Play together, stay together – The Real Value of Family Shred Days

By Feet Banks

As a child, once you’ve seen a snowmaking machine you never forget it. That stream of crystalized mist blasting into the crisp air, backlit by the sun. To an 8-year-old it seems like magic.

And the best part, to any kid, is that seeing a snowmaker means you’re on the ski hill, sliding down a mountain with the people who love you most. And studies are continuing to show, the family that slides together, thrives together.

“I’ve loved passing my stoke for skiing on to my kids,” says 3-time World Freeskiing Champion Hugo Harrison, adding that his sons, aged 5 and 7, lead the way now and are far more skilled than he was at that age. “I am discovering new terrain I wouldn’t think to ski and having fun on the ski hill. I’m just thankful they like it as much as I do.”

Freestyle Olympian Ryan Johnson agrees. “Some of my best early memories are going on ski trips with my brother—hot tubbing in Fernie, skiing Big Sky when it was -32, and the best was our first trip to Whistler. It snowed a meter and half in 3 days then the sun came out and Peak Chair opened. I remember my dad saying the powder was bottomless, it was definitely chest deep on me.”

These days, Johnson and his wife ensure their daughters have a chance to carry on the family tradition. “We love watching our daughters pick up a love for the sport, balance, strength, and life skills like how to deal with bad weather or how to overcome fears. They are gaining an appreciation of nature and the outdoors and the priceless family bonding and communication that happens. The mountain is our chapel.”

There aren’t a lot of activities both kids and adults can enjoy together. And time spent on a ski hill builds trust, respect, a desire to explore, and a sense of self. Skiing and snowboarding are uniquely special because they are individualist sports (there’s only one person strapped into that board-you!) but they’re best enjoyed in a group.

So here’s to those early morning wake-ups and long drives to the hill, to the backpack lunches and the shared nachos at Après. And to that day like I had a few years ago in Whistler: skiing at Christmas with my parents and my son—three generations, five people (all in helmets) with over a century of combined hill shredding experience. We cruised, plowed, pow-ed and popped off side hits I remember hitting in my own youth. It was the first time my parents, who used to sacrifice so much to ensure we’d get ski days each winter, got ski with their grandson. And I was in the middle, soaking in the magic feelings of legacy, connectivity and pride that I’d never felt before or since. Thank you skiing.

Remember friends, this holiday season it’s not what’s under the tree that’s important, but rather the people around it (unless there is new shred gear under there, that’s pretty good too).

Happy Holidays. Go get some snow!

This post is also available in: French