Winter Wonderland: Marquette Mountain open for the season

It’s official! Winter is here and it’s time to teach the little ones how to ski or snowboard. Marquette Mountain has a new progression-based program to teach children ages 4 to 10 the basics of skiing or snowboarding.

“It used to be called Wendy’s Junior Learn to Ski and Snowboard School,” said facility General Manager Vern Barber. “Now it is called Mountain Masters Junior Learn to Ski and Snowboard School.”

The move to a new program came about as staff noticed that young beginners didn’t have a place to go after Wendy’s program. They were teaching them the basics, but didn’t have a way to help them progress beyond that.

“We feel like to keep them in the sport, it’s critical to not to just teach them how to ski and snowboard,” Barber said. “The next step was to teach them about the disciplines of the sport like racing, free style and back country.”

So, after searching through different programs they found several that tracked students’ skills through set check marks and stages. Thus, Mountain Masters Junior Learn to Ski and Snowboard School was born.

“We hope kids that have been in Wendy’s come back and shoot for the masters program,” Barber said.

The new program starts out just like Wendy’s original program but with new goals and stages for children to meet as they learn to ski for the first time. Every student in the three-week program starts out as a Mountain Rookie, but they can quickly progress to a different block of classes each time they come. The program has four blocks in which students can be categorized: A Mountain Rookie, Mountain Crusier, Mountain Explorer or a Mountain Master.

“If they get through the first lesson or a whole session and pass those progression check marks, they get a patch to go on their helmet, skis or snowboard,” Barber observed. “We want to make it clear that there is potential for a child to come into a three week session as a rookie and possibly make it into explorer.”

While Mountain Rookies take in the basics, Mountain Cruisers learn more advanced skills like how to ride the lift as well as go down the beginner hill Ridge Run. Once through Mountain Cruisers, students become Mountain Explorers and learn how to parallel turn, avoid obstacles through quick stops as well as learn how to ski every run on the mountain.

“In essence, this (Mountain Explorers) would be the ultimate goal for somebody to be just a darn good skier or boarder,” Barber said.

Explorers can go on to Mountain Masters and choose to take a session on racing, freestyle or back country skiing and snowboarding. These classes are a three-week introduction to these disciplines. There are no check marks for these courses because it’s just about learning the basics. Students can also take another session if they wish to learn about more than one discipline, any student that completes Mountain Masters will receive a variety of gifts as a reward.

“The ultimate goal is to get kids to this level (Mountain Masters), but the expectation of our ski school is that they don’t have too,” Barber said. “This program is all voluntary and they can stop whenever they want to.”

It is suggested that children 4 to 5 1/2 learn to ski. Children 6 and older can learn to snowboard or ski. The cost for the 3 week sessions including a 2 hour lift ticket is $48. It is an additional $21 plus tax to rent gear. To find out session times or additional information call 1-800-944-SNOW or 225-1155 or

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