This is me. This is me at the top of a mountain.
This is me at the top of a mountain falling in love with skiing.
The Genesis of Snow How
It started six weeks ago. The folks at Ski Vermont and Sugarbush Resort wanted to leverage the power of social media to promote January's Learn to Ski month in Vermont and Sugarbush's Learn to Ski and Ride package. They turned to Cabot Creamery, a company that has been active in social media for years, to partner in getting a group of bloggers based in New England -- bloggers who were beginning skiers or snowboarders -- to come to Sugarbush with their besties and learn to ski or board.
The Learn to Ski program is pretty simple. If you're a first time skier or boarder, you can take three two-hour lessons that will transform you from snow zero to snow hero -- or at least snow competent -- in a day and a half. Once you've completed the program, Sugarbush gives you an all-mountain ski pass for the rest of the 2010-2011 season.
Oh lucky me! Not only did I get to play host to the team of bloggers, but as a newbie myself, I got to participate. As an added bonus, I learned to ski with my best friend and amazing sister, Roberta MacDonald.
Not only would we get to ski together, lunch in the lodge was going to be fun, too!
Our mission was quite specific. We needed to identify four bloggers of renown and talent who were also novice boarders or skiers. Our team and their ski and boarding buddies turned out to be amazingly compatible, the perfect group to take up the Ski Vermont challenge. Barbara Jones is co-founder of Blissdom one of the country's most successful women's blogging conferences and CEO of One2One Network, a women's word of mouth marketing space. She came with her friends Chris and Shanna, who were also up for a Vermont adventure.
Barbara Jones (center) spent her birthday weekend learning to ski with her friends Chris & Shanna.
Robyn Moreno, who traveled with her NYC posse -- adorable sister Bianca, charming boyfriend Marin, and super cool English friend Izzy -- blogs at Practically Posh and is the author of Practically Posh: The Smart Girl’s Guide to a Glam Life ( July 2008, Harper Collins).
Robyn Moreno learned to snowboard. She also learned her way around the hot tub.
We Are Not Martha. It's a mindset as well as a wonderful blog by two childhood friends, Chelsee Adams and Susie Adams from Boston. Sues and Chels blog about food, decor, travel and life through the eyes of twentysomething women with style and flair. With a bit of trepidation, the We Are Not Martha team dedicated themselves to learning to snowboard.
Chelsee Adams (left) & Susie Anderson, friends since 2nd grade, celebrated the 3rd blogiversary of their website, We Are Not Martha, learning to snowboard.
Food for Thought...and Fuel
We gathered the night before our first lesson to share a meal cooked by the incomparable Chef Mark Molinaro, who not only cooks and develops recipes for Cabot, he is also the Executive Chef at The New England Culinary Institute.
As the women of Team Snow How arrived at Sugarbush, Chef Molinaro prepared appetizers for weary travelers. There were succulent Chili-Cheddar Mini-Meatloaves, rich, crispy fingerling potatoes stuffed with Horseradish Cheddar, and divinely decadent cheddar crisps.
Later, dinner was served. There were oooohs and ahhhs and audible sighs as we tucked into a savory cheddar and butternut squash soup, which Chef Molinaro swears is quick and easy to prepare. The salad was a winter wonder topped with creamy cheddar dressing. A hearty vegetarian cannelloni rounded out the meal. No one thought they had room for dessert until we saw the apple and cherry crunch topped with a sinfully delicious dollop of Cabot whipped cream. Somehow, we managed to fit it in.
Let the Lessons Begin
A gentle snow fell through the night and into the next day. We woke to a wintry play land and wasted no time suiting up -- no one told me how unique and varied the clothing requirements would be -- and getting to the ski school.
If ever there is a time to learn to ski and board it's the month of January in Vermont. We had amazing weather -- a gentle snowfall, minimal wind and reasonable temps. We started out in the equipment rental shop and were fitted for skis and boots. Today's equipment is remarkable. My boots were surprisingly comfy (other than that walking issue), and the skis -- short and shaped -- made the process much easier than my disastrous attempt of two decades ago.
Once we were suited up, on our way to meet our instructor we stopped at Ski & Ride HQ to meet skiing legend and extreme skier John Egan, named by Powder magazine as one of the 48 greatest skiers of our time. John had great advice and incredible energy to pass along to our group of newbies. Nice to have a little star dust rub off before we began our lessons.
Skiing superstar John Egan imparts mountain wisdom before I leave.
Our instructor, Gary Eckhart, was wonderful and had the patience of Job. On the lift he told me about his other life. Gary is an accomplished water color artist whose work hangs throughout the Sugarbush Resort as well as in several Vermont galleries.
Gary Eckhart and his happiest student.
The Snow How Ski Team
Here's the thing. In spite of what I thought to be true, in spite of my fear of throwing myself down a snowy mountainside, skiing, when taught by a competent and understanding instructor on well-fitted, updated equipment is a transformative experience. The beauty of the Vermont mountains is breathtaking, but on a scale that seems inviting -- majestic without being overly intimidating. The muffled silence of the winter day interrupted only by the sound of skis cutting through snow, combined with the thrill of gliding down groomed mountain trails is an experience not to be missed.
I can think of no better place to learn to ski or snowboard than in Vermont, where the snow is deep, the winters are cold, and hearts are warm.