Tag Archives: skiing

Merry Go Round at Aspen Highlands

If you live in the Roaring Fork Valley, you have good reason to consider Wednesday your favorite day of the week. Starting tomorrow (January 14), Aspen Snowmass will once again be having a local’s appreciation day every Wednesday at Aspen Highlands, which includes such Hump Day bennies as free parking at the base, and lunch and beer specials at the Merry-Go-Round.

But here’s the best part: even if you aren’t a local, no one cares. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the perks of “the local’s mountain” on Hump Day (local’s can simply enjoy it every week because, well, they live here).

Last week was a dry run for the festivities at Merry-Go-Round, and being the resident foodie, I felt it was my obligation to head up the Exhibition Lift shortly after 9am, burn through as many groomers as I could (you know: to work up an appetite), and offer a taste test of the Hump Day Grill which they set up on the patio.

Here’s what my investigation turned up:

Golden Horn and Thunderbowl: Still Untouched at 10am

Gunbarrel run at Aspen Highlands

At 9:40am, there were only two sets of tracks on Gunbarrel below the Cloud Nine lift.

I was celebrating Hump Day by taking it easy a bit, so groomers were the order of the day. After a few warm-up runs off of Cloud Nine, I worked my way over to Golden Horn and Thunderbowl. It had been two days since the last snow, and I was still finding fresh places to turn at the top of Golden Horn Woods and even when I cut over to Limelight near the base. Look: free parking is nice, but finding stashes days after a storm is the really reason to hit up Aspen Highlands.

Brats + Sunshine & Beer = Appreciation

Tommy Knocker Brat at Merry-Go-Round, Aspen Highlands

The Tommy Knocker Ale Bratwurst at Merry-Go-Round. Not pictured: beer to wash it down.

At lunch, I went over to the Merry-Go-Round where they had set up an outdoor grilling station for the day’s Hump Day special.

Each week they will be changing up the special, but you can always expect that (a) it’ll be grilled, (b) it’ll be $8 for a main and two sides, and (c) there will be $4 beers to wash it all down.

Last Wednesday, they were offering a choice between Kielbasa, a Tommy Knocker Ale Bratwurst, or a more traditional Pork Bratwurst, each served on a pretzel bun. And of course — this being Aspen Snowmass — there was even a mustard menu. I went half-and-half: whole grain on one side, truffle mustard on the other.

The Merry-Go-Round terrace is perfectly positioned to absorb the sun rays at that hour. A catnap just about happened.

A Glass of Red at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

There isn’t really a lunch hour at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro; it stretches from noon until the lifts close. This Swiss-inspired restaurant — which doles out pots of fondue and raclette — has long been a hot spot for locals and out-of-towners alike, who often order bottles of Veuve Clicquot and by 2pm, start dancing on the tables.

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen Highlands

The place to be in the afternoon on Hump Day (or any day for that matter).

I was more interested in a glass of wine and the lounge chairs on the deck, which takes in a stellar view of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells.

Wine at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

Opening a bottle of Beaujolais Cru at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, because, why not?

As an avid wine drinker, one thing I appreciate about the on-mountain restaurants here is the well-curated wine lists, even by the glass. As I bellied up to the ice bar, I expected to find the usual suspects: a Napa Cab, a Sonoma Chard, maybe a Super Tuscan if I was lucky.

But instead, they were offering a handful of under-the-radar gems: an Oregon Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene, a Nebbiolo Langhe from Barbaresco producer De Forville, and even a Morgon, one of the top Crus of Beaujolais. It was like hearing a bunch of B-sides on the stereo instead of the greatest hits.

I noticed the Morgon was unopened. “No one is drinking the Beaujolais Cru yet?” I asked.

“Nope,” the bartender noted. Then he smiled: “Let’s open it.”

Such is the spirit of afternoons at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro.

Ski school for kids at Aspen Snowmass

The practical part of preparing your child for ski school — having proper equipment and how to layer, for example — is only one aspect of it. Equally important (if not more so) is emotional preparedness, which will help the child get the most out of his or her lesson, plus provide the foundation for a long-term interest in skiing or snowboarding.

At Aspen/Snowmass, this less-tangible side of learning to ski or snowboard is at the heart of every lesson. Pros use the CAT model (which has cognitive, affective, and physical components) to help their students achieve. And the “affective” piece of the equation — the emotional aspect — “almost supersedes all other things,” says Alex Kendrick, Buttermilk Children’s Coordinator for the ski schools.
Children enjoying Aspen-Snowmass
“If a child is a very strong skier but they’re afraid or don’t feel included, it doesn’t matter what they physically can do,” says Kendrick. “We want to make sure they’re comfortable before anything else. We’re teaching people here — I call them little humans — and everyone comes to us with different needs and different experiences.”

Here are some questions to consider when enrolling your children in ski school, along with Kendrick’s tips to help them have a positive experience that can translate into a long-term affinity for the sport:

How can I, as a parent, help prepare my child emotionally for a ski or snowboard lesson?

Ask your child what they’d like to do, what their goals are (the way you ask the questions will depend on the child’s age). Ask what they’re excited about and what they’re concerned about. Understanding what the child’s expectations are can help mold the parents’ expectations.

Especially with kids who are tentative and may not want to go, it’s important to have this conversation. Tell them that this is an opportunity to learn a lot, to make new friends, or to have an instructor who can show them all the cool stuff on the mountain. Sometimes, it’s just about taking the time to introduce them to their instructor and talk to them about what they’re going to be doing that day, and who they’re going to be with.

What about at the end of the day, especially the first day? What should I talk to my child about to make sure the remainder of the lesson goes well?

As a parent, we want to ask our kids, “What did you learn today?” But typically a child will not know how to answer that; they’ll say, “Nothing.”

A good set of questions starts with, “Did you have fun?” To find out what they learned, you have to be more creative. Ask them what the best part of the day was, and what would they have changed if they could. If they say they wished they could go faster, maybe they need a higher-level lesson. But if they say they were scared or had trouble getting down the slope, maybe it’s worth talking to the instructor about whether they’re in too advanced of a class.

What can I do at the end of the lesson to best prepare us for skiing or snowboarding together as a family?

We strongly recommend that the parents talk to the children’s instructor at the end of the lesson. Ask what runs are appropriate for the family to ski together. Ask what skills they’ve worked on throughout the lesson. Then, allow your child to shine and to show off the skills he or she learned in ski school. Let them lead you down the run.

We also talk a lot about safety, so let the child tell the parents about the safety tips he or she learned as well.

Some additional tips for getting ready:

  • If you have a child who is tentative or has never experienced snowsports before, there are plenty of online opportunities to get them prepared visually before leaving home. Look at the website of the resort you’re going to; show them trail maps and photos. If they can start to see some of things they’re going to experience online, then when they arrive it won’t all be so brand-new looking.
  • Talk to your kids about what the experience is going to be like. In order to set them up for success, sometimes kids need to know in advance what it will be like to get that emotional reinforcement.
  • If possible, come out to the mountain the day before the lesson starts. This gives children the opportunity to see where they’re going to be, to see the instructors dressed in red uniforms, and to get a feel for what they’re going to be doing. For a child, information is power; it can assuage a lot of fears.
Skiing a groomer at Aspen/Snowmass

Scratching your head with an empty suitcase in front of you? Trying to compile a checklist of things to take care of before you hit the slopes? No worries.

Whether your new to the sports of skiing and snowboarding or just need a refresher before you arrive, this essential guide will prep you for your day on the mountain. Continue reading

kids enjoying Aspen/Snowmass

Unlike gymnastics, basketball or other after-school sports, skiing is an all-day commitment for your child. Skiing also requires more equipment than most sports. Luckily, the ski/snowboard instructors at Aspen-Snowmass provide a unique blend of athletic coach, mentor and caregiver. Their world-class expertise and guidance will help your child attain his or her individual goals. Continue reading

Preschool Ski School Lesson

When introducing young children to skiing, it is important to remember that (a) they have short attention spans, and (b) they may not know how to react to the cold. Preschoolers can quickly shift moods from happy to bitterly sad and angry in just a few short moments. Here are a few ways to keep young skiers happy and healthy on the slopes (plus, a few extra insider tips). Continue reading

Ski and Snowboard School at Aspen/Snowmass

Right now at Aspen/Snowmass, some 1,200 ski and snowboard instructors are getting prepped for another awesome season. But this means more than just waxing skis and watching the snow fall. Our team is full of certified Pros who are taking their career to the next level with additional training on skiing and riding technique, on-mountain safety, and good old-fashioned hospitality. Continue reading