Services teach and offer trips to the slopes

A young skier gets some help with his equipment before he hits the slopes.

So you’d love to have your young’uns schussing down the slopes beside you on your next trip to Vail? Or perhaps your kid is smitten with snowboarding and you’re too nervous to try it yourself? What can you do in the Chicago area?

At least three Chicago area companies will do the hard work for you: pick up your kids, take them to a Wisconsin ski spot, give them lessons and a lift ticket, help them manage their equipment, get fed and make new friends. At the end of a long day, the schools return them to you, happy, tired and more proficient skiers or snowboarders.

Winters in Chicago can last forever, so it’s great for kids to find an active way to appreciate the cold weather, says Mary Pappas, who’s been running Blizzard Ski and Snowboard School since 1958. Not only are skiing and snowboarding great exercise, but they also teach responsibility: Children must learn how to care for poles, boots, mittens, hats and every other piece of snow paraphernalia. Blizzard provides plenty of adults to help, usually 10 to 12 supervisors for the 75-100 children taking lessons every weekend.

Last year, Brad Cole of Chicago, was skiing at Wilmott and was pleased to find the school still giving lessons. He “grew up in Blizzard,”learning to ski there 35 years ago. He immediately signed up daughter Rachel, 8. “Rachel has met at least 20 girls near her age from all over the area, and the chemistry between the kids really encourages them to learn.”

Now, he joins his daughter occasionally as a supervisor for the trips.

Membership in Blizzard is $95 for each season, which can last between 10 and 13 weeks, depending on weather conditions. The fee covers instruction, monthly newsletters, patches and prizes for the competitions. Significant discounts for additional family members can help get your whole brood safely downhill. In addition to the membership fee, each trip has transportation costs of about $50 per child to cover the bus and lift ticket.

Reservations must be made Wednesday before each trip; guests can come along if space is available. The school also sponsors special weekend trips to more distant Midwestern locales and a week-long trip in early spring to Colorado, Utah or other points west.

Blizzard, (708) 848-3831, has bus pick-up locations in Chicago, Glenview, River Forest, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Lake Zurich.

Trolls Ski Club, (630) 323-4320,, operates out of King-Keyser Sporting Goods, Hinsdale, and picks up at Hinsdale Central High School. Membership is $180, with a $30 per trip fee.

Snowflake (847) 831-4300, ext. 436, sponsored by Williams Ski and Patio, Highland Park, picks up along the North Shore. Membership is $60, with a $50-$55 per trip charge.

— Elise Wachspress

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