How to have an awesome family day on the mountain
By Dan O’Connell, SolVista Basin ski pro (and dad)
Family ski outings may start with high spirits and great expectations, but often end with frustrated parents and exhausted kiddos.
“It can be a really difficult thing to pull off when you’re trying to ski with children, and skiers or riders of varying interests and abilities,” says Dan O’Connell, Ski and Ride School Director at Granby Ranch’s SolVista Basin in Granby, Colorado.
“But it can be done; you have to be smart about equipment, flexible about expectations, and savvy with your planning.” O’Connell should know—he not only holds the highest possible credentials in the industry, but has also raised two mountain kids who are currently up for spots on the U.S. National Team
Here’s what parents need to know before hitting the hill with young ones:
- Book a lesson. Kids take direction better from an instructor than a parent.
- Consider group learning. Family lessons allow parents to watch the pros and learn how to teach their own kids in the future.
- Skip the snow plow. Even the youngest of skiers should be taught the basics of parallel skiing vs. plowing down the mountain all day in a “pizza pie.”
- Get the right gear. Shaped skis and front-entry boots for all skiers, no matter what age or level, make proper form and turns easier.
- Don’t push too hard. This is the biggest mistake parents make. Maybe a preschooler can ski a blue run with you, but if they’re in a “death wedge” and hitting the brakes all the way down, they’re not ready—and they’re learning poor form.
- Ski the same run over and over. Kids don’t get bored the way adults do; let them find a comfortable run and master it.
- Play with the equipment. Store boots and skis (with taped edges) in a toy box for kids to try on, mess with, get comfortable with. Walk around the house to find out if goggles pinch or boots rub.
- Celebrate the mountain lifestyle, not just hitting the slopes. Go sledding, play, enjoy après ski or a bonfire, and let kids learn to love the whole experience.
- Stop when your kids are laughing. It’s the old quit while you’re ahead idea; leave them wanting more and they’ll learn to love the sport.
To speak with O’Connell and score more ideas for easy ski days and teaching tips for families, contact Kim DeLashmit at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about SolVista’s programming, events, and specially designed family-friendly terrain, events, rentals and instructions, visit www.granbyranch.com/ski
About Granby Ranch
Granby Ranch is a four-season mountain community nestled against the Continental Divide, located only 20 miles from the western entrance to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. The Ranch is home to SolVista Basin ski area, SolVista Bike Park, and Headwaters Golf Course, and offers chairlift access to thousands of acres of hiking and cross-country trails as well as world-class downhill mountain biking, a championship golf course, miles of blue-ribbon fishing and the friendliest family ski mountain around.With homesites from under $100,000, Granby Ranch is the ultimate family mountain community, with a variety of cabin, condominium and single-family home neighborhoods surrounded by protected open space overlooking wilderness and wildlife areas. Homes and lodging reflect the rich history of its rustic Colorado mountain community, with neighborhoods connected by trails instead of sidewalks, ensuring that kids grow up with an adventure around every corner. Visit for a day—or stay for a lifetime. Go to www.granbyranch.com for lodging options, activities, or to learn more about owning a mountain home at Granby Ranch.