Après-ski is just as important as when we were (cough) younger.
Picture this: it’s been an awesome day on the slopes. Even magical perhaps as we carved out a few runs on our own in fresh powder while our kids were in lessons in the morning. And then we spent the afternoon watching the kids’ new found skills and confidence in action.
We take our last chair up to the top and start the long last run of the day. My desire to make this last run great comes from the realization the ski week has coming to an end and we try to figure out which should be our last one of the holiday. One last run after days of skiing. It’s got to be epic.
Turns out, the combination of tired legs and heaps of still relatively untouched snow can make that last run feel very long. Or as I prefer to recall it, I got to savour it. Much like the last bite of some great dessert, except with burning legs.
Even so, before the skis are even off my feet, I’m already trying to figure out when we can escape again to spend a few days swooshing down the hill as a family. In my mind, it’s really graceful, in reality, it’s probably not.
When I was seven, my family made the two-day drive from Vancouver to Sun Valley, Idaho. I remember four things from that trip – sitting on hay bales having a hamburger at lunch one day in the sun, having a ski race with real poles in the middle of ski school, after days of lessons, the feeling of getting to go on some of the big runs with my dad and brother, and my first après-ski experience.
I was sitting with my mom one afternoon at the bottom of the hill waiting for the rest of the family to come down off the hills. There may have been a fireplace and I can’t remember what she had or even if there was food, but I clearly remember trying a can of Tab and thinking that it was a really big deal while we sat and talked about our days.
Since then, every ski day has ended with some kind of après-ski. For some, the term après-ski conjures up images of loud music, beer and 20-somethings crowded around a table with a big roaring fire in the background. For a friend of mine, it always includes spiked hot chocolate and nachos.
For me, it starts with that blissful moment my ski boot are first loosened. Gloves and jackets come off. Helmets are replaced by toques. We sit and recount adventures, bumps and jumps and decide what was the best run of the day. When we were in Revelstoke, everyday, our après-ski had a slightly different flavour.
Day 1 – the kids were so excited about the end of their first official day skiing and had high hopes of racing out the Turtle Creek tube park. We went up to our suite at the Sutton Place Hotel to change boots and mittens and watched our exhausted kids melt into the sofa and snuggle up with blankets. I ran down to La Baguette to grab a round of hot chocolate and a couple of brownies (one of the ski instructors had raved about them). It was very low key. The kids barely made it to diner time and we eventually dragged them over to the Rockford Grill at the base of the gondola for a bite before bedtime.
Day 2 – we popped into La Baguette for gelato for our après-ski. With dozens of flavours, it was hard to choose just one. We sat and enjoyed in the café before grabbing our skis on the way back to the hotel.
Day 3 – we opted for something a little more traditional and drove the 3 minutes into the town of Revelstoke to go to the Village Idiot. Although removed from the ski hill, this little place reminds me of something located at the base of the hill in every 80’s ski movie. Sports memorabilia lines the walls, furniture is made from old skis and the beers and nachos come oversized. We realized in this moment, our kids had never actually eaten nachos cooked in the oven dripping with cheese and salsa.
Regardless of where we spent our après-ski or what we drank, it gave us an opportunity to turn some of the memories of our day into those epic stories that get retold once we got home to friends and family. It gave us a chance to loosen our ski boots, rest our tired legs and regain some strength for whatever evening adventure lay ahead.
And yes, while our evening ski trip escapades have also morphed into something a little more family friendly like the pool, the tube park and movies in our hotel room, this holiday will remain epic in my mind.
So as the snow continues to fall around BC and Alberta, head out and enjoy some of the fresh stuff, but don’t forget to include après-ski in the whole ski experience. It might just be the best part.
About Lisa: Lisa’s a Calgary newbie. She spends her days working as a marketer and her free time taking her kids on adventures. She’s a mom of two, wannabe cork dork, baker extraordinaire, occasional runner and always has a supply of bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Follow her adventures @Lisa_Corcoran