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The joys of family skiing.

Want to take the family on a fun outing? Think snow, then head for the slopes.

All right, I'll say it: I love to ski. Yes me, the guy who thinks the only reason to be out in the cold is to get to someplace warm--like a car idling at the curb. The man who wanted to "Think Snow" only three days a year: Day One, watch it fall; Day Two, snowball fight; Day Three, watch it melt. Preferably, all these winter sports activities took place indoors. When my wife suggested we take the family on a ski trip several years ago, my answer was simple and to-the-point: "You go. I'll stay home."

Well, thanks to a company retreat to the Smuggler's Notch resort in Vermont about two years ago (aided by my boss, an avid skier who arranged for lessons and rental equipment and offered a gentle nudge: "ski or else"), I have seen the light. And after my second ski trip, on which I was accompanied by my wife and daughters (ages 9 and 3), to Vermont's Bolton Valley Resort, the entire family is composed of full-fledged, white-powder converts. We can't wait to plan our next trip. We are even thinking about joining the thousands of other African-Americans who hit the slopes with the National Brotherhood of Skiers each year.

Skiing is a challenging activity for weekend jocks like myself, but it is easy and fun for those less athletically inclined (this means you, my dear wife). And because there are many resorts that feature special instruction for young children, kids can be taught as earl as age 5 and often achieve proficiency faster than most adults (a fact that tempted me to trip a couple of the little brats). For toddlers, many resorts boast nurseries or day care facilities.

What about my biggest fear: The cold? Well, to be honest, you don't spend much time being cold. From the awkward task of walking on skis to the ski lift to skiing, falling, getting lack up, and starting. all over, you're active enough to generate plenty of body heat. (While we're on the subject of falling: Forget that infamous ABC Wide World of Sports "Agony of Defeat" film clip. The beginner slopes are pretty safe. Besides, at least in the beginning, you won't be skiing fast enough to hurt yourself when--and I do mean when--you fall.) Also, the key to dealing with ski weather is dressing properly.

One of the best things about skiing, according to my wife and oldest daughter, is ski wear. Designed to keep you warm and, more importantly, dry, ski wear comes in a dazzling variety of bright colors and funky styles that make you look like a Winter Olympian even on the "green circle" (beginner's) slopes. Always wear long or thermal underwear beneath your ski pants. Layer your clothing: cotton turtlenecks and T-shirts under a wool sweater provide the most warmth. Your ski jacket should be insulated and made of a water-repellent material such as nylon. For the less demanding, a pair of denim jeans sprayed with water repellent will keep you dry as effectively as ski pants.

Clothing should permit flexibility and freedom of movement. Other essentials include ski mittens, a wool hat, and a muffler or scarf with which to cover your neck and mouth. Wear the socks you will be wearing on the slopes when you are fitted for your ski boots. You might want to add some sunglasses or goggles. Sunscreen and lip balm can help to protect against the sun and wind. Another common skin-protection tactic: Cover exposed areas of the face with Vaseline.

Once you try skiing, you'll like it. But don't rush out right away to buy new ski equipment. In the beginning, renting is fine. Once you and your family are ready to commit to the sport, the most important purchase is the boots. Again, safety and comfort is the key; be sure your boots are custom-fitted for you.

When people say "Think Snow," they don't mean that depressing, brown slush you slog through during winter commutes to work. Give your family a breathtaking view of skiing from the top of a white-powdered slope. It will change your outlook and open up new vacation possibilities for the entire family.

It worked for me!
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Edmond, Alfred, Jr.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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