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Femaelstrom

On the message board by the ski lift, under the heading “Conditions” was one word: “EPIC!”

The Saturday was blessed with 20 inches of floaty snow. But what the liftie author probably didn’t know is this: when you ski with kids, every day is an epic.

One child in our loose group of skiers had a meltdown because he didn’t like his parents’ parking spot. One child in my car flung his neck gaiter because it wasn’t “coming up right.”



Another boy berated his father because, with the Aspen Highlands parking lot full, they were directed back to catch a shuttle. “Don’t!” he ordered as his father turned around, which segued into, “You never do anything I want,” leading naturally to, “You don’t like me!” (One child of mine ” who would like you to know that he was much younger then ” once bellowed at me, “You’ve hated me since the day I was born! Why can’t you just admit it?”)

Two weeks before, catching the chair on my first day out, I was lifted in many ways: I had missed all last year, having shattered my heel, and worst had been not getting to see my two boys ski and improve.



Now my husband, Mike, the boys and I were skiing Highlands together. It had taken my foot a year to get here, and the family much, much longer. Skiing is cold and, to many children, overwhelming.

I have put in my time trudging across a parking lot, balancing ” and dropping ” two pairs of skis and boots, a helmet, poles, goggles, mitts, and a food-bribe-stuffed backpack, while behind me stumbled a two-year-old roaring, “I TOLD you! I DON’T … WANT … TO … SKI!”

There were great moments, but, honestly, the sport could be a vale of tears. At times, I wondered why we tried. Was it folly, ego, that led Mike and me to persist?

Yet we live amid some of the best skiing in the country. Over 30 years ago, my father taught us four children to ski ” equipped us, fastened our bindings, drove us from Maryland to Pennsylvania. His and my mother’s efforts are amazing to me now. My sibs and I all still ski, together when we can. Our father, gone now, gave this to us.

On my longed-for first day this season, we epic-ed the very first run. High atop Olympic Bowl, Teddy, 10, lost a ski. It barreled down, hit the catwalk, and launched 100 feet into an out-of-bounds, snow-choked gully, into the middle of a bomb crater. Fortunately, Mike was able to flag a patroller, who also peered down.

Behind, Roy, 7, face-planted in the surfeit of snow, packing his goggles. I cleaned them three times to no avail. I offered mine. He declined because he was now engaged in a meltdown. I thought this might be the first day we ever had to leave.

Two more patrollers arrived, and with spotters, the first one kindly, carefully descended, fished the ski out, and wallowed back up.

Amazingly, the day turned completely around. Teddy got his ski, while Roy saw two friends and instantly regained all dignity and moxie.

This latest Saturday, I rode up with an acquaintance whose child had just lost his temper midslope because, “He decided we should have skied Snowmass.”

But something else happened. I skied the high “No Name” with Teddy, winding through trees and powder stashes, watching him link turns ahead, a small helmeted figure, stubby in warm clothes.

And all the half-dozen kids, Roy among them, smilingly skied the difficult “Boomerang” in powder. One boy was only five, and occasionally needed sweeping up, but he plowed back along every time.

The payoff had finally come: when joy exceeds exertion.

I said to a parent friend, “We’ve earned this.”

He said, “We’ve (bleeping) earned this.”

” Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at aosius@hotmail.com. Please write “GSPI” as the subject heading to avoid a spam block.


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