Breckenridge fifth-grader skis at 20 Colorado resorts with free pass
At the start of the ski season, 10-year-old Parke Chapin sat down with a calendar and scheduled when he would ski where.
The Breckenridge resident and fifth-grader at Upper Blue Elementary was determined to visit all 20 ski areas offered through the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th Grade Passport Program.
Some ski resort employees were dismissive of Parke’s goal, but his dad, 43-year-old Erik Chapin, encouraged him and helped him check them off.
CSCUSA designed the program as an affordable way for Colorado families to explore that encourages kids to ski, said Jennifer Rudolph, communications director for the trade group. Its members include almost every Colorado ski area not owned by Vail Resorts.
“We haven’t heard of too many people going to every single resort in one season,” she said, though the organization does learn about kids and families setting that goal and sometimes coming close to achieving it.
The father and son duo recalled happy memories experiencing new resorts and discovering restaurants and hotels as the resort-community residents became tourists in other parts of the state popular with vacationers.
But Parke’s journey to ski them all wasn’t without bumps in the road.
At Eldora, he and his dad realized they forgot the keys to their rooftop carrier that held their ski equipment.
“It was probably the most unlucky day we’ve had,” said Parke, who skied with Team Breck in second through fourth grade.
Fortunately Eldora employees outfitted the pair with rental equipment.
Later, below-average snowfall and warm temperatures combined to cause some ski areas to close early for the season. Parke had to shuffle around some ski areas on his calendar in order to fit them all in before they shut down.
“It was close,” Erik said, of the weekend he and Parke fit in Winter Park, Granby Ranch and Powderhorn.
He calculated the endeavor cost the family roughly $1,700 in lift tickets and lodging because they took advantage of a work medallion provided by The Summit Foundation as well as two-for-one lift tickets and other deals available to family members through the CSCUSA fifth-grade program.
“It was a good experience for both of us,” Erik said. “We got a lot more than lift tickets out of it. We got a whole lot of fun.”
Parke said one of his favorite parts was a roadtrip the family made with mother, Jeri, and younger brother, Dayton, to the southern Colorado ski areas during the Summit County school break in late February.
The family drove 900 miles in five days and skied at Crested Butte, Telluride, Purgatory, Wolf Creek and Monarch at a time when some of those resorts reported several feet of fresh powder.
In years of doing ski trips with friends and family, Erik said, “that trip was one of the best.”
He was glad Parke’s goal forced the young student to organize trips, he said, and pushed himself to carve out time and commit.
When Parke returned from Powderhorn, the last ski area he skied March 21, he was welcomed home by cheers and a face full of Silly String sprayed by Dayton and a neighbor friend.
Dayton, a third-grader, now wants to ski all 20 resorts when he’s old enough for the pass in two years.
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