MONT RIPLEY — It’s been a tradition for more than seven decades and Friday afternoon hundreds hit the slopes to continue the fun. We’re talking about the Christmas Ski that’s held every year on Mont Ripley in Houghton County.
If you fall you just get back up and try again. That was the lesson many children are learning at Mont Ripley Friday afternoon. It’s the site of the 72nd Christmas ski school traditionally held just after Christmas it gives beginners, mostly children, the chance to learn how to ski the slopes.
Nick Sirdenis works at Mont Ripley and says, “Most of them are what we call ‘never- evers’ meaning they’ve never skied before and we’re getting them from zero to hopefully getting them to the top of the hill and coming down tomorrow.”
Christmas Ski School is a two day event for anyone over the age of two. They can use traditional skis or snowboards. Whatever they decide to use the students are split into groups based on age and ability and lessons are customized for their skill level. Many of the instructors started here when they were young so it helps them be patient with the estimated 45 children skiers.
Jennifer Aho is an instructor and says, “Teaching someone that’s older to ski is a little bit more of a challenge because I feel like there’s a lot more fear there but with kids they’re just there to have a good time and they get back up a lot quicker, so, yes.”
The teachers here say it’s a lot like swimming, the younger students start, the easier it becomes. The hardest part seems to be finding balance because the equipment is heavy to them at first.
This same ski learning has been going on a long time. It can be traced back to the 1940’s on these very same Michigan Tech slopes.
The children will have part two of this lesson on Saturday morning, but event organizers are hoping it’s a tradition of fun that continues for decades more.