Open Roads: Family Skiing with the Crist Crew in Sun Valley, Idaho

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Skiing is a family sport. And if you learned to ski before the age of 16, your parents likely played a significant role in the process.  Needless to say, the sport is gear intensive and expensive. Still, the rewards of skiing are enough to motivate parents to provide the opportunity for their children to slide down the side of a mountain with boards attached to their feet.

Pulling into the parking lot at Dollar Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho, with my wife Lola and my two daughters, Jayden, 5,  and Stevie, 2,  is a small victory in and of itself. We’ve finally made it to the base of the slopes and begin shuttling gear and kids towards the lift. It’s a tag team process as my wife changes Stevie’s diaper and I console Jayden regarding her chief complaint, “My long underwear is ITCHY!”

My wife strategically mentions the possibility of hot chocolate in the lodge and suddenly we are back on track. Jayden decides to carry her own skis. Stevie aggressively sucks on her bottle and within minutes we are miraculously gliding up the magic carpet.

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Crist family skiing in Sun Valley; Photograph by Reggie Crist

This is the moment we have all been waiting for as we shuffle to the edge of the slope. Stevie looks solid on her skis despite having learned to walk less than eight months ago. Jayden, the big sister, anxiously wants to help and nudges Stevie into the fall line as gravity takes control. Quickly, I attempt to catch up, but Stevie seems to be handling the speed with her hands pointed straight out to the side. The expression on her face suggests uncertainty but I decide to let the situation play out. She coasts to a full stop and looks up at me and begins clapping her hands together saying, “More…more.”

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Stevie, 2, masters her snowplow; Photograph by Reggie Crist

The smile on Stevie’s face says it all. These few precious seconds trump the hours of chaos leading up to this moment.  I’m reminded of all the life lessons that I have learned from playing in the mountains, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide this gift for my children. Skiing is a lifestyle that promotes healthy living and long lasting friendships, a fact that I learned seven years ago when I randomly met my wife on a chair lift.

“More… more…” cries Stevie as I place her between my skis and scoot towards the chairlift this time. I laugh to myself as I wonder when the time will come when my girls go ripping past as I struggle to keep pace. Then I will know that my work is done….