Ski Sundown instructors Olivia Jalbert and Sarah Howard took a young skier up the Exhibition triple chairlift for a New Year's Eve morning session on Tom's Treat.
Jalbert, of North Granby, and Howard, of Avon, were with my 8-year-old daughter, Grace, for a preview to Sundown's Girls Rock the Park event. It was Grace's first formal session in a terrain park and they were happy to show off their teaching skills.
Girls Rock the Park is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 11, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Ski Sundown’s terrain park on Tom's Treat. The premise is, "Why should boys have all the fun?"
The program is designed for any girl who has felt a little shy or is wishing she knew how to approach a terrain park feature. Ski Sundown snow sports instructors and terrain park attendants will be on hand to offer tips and POM POM snowboarders Jess Trimble, of Trumbull, and Jennifer Gonyea, of Springfield, MA, will also be participating in the event.
They are scheduled to do some demonstrations, provide pointers on how to approach different terrain park features and show off their bag of tricks.
“We piloted the event last season and were really encouraged by the turnout and how much fun all the girls and women had," Ski Sundown Marketing Director Lori Shield said.
Shield said the 40 participants last season ranged from girls as young as 8 to women in their 50s.
"We’re excited to have Sun & Ski as well as POM POM and their snowboarders involved with the event. The terrain parks provide another way to have fun skiing and snowboarding, and we’d love to see more girls in the parks. Girls Rock the Park is a great way to learn the basics of the park in a fun, supportive, no-pressure environment,” Shield said.
The event will include music, giveaways, and an event t-shirt for the first 30 participants to register. A signed waiver, a $5 registration fee and a helmet are required. Registration will take place in the lodge starting at 11 a.m.
Ski Sundown has also launched an Intro to the Terrain Park program this season for advanced intermediate skiers and snowboarders ages 8 and older. Guided by certified freestyle instructors, the five-week lesson program is designed to teach park safety, park etiquette, and ATML techniques — approach, take-off, maneuver, landing.
Students begin their journey in the new Little Joe terrain park in the Sunnyside Learning Area, are introduced to "Smart Style" safety procedures specific to terrain park activities, and to basic skills on beginner features.
Jalbert and Howard began their session on Tuesday with the rules — posted clearly on a sign atop Tom's Treat. Park etiquette is a huge part of them, they said. Communication is paramount, they said, from eye contact and hand signals to calling a drop before hitting an element.
The poles stay in the rack at the bottom of the hill in order to teach a balanced, athletic stance.
After she was comfortable with a few runs, Grace moved to a mid-sized jump in the center of Tom's Treat.
With Howard and Jalbert, she scouted the landing and went back up. Grace pushed off, checked her speed and hit the jump.
She was thrilled. A couple of young new-schoolers even stopped to watch.
The instruction was fun, conversational and opened up a whole new world for Grace.
Ski Sundown is located at 126 Ratlum Road, off Routes 44 and 219, in New Hartford. For lift ticket and rental rates, lesson and event information, visit skisundown.com and connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ski.sundown or contact the Welcome Center at 860-379-7669 x 211.
Chris Dehnel is a local editor for Patch covering Vernon and Tolland. His Snow Business column runs weekly during the season. He has been writing about snow sports for about a dozen years and is a past president of the Eastern Ski Writers Association.