. I stopped by during lunch on the first day to see if the kids wanted to come back to the room and Charlie began crying and begged me to leave her at ski school. After that, I knew they were hooked.
When the kids came back from skiing, they were exhausted. Our nights were filled with easy dinners and early bed times. They woke up excited to head back out on the hill and were devastated when the week ended.
The Ski Schools at Boyne Highlands and Mountain are run by two Austrians, Tony Sendlhofer and Wolfgang Russold. They are both incredibly approachable people who visibly care about the schools they are running. I spoke to Tony throughout the week at the Highlands and really got the sense that the ski school was something he was passionate about. On the last day of ski school, every student gets to participate in Race Day and as I watched Tony stand in frigid temperatures for most of the day to time almost every skier who went by, I understood that he wasn’t just supervising instructors, he was ensuring every skier in the school had as great of an experience as we did.
On Race Day, the vibe on the hill was electric. Parents picked meeting spots and exchanged their kids race times so that each child could have a huge cheering squad. Being alone with my kids, I worried that they would be sad with just me cheering them on. I was touched to see that as the bigger kids races ended on the larger hill, parents and children alike trickled down to the bottom of the hill to cheer on the tiniest of skiers. Later that day at the awards ceremony, Will placed first in his category, quite a feat for my not-so-athletic 5 year old, and the cheers from the crowd made him feel like he had won a gold medal at the Olympics.
I spent time at Boyne as a child and have fond memories of the ski school. I learned to ski and snowboard at Boyne and as a testament to the school was able to easily return to skiing this year without hesitation after a near 15 year break. The kids are already asking to return next year and I think I will take advantage of the ski lessons and join a half-day ski group myself. Who knows- maybe I could take home a first place trophy myself next year.
For added entertainment, check out the video I posted with this blog for my epic travel blogger mom fail. When taking pictures of your racing kid, you need to move out of the way and not attempt to catch them. No one was hurt in the video.