Offers group and private and group lessons for kids ages 3 to 12. Ski and snowboard lessons are offered to kids at all skill levels. 3 and 4 year olds program is designed to be a ski and snow play program. Must be fully potty trained. Full day program includes lunch. Half day does not. 3 hour junior all stars for advanced skiers and snowboarders available.
A small-fry program is offered as a 2 hour parent and me group ski lesson.
Kirkwood will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the place I first strapped a board to my two feet and hurled myself down a mountain. Yes, indeed I think I tumbled my way through my first day of snowboarding class right here pre-kids. About 10 years later, I returned with our two boys 6 and 8 to put them through ski and snowboarding school hoping that they’d learn to whisk down the mountain as skillfully as their dad.
Ski school at Kirkwood is located at the base of chairs 7 and 9 at a small lodge called Timber Creek. I would recommend driving over because families can park at the top parking lot for free during drop off. If you’re missing something, there is a store at Timber Creek….but it’s not cheap. You can also rent out baskets at the ski school to store extra gloves, goggles, sunscreen or whatever you kids might need.
PRICE IS RIGHT!
The prices for a full day lesson package that includes rentals, lift tickets and lunch is unbeatable at Kirkwood. At just $125, it seems like a steal when the rest of Kirkwood's other big resorts are charging 30-40% more.
CHECKING CAN BE CHAOTIC ON BUSY DAYS
Our 6 year old tends towards being timid about new experiences and anything that seems remotely dangerous. So, I was particularly curious to see how he would respond to being dropped off at ski school and how the instructors would ease our little one into their care.
I have to stay, the check in process at Kirkwood Ski School was probably one of the most confusing I’ve experienced. It was incredibly crowded that first morning, so that was part of the chaos. Both adults and children sign in for ski school in exactly the same location. As a parent, you have to take your child through the entire equipment rental process, and walk them off to the drop off area on the slopes. While the check in opens as early as 9am, ski school drop off only begins at 10:15am. This means that, one parent basically can’t hit the slopes until 10:30am at the very earliest. This is unlike some other ski schools we’ve been to at Heavenly, Northstar, Alpine, and Squaw, which have a special kids ski school check in area. The instructors take care of getting the kids set up with equipment so parents can take off quickly. Even though the drop off experience was pretty stressful on the first super crowded day, our second day, a Monday, was dramatically different. There was hardly anyone checking in when we arrived and the process was so smooth. This time the staff was very helpful and attentive. Surprisingly, when I dropped both boys off at the ski school meeting point on the slopes, neither made a fuss about parting ways. The instructors were upbeat and welcoming.
SKI SCHOOL PROGRAM KEEPS KIDS ADVANCING QUICKLY
What I didn’t like in the check in process was totally made up by the wonderful ski school area on the mountain and great instructors. The instructor to child ratio seemed to be about 1:4. The ski school area has a beginners magic carpet area and two chair lifts, 7 and 9, that service a bunny slope, a number of greens and some easy blue runs. The set up is perfect for moving kids swiftly from one level to the next as they gain confidence and skills.
I really liked how the instructors took about 20 minutes at the start of each day to evaluate the children’s abilities before grouping them accordingly. More than at other resorts, I felt like the program was geared towards getting kids on to the lifts sooner rather than later. It kept my boys energized because they felt like they were making good progress. I was so surprised to return shortly after lunch to find them both happily skiing and snowboarding greens. By the second day, they were both skiing and riding easy blues. I have a sneaky feeling that by the end of the season, they’ll be whizzing right by me. After they were done with ski school, we were able to do a couple of runs together as a family for the first time! It was such a special moment for us as parents.
All in all, the instructors were very patient, skilled, warm and friendly. Even when they wanted to tell me not to stick around right after drop off, they did so in a friendly way. Our kids both had glowing reports of their day at ski and ride school. They loved the games the instructors played with them on the slopes to make help the learn new skills in a fun way. Even our timid 6 year old was glowing with confidence at the end of our two days at Kirkwood Ski School.
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED:
I would love to see a better drop off process for the kids. It’d be great if parents didn’t have to take their kids through the equipment rental process. A stressed out parent trying to figure out their way through rentals just starts off the day in a bad way. My other complaint is that when I asked questions to several different people, they never seemed to know the answer unless it was directly related to their specific job. I got so many different answers to the same questions – something as mundane as: “Can I drop my kids off before 10:15am?” got a myriad of responses. It was a little flustering. I’m excited that with the recently purchase of Kirkwood by Vail Resorts, that some of these improvements aren’t far away.
* Disclosure: I received complimentary lift tickets and lessons from Kirkwood Mountain Resort to complete this review. However, these opinions are entirely my own. I didn’t receive any other compensation.