How to Raise an Olympic Skier

Cathy Arnst

I'm just back from a family ski vacation at Copper Mountain in Colorado, which was fabulous. This is the third year on skis for my 7 year old daughter, and she really loves it, much to my relief. A few years ago I read an article that said one of the best things you can do for your child health-wise is get them involved in a physical activity they can continue to do as an adult. Team sports are great for lots of things, but it is unlikely they will be playing soccer or basketball regularly as an adult. So think swimming, tennis, running, and of course skiing (I suppose you could add the luge or skeleton to that list, but it's hard for me to believe those will lead to long term health). While we were at Copper we were watching the Olympics every night, which sent visions of my daughter competing in Vancouver dancing in my head (I know, I'm nuts, but one can dream, can't one?) If you want to get your little one on the slopes, here are some tips.

First, pick a good ski school. The first one I tried, at a mountain that will remain nameless, was overcrowded, had a lot of uncaring instructors, and wasn't particularly interested in getting my daughter, a potential future customer, interested in the sport. After some research and asking around, I choose Copper both for the high reputation of its ski school and it's proximity to the Denver airport, both important when traveling with a young child. ran an article two years ago about teaching your toddler to ski, and the New York Times had a story on ski schools in December. Also check out's top ten ski schools.

Once you've signed your child up, buy a helmet. I can hear the rebuttal now--"I never wore a helmet and I'm fine"--The Journal of the American Medical Association just ran a study proving that helmets prevent head and neck injuries. Of course, you may have to explain to your child why you don't wear a helmet (I can't offer any advice there, my excuses were too lame). Or you could just accept the inevitable and buy one for yourself as well.

An ongoing thread in my blog entires has been healthy eating, and I tried to stick to the plan on vacation as well, which I have to admit wasn't easy. We rented a condo, and ate all our breakfasts and dinners in, so I had some control. Trying to keep the menus simple, tasty and healthy was a challenge, but there is a lot of good prepared food out there that can help. And for quick and easy, there is Rachel Ray of the Food Network, my daughter's new favorite TV star. (The Food Network's web site also has a good article on picky eaters, if you're interested). Jesse and I recently made Rachel's Sheperd's Pie, which Jesse gobbled down even though it contains lots of veggies. It really does take just 30 minutes, and she loved mashing the potatoes. I used low fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skipped the parsley--kids never seem to like parsley. Try it, at home or near the slopes.

30 Minute Shepherd's Pie Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
User Rating:

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground lamb
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
1/2 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Episode#: TM1C19
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