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The Brave Ski Mom - Sledding and Tubing Tips for Families


From the moment the first flakes fall in autumn, to the unexpected gift of a late spring dump, snowfall is magical.

Once the storm has passed, the world is reborn with a fresh white mantle, transformed into a canvas for creative expression and sport.

Whether one is building a snowman, joyfully making angels or delighting in sliding downhill on skis, snowboards, sleds or tubes, snow adds joy to the world.

For many families, one of the easiest and least expensive ways to enjoy snow is sledding. All you need are a snowy hill, warm clothes and boots, a sled.

It's winter fun at its most simple and elemental.

Find a Hill

When my brother and I were young, we lived for snow days. In our neighborhood, we had a sledding hill called "Potato Chip Hill," where families congregated after big storms.

While our family also skied, many of our peers did not.

Sledding was a way to spend time with friends, pushing the limits of slippery speed and harnessing the wondrous power of gravity.

And it was all fun until one day when a boy named Doug, proudly sporting a new sled, slid further than any kid before him and landed head first in a concrete ditch and then in the emergency room.

Sledding was quickly relocated to a new hill (and Doug was just fine after a few stitches).

And that leads to our first sledding tip: a good sledding hill has a long smooth runout.

Ideally, the hill should have steady pitch, a wide expanse without hazards like rocks and trees, safe places to hike back up and a run out longer than you think anyone will need, because there will always be Dougs - the kids who go farther than anyone else.

If you're new to sledding in your area, check with local parks departments, ask other families where they go or check with land managers like the Forest Service.

Wear Warm Clothes

What goes down, must go up. And since we've never met anyone was was satisfied with just one run, it's smart to wear layers so you don't get too hot hiking back up, while dragging your sled (and possibly carrying a child).

Thermal base layers, wool socks, a fleece, snow pants, mittens, a hat, boots and warm coat are the basics. Be prepared to get snowy and damp.

A thermos of hot tea or cocoa is also a good idea.

Grab A Sled

While sleds are available in a dizzying array of styles and designs, it doesn't really matter what kind of sled you ride. Pretty much anything from a plastic tray to an heirloom quality wooden toboggan will slide downhill.

Thus our only tip: ease your little ones onto the joys of downhill speed. If you have small kids, be sure your sled is large enough for a parent or older sibling to ride double with young children.

Try Tubing

In theory, tubing is just sledding with an inner tube. In reality however, tubing is a major attraction unto itself.

A few years ago, we spent a breathtakingly sunny and cold day at Village Vacances Valcartier near Quebec City Canada. A recreation complex that is a water park in summer and a snow tubing park in winter, here you’ll find dozens of ltubing lanes ranging from tame to intense, all served by magic carpet lifts that make getting back to the top of the hills nearly effortless.

Likewise, lift-served tubing is a popular activity at ski resorts. Ski areas find that tubing hills and lanes attract families who don't ski, providing them with a fun winter activity that gets everyone outside. Families find that tubing is a terrific way to spend time together laughing, screaming and making memories.

Now that my sons are teenagers, I appreciate tubing even more.

While skiing is always our favorite winter activity, we recently spent an evening at the tubing park at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Arriving after dark for the last one-hour session of the day, we found four frozen lanes ranging in speed. While my sons and husband went right for the fastest lane, I broke it in with a mid-range lane ride. Attendants were on hand at each lane, to assist, push and spin each rider down the hill.

Being cold, it was just our family of four and a family with two young children still wearing their ski helmets.

To a random observer, it would have been hard to gauge who was having more fun: the little kids, the big kids or the parents.

After a few solo runs, our family began banding together, linking up to ride as duos, trios and a squared up quad.

Each time we'd add a person and tube, our speed would increase until finally, on the last ride of the night, the attendant suggested we line up together as a train. Grabbing the front tube, he spun us furiously and we gathered a shocking amount of speed and momentum.

Laughing hysterically as we came to the end of the track, we plowed into an area of fresh snow, forging a new trail and sliding farther than anyone else had slid on that day.

High-fives and fist bumps all around, it was a magic family moment.

Enjoy!

Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com

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