Local Colorado ski hills may not be big or fancy, but they're ideal for some families
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
This time of year, people from all over the world flock to Colorado to ski. It's not cheap, and increasingly, the big resorts can feel crowded. But a handful of mountain towns still maintain local ski hills that emphasize family and budget friendliness. Laura Palmisano, with member station KVNF, visited one in Lake City, Colo.
LAURA PALMISANO, BYLINE: At just 14 acres with one ski lift, the town-owned ski hill here isn't trying to compete with famous Colorado resorts like Vail, Aspen or Breckenridge.
HENRY WOODS: Well, our slogan is skiing the way it used to be.
PALMISANO: Henry Woods coaches the local youth ski team. He's volunteered in the position for more than 40 years.
WOODS: Skiing has helped me so much in my life. And when I was a kid, it helped me to have more self-esteem and be active and be in shape. I like the idea of imparting that to other kids.
PALMISANO: Kids like fourth-grader Wyatt Loper.
WYATT LOPER: Yeah, I'm kind of nervous because it's my first time skiing and I don't know what's ahead.
PALMISANO: For a lot of Colorado parents, teaching kids to ski is pretty important.
JEB BRAKO: We're trying our little one out on some skis, trying to get her a little bit better at this.
PALMISANO: Jeb Brako is visiting from metro Denver.
BRAKO: So she's 2 1/2, so I'm trying to get her in some turns and work on everything.
PALMISANO: There are a lot of ski resorts closer to where Brako lives, but...
BRAKO: We're trying to hit all the cheaper ones while she's not very good.
PALMISANO: Lake City is one of six city-run ski hills in Colorado. Daily lift tickets run from $16 to $43. That's compared to around $200 at some of Colorado's most popular resorts, which, again, are way, way bigger.
REBECCA KAMINSKI: We don't have as many runs as they do, but it's got that small-town feel. So it's very convenient to come here and to bring your family here. It's a great place for beginners to learn.
PALMISANO: Rebecca Kaminski has five kids, who are using the oldest operating ski lift in Colorado.
KAMINSKI: Oh, the lift (laughter) the disc lift - well, it's better than a rope tow, so...
PALMISANO: Skiers sit on a disc seat attached to a pole between their legs and are pulled up the hill.
KAMINSKI: It is something that you will not experience probably anywhere else, is getting to go up on a disc lift. It's like riding an antique.
PALMISANO: Lake City's low-price lift tickets don't generate a huge surplus. So no luxury ski lodge here, just a tiny warming hut that could be described as a shed. But nobody comes to Lake City Ski Hill for the amenities. Out on the slopes, coach Henry Woods offers some pointers.
WOODS: Put your skis together in between the turns.
PALMISANO: Woods says his little town ski hill is a treasure, and he hopes it continues to run for generations to come. For NPR News, I'm Laura Palmisano in Lake City, Colo.
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