VIDEO: 4-year-old’s 1st day of ski school at Beaver Creek, nearly 30 years after her mom
An old photo in the Vail Daily takes on new meaning
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BEAVER CREEK — In 1991, Amelia Kouznetsov was featured in a photo in the Vail Daily on her first day of Ski School at 4 years old.
“Just don’t cross the tips,” the photo caption reads. “Mandy Brebach, a Beaver Creek ski instructor, gives 4-year-old Amelia Davis some last minute tips Monday before the youngster took her first official plunge down a ski run.”
On Feb. 3 — a Monday nearly 30 years later — Amelia and her husband, Dima Kouznetsov, dropped off their 4-year-old daughter, Vivi, at Beaver Creek Ski School.
“We’re excited that our daughter is getting exposure to skis this early on,” Dima said. “Amelia started early, I started a little bit later in my life. Hopefully, she’ll pick it up and it’s something we can do as a family.”
Learning at the Beav’
Under the guidance of instructor Cindy “CZ” Czurak, Vivi enjoyed her first day of ski school getting familiar with skis, drinking hot chocolate, making snow angels and lapping the magic carpet.
Czurak has been an instructor with Beaver Creek since 1995-96.
“I think it’s the kids,” she said of why she keeps coming back. “I love skiing with kids. I just want to instill a feeling of adventure when you go skiing so they have fun.”
The Kouznetsovs live in Atlanta but frequently visit the mountains of Colorado.
“My family and I have been coming out here for years and years, so it’s really special that I get to bring my daughter, at the same age I was, to have this unique experience here now,” Amelia said. “What I remember the most is all the fun activities we got to do while also learning to ski. And the best part about it was at the end of the day, my parents would get to come and watch us and see how well we were skiing, even on Day 1 — and the chocolate chip cookies at the end of the day.”
Almost 30 years later, Vivi had a very similar experience, and Amelia got a view of ski school through the eyes of a parent.
“Ski School is a very important piece of what makes Beaver Creek so special,” said Greg Willis, senior director of skier services at Beaver Creek. “We have one of the larger schools in the country.”
About 60% of the instructors at Beaver Creek are full-time, dedicated to the craft of teaching skiing and snowboarding. Many instructors have advanced educations, including children’s specialists.
“We have some of the top talent in the country,” Willis said.
The terrain at Beaver Creek is also beginner-friendly, with the resort making it a focus over the past couple of years. The mountain features a progression of parks where skiers and riders can move across the mountain as their skills develop.
Haymeadow Park, located at the base, is the entry-level park. It features man-made snow features, called “smart terrain,” designed to aid in skill development.
“Not only does it create a safe atmosphere for learning, it’s also super fun because there are rollers, banked turns, a mini halfpipe,” Willis said. “It really makes the learning experience something special.”
From Haymeadow Park, skiers and snowboarders graduate to Red Buffalo Park, located atop the mountain. Red Buffalo Park is something that differentiates Beaver Creek from other mountains, taking beginners to the peak instead of operating from the base.
“It’s located at the top of our mountain at about 11,440 feet with incredible views of the Gore Range,” Willis said.
Next season, a new zone will open at Beaver Creek called McCoy Park.
“That will be a beginner to low-intermediate gladed experience that will ski like a bowl,” Willis said. “It will be incredible. It will showcase some views that you’ve never seen before on Beaver Creek Mountain, and it will be a real gamechanger for what Beaver Creek has to offer.”
Beaver Creek seems to be getting ready well in advance for the third generation of Kouznetsovs to come through ski school in another 30 years or so.