Holiday weekends aren’t our favorite times to go skiing, but sometimes that’s just the way it works out – like last weekend. We’ve developed our own strategies for dealing with the crowds and still managing to have a good time.

The first rule is to avoid the ski rental shop at the slopes by renting skis (for our girls – Bob and I have our own) at an off-property shop the night before. The second rule is to get out early (by 8:30 am) and quit early (usually by lunch). The third rule is to avoid the beginner slopes at all costs and stick to the expert trails, where you can expect a lower (but not non-existent) percentage of people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Novice skiers tend to hurtle past you, cut you off, and then execute a faceplant right in your path. Most novices will throw themselves to the ground to avoid actually colliding with you – but beware: teenage girls will not. To a teenage girl skier, you look softer than the ground – and besides, there’s always the chance that you’ll be sturdy enough to catch her and hold her up.

Snowboarders present their own challenges. They tend to line up, three or four abreast, and sit on their behinds at the top of a steep hill – blocking the path for everyone else – while they discuss whether or not to attempt it. Then, when they inevitably decide to go for it, they spend a great deal of time lying flat on the ground, right below the crest of the hill and just out of sight (until it’s too late).

At least snowboarders don’t have poles. A lot of numbskulls like to use their poles as an extension of their arms, to point – “Let’s go that way!” – and to wave – “Yoo hoo! We’re over here!” This becomes a problem in crowded lift lines. Not only have I had to duck a wildly gesticulating pole, I’ve also seen a kid get clobbered by one – resulting in a bloody nose.

Our rule of thumb for knowing when to quit the slopes and head to the hot tub on a crowded weekend is: TWO near misses with somebody else’s ski pole, or ONE instance of Gina being run down by a teenage girl, or AFTER Gabbey skis over a jump and lands on a snowboarder.