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2011 Ski Guide: Colorado ski resorts take kids to the next level

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So your little one can now get off the chairlift without panicking, make a big, curvy path down a gentle slope and stretch out the time between cocoa breaks.

Or maybe your fifth-grader is ready to try out racing and is looking for a team experience.

Or perhaps your teenage snowboarder has been begging to get into the half-pipe for so long you just can’t take it anymore.

If your kids are ready to take their skiing to the proverbial “next level,” whatever that level may be, Colorado resorts offer a variety of intensive, developmental programs designed to do just that.

Here’s what some of them are offering, with highlights of some of the details so that you can compare as you make your choices this season.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Arapahoe Basin​ has three multi-week programs for kids ages 3 through 15 years.

Kids Club Arapahoe is for kids ages 5-14. Skiers and snowboarders work with the same instructor during a four-week session. Cost: $360. Kids Club meets on Saturdays for four or eight weeks. Li’l Kids Club is for children 3 to 5 years old. Lessons are half day, and juniors work with the same instructor for the four-week session. Juniors Kids’ Club meets on Saturdays for four or eight weeks, the same weekends as Kids’ Club. Price is $280. Basin XTreme Teen is a multi-week Saturday program that challenges young teens. Classes focus on exploring steeps, chutes, trees, bumps, powder and the terrain park. Cost is $360.

More info: arapahoebasin.com/ABasin/lessons/kids-programs.aspx

Breckenridge Ski Resort

Breckenridge Bombers is a multi-week program in its 22nd year for all levels of skiing and riding. The goal is for children to “develop solid technique in a fun, safe and confidence-building environment,” according to the resort. Participants are with the same instructor and class for the duration of Bombers. Classes (held Saturdays and Sundays) are formed based on age and ability. Three types of Bombers programs exist: All-Mountain Bombers is for all ages and ability levels ($600 Saturdays, $550 Sundays). Freestyle Bombers is for intermediates and experts only ($680 Saturdays, $630 Sundays); Pee Wee Bombers is for 3 year olds ($625 Saturdays, $575 Sundays).

New for the 201 1/2012 Season is the December Bombers Program. This program is just like the Bombers program except it is a three-week program in December instead of the seven-week program that begins in January. Cost: $240.

More info: To get more information about Bombers, including registration information, add yourself to the e-mail distribution list at brskischoolprograms@vailresorts.com with “Bombers” in the subject field.

Copper Mountain

On Saturdays over four, eight or twelve weeks, Woodward Park Rats can work on existing tricks or learn new ones at “The Barn” at Woodward, a 19,400-square-foot indoor terrain park and pipe progression, with the same coach all season long. Airbag access (which makes for a cushier landing) is included, weather permitting, starting Jan. 7. The classes are for skiers and snowboarders ages 10 and older (Cost: $699 for four weeks, $899 for eight weeks and $1,049 for 12 weeks; includes an unrestricted Copper Mountain season pass that can be used all season).

Ten- to 18-year-olds interested in beefing up their freeriding skills can sign up for Free- ride Skiing and Snowboarding Posse. This program offers students the opportunity to go with a coach and “rip the mountain in a whole new way” over the course of 17 weeks. New this year is an option to choose an area of focus: Big Mountain or Park & Pipe. Cost is $1,000 for the once-weekly program.

Over at the ski school, Copper has many extended learning programs to offer the pre-shred set. Scooters is a three or four week camp for skiers and boarders ages 4 to 12. The January and February Scooters will participate in a timed race and a slope-style competition in the Kidz Terrain Park. Every athlete will receive an award. Cost: $409 for three weeks, $459 four weeks.

Choppers is a skiing and snowboarding program for children 8 to 18 looking for an adventurous day on the slopes. While taking participants exploring, Choppers instructors give specific, expert advice aimed at advancing any ability level. Copper Choppers offers optional charter bus transportation with adult supervision provided to and from Copper Mountain. Cost: $709 eight weeks, $459 four weeks.

More info: coppercolorado.com/winter/ski_and_ride_school/youth_seasonal_ programs.

Keystone Resort

Junior Kroozers (for ages 5 and 6) and Kroozers (for ages 7 to 13) are three-week programs designed for kids of all ability levels. Children are grouped by age and ability level to “develop a solid skill set in a safe environment while promoting camaraderie among peers.” Kroozers lessons feature weekly themes, including a race on the last day of each session.

Keystone Kroozers & Beyond is a three-week program designed for skiers and snowboarders who are 5-15 years old and at a Level 7 or higher. A Level 7 skier is comfortable and confident on all blue- square and easier black-diamond terrain, including moderate moguls and ungroomed snow. Kroozers and Beyond is designed to take children to the next level. Children will have the opportunity throughout the three weeks to get an introduction to Keystone’s parks and pipe, experience all mountain terrain, as well as get familiar with the race course. Cost: $295 per session for all Kroozer programs.

More info: keystoneresort.com/~/media/Keystone/Files/KroozersGeneralInformation11-12.ashx

Loveland Ski Area

Loveland Explorers offers a six-week program in conjunction with the Loveland Racing Team. Coaches from both the Ski & Ride School and the Loveland Racing Team work together to develop the skills of intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders ages 7 to 14. Participants are grouped based on ability, with no more than six students for each coach. Children learn and explore with the same coach all six weeks. Sessions run 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 21, 28 and Feb. 4, 11, 25 and March 4. Cost: $459.

More info: 303-569-3203, ext, 199

Monarch Mountain

Monarch’s Caterpillars is designed for 3- and 4-year-old skiers. Caterpillars is an introduction to skiing based on the reasonable expectations of 3- and 4-year-olds in a small group setting. The program consists of four 1 hour, 45 minute sessions on Wednesdays. The first session is Jan. 25. A parent will need to attend and participate each day of the session.

Junior Butterflies is for skiers or snowboarders ages 5 and 6 and consists of four 1 hour and 45 minute sessions on Fridays beginning Jan. 27. A parent will need to attend and participate each day of the session. Cost: $150 for Caterpillars and Junior Butterflies programs.

Monarch Explorers is for skiers, snowboarders, or telemarkers ages 7-15 looking to explore and develop their skills. The four-week program is from 10:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Saturdays and starts Jan. 21. Cost: $395.

More info: skimonarch.com/index.php/lessons-childcare

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort

Snow PACK (Purgatory Adventure Camp for Kids) is a new day camp for children ages 7-12 who enjoy outdoor winter adventures beyond the ski hill. On Feb. 20-24, participants can take part in on-snow activities such as tubing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, scavenger hunts and building snow sculptures, forts and igloos. Daily bus transportation to and from Durango is included. Cost: $275.

Other seasonal programs include Snowburners Ski & Ride School Program, designed for skiers and snowboarders of all levels from ages 4 to 12. This program focuses on learning new skills while emphasizing safe skiing and riding; session is three hours once a week for eight weeks. Average class size is 6-8. Cost: $240.

The All Terrain Pioneers Ski & Ride School Program is designed to be a step up from the Snowburners program for ages 7 to 14. Participants will experience all aspects of skiing and riding from basic skills to bumps, tree skiing, and park and pipe. Classes are full day from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., once a week, for eight weeks. Average class size is 6 to 8. Cost: $350.

More info: durangomountainresort.com/kids_lessons

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat’s seasonal programs offer five weeks of Saturday classes with the same coach and skiing buddies. Mini Busters is for 5- to 6-year-olds, and Trail Busters is for first-graders through children 15 years old. Cost: $250 for either program.

During Desperados Ski Week, kids and teens spend five days with the same instructor and group, not only skiing but enjoying an on- mountain treasure hunt, barbecue, NASTAR race (for intermediates and above) and a mini-torchlight parade. The Desperados program is offered every Monday-Friday, Dec. 19-Jan. 6, Feb. 20-24 and March 12-16. Cost: $639 each weeklong program.

More info: steamboat.com/plan-vacation/ski-school/results/index.aspx?id=9

Telluride Ski Resort

If the “next level” is the first level, check out the new Nursery Ski Add-On Option at Telluride. The full-day of child care plus a 1-hour private “snow play” experience for 2- to 4-year-olds focuses on a positive first experience on skis. Cost: $230 (full day), $205 (half-day).

The southern ski resort also has the “Telluride Development Squad,” an eight-session ski and snowboard program for 3- to 14-year-olds designed to “develop a lifelong love of skiing and riding in a program that promotes team building, mountain safety and learning in a noncompetitive environment.” The squad meets Saturdays in January, February and March. Price for the program is not yet available.

More info: tellurideskiresort.com/TellSki/info/childrens_ski_and_ snowboard.aspx

Vail and Beaver Creek

These sister resorts offer development programs with the goal to “foster a lifelong love of skiing and riding in a non-competitive, team environment.” Full-day lessons take place on the weekends, mostly Saturdays, and begin in early December, continuing for 10 to 18 weeks. The program, which started as a way for the ski-school staff to form a team for their own children has been going on for at least a quarter century and now has more than 500 participants.

The Vail DEVO program is split into three categories. Junior DEVO is for kids 4-8 years old who are Level 4 or higher. A Level 4, a skier can ski all green runs from the top of Vail mountain, can stop, get up on their own and link wedge turns comfortably. Participants can expect the average coach-to-skier ratio to be 8 team members with the same coach for the entire training season. Cost: $950.

Youth DEVO is for children 8 to 16 years old who are a level 4 or higher snowboarder or level 6 skier. A level 6 skier is comfortable and confident on any groomed blue terrain, capable of skiing or riding easiest ungroomed and moguled blue terrain and can link turns of varying size at moderate speed. Cost: $1,099. For Teen Devo, skiers must also be a level 6 skier, and snowboarders need to be at least a Level 5 rider (can ski or ride comfortably and confidently on all green and most groomed blue terrain at Vail). This group meets 10 times during the season instead of 18 days, as does Youth Devo. Cost: $679. Freestyle and race programs are also available to interested Devo members.

More info: vaildevo.com or 970-754-3257.

Beaver Creek’s development program is 12 sessions. Junior BEAVO is for kids 5 to 8 years old who are Level 4 skiers or level 6 snowboarders. Youth/Senior BEAVO is for children 8 and older, with the same ability requirements as the Junior program.

More info: beavercreek.com/beavo or 970-754-5348.

Winter Park

Winter Park multi-week programs have ability levels ranging from first-timer to expert. Programs run Nov. 25-March 4.

Purchase the Kids Unlimited lesson-season pass for $1,399, and receive unlimited group and multi-week program lessons throughout the season, plus a Winter Park lift season pass.

More info: winterparkresort.com/lessons or 800-729-7907.

Nationally recognized as a top center for athletes, coaches and events, the Winter Park Competition Center is the place for an up-and-coming pro. The Competition Center has updated its programs to all-terrain ski, alpine racing, freeski (Big Mountain or Park & Pipe), freestyle (moguls) and snowboard (All Mountain or Park & Pipe). Full descriptions are on the Competition Center website.

More info: wpcompcenter.com

Wolf Creek

The four-week Camp Robber program for 5- to 8-year- olds is designed to introduce skiing or improve skills that kids already have, all in a fun environment. Activities for the Saturday program include terrain garden, races and mountain safety. Cost: $198 for children who hold a 2011-12 Wolf Creek Ski Area season pass; $228 for nonseason pass holders.

The Wolf Riders (snowboarding) and Blizzards (skiing) programs are for kids 9 to 12. This four-week program (Saturdays only) includes four hours of instruction. Both programs begin in early January. Cost: $186 season pass holders, $217 for nonseason pass holders.

More info: wolfcreekski.com/wolf-creek-ski-snowboard-telemark-clinics.php

Ski Free

The 2011-12 School of Shred pass is now available; it provides four free days of skiing or riding at each Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin for all Colorado fifth- and sixth-grade students who register by Nov. 6. The School of Shred pass includes one complimentary first-timer ski lesson and rental equipment for passholders (Arapahoe Basin excluded). Lessons and rentals are provided Nov. 28-Dec. 18, as well as during the entire month of January.

More info: snow.com/epic-pass/info/schoolofshred.aspx

For the other Colorado resorts, Colorado Ski Country USA offers a Fifth and Sixth Grade Passport. These programs give fifth-graders three free days at the 21 resorts in the state that are not a part of the Vail and Associates family. The sixth-grader program offers three days at the same 21 resorts for $99. In conjunction with this program, the First Class program allows registered Fifth Grade Passport holders who are considered never-evers to receive a voucher for one free ski or snowboard lesson, including rental equipment, anytime during January Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. They can choose from among 18 participating CSCUSA member resorts. Advanced reservations are required for first class.

More info: coloradoski.com/passport

By Chryss Cada

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