An Interview with Diane, a Brave Ski Mom from Denver
Why is Winter Park your favorite resort?
We love the mountain because of the diverse terrain. A family can grow from bunny slope runs to bumps in the trees. The transition goes quickly. It only takes a matter of a few years for kids who started in the Discovery Park to be skiing the bumps at Mary Jane. Winter Park and Mary Jane can accomodate all levels of skiing. This diversity extends your options and allows everyone to grow and stretch.
What are the best amenities at Winter Park for family skiing?
The Ski School has a very good program with lots of options from one-day lessons to a multi-week series of lessons (for example, every Saturday for 4 or 8 weeks). The instruction is very good and consistent. Beyond the ski school, there is the Competition Center where kids can take ski racing to as high a level as they desire.
What needs to be improved at Winter Park to make it even better for family skiing?
The layout of the base could be improved. The slopes coming into the base area are steep, so the ski school area is not nearby. The resort does a good job in providing access to the beginner area, but it could be made better. The shuttles have made a big difference in helping kids get to ski school. In addition, Winter Park provides free red wagons to help families pull their gear from the parking side of the Village to the ski lifts.
Are there any “secrets” you are willing to share about Winter Park?
This may not be a secret, but while the Mary Jane side is known for moguls, there is also incredible tree skiing. Many trees have been removed due to beetle kill and we are finding new tree runs every day! A lot of the fun is in the finding!
What advice would you give to other families before they come to Winter Park?
Try to come off-peak. On weekends, Winter Park has a lot of skiers up from Denver.
What are your favorite places to eat at Winter Park?
I am a big fan of bringing our own Cup o’ Noodles and there is a brown bag area in the West Portal building. We also like the Sundance Chili Hut.
In town, Hernando’s is a famous place for pizza, but the wait can be long.
What is your favorite place to stay at Winter Park?
Winter Park and the neighboring town of Fraser offer a lot of options. There are many condos and VRBO is a good source for finding one. The Zephyr Mountain Lodge also comes to mind. It is ski-in/ski-out.
What makes Winter Park unique?
Winter Park is not glamorous and glitzy. It is truly a family ski resort serving everyone from newbies to hardcore skiers. The terrain covers the full gamut. The resort was founded in late 1939 and opened officially in early 1940 by the City of Denver. The train brought skiers up where they could get a ticket for $1 to use the rope tow. Some of the early infrastructure is still in place, so there is some history and texture. Winter Park is an authentic Colorado skiing experience.
What is your favorite thing about family skiing?
My favorite thing about skiing with my family at Winter Park is whatever we did the last time we were there! We recently had a big moment with our eight-year-old. He skied the trees and powder for the first time. It was a moment when the angels were singing! Earlier in the season, he skied Outhouse, a long mogul run, which is another rite of passage.
Do you have any tips to share with other parents?
Keep your expectations low. The first thing you should do is teach your kids how to stop. Start slow and enjoy the hot chocolate. You may spend as much time getting them ready to ski as you spend skiing. It can be hard as a parent to slow down, but have fun and enjoy whatever amount of time you have skiing together, even if on some days it is just one run.
At what age did you start skiing?
I started skiing at age 8 at Mammoth in California. My mom really got the ball rolling for all three of her children by taking us skiing and teaching us to ski. It was way harder to teach kids in the 1970s because of the equipment, but my mom did it. My mom gave me the love of skiing in my life and this love is something in my life that I am giving to my kids. Our family has a generational love of skiing and my mom is 74 and still skiing! Here’s to you mom!
What is your favorite thing about family skiing?
Family skiing is such a collage of experiences. It is the most fun thing in my life.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…….
Thanks Diane! And thank you Diane’s mom. What a great gift to share with your children over so many years.
Just a few days after Diane and I talked, I got to ski Winter Park and Mary Jane with her. It is always good to have a guide! Saturday mornings are really busy when ski school is loading at 9:00 a.m. We went up the Zephyr lift and then high-tailed it over to Mary Jane.
There were some lift lines, but none longer than 8-10 minutes and only in the morning. My best advice would be to catch a lift between 8:30-8:50 a.m. and beat the ski school rush. If you stay away from the base, you shouldn’t have too many waits, even on a busy weekend day.
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