Ski lessons for a 3 year old in Vermont or New Hampshire
October 30, 2013 10:08 AM   Subscribe

My daughter just turned 3 and is ready to learn to downhill ski. We live in Norwich, VT, and can head west to Vermont or east to New Hampshire for beginner lessons. I'm fine sitting and watching while she learns, and we're fine with the lesson being the only reason to make a drive. If we can only choose one place for the first ski lesson, where should we go?
posted by billtron to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Okemo is always going to get my vote. They have a Mini Stars program for 3 and 4 year olds with a very low student to instructor ratio. The mountain is family oriented and low-key; I think Stratton, Killington etc are more hard-core and would not be my first choice for a pre-K first time on skis lesson. Plus if you're driving there you might as well be headed for a town that's fun to have lunch or dinner in (I like Ludlow).
posted by DarlingBri at 10:25 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Why not the Dartmouth Skiway. You can't get closer much closer to Norwich than Lyme, and their slopes are super kid-friendly. Contrary to what some think, it's not limited to the college community. And they do offer lessons at all levels.

It may not be the most exciting place to ski once she's further along. But to start, it's going to be friendly, easy, and close to home.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:33 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Okemo, my son had a great beginner experiences there. I was impressed with their programs.
posted by molasses at 10:34 AM on October 30, 2013

I would go even smaller local mountain- you don't need the fancy stuff for a pure beginner. You can do just fine with a small mountain like whaleback or darthmouth ski way, and both should be about 20 mins from you. (at whaleback kids under 6 ski free!) this also seems to apply to the darthmouth skiway

You are however more reliant on natural snow.

I'd support your local tiny mountain though- it's a pretty awesome and lowkey way to get into the sport.
posted by larthegreat at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely Okemo. Their training programs are top-notch, and plus it's a really fun mountain.
posted by General Malaise at 12:48 PM on October 30, 2013

I would go even smaller local mountain

Or hill. You barely need a slope for beginning three year old. My kids learned on the old garbage hill in the middle of Stockholm and even that was more than enough. You don't need a lift or a t-bar or a magic carpet or an instructor. Just pull them up the slope on foot teach 'em how to snowplow and have massive amounts of fun.
posted by three blind mice at 1:50 PM on October 30, 2013

Go wherever is closest that still has snow.
posted by mskyle at 2:00 PM on October 30, 2013

I teach skiing to kids.

Dartmouth Skiway was my first thought too. Okemo is fantastic, but at that age, proximity is really the most important thing. If she's like most kids, she'll tucker out pretty quick and the last thing you need is to make her first time out a big ordeal. Lengthy travel or the overwhelmingness of a huge resort will make it hard for it not to be an ordeal for her.

Trust me, she won't care about the size of the hill. Her first time on skis, the tiniest bunny hill will be the biggest mountain in the world. And the other benefit of going to a small mountain is that usually the learning areas are small enough that you can watch her lesson, possibly even staying close by if that's what she needs to get through it (some kids need parents close, others work better with parents keeping away.)

If there is something even closer, that's even better. You might be well served contacting the Lebanon Outing Club, the nonprofit which runs Storrs Hill, and see what they suggest. Whaleback is another place that's super-close to you, and free for kids under 6.

The one catch here is that it might be tricky to get her into a group lesson at that age -- most schools have a cutoff around the age of four -- so you will probably have to pay up for a private lesson. Honestly, privates work much better at that age and if you want her to enjoy herself it's worth the money. But check out the local places and see what they tell you.
posted by Opposite George at 9:45 PM on October 30, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! We'll probably just go up the road to the Dartmouth Skiway, unless we feel like an adventure, in which case Okemo it will be!
posted by billtron at 7:24 AM on October 31, 2013

There's also a small hill in Randolph Center over by VTC, billtron. Around the corner from our place, if you want to stop for hot chocolate and some sheep & llama time after.
posted by terrapin at 8:58 AM on October 31, 2013

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