SV Shred: Ski School 101

Some tips for shredders in training

Sharing the love of skiing with little shredders.

By Mike McKenna

One of the smartest things any ski or snowboard loving parent can do is to have your children take ski lessons. And it’s not just because it then frees parents up for some fresh tracks in the Bowls, or a couple rounds of beer at Apple’s, or fondue at Averell’s–these are just the fringe benefits.

The real benefit of enrolling your children in ski school is that it helps give young shredders the skills and confidence to enjoy a sport you love for more reasons that just aprs skiing.

To help assure the any child’s day in ski school goes well, we consulted with an expert, Weylin Barrett, the Children’s Supervisor for the Sun Valley SnowSports School at Dollar Mountain.

Dress for Success

Since skiing is an outdoor winter sport, appropriate apparel is imperative. "Whether your child has skied once or a thousand times, it’s always a good idea to get all the kids’ stuff out ahead of time so you can see how everything fits and make to sure it’s comfortable," says Weylin, who’s been working for Sun Valley since 1998 and is a father of two youngsters himself.

It’s always important for parents to be aware of the weather forecast for the day and to make sure their children are properly and comfortably dressed. "Taking a little time before hand to check and plan helps assure success and prevent and problems or bumps along the path," says Weylin (See the Clothing Check List below).

Planning to Plan

Having a plan for how the day will go is always a good idea as well, which is why most ski schools like Sun Valley recommend you sign up in advance. Walk in students are always welcome, but it still helps to have a plan for how the day will go, including a good breakfast and plenty of water (Sun Valley’s high desert elevation increases dehydration).

Sun Valley offers a variety of ski school lesson and package options, which can even be combined with lift ticket and passes for Dollar’s tubing park (Click here for package and lesson information). But the lessons generally run from 10 am to 3pm, so  parents need to have drop off and pick up plans. Weylin recommends parents schedule a little time to meet instructors before hand and some time to ski with the kids afterwards. Parents are also welcome to hang out at Dollar Lodge, which offers a restaurant, great views of all action on the slopes and an outdoor deck with a fire pit and heaters.

The goal of our instructors is to meet the goals of the family. If you want your child to work on something as basic as wedge turns or to just have fun and fall in love with skiing, that’s what we’re going to do," Weylin explains from the friendly confines of Carol’s Dollar Lodge, adding that many families like to end the day with a few runs so the kids can "show off what they’ve learned."

Reasons Lessons are Recommended

Tubing at Dollar Mountain is fun for the whole family.

While even the most seasoned skiers and boarders could use a lesson or two at some point in their lives, it’s really a no-brainer to get your kids to take a lesson. Unless, that is, you’re afraid your kids will become better skiers or snowboarders than you, which is really just a fruitless worry anyway – they will.

One of the biggest reasons most folks in the industry recommend children take ski lessons is because, quite simply, there are some thing parents could use a little help teaching their kids, and skiing is definitely one of them.

"Even with my own (oldest) son, my ski and ride pros reach him much better than I do, which is fine. They can teach him so I can just go out and have fun with him," Weylin happily explains.

"Ultimately, the goal of the Ski School staff is we’re trying to build lifelong skiers and riders, so we see skiing as a family sport," Weylin says, "and we really believe it’s about families having fun."

Clothing Check List

__Head: Warm winter hats are a must and the Ski School does provide helmets at no extra charge. Still, hats are needed for before and after the slopes.

__Eyes: Ski goggles are the best way to protect eyes from cold the cold air, glaring sun and occasional inevitable fall. As Weylin points out, most professional skier and riders always wear goggles.

__Neck: The Ski School highly recommends neck gators or at least jackets that effectively cover the neck.

__Hands: Water-proof gloves are essential. It’s also important to make sure the gloves fit properly so that the young shredders can easily grab poles or chair lifts.

__Feet: Thick socks aren’t recommended, as they tend to cut off circulation to the feet. Instead, Ski School recommends thin ski-specific socks.

__Coat: A comfortable, warm, waterproof/resistant jacket is a must.

__Pants: As with the jacket, warm, waterproof/resistant pants are crucial, especially for snowboarders.

__Layers: Layers are the way to go in colder climates like Central Idaho and so wearing long underwear is always a good idea. The key is to avoid cotton-based materials when layering because they hold moisture. Moisture wicking long underwear is the best.


MOUNTAIN DIVAS: Epic Moms and Girls Who Kick Butt

Get inspired, get involved or just get away–this is your chance to shine!

By Laurie Sammis

Utter the word DIVA and it immediately creates an image of a glamorous and admired woman, one at the top of her game. An image of a woman who is a personality, a tour de force, and a woman who has earned the right (or simply demanded it) to be completely, totally and royally spoiled in every way.

Tracing its origins, quite literally, to the Latin word for divine. diva (or divas, plural) lists as its synonyms goddess, princess and queen. And never mind that our dear friend Mirriam Webster also lists "prima donna" as both 1 and 2 in the same definition, all of us ladies know that we all have a little bit of the diva in us. This blog–DIVAS–is dedicated to finding the inner goddess in each of us (or at least what is left of the superwoman we all want to be in our daily lives).

DIVAS features epic moms and girls who kick butt, both on and off the slopes. Get inspired, get involved or just get away–this is your chance to shine.

And what better way to launch our blog, but with a story about a group of ripping alpine women skiers–named, appropriately, the DIVAS.

DIVAS stands for "Die Incredible Vimin Alpine Shredders" (best uttered, according to SunValley Snowsports Instructor and DIVAS founder Danielle Carruth, with a heavy Austrian accent). "The idea for the program has been in the works for about five years, but the timing was finally right and we are thrilled with the incredible turnout," says Carruth.

Modeled loosely on the success of VAMPS (their boot camp is legendary), which is Muffy Ritz’s Nordic program taught by women for women (and with a nod to the spirit of VAMPS through the name as well), DIVAS is a women’s ski group taught by a core team of all-women coaches from the Sun Valley Snowsports School who focus on improving technical skills over varied terrain.

You don’t have to be an expert: The only requirement is that you can comfortably ski any run on Baldy, from top to bottom. DIVAS meets one-day per week for 2.5 hours on Baldy, although many DIVAS continue to ski together after class.

"We focus on a new theme every week, with very targeted instruction to help improve skills," says DIVAS coach and co-founder Nicky Elsbree, who asserts that breaking into small groups of 5 or 6 skiers ensures that the instruction is personalized to each woman’s individual needs and learning style.

One week the theme may be balance, with instruction on hip position, proper upper body stance and weight transfer. Another week the DIVAS may run gates, focusing on the finish of the turn and angulation, as opposed to taking on a bump run in the bowls, which is more about the top of the turn, initiation and transfer of weight.

"We try to make all our learning fun," says Carruth. "We ran the skiercross on Dollar one day and everybody had a blast, and I don’t think anybody even realized that they were working on things like how to ride a flat ski or how to absorb the terrain," she says, "they might not know they are working on skills that will apply later in the bumps, but they’re doing it and having fun at the same time."

"Building confidence is important," adds Elsbree. "Essentially, we are teaching them how to make subtle changes in their skiing, depending upon the terrain that they are about to enter." The goal is to ensure that no matter what conditions they encounter–whether entering steeps or harder snow or bumps–DIVAS will have the eye and the technique to handle whatever is below them.

"That is what makes skiing so fun," says Elsbree, "It is never the same, so it is always challenging."

>> To sign up for DIVAS next season (or get on the waitlist for this winter season) contact Sun Valley SnowSports at (208) 622-2289 or email for more information on women’s specialty clinics and instruction.