Havana's first ski lesson

I’ve been looking forward to this for months now: Havana’s first time skiing.


When I was in 7th grade I went skiing for the first time. It was with my school and my parents dropped me and my sister off at the school early one morning, before dawn, and all the kids piled into a bus to go to some place in Pennsylvania (Ski Liberty?). After what seemed like hours on the bus we got to the “mountain” (East Coasters refer to hills as “mountains”) and we all filed through the ski rental area and out I came with my skis and boots on. Most of the kids had some experience skiing or were at least naturally better at than I was because I had no clue what I was doing and others seemed to be fine. I spent the entire day falling down on icy slush and hated it.

I had always wanted to ski, but I never skied again until I was 27 years old when I moved to Seattle where mountains are correctly called “mountains” and the snow isn’t frozen rain, another misconception most East Coasters have.

After my horrible experience when I was 11, I decided to try snowboarding instead of skiing thinking it had to be easier. I bought a snowboard and went a few times with people I worked with at Microsoft to a local ski resort just 45 minutes from Microsoft’s campus. I taught myself enough to get down the hill without falling down, but I was never very good at it. The following winter I went to another Seattle area ski resort and decided to take ski lessons. What a difference! In just a couple hours I could actually ski. I still fell quite a bit, which isn’t as painful on snow as it is on the icy stuff from my childhood, but I had fun for the first time skiing. Since then I thought that if only I had ski lessons when I was a kid, preferably before that terrible day in 7th grade, I’d have spent years enjoying skiing.

Now that I have kids, I want to give them that opportunity so I promised myself that I’d get them ski lessons early. Today Havana had her first lesson. We asked her if she wanted to try skiing and she kept saying she did. When we arrived in Tahoe, she saw skiers and got excited about it. Last night it snowed so we woke up to a fresh 2 inches of snow. Perfect. We had breakfast and Havana kept talking about going skiing today. The minimum age is 3 years old and Havana isn’t 3 until next month, but after checking (I assume with the resort’s legal reps), the girl at the ski school agreed to let her join the class.

It’s a 3-hour class. They spend the first 2 hours inside fitting them with equipment, teaching them the basics, having a snack and playing with toys. The last hour is outside. For that first two hours, parents aren’t allowed in. The instructors seemed to not want parents around, nor did they expect any parents around. We explained that we wanted to watch and take photos; it’s our duty as parents. They told us we could go behind the school building if we wanted to. We’d do that. But we had over 2 hours to wait. So Gay, Hudson and I walked around the village, grabbed coffee and pumpkin bread at Starbucks (where isn’t there a Starbucks?) and waited and waited and waited behind the school building. At 11:30am, Havana’s class finally came outside.

The little slope behind the school had a conveyor belt (for taking the kids up the slope) but it didn’t work. So the teachers decided to take them up to “mid-mountain”, i.e., up the mountain which requires a lift ticket. We didn’t have lift tickets. Damn! All this time and I couldn’t see her ski! We asked one of the instructors where they were going and she said that as parents we could get free lift tickets. Oh yeah?!? I hurried back to the ski school office and got tickets for me, Gay and Hudson and we rode the gondola up.

I’m not sure she learned much and she wasn’t skiing on her own at the end and she was tired, but she got some experience and most importantly, she liked it. All I wanted to do was give her the good first experience that I didn’t have. I think we did that.

We’ll see if she’s still interested next winter.

2 thoughts on “Havana's first ski lesson”

  1. Whistler is supposed to have the best kid ski school. We haven’t tried it yet. Just Snoqualmie for our kids so far. I agree with getting them started early. I was 14 when I started and my younger brother was 7. He was always a better skier than me and I’m pretty sure it’s because he started younger.

    1. I’m not surprised, Whistler is the best ski resort I’ve ever been to. Tahoe was nice, but not Whistler nice. We’ll have to get up their again next winter.

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