You won’t hear me complaining about cold when I ski – I long ago accepted that skiing is a winter sport, and I’d much rather see low temperatures paired with snow and wind than high ones accompanied by rain clouds. And since a cold snap can hit at any time, even later in the winter (we experienced two extremely cold and windy days over the 2013 Presidents’ Day weekend in Vermont) it’s good to be prepared for one when you’re planning a ski trip. Especially when that trip involves your entire family.
Layer, layer, layer. On really cold days I add extra layers to my kids’ ski outfits. We start with a wicking shirt, long underwear, and ski socks; follow that with a turtleneck or long-sleeved t-shirt, then a fleece, then a double-layered ski coat with a hood. Balaclavas – those handy items that cover your neck and go up over your head underneath the helmet – are a must, as are ski mittens (better than gloves). On really cold days, I encourage my kids to pull their neck-warmers up over their mouths and their goggles down over their eyes and I put the hood of their jacket over their helmet. This leaves as little skin exposed as possible.
If your kids protest, remind them that if they get too hot, they can always remove a layer. Mine never do once the temperature gets below 20 degrees.
Invest in hand and feet warmers. These handy self-warming packets can usually be purchased in the equipment shop, but I save money by buying them in cases in advance and keeping them in the ski bag. Some ski mittens have a separate zippered pocket to put them in; but if not, you can just stick them in the tips of your child’s gloves.
Take a lot of breaks. This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: On cold days, it’s important to go inside and warm up. If the temperature is well below freezing, and especially if there is wind blowing, you may need to go inside after every one or two runs. Consider packing a diversion like a trivia game or a pack of cards in the ski bag so you have something to do while you warm up.
Sign kids up for lessons. If you’re skiing on a cold day that also happens to be a busy one (say after a big snowfall on a holiday weekend) than you’re likely to have to stand in lift lines. After the waiting and the ride up you may find your child is too cold to enjoy the ski down. But if you put your children in ski school on very cold days, not only will they get some personalized attention, they’ll be able to skip the lines and keep moving.
Ski in the middle of the day. Don’t rush to be the first on the lift on very cold days and stop skiing earlier. If you’re staying close to the slopes, you might plan to cook a big brunch in your condo, ski from 10 to 2, and then return for a late lunch.
Vermont skiing can be cold well into March, although hopefully it will be warming up there sometime around the middle of the month so that the maple sugar season can begin. Visit Sugarbush on March 16 for their Sugaring Festival, which will include a maple syrup scavenger hunt on the mountain.