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Okemo Mountain is a second home

Kidsday reporter Isabella Niola, right, and her brother

Kidsday reporter Isabella Niola, right, and her brother Gianfranco at Okemo Mountain Resort. Credit: Niola family

Okemo Mountain Resort is located in Ludlow, Vermont. It is approximately a 4 1⁄2 hour drive from central Long Island. There are 121 gnarly trails to explore and 20 lifts to transport you from the base to the top in a flash. In 2014, Okemo made American ski history by introducing the country’s first six-person heated bubble chair, called the Sunburst Six. On cold windy days, this lift offers a quick and comfortable break from nature and its elements. The chair is heated and will warm everyone. It also includes a bubble enclosure that comes down in front of the passengers to block out the wind.

It has been said that the American Indian translation for the word Okemo means “All Come Home,” which is exactly the feeling I get every time my family and I take the trip to our second home. My parents have been longtime Okemo visitors. Naturally, they had me learn how to shred the slopes at a young age of 3, and I have been hooked ever since. Learning to ski at one of the best ski schools in the Northeast has helped me become the strongest skier I can be. Most importantly, my experience in ski school also taught me to respect the mountain and love the unique sport I was introduced to. The Snow Stars program is how I got started. The instructors made every lesson fun and the hot chocolate breaks were heavenly. This year, I was given the opportunity to share my passion and love of skiing with others by becoming an instructor.

Okemo Ski + Ride School has programs for every ability level; for rascals ages 3 through 14. Programs like Snow Stars (where I’ll be instructing), Mountain Explorers, AmplitudePLUS and the Competition and Racing programs are excellent, whether you are a beginner or just ready to get out on the mountain and start shredding slopes. Okemo offers the best ski instruction, kids form special friendships and enjoy their time even when it’s freezing cold, all while learning a sport that they can enjoy their whole life.

Hungry? There are plenty of places to stop at if you need to refuel your body, such as the Sugar House Cafe, The Sitting Bull, Summit Cafe, and the Waffle Cabin. In my book, the Waffle Cabin is a great pit stop to grab a warm, delicious waffle the way you like it.

In a nutshell, Okemo is a great family-friendly ski resort. There are many other fun activities happening every day for all you snow bunnies: a snowtubing park, ice skating, snowshoeing, kids’ snowmobiling tours, The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster (a roller-coaster ride with sled-like cars that you control yourself . . . totally sick!), and swimming at the Spring House pool complex are activities to explore. All these adventures can be fun for everyone — moms and dads too!

Okemo Mountain provides ski and snowboard rentals, and shops are fully stocked with all your outdoor necessities. Most importantly, don’t forget you need your brain bucket! Also, lodging is available in various places on and near the mountain.

Hitting the slopes, tubing, snowmobiling: Even on days that I am not instructing, you will find me on the mountain with my family. This is my 13th year at Okemo, and after spending so much time on this mountain, I can honestly say it is my home away from home. When you visit Okemo, please look for me, Bella, and I’ll be so very happy to share my experience with you.

For more information on planning your visit, go to okemo.com, and tune in to our live cams. Hope to see you soon at Okemo.

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