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Woodward at Copper: This Mom’s Ascent (or Descent?) Into Extreme Sports

I live a pretty adventurous life. Last week I went to Costco and tried the spicy jalapeno dip. On another day, I blazed pass those annoying lingering parents in the carpool lane despite the threat of death.

Let’s just say the introductory class at the newly renovated 19,400-square foot indoor playground Woodward at Copper Barn at Copper Mountain, Colo. took me to the next level.

If you’ve never been to “The Barn,” it is a sight to behold. Offering year-round Snowboard, Ski, Skateboard, Bike and Digital Media programs, it recently underwent a half-million renovation project that opened up their adventure alley beyond snowboards and skis to include skateboards, BMX and style-style mountain bike. There’s a new beginner foam pit with 2-foot and 4-foot jumps and a pump track designed for the development of park skills.

Hanging with the big boys.

Hanging with the big boys.

The staffer I chatted up before our class proudly said many of the Olympians and hopefuls at Sochi had, at one time or another, trained at The Barn. My daughter Hadley and I were in esteemed company.

I was Maui-bound the following week. My initial goal walking in there was to play it safe and not break my neck. But when my Hadley and I realized our class consisted of hip 20-somethings? All bets were off as I had something to prove. Surely I wouldn’t be the first to go to Hawaii in a body cast, right?

The minimum age for the intro class is 8. At archaic 9 years old, Hadley looked at all the big boys and appropriately said, “We’re doomed!” We were quite the pair as I calmly joked, “I’ll have to make sure to go to the bathroom first, otherwise I’ll pee my pants.”

Let’s file that one under said no extreme athlete ever at The Barn.

I’m not sure what I was expecting out of the 1 hour and 45-minute class. Maybe we’d jump on the trampoline. If things got really crazy, we’d launch into the foam pit.

Doing a frontside triple cork. #YeahRight

Doing a frontside triple cork. #YeahRight

What we got: Skatelite jumps into foam pits. Sick moves on the Olympic fly-bed trampolines and a Super Tramp. Tumbling practice with back rolls and rodeo progressions on the spring floor and tumble trak. And the more adventurous in our group ended the lesson by trying Woodward’s exclusive new Parkboards™ and Parkskis™ and launching off the ramps into the foam pits.

I wasn’t too disappointed when Hadley begged us to skip that last one.

Our instructor Greg was everything you’d expect and so much more. He was a veritable “dude” but an excellent instructor with a hyper-vigilance to safety and who spotted our every move. “Yell ‘PIT’ when you jump into the foam pit,” he coached. “And make sure you land on your back with your legs spread apart in a tuck position.”

Though Hadley has minimal gymnastics experience, she was bouncing and tumbling along with everyone else. As for me? I shocked the 20-somethings (and myself) by busting out several moves I haven’t done since my days in gymnastics and backyard trampoline glory.

Soarin' at Woodward

Soarin’ at Woodward

I don’t wanna brag but I did have the best cartwheel in the group.

After an hour of practice, most of the guys took to the ramps with their Parkboards while the girls stayed behind to test out our new moves on the Super Tramp and five Fly Beds. After a while, Hadley complained, “My back hurts.”

“So take a break.”

“I. Can’t. Stop.” And she soldiered on with her ninja kicks against the padded wall.

By the end of our session, we were both limping a bit but proud and esctatic at what we’d accomplished. Hadley looked at her old mom in a new light.

“Hey Mom, you did some flips and didn’t even break your neck,” she marveled.

I’m counting that one as a win.

Woodward at Copper has various options for adventure including our Intro Session ($49) or a Tramp Only Session ($35), Drop-in Session ($35) or various daily and weekly camps. They are also famous for the “raddest summer camps on the planet.” Go here for more info. Special thanks to Woodward for hosting and teaching us how to not break our necks.

How Young is Too Young to Learn to Ski and Snowboard?

Growing up in the town of Salida, in the Heart of the Rockies, had it’s disadvantages…and if you’ve ever read the list of “you’re from a small town if” then you know what I’m referring to, ha. On the brighter side, living just a short drive from Monarch Mountain Ski Area – and having not a whole lot else to do – meant abundant time on the slopes.
 
My mom began teaching my brother and I at a young age how to *ski*…because I’m older than snowboards, wild concept to my children! It was her “fun job” on the weekends: ski instructor and it scored the whole family free season passes. I completely took most every moment of it for granted but I did learn to ski.
 
So, in my adulthood I figured I’d try this boarding stuff. I think still recovering from my full-day, private lesson at Winter Park, ouch. It’s not that I didn’t have a fabulous instructor or that it wasn’t my THIRD time on (and I use that term loosely) a board. I think what it really boils down to is the one thing I had a whole lot LESS of as a child…FEAR.
 
When is the best time to get your kiddos out there? RigHT NoW!
 
Just bundle those babes up and head on out to make snow angels or throw snowballs. The more comfortable they are playing in the snow (and braving the elements,) the better off they’ll be when they set out on a real adventure. Santa brought Noelle a pair of practice skis this year for exactly this purpose – so she can go out after a big snow storm and ski down the driveway! Her learner skis strap onto regular snowboots, making it easy to take them on and off – and yet I still end up giving piggy back rides to the top.
 
Several resorts and ski areas in Colorado offer lessons to children as young as three. Noelle sampled the three-year-old ski lessons at Winter Park, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs last year. She absolutely LOVED all of them. Now, if you’re mental picture includes your child’s tiny skis dangling several feet over head as they zoom up the hill on a chair lift – you can relax. Little learners use a magic carpet (similar to a moving walkway in an airport) to get to the top of a small slope. Their skis don’t leave the ground and instructors are with them at all times. They are usually corralled inside some sort of special “ski school” area to contain the wanderers. Their lessons also include long, indoor breaks filled with fun games, yummy food and winter snacks like hot cocoa, s’mores and swizzle sticks (a WP favorite of ours.)
 
Silas also took lessons but he chose to skip the skis and went straight for the snowboard…he’s now an avid eight-year-old boarder (yea!). We most recently took a trip up to Echo Mountain near Evergreen to see what it’s all about. I was impressed with their accommodations for learners. The great thing about Echo: it’s beginner-sized. Far less intimidating than huge resorts and everything is easy to find…no map necessary AND you probably won’t loose your children…but you might leave your skis (not really – just me). If you do, they will likely bring them into town for you because they really are that nice (and I tested it out)! If you’re looking for a place to start your family’s skiing/boarding pastime, this is it.
 
I think the most important thing about learning to ski or snowboard is that both you and your child are comfortable with what you choose: boarding vs. skiing, big resort vs. small ski area, several lessons vs. no lessons, hot cocoa vs. s’mores (I’d go for both!). We are fortunate in our state to have a LOT of options. I recommend shopping around for the best fit for your family, and try out more than one because you just never know. As for me, I’ll be giving that board another try…just maybe not this season, wink.

Every time I ski, things go downhill.

I have a confession to make: I hate skiing.  There. I said it. I’ve lived in Colorado for over 11 years, and I am not a skier. *gasp* Do people like me actually exist? Yes. Yes, we do.

Don’t get me wrong.  Sledding is fun!  Snowmobiling rocks!  I love the resorts!  There is so much to do at our wonderful ski resorts that doesn’t involve skiing. I’m just not a big fan of pain, and I never have been. In fact, I have yet to hurt myself at a lodge.

(No, the person in that photo is not me. This is a stock photo by Wia-Tirol.)

Even though I hate skiing, I love skiers! A lot of my friends ski. My husband is a skier. I hope my daughter to one day be a skier. I, on the other hand, am not a skier. In all fairness, what I do cannot be called skiing.

There is not that much screaming in skiing.

How can someone who loves the snow, doesn’t mind being cold, and actually lives at the foot of some of the best mountains around, not like skiing?

It all started when we moved here in January 1999.