Mountain Blog

And we'll do that, too!
Nancy Story - Thursday, February 21, 2013


 Abigail Smeltzer (pictured above) is a Level I, Children's Specialist I PSIA-certified instructor with Crystal Mountain's Snowsports School. She learned to ski at age four on the slopes of Crystal, and has taught skiing for three years.  Abigail writes about Crystal’s Nanny McSki program, recently honored by the National Ski Area Association as a Conversion Cup finalist.  Now in its third season, the Nanny McSki program is gaining in popularity every year.  

 It’s convenient, hassle-free, and aimed at making your family ski vacation a memorable one.  Crystal’s Nanny McSki program takes the stress out of getting the kids up, fed, booted and on the slopes. Here's how it works: a PSIA or ASSI- accredited instructor greets your family at your doorstep, and picks up the kids. From there, the instructor oversees rental, takes the kids for breakfast and lunch, and heads to the slopes for a day full of skiing and learning fun.  Unlike our regular Snowsports School programs, Nanny McSki allows increased flexibility for children, parents and the instructor. We meet your family in the morning , take breaks when needed, meet up with mom and dad for lunch, and in between have a day filled with skiing adventures all set to a pace appropriate for each child’s learning style.

 In order for your Nanny McSki day to run smoothly and efficiently, we only allow up to three children of similar skill level per nanny.  This allows the instructor to teach skills that every child in the group can attempt and even master. However, if you have children who are at different skill levels, we suggest that you invite some family friends to join you. Each family can request a nanny for the day. From there, we’ll group the children into similar skill levels and assign them to their nanny. This way, both families can benefit from the opportunity to try this program.

Besides the benefit of being flexible,, this program can also be economical..  A single day Nanny McSki price is $389 for one to three children, which  includes breakfast, lunch and snacks, rental equipment, and a day of skiing. (Lift tickets are purchased separately. At Crystal, kids ages 8 & under ski free anytime).  For the price, the stress- free experience and great memories made, the Nanny McSki program is worth every penny!



Fueling Up for the Slopes
Nancy Story - Thursday, February 14, 2013


 When it’s cold outside, they’re hot in the kitchen.

For those Crystal Clipper Café employees who spend their winter inside, there’s a way to judge the weather outside. It’s by what skiers put in their stomachs. When the thermometer drops, they say their homemade chicken noodle soup is tops, along with gallons and gallons of hot chocolate.  As it warms up outside, menu favorites return to  old standbys like burgers and hot dogs (particularly chili dogs), washed down with soda pop. 

But the chow of choice regardless of the weather is French fries, hands down. In an average week, the café hands out 1789 orders of fries. The favorite fry accompaniment is a cheeseburger – about 1095 of them weekly. Chicken tenders take the third place spot at the fryer, with over 900 orders weekly.  Just last weekend on a single Saturday, snowsports fans gobbled down 218 orders of chicken tenders, 418 hot chocolates, 148 slices of pizza, and 231 cheeseburgers. Over at La Cocina, burritos lead the hit list with nachos not too far behind.  There’s always the salads and yogurt crowd, but standard daily fuel favors the fast food fare.

Topping the sweet treat chart is that perennial favorite, the Crystal Krispie – a mogul-sized rice krispie treat that takes two hands to eat (small children have been known to gnaw on one for days). This year, nearly 2800 Krispies have disappeared into skier stomachs, well on the way towards the 5500  Krispies consumed in an average season.  Approximately 1609 Chocolate chip cookies have met their demise so far, followed by brownies, no-bake cookies, peanut butter cookies, and energy bars in preferential order.

Appeasing all those appetites as quickly as possible requires a crackerjack crew that knows just what to do. When the fryer’s hot in the kitchen, our café crew keeps their cool by utilizing a task rotation system that keeps things moving. During slow periods, they prepare for the next appetite onslaught, cleaning and planning ahead for the next day. 

The lunchtime crowd arrives religiously between 11:30-1pm, according to the café crew. So it’s wise to wait on your appetite until after 1 pm, when most folks have headed back to the hills. Remember, though, that what you eat is a telling sign of the temperature outside for our crew in the Clipper Café.

Keeping Greens Fun while Prepping for Blues
Nancy Story - Thursday, February 07, 2013

Today's blog post author, Luc Blazejewski, started ski instructing at Crystal Mountain at the age of 15 and has continued to instruct at Crystal Mountain for the last 10 years. He is a certified Professional Ski Instructor of America, earning level 2 alpine and level 1 telemark certifications. His favorite aspect of ski instructing is watching students grow in their passion and enthusiasm for skiing over the course of a lesson.

Safety, fun and learning - these are the priorities of every ski instructor. It is our philosophy that the best learning occurs in safe and fun environments.

But try and tell the kids that! When teaching young children, I'm often faced with students eager to ski black diamonds, yet they're still working on making confident turns on tougher greens. My utmost concern is the safety of the group, and riding trails above their level has inherent danger. However, repetitively skiing the same green runs will most likely lead to boredom… or will it?

One of the great aspects of Crystal Mountain is our selection of slopes for beginner skiers. Many of Crystal's green runs are truly playgrounds that can be new and exciting each time they're skied. Emmy, J.T.'s Trail, Tammy's Turn, and Main Street offer a variety of playful features that can also serve as teaching tools. Those slopes offer high walls to ski up and down, small jumps and bumps, plus short tree runs that can be utilized to improve skiing. Trail features like these also address a common problem preventing novices from conquering blue runs – which is how beginners stand or balance over their skis.

Terrain changes, even on the easiest of runs, challenge a skier's balance. By adding features to a lesson, such as a short tree run, I can both challenge and improve my students' balance while making the “boring” green run fun and exciting. And a big plus: kids who enjoy going straight down greens are more likely to turn and control their speed to use these features.

If you're a novice skier searching for a way to make greens more exciting before ramping up to blues, I highly recommend searching out these features. It's also important to note the safety aspects of using these natural terrain features. Smart Style, the safety code of the terrain park, is a good reference:

1. Make a Plan: Know which features you will hit at the start of your run.

2. Look Before You Leap: Inspect any features before using them.

3. Easy Style It: Take new features slow and easy.

4. Respect gets Respect: Be mindful of others, especially when exiting and entering a trail.