The Blizzard day is a fun-filled safe day of education, free skiing to practice what you learned in lessons, and social interaction with other Blizzard members.
Blizzard maintains an area and a desk which has an adult supervisor present at all times during the ski day. Members are instructed to leave their more valuable possessions at home, but they can bring a bag into the Mountain House and stow it near the Blizzard Desk for use during the day (this may change with the new restrictions from Vail Corp.) While we are not responsible for lost or stolen articles, over the years, bags left within the Blizzard “area” have been safe from others. Similarly there is a Corral for stowing Skis and Boards during the day while the member is inside the Mountain House. We highly recommend the use of the Corral ($1 per day) to prevent unnecessary angst over missing equipment. There are also lockers which can be rented for greater security of smaller items.
The day starts at the mountain at 9:15AM when we arrive. If your name has been called on the bus and you need to be classified or tested in your level, you will show up at the base of the Exhibition run “chair 3″ by the big pine tree for a quick lesson assignment. After you have been classified, you are free to ski/board until your lesson time: 10AM or 11AM or 11:30AM.
Skier Level A, B, and C lessons are at 10AM
SnowBoard A and A+ lessons are at 10AM
SnowBoard B, C, D, E, F, and G lessons are at 11AM
Skiers D, E, F, and G lessons are at 11:30AM
Lessons range in length from 1 hour 15 minutes to 3 hours depending on the level. On occasion, lessons are also available for a longer session at the beginners’ level of A.
All lessons are taught by a certified PSIA/AASI instructor. Higher level classes are only taught by those certified to teach at that level. Blizzard has 3 certified instructors on staff and they use the Wilmot Ski School staff for most of the classes. Class size is typically a maximum of 8 students. We are very careful to ensure that students stay in level-appropriate classes and do not move up a level before they are ready. This may mean that a student can stay at a level for a significant amount of time before being advanced. My daughter stayed at the same level for three years in Blizzard.
The entire point of Blizzard is education. We at least require that a student is classified at the beginning of the season so that we know their relative skill level. Any student below a level “C” will be strongly encouraged to attend lessons as those students are not capable of handling all the terrain at Wilmot Mountain and we cannot monitor each individual from choosing their slope – even injudiciously. We advise all students at the level of “C” and below to avoid the runs called Exhibition and Superior by the quad chair.
The levels used by Blizzard roughly correspond to those used by PSIA/AASI. There are 7 Blizzard levels and 9 PSIA/AASI levels. Due to the lack of extremely difficult slopes at Wilmot we have only one level that equates to the most difficult (single Black Diamond) skiing and one less intermediate (Blue) level.
At the end of the lesson, the instructor is required to tell the student what they should practice and what are the steps to get to the next level. If anyone has been moved to the next level, the instructor reports that information back to the Blizzard Desk. The Blizzard tag will be “punched” for the appropriate level. Initially cards may not reflect the appropriate level from the previous year. This is to ensure members start each year at the appropriate skill level. Tracking lesson participation is easy – just by looking at the card and seeing if the week numbers are punched. No punch in a week, means no lesson was attended.
Since the lesson times vary, so does lunch. Wilmot has a variety of lunch stations. Breakfast foods are also available. Lunch costs about $15.00 and sometimes far less.
Other places to spend time and money at Wilmot include the video arcade and the Ski Shop. On cold days we often recommend that skiers and boarders pick up hand-warmers available at the Blizzard Desk (while supplies last) or at the shop for $3 per pack. We never recommend the arcade and often pull kids out who seem to find the indoors more inviting than the outside.
The afternoon is spent free-skiing or boarding. Supervisors are on the slopes generally monitoring what is happening, but they don’t know all the members, so we rely on the Wilmot Ski Patrol and others to monitor for inappropriate behavior and horseplay. We also monitor for students skiing or boarding on terrain that is too difficult for their level. We have a full view of the most difficult Wilmot slope from our desk. The Exhibition run, which is the only true Black Diamond run at Wilmot, is not a run for our A, B, or C level members. While I am not as worried about the ability of our members, I am worried about the other people who choose to take this run in kamikaze fashion and bowl down others on the slope. It also tends to have more moguls as the season progresses. There is a Terrain Park at Wilmot and both skiers and boarders are invited to participate (skiers above level “C.”). We hold Terrain Park classes for skiers as they are most likely to be unfamiliar with skiing techniques in the Park. The classes are available for those in level “D” and higher. Over the past few years we have seen an increase in injuries (few of them are serious) and they are almost all related to the Terrain Park. A word of caution is always advised.
We have Zero Tolerance for disrespectful or inappropriate behavior on a bus or at the Mountain towards fellow members, supervisors or others. Our goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment in which everyone can build a lifetime love of snowsports!