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Steamboat vs. Winter Park - How do they compare for beginners? [driving from KS]

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am taking my family to Steamboat for 5 days of skiing over Christmas Break this year. I have skied often and would say I'm intermediate to advanced. One of my sons skied with me for the first time last winter. This will be the first time out for the rest of my boys. Their ages are 19, 16 (skied last year), 12, 11, 10, & 7. I feel confident in being able to teach them to ski myself, but I am considering at least a half-day lesson. Any thoughts?

I have been to Winter Park many times. I would have no problem guiding them to the proper runs for their abilities. This is my first trip to Steamboat. I'm interested in how the difficulty of the slopes compare. The review of Steamboat here on Epicski says that Steamboat blues would be blacks at many other resorts. Does that include Winter Park or is that author comparing Steamboat to resorts in other parts of the country? If you've skied both resorts, what runs at Steamboat would compare to the greens under High-Lonesome lift at WP and Edelweiss or Columbine for blues? Where should I take the kids for starting out?

Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping.
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

I am taking my family to Steamboat for 5 days of skiing over Christmas Break this year. I have skied often and would say I'm intermediate to advanced. One of my sons skied with me for the first time last winter. This will be the first time out for the rest of my boys. Their ages are 19, 16 (skied last year), 12, 11, 10, & 7. I feel confident in being able to teach them to ski myself, but I am considering at least a half-day lesson. Any thoughts?

I have been to Winter Park many times. I would have no problem guiding them to the proper runs for their abilities. This is my first trip to Steamboat. I'm interested in how the difficulty of the slopes compare. The review of Steamboat here on Epicski says that Steamboat blues would be blacks at many other resorts. Does that include Winter Park or is that author comparing Steamboat to resorts in other parts of the country? If you've skied both resorts, what runs at Steamboat would compare to the greens under High-Lonesome lift at WP and Edelweiss or Columbine for blues? Where should I take the kids for starting out?

Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping.


Welcome to EpicSki!  Paging @Finndog , who is the EpicSki Ambassador for Steamboat.

 

How did you start the one son on skis last season?  With a lesson or you two just headed out once he had his rental gear?

 

I'm a parent who started her kid at age 4 with the help of full-day ski school at a small local mountain.  Have also helped friends who were beginners get started along with their kids (ages 6-14).  Have always had the teens and adults do the beginner package that includes lift ticket, rental gear, beginner lesson (2 hours).  I try to chat with the instructor when they finish a lesson.  Then I help them practice at whatever level they are comfortable with.  I do not immediately then take them to a blue trail.

 

My gut reaction is that if you start off the tweens in a half-day lesson, you will all have more fun the rest of the days.  But depending on the personality of each kid, they may have so much fun with other kids that they might want to do another lesson.

 

For my daughter as a beginner/intermediate, I would have her do ski school, free ski with me for a day, then ski school again, assuming the ski trip was 3+ days.  Even after she was a solid intermediate, she enjoyed ski school because she liked being with other kids and our home mountain has very good instructors for the children's program.  Once she was old enough, at the beginning of the season I would make her do a 90-min intermediate clinic to try to help avoid developing bad habits.  We ski at a small place where it's easy to get away with "Z turns" because there really is nothing that steep and nothing ungroomed.

post #3 of 17

Paging @hrstrat57 for advice about how to get never-evers ages 7-12 started on a 5-day ski vacation in Colorado during Christmas holidays.

post #4 of 17

Your group will love Steamboat.

Looking at trail map here:  http://ww1.steamboat.com/web/maps/SteamboatTrails.pdf

You can see by exiting the top of the gondola and going left you can ride greens like Why Not and Right O Way or blue Vagabond back to base area, but these can be busy.  Better to go right off gondola and go over to Sunshine Express Chair.  There are very easy blues and greens over there and not too crowded.  Also, on the backside of the summit go to the Morningside Chair, nice playful blues over there.  Here's a trip report from a few years ago on family trip to Steamboat:    http://www.dcski.com/articles/1330

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post


Welcome to EpicSki!  Paging @Finndog
 , who is the EpicSki Ambassador for Steamboat.

How did you start the one son on skis last season?  With a lesson or you two just headed out once he had his rental gear?

I'm a parent who started her kid at age 4 with the help of full-day ski school at a small local mountain.  Have also helped friends who were beginners get started along with their kids (ages 6-14).  Have always had the teens and adults do the beginner package that includes lift ticket, rental gear, beginner lesson (2 hours).  I try to chat with the instructor when they finish a lesson.  Then I help them practice at whatever level they are comfortable with.  I do not immediately then take them to a blue trail.

My gut reaction is that if you start off the tweens in a half-day lesson, you will all have more fun the rest of the days.  But depending on the personality of each kid, they may have so much fun with other kids that they might want to do another lesson.

For my daughter as a beginner/intermediate, I would have her do ski school, free ski with me for a day, then ski school again, assuming the ski trip was 3+ days.  Even after she was a solid intermediate, she enjoyed ski school because she liked being with other kids and our home mountain has very good instructors for the children's program.  Once she was old enough, at the beginning of the season I would make her do a 90-min intermediate clinic to try to help avoid developing bad habits.  We ski at a small place where it's easy to get away with "Z turns" because there really is nothing that steep and nothing ungroomed.

Thanks, marznc! That about settles the lesson question for me. To answer your question, Matthew hit high school last year and the church youth group has an annual ski trip. A couple of families in our church have homes near Winter Park that makes lodging free so WP is a cheap trip. Parents drive and ski free. Since I have a 4WD Suburban I was drafted. Tough duty but someone had to do it. :-) I taught him myself. As soon as we got our gear I took him over to the bottom of one of the shallowest slopes I could find. We strapped on our skis and then I told him to fall over. Told him he'd probably spend a lot of time like that so he needed to know how to get up first. We worked on getting up without sliding around. We sidestepped up a little ways and worked on Wedge stops, then turns. Once he was linking turns smoothly we went on up the first lift to the easy greens around Snoasis. Took him about 30 minutes or so to be ready for his first lift. He skied the rest of the first day with the other beginners from church and skied the second day with me all over the mountain. He really took to it naturally. My other kids don't have his temperament. That's why I was considering lessons for them. Teaching them myself sure saves a lot of money, though. Lesson for 5 kids looks like about $700+ according to the Steamboat website.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

I am taking my family to Steamboat for 5 days of skiing over Christmas Break this year. I have skied often and would say I'm intermediate to advanced. One of my sons skied with me for the first time last winter. This will be the first time out for the rest of my boys. Their ages are 19, 16 (skied last year), 12, 11, 10, & 7. I feel confident in being able to teach them to ski myself, but I am considering at least a half-day lesson. Any thoughts?

I have been to Winter Park many times. I would have no problem guiding them to the proper runs for their abilities. This is my first trip to Steamboat. I'm interested in how the difficulty of the slopes compare. The review of Steamboat here on Epicski says that Steamboat blues would be blacks at many other resorts. Does that include Winter Park or is that author comparing Steamboat to resorts in other parts of the country? If you've skied both resorts, what runs at Steamboat would compare to the greens under High-Lonesome lift at WP and Edelweiss or Columbine for blues? Where should I take the kids for starting out?

Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

Thanks, marznc! That about settles the lesson question for me. To answer your question, Matthew hit high school last year and the church youth group has an annual ski trip. A couple of families in our church have homes near Winter Park that makes lodging free so WP is a cheap trip. Parents drive and ski free. Since I have a 4WD Suburban I was drafted. Tough duty but someone had to do it. :-) I taught him myself. As soon as we got our gear I took him over to the bottom of one of the shallowest slopes I could find. We strapped on our skis and then I told him to fall over. Told him he'd probably spend a lot of time like that so he needed to know how to get up first. We worked on getting up without sliding around. We sidestepped up a little ways and worked on Wedge stops, then turns. Once he was linking turns smoothly we went on up the first lift to the easy greens around Snoasis. Took him about 30 minutes or so to be ready for his first lift. He skied the rest of the first day with the other beginners from church and skied the second day with me all over the mountain. He really took to it naturally. My other kids don't have his temperament. That's why I was considering lessons for them. Teaching them myself sure saves a lot of money, though. Lesson for 5 kids looks like about $700+ according to the Steamboat website.

That's a long way to go to chaperone a ski trip!  Lucky kids!  Sounds like you gave him a good start.  Can tell you learned a while back.  When I was helping a friend learn (beginner lesson package on Day 1), I also taught her to side step early on after she had the lesson.  They don't cover that in never-ever classes these days.

 

So are you driving for the family trip?  My brother-in-law used to drive with his son and another father/son from Chicago for spring break ski trips in Colorado.

 

Depending on your family dynamic, have you considered a semi-private lesson?  Perhaps the two oldest do a group lesson with other beginner adults and have one instructor work with the four younger ones?  You can probably get a recommendation for an instructor who has lots of experience with kids.

 

The way PSIA certification works, a Level 3 instructor also is required to be a Children's Specialist 2.  By the time someone completes the training and exams for those certifications, they usually have been an instructor for 10 years, if not 20.

 

Another approach is to take them to a local hill before you head to Colorado.  Put them all in beginner lessons of some sort, whether a group lesson or a kids' program.  Then you'll get a feel from who would benefit most from ski school during the Christmas vacation.

post #7 of 17

I have never skied WP, but I have skied Steamboat.  I think you will have a great time in Steamboat.  The town is very friendly and the mountain is fun.  I don't know about the Steamboat blues being blacks at other areas, I found the mountain to be not steep and in fact every time it started to get a little steep it quickly flattened out.  Take my opinion with a grain of salt.  I wasn't looking for beginner runs or easy blues and I have been skiing in Jackson Hole for the last 25 years.  I'm used to skiing long continuously steep runs.  My point is that I think you and your family will be fine and have a great time skiing at Steamboat.

 

I am a full time ski instructor and as such will always suggest lessons for most people, especially first time skiers.  It is much easier to learn skiing, kayaking, fly fishing, or whatever from someone who is not too close to you.  I am a very experienced ski instructor and a very good fly fisherman.  I don't try to teach my wife skiing, casting, or boat rowing.  That being said, I do understand about the cost of putting that many kids into lessons.  I think Marznc offered a good suggestion about getting your kids into one private lesson.  This might cost the same or slightly less than getting 5 individual lessons and you will probably wind up with a more experienced instructor.  The downside of having all of your kids in one group is that there could be some issues with the siblings getting along and while the age spread is pretty tight for the three middle kids, you have two outliers who might not fit well.  There can be a huge difference in physicality and cognition between a 7 and 10 yo and an even bigger difference when you factor in the 19yo.  You know your kids better than I do, maybe they can all ski together, maybe the four youngest can ski together and the 19yo could take an adult lesson or ski with you and your 16yo.  It might also be worth trying to get the first day lesson done at a smaller less expensive local hill, if you have one that you can get to.

 

One of my favorite things to do in Steamboat is to visit Strawberry Hot springs.  I passed through Steamboat several weeks ago, but haven't visited there in several years.  I'm looking forward to a trip there in early February to visit my friend on his birthday.

post #8 of 17

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post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

I have been to Winter Park many times. I would have no problem guiding them to the proper runs for their abilities. This is my first trip to Steamboat. I'm interested in how the difficulty of the slopes compare. The review of Steamboat here on Epicski says that Steamboat blues would be blacks at many other resorts. Does that include Winter Park or is that author comparing Steamboat to resorts in other parts of the country? If you've skied both resorts, what runs at Steamboat would compare to the greens under High-Lonesome lift at WP and Edelweiss or Columbine for blues? Where should I take the kids for starting out?

Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping.

Hi Mahler,

I've not skied at WP, but I have skied at Steamboat a number of times and at a number of other mountains in the west.  I myself would disagree with the statement that the intermediate (blue) runs at Steamboat would be black elsewhere.  In fact, Steamboat has a reputation for being an intermediate mountain overall.  The entire area over by Sunshine Express is blue-to-green, with very steady, but moderate grade.  I would feel absolutely comfortable choosing almost any blue run for a skier who can turn and moderate his/her speed.

post #10 of 17

Winter Park and Steamboat are comparable on their blue run - black run comparisons.  A good thing about Winter Park is that you can ski green runs all the way to 11,200 ft.  If you are a solid blue run skier, you can go all the way to the top at 12,600ft.  Steamboat has the edge on night life, but if you are hanging with the family mostly, Winter Park has less expensive lodging etc. 

Winter Park is way easier quicker to access from Denver too.  Hope this helps. :snowfight

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Everyone. Keep the ideas coming. To answer some of the questions above - I live in Wichita, KS, so Denver is only a 7-8 hour drive. We'll be driving in for this trip. Any advice on roads in the winter would be helpful also. My company is paying for most of the trip costs so Steamboat it is. Taking a lesson at a smaller, local hill is a great idea, but hills of any sort are in short supply in my part of KS, as is snow. :-)

@Tetonpwdrjunkie - I don't know why, but I hadn't thought of the age difference being a big deal. That's a great idea to teach my 19yo myself and get a group lesson for the younger ones. They hang together most of the time anyway so that's a good fit.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

Thanks, Everyone. Keep the ideas coming. To answer some of the questions above - I live in Wichita, KS, so Denver is only a 7-8 hour drive. We'll be driving in for this trip. Any advice on roads in the winter would be helpful also. My company is paying for most of the trip costs so Steamboat it is. Taking a lesson at a smaller, local hill is a great idea, but hills of any sort are in short supply in my part of KS, as is snow. :-)

@Tetonpwdrjunkie - I don't know why, but I hadn't thought of the age difference being a big deal. That's a great idea to teach my 19yo myself and get a group lesson for the younger ones. They hang together most of the time anyway so that's a good fit.


Good to know where you are starting from.  One advantage of Steamboat is that it's farther from the Denver airport.

 

Hope you don't mind . . . added info the the thread title.  There are more members in KS than you might think.  For sure, other parents who drive from Chicago and MI.

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

Thanks, Everyone. Keep the ideas coming. To answer some of the questions above - I live in Wichita, KS, so Denver is only a 7-8 hour drive. We'll be driving in for this trip. Any advice on roads in the winter would be helpful also. My company is paying for most of the trip costs so Steamboat it is. Taking a lesson at a smaller, local hill is a great idea, but hills of any sort are in short supply in my part of KS, as is snow. :-)

 

I get it now.  Lessons at Steamboat makes more sense for your family.

 

I remember a thread from a few years ago by a young man who lived in Kansas City.  He went to Snow Creek for a beginner lesson before heading to CO for a trip with friends.  His friends knew how to ski.  He was an ice hockey player so got a lot out of a day trip to Snow Creek.  But it was only a 45 min drive for him.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZachK View Post
 

Well.....Just got back from going to Snow Creek.  I took a 3 hour lesson and at the end was able to go down the black run (which they said is likely around an easy-mid difficulty blue at Vail).  I am in love!!

 

I'd say a few things I need to work on would be turning to the left (I tore all the ligaments in my right ankle so when using the outside edge to left it ends up being my right side and I can do it just fine, but I don't have a ton of confidence with it just yet to make as hard of turns as I can with my left leg. I started working on how to use my poles towards the end of the lesson and I think I could also improve with that and just making better turns.  I also just need to get used to ski length as I'm used to ice skates being much shorter.  They did give me some short skis as a beginner, but still just seem unnatural to me at the beginning.  I got more and more used to them as time went on.

 

So much fun, I can't wait for Vail!!

 

(Click on the green arrow to go to the post/thread.  It's in the Beginner Zone.)

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahler55 View Post

Thanks, Everyone. Keep the ideas coming. To answer some of the questions above - I live in Wichita, KS, so Denver is only a 7-8 hour drive. We'll be driving in for this trip. Any advice on roads in the winter would be helpful also. My company is paying for most of the trip costs so Steamboat it is. Taking a lesson at a smaller, local hill is a great idea, but hills of any sort are in short supply in my part of KS, as is snow. :-)

@Tetonpwdrjunkie - I don't know why, but I hadn't thought of the age difference being a big deal. That's a great idea to teach my 19yo myself and get a group lesson for the younger ones. They hang together most of the time anyway so that's a good fit.

 

As others noted or eluded to is Steamboat and WP have similar slopes. I've had my 3 kids (as did I) all learn to ski at Steamboat .. great place. My suggestions would be:

 

  • lessons either private or group classes, there's benefits to either personally it's a cost thing and if younger and older get along together;
    •  Call the Ski School and talk to the head, We've had wonderful experience with the school offering up options and even discounting further.
    • Note, KSF (12 and under get free lift tickets with each adult ticket 5day or more bought)
    • Note, Ski School (1st grade to 15 yrs) has an optional $39 lift ticket you can buy for your kids .. so the total cost of ski school is a bit more digestible. Lifts otherwise run on sale (current web price) of $265 for 5 day for kids 6-15
    • 5th/6th grade Colorado Ski program .. you might be lucky with the 10/11 yr olds if in 5th and 6th grades. program has 3 day (5th grade) and 4 days (6th grade) which is free for 5th and $100 for 6th grade.  Read the rules/limits but last I used, there were very very few limits: http://www.coloradoski.com/passport

 

  • I'd refrain form upper mountain till your kids are self dependent and show aptitude. Simply saying that there should be plenty lower half and if one melts, easier to bail and return to base. However the upper does have great area in that the Tomahawk area is very well used by Ski School just for that reason, one can make easy loops on Sunshine Express. However note too, facilities are down a bit so there's no restroom at hand.
  • Vagabond is great loop (Rudy's to Why Not to Vagabond back up) area as is (depending on set up) the Basher Bowl. Basher Bowl used to be a loop area for the Ski Schools once students moved up from Preview and very very base (Stampede) area. One can do loops there readily presuming it's not changed this year. It too may be a bit less crowded given your Christmas week ... a busy time.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

I get it now.  Lessons at Steamboat makes more sense for your family.

 

I remember a thread from a few years ago by a young man who lived in Kansas City.  He went to Snow Creek for a beginner lesson before heading to CO for a trip with friends.  His friends knew how to ski.  He was an ice hockey player so got a lot out of a day trip to Snow Creek.  But it was only a 45 min drive for him.

 

 

(Click on the green arrow to go to the post/thread.  It's in the Beginner Zone.)

I'll chime in. I thought Snow Creek was a nice little hill to learn on. If there is decent snow and it's not busy it can be a good experience and definitely much cheaper than getting lessons at a resort in Colorado. However, if there hasn't been much natural snow and it's a weekend, it may not be the best place to try and learn as it will be super icy and could be pretty packed with a lot of novice skiers. Not exactly the best environment for trying to learn if that's the case.  I did think the instructors were pretty good and if you go at the right time, you can get a private lesson for the price of a group lesson if nobody else shows up.

post #16 of 17

On additional note of options at Steamboat for cost, they have night skiing that while normally weekends, runs daily the Dec 25th - Jan 4th

 

It may be a less costly way to get a day or two in early  .. when just learning, week advance is pretty cheap. The regular daily lifts don't include night:

 

http://www.steamboat.com/tickets-and-passes/night-skiing.aspx

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
OK - Thank you everyone. Here is what I've figured out. My company is paying for 2 adult 5-day lift tickets which means 2 of my kids ski free. I did the Ski Passport for my 5th & 6th graders. So far that's 6 people skiing for $100. My 16yo is getting a Route 40 Pass to ski unlimited at WP and 4 days at SB. SB has a Preview pass for only $25. I think I'll do that one day to teach the kids on my own. If that doesn't work out well, I'll schedule a lesson for the kids who need it. In addition, they offer a 1/2-day pass for skiing after 1:00. That fits perfectly with the schedule I have because of business meetings. They haven't announced the 1/2-day pass prices yet. However, based on 1/2 of a full-day ticket, it looks like we'll have 5 days of skiing as a family for about $850. Both my 16yo and I will be visiting WP in February. We'll get 2 days of skiing for $80 because of his Route 40 Pass and the buddy passes that come with it. All told, that's a grand total of 39 days of skiing this winter for only $930! For someone super deal conscious like I am, that's a great deal!

Thank you again, everyone, for your help and suggestions. I'm glad EpicSki exists. I may not post often, but I'll be a member for life!
Brian
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Family Skiing Discussions › Steamboat vs. Winter Park - How do they compare for beginners? [driving from KS]