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Sky Tavern and the Junior Ski Program

Updated on January 21, 2015

"The goal is to have no kids sitting all winter with video games when they can be outside, playing, active and learning a sport they can participate in for life!"

A History of Sky Tavern

In 1951 our country started to relax after the War and put on their skis. Hidden deep in the Sierra's, on what is now Mt. Rose Highway, is a small intimate ski resort called Sky Tavern. On any given day, in the winter of course, one could run into Edward Teller, the father of the Hydrogen Bomb, dressed up in his ski outfit ready to hit the slopes. Maybe in the lodge you could find yourself sharing a hot chocolate with Rita Hayworth or Ingrid Bergman or if lucky you could ride up the chair lift with Robert Stack, Gary Cooper, or Joe Dimaggio.

This resort of the wealthy and famous was owned by Keston and Charlie Ramsey and in 1948 Marc Herz approached them with an offer. Marc had just won the combined slalom and downhill Nevada State Ski Championship and had a novel idea for the small resort. He asked if the Ramsey's would be interested in creating a Junior Ski Program for the local children to learn to ski. The Ramsey's agreed and soon what started with six students now has taught thousands.

In 1949 the West Shore of Lake Tahoe saw the opening of Squaw Valley. The South Shore saw Heavenly Valley open in 1955. Just up the road from Sky Tavern Reno Ski Bowl opened in 1953 that would become today's Mt. Rose Ski Area. These large and ambitious ski resorts took most of Sky Taverns clientelle and in 1959 the Ramsey's sold the property.

The City of Reno bought the property in 1968 and determined that the 143-acres of terrain would be used exclusively for teaching school children to ski.

The City of Reno had to relinquish control of Sky Tavern in 1991 and the parents of the children organized and to this day the hill is run by parents and volunteers. One of the nations only purely non-profit volunteer ski training program for children and adults.

From the photo archive.
From the photo archive.
From the photo archive.
From the photo archive.

"Mission Statement:

To plan, train and provide recreational activities for the citizens of the Truckee Meadows with special emphasis on the training of children in the proper methods of snowsports, regardless of physical or financial limitations."

Programs Offered at Sky Tavern

Sky Tavern takes its training very seriously. All Trainers are certified through PSIA/AASI, Professional Ski Instructors of America, and they follow guidelines within these organizations. Each Trainer teaches a volunteer instructor to instruct children in proper ski techniques. Instructors are required to attend four courses throughout the season to keep their training up to date and to move towards the next level of instruction. So both instructor and student are moving towards the end goal of becoming certified Trainers through PSIA.

Here are some of the programs that are offered through Sky Tavern:

Sky Kids - The Sky Kids program is offered to children under the age of seven who are learning to ski for the first time. The sky kids spends most of their time making sure the children are comfortable in their equipment and on the snow. A few basic ski techniques are taught but mostly the program is to build interest in the children. The parents are required to be active participants in the Sky Kids program if their children are attending.

Junior Ski and Snowboard Instructors - (Ages 14-17) If your child starts the program and stays with the instruction throughout all the levels when they reach 14-17 years old they may also become instructors and work towards PSIA certification.

Sky Tavern Race Team - All level 6 skiers or snowboarders are welcome to join the Sky Tavern Race Team. All members of the team must train all day Saturday and Sunday throughout the season. A few members of the Sky Tavern Race Team have gone on to become Olympic Skiers/Snowboarders.

Adaptive Ski Program - Sky Tavern offers individualized instruction to children with disabilities. This program has brought many children who may have to be home bound often into the mountains and onto the slopes.

From the photo archive.
From the photo archive.

My Own Testimonial

I learned to ski at a small resort on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe named Homewood. My parents had me in instruction when I was three and I have skied my whole life. Two things my parents insisted on were that I learn to ski and learn to play piano. I have appreciated both of these things my whole life.

My son Sam started in Sky Kids three years ago and now is a level 3 skier. I instruct for the program and I am trained to instruct level 3 skiers.

Sam and I pack up our gear and hit the mountain every time the snow falls. There really is no greater feeling than the mountain air on your face as you speed down the hill and realize that your son is right at your side.

Thank you Sky Tavern for all that you have given me and the children of the Washoe Valley.

Mt. Rose home to Sky Tavern.
Mt. Rose home to Sky Tavern.


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    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      3 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you AlishaV, if you have children you should look into the program for them it is awesome. Jamie

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 

      3 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      That's so neat! I've never heard of it!

    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      3 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you Bill for stopping by. Jamie

      Thank you CyclingFitness. Jamie

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      3 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Nice insight into what looks to be a very positive program. I wish there was something like this where i grew up but we're not renowned for out skiing here in england

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a cool program. Thanks for highlighting this. Very cool!


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