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Recs for family ski instruction in Mid Atlantic?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

This is my first post here, thanks to those who read it, as I know it is a little long.  So, the deal is I last downhilled before I was pregnant with my now almost 4 year old son.  Timberline, Salamander Slope -- I was a beginner, but was comfortable after one lesson. (I am a X-country skier, so maybe helped me a tad.)   My husband is also at beginner status, and last skied even longer ago, but he is on the athletic side.  My son (the almost 4 year old) is very athletic and has specifically asked to learn to ski and skate -- partly influenced by Bernstein Bear story, no doubt.  At the risk of sounding like bragging, but wanting to give an idea that I think he is not too young to start skiing and to help find the right instruction, he is a stand out in his little gymnastic class and pays attention better than some kids older than him, which, given that he is a boy with an abundance of energy, says something.  I think having a male instructor in his gymnastic class, who he looks up to, helps.  All this said, can we do a private family lesson, or do instructors expect to only do kids and adults separate?  Where do folks recommend we go for instruction?   Are there specific instructors you can recommend by name that we can ask for?  I am looking for resort/instructor recs for PA, WV or maybe VA.  I saw somewhere that a few years ago Hidden Valley was named somewhere as a "best family resort" and I am curious about it.  Others on a mom list serve recommended Wintergreen, Camelback and Seven Springs, but I don't know if that was really for the instruction, or just proximity to us.  Thanks for whatever tips people can provide! 

post #2 of 20

I'll give you some quick advice, but the instructors and parents on this forum should be able to give you better advice.

 

(I've skied with numerous instructors being a seasons pass holder at Timberline. And I've lived in the Mid Atlantic for the past 25 years.)

 

If you are comfortable with Salamander, you are several steps above most new skiers.

 

Check on the minimum age for lessons on whatever area you choose. I'm *thinking* four may be the minimum at many places. But IMHO, four is not too young for learning to ski. Depending upon the development of a kid, I think four is an ideal age. That's about when I started.

 

Bad idea to have a family lesson. Especially with a four yo and two adults. Completely different needs and learning styles and physical ability. Let the ski school decide where to place each of you.

 

Go to an area that is less crowded or better yet, take a day off and go during a weekday. You'll enjoy the experience much more.

 

For initial lessons, I'd choose an area close to where you live.

post #3 of 20

Also, I wouldn't worry too much about finding the "perfect beginning instructor" or the "perfect area." There are outstanding children's instructors at Whitetail, Liberty, Timberline, Seven Springs, Massanutten, etc.

 

Choose a time that is less crowded. (Avoid holiday weekends and school breaks, including teacher workshop days.)

 

Choose a day that has decent conditions. If it is 50 degrees on the mountain, that will be a bit tough. But realize that if it is 50 degrees near DC, it could be 35 at the mountains. Avoid icier conditions (if it was very warm a day or two earlier and then turned real cold, without any new snow.)

post #4 of 20

Alexandria eh?  I lived up there in Riverside Estates when I was a little kid.   There are quite a few folks here from the DC Area.  I've heard that Liberty and Rountop are not bad places to learn to ski, learn to ski better.  Perhaps @telerod15 or one of the others that's worked at those kinda close to DC places could get you more info.  I get up to Wintergreen from time to time.  Plan to be there with my son's Boy Scout troop on MLK day.  However, unfortunately holidays aren't a very good time to get the best level of instruction.  Not as many privates are available during peak demand times, and bigger groups and longer lift waits don't help either.

 

Welcome to the forum and enjoy this great activity!

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnL View Post Avoid icier conditions (if it was very warm a day or two earlier and then turned real cold, without any new snow.)

 

Avoid night skiing after a warm day.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

, unfortunately holidays aren't a very good time to get the best level of instruction. 

 

This is worth emphasizing.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnL View Post
 

Also, I wouldn't worry too much about finding the "perfect beginning instructor" or the "perfect area."

 

This too.    

The season is very short here; we have maybe eight weeks left.     I would try to plan getaways so that you can make the most of what is left.       Essentially what I mean by that is "don't wait for the Seven Springs 5-day getaway - take a lesson now and also give your legs some time on snow".
 

post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimom1 View Post
 

This is my first post here, thanks to those who read it, as I know it is a little long.  So, the deal is I last downhilled before I was pregnant with my now almost 4 year old son.  Timberline, Salamander Slope -- I was a beginner, but was comfortable after one lesson. (I am a X-country skier, so maybe helped me a tad.)   My husband is also at beginner status, and last skied even longer ago, but he is on the athletic side.  My son (the almost 4 year old) is very athletic and has specifically asked to learn to ski and skate -- partly influenced by Bernstein Bear story, no doubt.  At the risk of sounding like bragging, but wanting to give an idea that I think he is not too young to start skiing and to help find the right instruction, he is a stand out in his little gymnastic class and pays attention better than some kids older than him, which, given that he is a boy with an abundance of energy, says something.  I think having a male instructor in his gymnastic class, who he looks up to, helps.  All this said, can we do a private family lesson, or do instructors expect to only do kids and adults separate?  Where do folks recommend we go for instruction?   Are there specific instructors you can recommend by name that we can ask for?  I am looking for resort/instructor recs for PA, WV or maybe VA.  I saw somewhere that a few years ago Hidden Valley was named somewhere as a "best family resort" and I am curious about it.  Others on a mom list serve recommended Wintergreen, Camelback and Seven Springs, but I don't know if that was really for the instruction, or just proximity to us.  Thanks for whatever tips people can provide! 

Welcome to EpicSki!  I chose Massanutten as the place for my daughter to learn to ski.  I learned long ago in middle school, then didn't ski much as an adult.  I would not recommend Wintergreen because of the layout and the potential issues driving up the mountain in icy weather.  No point to drive all the way from the DC area to Seven Springs to join the crowds from Pittsburgh.  Whitetail would make more sense.  Or even Liberty.

 

Better to put your son in ski school while you and your husband do a lesson.  I think all the ski schools in the Mid-A start at age 4.  You can get a private for 3 year olds.

 

Would you consider doing weekend ski trips?  Or just day trips?  Perhaps a long weekend that is not a holiday weekend?  All ski areas are much less crowded on weekdays.

 

I could go on for quite a while about why I recommend Mnut, but you might as well start by reading the guide I wrote up for EpicSki:

http://www.epicski.com/a/massanutten-an-unofficial-guide

 

I drive 4 hours from Raleigh, NC past Wintergreen to Massanutten.  Gave all the places in NC and southern WV a try too.  Even though my daughter is too old for ski school and I've become an advanced skier in recent years, Mnut will stay our home hill in the future.  In fact, I'm here now.  If you are willing to drive out on Sunday, Jan. 12, be happy to show you around.  There will be a special Women's Clinic in the morning and a special Intermediate Clinic in the afternoon.  Since it's not a holiday weekend, you could probably book a private lesson for your son.  It will be warm and sunny.  Good conditions for learning.

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

Alexandria eh?  I lived up there in Riverside Estates when I was a little kid.   There are quite a few folks here from the DC Area.  I've heard that Liberty and Rountop are not bad places to learn to ski, learn to ski better.  Perhaps @telerod15 or one of the others that's worked at those kinda close to DC places could get you more info.  I get up to Wintergreen from time to time.  Plan to be there with my son's Boy Scout troop on MLK day.  However, unfortunately holidays aren't a very good time to get the best level of instruction.  Not as many privates are available during peak demand times, and bigger groups and longer lift waits don't help either.

 

Welcome to the forum and enjoy this great activity!

It's possible to manage to have a good time on a holiday weekend if you can stay close by the slopes.  Means making a reservation for ski school early, meaning 3-4 weeks in advance.  Same goes for setting up a private lesson.  Mnut and other places like Whitetail work very hard to make sure they have enough instructors for a busy weekend.  Making as much use of night skiing as possible helps too.  By the time my daughter was 6, we would be ready early, ski 9:00-11:30 (with a break), take a long lunch away from the ski lodge, then ski again 3:30 until she was done for the day.  She loved skiing under the lights.  Before I bought gear or did a season lease, it helped to rent equipment beforehand, either at home or the night before at the resort or a local ski shop.

post #8 of 20

If you are planning on doing this for a day trip from Alexandria on a Sat or Sun or Holiday the best place is Bryce Mtn, VA.  It is by far the least crowded and that will greatly enhance your experience.  Terrain is good for your ability level.  If you are going on a weekday then everywhere will be light and maybe give Liberty or Whitetail a try.  They are closer to Alexandria than Bryce by about 20 minutes.

post #9 of 20

My experience with the Ski school in Snowshoe, WV was great with my kids. After a few trips up there, my 9 yo was riding ungroomed blacks in Utah on his snowboard, and my 5yo skied Blues at PCMR 2 weeks ago. They offer privates, semi privates or group, whatever you want. My interactions with their instructors was 100% positive. So much so that I actually sent a letter to management when I got home about how amazed I was at the progress.

 

Snowshoe is also gonna offer you a lot more terrain to ski then the majority of places in the mid atlantic. 57 trials and 14 lifts. Its especially good terrain for beginners and intermediates. They have pretty reliable snowfall and the village is great in the evenings. 

 

Downside is the drive is kind of a pain.

 

Wintergreen is a nice little place as well and MarzNC has you covered with Massanutten. I think if its a day trip those would be good choices as well. If its a longer weekend I would go for Snowshoe for the more varied choice of runs even at a beginner level.

 

If you want more info on Snowshoe or Wintergreen feel free to PM me. 

post #10 of 20
I lived in DC area but we flew west. Also had family in PA and NY so those were still options. It really would not take too long to get to Blue Mountain or Jack Frost in PA.

The only Hidden Valley I know of went out of business this year. Cute slope but not worth a drive.

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post #11 of 20

JameJ, is Vince teaching at Liberty this year?

post #12 of 20

I think for beginners, Mnut is better than Wintergreen.  Far better separation from advanced skiers and boarders.  The progression on terrain is better at Mnut.  My sense is that the Mnut ski school is stronger than Wintergreen.  The training area with two magic carpets is open to the public after ski school is done at 2pm.  In even better shape with improved snowmaking this season.  No equivalent area at Wintergreen.

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much to everyone for all the great info so far.  I'm thinking that as long as I can get a private lesson for my son, we'll head to Msnt toward the end of this month/very beginning of Feb.  Given where we live, it just makes sense to head that direction rather than up to PA if we can get a good experience there.   If all goes well and there is time, maybe we'll squeeze in a day trip to Bryce, and then we'll be in Canaan  V. second week of March.  (For the person who wrote re Snowshoe, it sounds wonderful there, but I always feel like when I arrive in Canaan that I wish I had gotten there an hour earlier -- I've been waiting forever for Corridor H to finish, and I just don't think I can take the extra car time, esp with a little one.)  . . . So, should we rent near home or from resort/near skiing, and do folks have specific recommendations for where to go for this?  Also, re the separate lessons, would I be correct to assume that at Msnt I could take a private  lesson while my son does so, and be able to watch what is going on with him?  While I think he is ready for a lesson, he is also little enough that we need to have eagle eyes on him.  I'm still open to hearing about instructors to ask for by name, if anyone has names to offer up. 

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimom1 View Post
 

Thanks so much to everyone for all the great info so far.  I'm thinking that as long as I can get a private lesson for my son, we'll head to Msnt toward the end of this month/very beginning of Feb.  Given where we live, it just makes sense to head that direction rather than up to PA if we can get a good experience there.   If all goes well and there is time, maybe we'll squeeze in a day trip to Bryce, and then we'll be in Canaan  V. second week of March.  (For the person who wrote re Snowshoe, it sounds wonderful there, but I always feel like when I arrive in Canaan that I wish I had gotten there an hour earlier -- I've been waiting forever for Corridor H to finish, and I just don't think I can take the extra car time, esp with a little one.)  . . . So, should we rent near home or from resort/near skiing, and do folks have specific recommendations for where to go for this?  Also, re the separate lessons, would I be correct to assume that at Msnt I could take a private  lesson while my son does so, and be able to watch what is going on with him?  While I think he is ready for a lesson, he is also little enough that we need to have eagle eyes on him.  I'm still open to hearing about instructors to ask for by name, if anyone has names to offer up. 

You are asking about renting skis, right?  At Massanutten, the beginner package includes lift ticket, ski rental, and group lesson.  There is also a ski shop down the road behind the Thunderbird Cafe that does rentals.  Easier to rent at or near the ski area.

 

If you want to watch . . . at a distance or from the chairlift so that you are not a distraction . . . then you should be free skiing during the lesson, not in a lesson of your own.  If the instructor stays in the training area, which is likely.  Then you can watch from the lodge.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

Yes, rent the skis.  Thnx for asking that/the info.  I figure we'll stay at the Msnut hotel, as for as overnight stay rental goes. 

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimom1 View Post
 

Yes, rent the skis.  Thnx for asking that/the info.  I figure we'll stay at the Msnut hotel, as for as overnight stay rental goes. 

Depending on whether you are only staying one night or two, you might consider a motel that includes breakfast in Harrisonburg right at the intersection of I-81 and US33.  Allow 30 min to get to the ski lodge.  The Mnut hotel is nothing special.  You would be paying for location more than anything else.  Not really walking distance to the slopes with a preschooler.  There are a few items served for breakfast at the ski lodge in the morning, starting at 8:30am I think.

 

If renting skis at Mnut, best to arrive early. Meaning before 8:30am.  Much less likely to be a line for the ticket window or the rental shop.   Good for parking too.  Lifts start at 9:00.  Most weekend guests who rent show up between 9:00 and 10:00.

 

By the way, the height requirement for snow tubing is 36 inches.  Great fun . . . no lessons needed. ;)   There is ice skating too.  The woman who does the skating lessons is very good.  Usually starts at age 4 for the Parent & Tot Learn to Skate.  Guess I might as well mention the indoor water park too.  A major reason my daughter was always willing to do the 4-hour drive from NC for a ski weekend.

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 

Love all this info -- I'm thinking given the water park, proximity to slopes and probably two night stay, the hotel is the best option.

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimom1 View Post
 

Love all this info -- I'm thinking given the water park, proximity to slopes and probably two night stay, the hotel is the best option.

Completely agree that with a preschooler, if you budget can handle staying on resort then that is the way to go.  My family always stays on resort because we are timeshare owners.  We are completely spoiled.  At this point, I own a couple winter weeks.  But when you know how the timeshare trading system works, it's pretty easy to get other weeks during the winter.  Mnut is actually more of a summer resort in terms of when it's fully booked.  Although the ski hill existed before the first timeshare condos were finished in the late 1970's.  Most of those were bought by people who lived in DC.

 

When you check in, you will be asked about doing a timeshare tour.  Do NOT believe that it will only take an hour or two.  It can be interesting to do a tour at some point, but not during the first weekend.

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimom1 View Post
 

Thanks so much to everyone for all the great info so far.  I'm thinking that as long as I can get a private lesson for my son, we'll head to Msnt toward the end of this month/very beginning of Feb.  Given where we live, it just makes sense to head that direction rather than up to PA if we can get a good experience there.   If all goes well and there is time, maybe we'll squeeze in a day trip to Bryce, and then we'll be in Canaan  V. second week of March.  (For the person who wrote re Snowshoe, it sounds wonderful there, but I always feel like when I arrive in Canaan that I wish I had gotten there an hour earlier -- I've been waiting forever for Corridor H to finish, and I just don't think I can take the extra car time, esp with a little one.)  . . . So, should we rent near home or from resort/near skiing, and do folks have specific recommendations for where to go for this?  Also, re the separate lessons, would I be correct to assume that at Msnt I could take a private  lesson while my son does so, and be able to watch what is going on with him?  While I think he is ready for a lesson, he is also little enough that we need to have eagle eyes on him.  I'm still open to hearing about instructors to ask for by name, if anyone has names to offer up. 

You are asking about renting skis, right?  At Massanutten, the beginner package includes lift ticket, ski rental, and group lesson.  There is also a ski shop down the road behind the Thunderbird Cafe that does rentals.  Easier to rent at or near the ski area.

 

If you want to watch . . . at a distance or from the chairlift so that you are not a distraction . . . then you should be free skiing during the lesson, not in a lesson of your own.  If the instructor stays in the training area, which is likely.  Then you can watch from the lodge.

Since I was at Mnut this week, I talked to the head of the Mnut Slopesliders (kids ski school) today to get recommendations for you.  She was the instructor for the special Women's Clinic this morning.  Julie is one of the PSIA Level 3 instructors at Mnut.  She suggested Lisa Batchelder, Asst. Mgr. for SlopeSliders, who is one of the instructors with Children's Specialist certification.  Julie suggested that you and your husband do a joint private lesson at the same time as your son's private lesson.  The Level 2 or 3 instructors she recommended are Walter Jaeger, Wayne Remington, or Jeanette Smith.  Note that not every instructor works every day.  Most work part-time.  Some are always around on Sunday, while others are normally not around on Sunday.  Definitely best to go on a non-holiday weekend.  Call at least a week in advance to make reservations.

 

I've worked with Walter in the Senior Clinic.  My brother-in-law had an intermediate group lesson with Walter and thought he was one of the best instructors he's ever had.  A friend who is an intermediate in her third season likes Wayne.  Jeanette worked with the beginner who came for the Women's Clinic this morning.

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimom1 View Post

Thanks so much to everyone for all the great info so far.  I'm thinking that as long as I can get a private lesson for my son, we'll head to Msnt toward the end of this month/very beginning of Feb.  Given where we live, it just makes sense to head that direction rather than up to PA if we can get a good experience there.   If all goes well and there is time, maybe we'll squeeze in a day trip to Bryce, and then we'll be in Canaan  V. second week of March.  (For the person who wrote re Snowshoe, it sounds wonderful there, but I always feel like when I arrive in Canaan that I wish I had gotten there an hour earlier -- I've been waiting forever for Corridor H to finish, and I just don't think I can take the extra car time, esp with a little one.)  . . . So, should we rent near home or from resort/near skiing, and do folks have specific recommendations for where to go for this?  Also, re the separate lessons, would I be correct to assume that at Msnt I could take a private  lesson while my son does so, and be able to watch what is going on with him?  While I think he is ready for a lesson, he is also little enough that we need to have eagle eyes on him.  I'm still open to hearing about instructors to ask for by name, if anyone has names to offer up. 

Hi, and welcome from a fellow Alexandrian. +1 that Mnut is the best option for your needs and interests. Bryce is a bit closer but I think the multiple green slopes at Mnut are better suited for beginners -- both kids and adults. Besides the carpet lift, Bryce only has one green which can often get icy and it also has some steep pitches for a green. Mnut greens are nicer and give you better progression options IMO.

Was at Mnut for a day trip last weekend and happened to be talking to a mom who raved about the ski school for her 5 and 6 y.o. After you do your weekend I'd try to make it to Mnut for your day trip as well for the reasons above. Two trips to Mnut before Canaan Valley would give your family a nice foundation. Def agree that CV is better option than Snowshoe.

Enjoy, and let us know how it goes!
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