Wilbur Family Christmas card time usually consists of professionally-taken photos of our three children — befitted in their L.L. Bean-best — in the midst of a fall landscape grinning with autumnal hues.
This year was no different, as we brought the kids to Breakneck Hill Conservation Land in Southborough, Mass. earlier this month for a photo shoot along the trails and under the trees of what was a serene atmosphere in the minutes before dusk. Rolling hills greet visitors here; nothing spectacular (the highest point is about 400 feet, according to the MetroWest Daily News), but enough to get a skier’s mind going.
To my delight, it was my 12-year-old son who suggested the possibility.
While I’ve always hoped that my children would latch onto the same passion that I have for skiing, it’s never been a point of mine to force any sort of sport or activity upon them. Luckily, all three have found a liking to snapping into their bindings and joining Dad on the hill. There’s plenty I can do to help in that regard. I can teach them to turn, encourage them to wear the proper gear, and point out obstacles and reasons to pursue a certain trail.
But I can’t teach an inherent emotion for the sport. I can give them reasons to love skiing (or riding, if they, someday so choose), and get them excited for spending a day on the mountain. But they have to find their own cause to feel the same way I do about the activity that tends to drive so many facets of my well-being. It can start with “spending time with Dad.” But the devotion has to go beyond that, something I can’t intentionally instill in them even by presenting them with the reasons to love the pursuit.
So, when my son surveyed the simple landscape at Breakneck and, without provocation, turned it into a wintertime possibility, it was a moment of pride.
We’ll be making our first turns of the season this Thanksgiving weekend at Killington, and I’m thoroughly thankful that I have the opportunity to share my favorite sport with my three favorite kids (6, 9, and 12). Every year brings new experiences with them on the slopes, and now that we’re graduating from ski school necessities, it’s going to be fascinating to see where their confidence and skills bring them.
Whatever the season may bring, it’s already a pretty satisfactory one based on my son’s eye, giving him visions that can only come from a natural affection for the sport.
World Cup fever
Killington received its positive snow control announcement from FIS last week, officially confirming that this weekend’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup event will take place, as scheduled, on the Superstar race course.
These will be the first races (giant slalom Saturday, slalom Sunday) for Mikaela Shiffrin since the reigning World Cup champion notched another bit of history last weekend. It was in Levi, Finland, where the 24-year-old passed Ingemar Stenmark for most World Cup slalom victories with her 41st. With a win at Killington this weekend, Shiffrin would tie Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll with her 62nd.
Only Moser-Pröll, Marcel Hirscher (67), Lindsey Vonn (82) and Stenmark (86) have more overall victories than Shiffrin.
Check out the entire lineup of events, including performances by Vermont musical acts Grace Potter and Twiddle, here.
December to remember
We’re heading into the first, full month of skiing in New England, and with that comes plenty of ways to experience the holidays on and off the slopes. Here’s a look at some of the dates when you can celebrate and experience the season.
Steals and deals
Each week in this space we’ll bring you some unique deals to keep an eye out for when you’re planning your time in ski country. This week, Riverwalk at Loon Mountain Resort is offering its Black Friday deal. Stay two nights, midweek, and receive 25 percent off. Available for travel from Jan. 1-April 30. Use code “MIDWEEK25” when making reservations. Sale ends Dec. 2. If midweek stays don’t work for your schedule, Riverwalk is also offering a stay two nights, get the third night free special, available for travel through Dec. 22. Use code “3RDFREE” when booking.
NESJ TV is coming back to NESN next month. The first episode airs Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. with a trip around the Boston Ski Show. Episode 2 comes your way Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. Set your DVR.
Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.