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Learning to Ski at Crystal Mountain

Posted by on February 16, 2015

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Last winter, we visited Michigan for the very first time and fell in love.

In love with the astonishingly beautiful snow which I’m sure gets really old to those who live there and have to shovel their driveways and scrape their cars but we ADORED, in love with the friendly people, and in love with several locations that we visited, including Crystal Mountain.

We loved every single thing about our stay at this gorgeous, luxurious ski, golf, and spa resort but one of our very favorite things was our charming cottage at the Water’s Edge complete with a fireplace. Could accommodations possibly get any better than this?

Why, yes. Yes, they can.

Because we just spent a few days there and stayed in one of their Mountainside townhomes and can I just say that it is lucky they got us to leave? Because we would have cheerfully moved in for the entire winter. The Mountainside townhome we stayed in was truly amazing. With a huge kitchen, great living room with a fireplace, plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, we could really spread out and relax after a day of skiing. This home even had a ping pong table and a foosball table in the bottom level along with comfortable seating and another television – perfect for a family with kids!

Our cottage last year was really convenient and in the middle of all the activities but our townhome was quiet and private so it’s impossible to say which we loved more. In fact, Crystal Mountain has an amazing assortment of accommodations to fit any need so we will just have to keep returning until we try them all out!

Oh, yeah.

Gorgeous Mountainside townhome! Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain.

Gorgeous Mountainside townhome! Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain.

Last year when we visited Crystal Mountain, we tried out pretty much every winter activity they had to offer but the one thing I thought we would never be interested in was skiing. Ironic as this is a ski resort in the winter but they have so  much else to offer, it’s not a problem. And yet one of us decided after that trip that they would like to try skiing.

Anyone who knows us at all will be surprised to learn that it was Tom and not me who was interested in skiing. I am the one who can ice skate, kayak, participate in Yoga, and have pretty excellent balance. Tom is the one who kept tipping his kayak over in 12 inches of water and who, after determinedly trying to ice skate, finally gave up when he couldn’t stand on the skates. But we met with one of the instructors of the Retired not Tired (excellent name) ski classes when we were there last year and Tom was intrigued.

Could he actually learn to ski? It wasn’t too late?

Apparently, it’s never too early or too late to learn to ski as we learned on this trip. Crystal Mountain offers ski lessons to anyone aged 3 and up (and way up!) so truly anyone can learn to ski. Our son-in-law, who is from Wisconsin, was already a skier and wanted our daughter and grandson to learn so they came along on this trip and the lovely folks at Crystal Mountain arranged three equally different ski lesson for Tom, our daughter Liz, and our grandson Wes.  Someone had to take photos so I was designated and couldn’t ski.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The morning of the ski lessons dawned beautiful, clear, and bright and we all layered on the winter clothes and headed out to learn to ski. I spent the next couple of hours observing and photographing all three classes and let me just take a moment to thank all three instructors who were equally kind, generous,  and patient with all three learners.

All three learners did very well, including Tom who only fell once, much to my astonishment. Our grandson probably did the best and it’s generally understood that, like any sport, the younger they start the better they will do. His instructor started out by not even talking about skiing, instead letting Wes play games with him that included playing with a ball, dodging around hoops on the ground and just generally getting to know him and help him relax and not worry about skiing. By the time he helped Wes strap on his skis, they were fast friends.


Helping Wes with his skis.

Helping Wes with his skis.

From strapping on the skis to skiing down the hill on his own seemed like it took no time at all but the patient process which included skiing with him and even taking a break for pretzels and hot chocolate which Wes thought was amazingly cool, was all part of the learning curve.

Yep, I'm skiing!

Yep, I’m skiing!

Our daughter Liz is naturally tall, slim, and pretty athletic so I felt sure she would have no problems. She felt pretty smug that her instructor called her a natural skier. Again, he patiently worked with her, first with no skis teaching her how to move, hold her arms, lean backward, and just relax.

Another patient instructor.

Another patient instructor.

We learned later that her foot had been bothering her prior to skiing and she came home to find out she had actually torn her plantar fascia sometime before the trip but still managed to ski – what a trooper! She actually did so well that he instructor almost immediately took her over to the green runs instead of remaining on the bunny hill and she did fine.

Hey, this isn't so hard!

Hey, this isn’t so hard!

Tom also did great in his class although he was much more cautious than the kids; a natural consequence of learning to ski at an (ahem) advanced age! His instructor was about our age and they spent time getting to know each other, then his instructor also worked with him before the skis went on, and helped him get started.

Learning the basics.

Learning the basics.

His instructor spent a lot of time actually skiing with him, in front of him to give Tom confidence. He didn’t leave him alone until he felt sure Tom could manage on his own. And he finally did!

Tom is skiing!

Tom is skiing!

All three of the learners did great and we are already planning our trip back to Michigan next year. After years of heading south to the beach for family trips, it’s amazing to me that I love winter in Michigan just as much as any beach. Crystal Mountain is a big part of the reason that we love this area so much and we appreciate their generosity in working with us two years in a row.

If you have never considered this location for a getaway, start now – and don’t hesitate to book your very first ski lesson. You might find you love it just as much as our family!

Our favorite vacation spot!

Our favorite vacation spot!

Full disclosure: Our stay and ski lessons were provided by Crystal Mountain but as always, we will share our honest opinions about any travel experiences we have.


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