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'A sight of Lisle like no other'
Four Lakes offers skiing, snowboarding and a unique view of town
By Joan Broz | Daily Herald Columnist

Alex Loisi of Downers Grove catches some air as he hits a jump while skiing at Four Lakes in Lisle. The 110-foot-high ski hill provides dramatic views of the village.

 

Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

Art Catrambone of LaGrange makes his way down the hill on a snowboard.

 

Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

Brad Gerke of Woodridge takes flight at Four Lakes.

 

Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

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Published: 1/12/2009 12:07 AM

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The view from atop the Four Lakes ski hill provides a lofty look at Lisle.

"It is definitely an awesome sight to see all the tops of trees and the whiteness of snow-covered areas," said Kevin Serio, assistant recreation manager. "It is a sight of Lisle like no other."

Although residents may value the unique perspective from 110 feet above their hometown, many others flock to the recreation area because of its winter sports. The hill's 3-foot base of man-made and natural snow draws ski and snowboard enthusiasts from throughout the area.

Lisle hotels market the closest ski hill to Chicago's Loop with their "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" packages. The Lisle/Naperville Hilton, Hyatt Lisle, Hickory Ridge Marriott and Wyndham Lisle-Chicago offer a weekend stay with breakfast and complementary shuttle to the ski hill, according to the Lisle Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Four Lakes Recreation Center promotions include Fabulous Friday discounted slope tickets at $16 instead of the usual $21. And on Friday, Jan. 16, the special rate will buy skiers three additional hours of fun from 4 p.m. to midnight at its Midnight Madness.

"Every year, we'll have about 150 people come for Midnight Madness because it allows skiers on the slopes at a time when it is usually closed," Serio said.

Activities at the hill include competitive games, depending on the weather, and lessons.

The Little Bumper Multiple Ski Program for 4- to 8-year-olds starts Jan. 17, runs for four Saturdays and has openings in its noon and 3 p.m. classes. The session is $170 for students renting equipment or $125 without rental. There is some availability for students 9 and older in most classes in a similar program.

To register, check out skifourlakes.com or call (630) 963-3601 on weekdays before 3 p.m. and (630) 964-2551 after 3 p.m. and all weekend.

Four Lakes has an "anyone can do it" attitude, Serio says, with folks from 4 to 64 taking beginning lessons.

One-time group lessons are at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. on weekends. Students 9 and older are $16 and for 4- to 8-year-olds it's $18 per class.

Popular snowboard lessons are offered as private lessons by appointment or in multiple group programs. Private and semiprivate classes also are available.

The price of a private one-hour session learning to ski or snowboard is $45.

Serio says many Scout troops, park districts and other organizations work with staff to offer outings and lessons to their members.

"In addition to all the groups we work with, we will have an another 600 to 700 students take lessons each year," Serio said. "A parent might schedule a child in a group lesson and then take a private lesson at the same time."

In the first lesson, a person will learn to use equipment, work tow ropes, employ stopping techniques and apply turning routines. Both skiing and snowboarding skills improve with lessons and practice while participants focus on the fun.

Slalom and giant shalom racing are offered on Monday nights with certified USSA race team coaches in a five-week program.

First-timers don't need to own their equipment. Renting ski equipment is $16 and renting snowboarding equipment is $38 along with a security deposit. Helmets rent for $7.

Bret Duesdieker, ski patrol director, says a helmet is always a good thing.

"We have a program in the industry called 'Lids on Kids' and another geared toward snowboarders called 'Smart Styles,'" Duesdieker said. "At Four Lakes, we'll see more snowboard injuries than ski injuries because some kids like to go bigger and higher."

The Four Lakes ski patrol is part of the national ski patrol system in its southern region. There are a little more than 50 volunteers at Four Lakes ranging in age from 16 to 93.

Training for ski patrol requires basic skiing abilities, safety regulations and learning to handle a toboggan designed to help with extrication on snow.

"All of our patrollers are trained in professional rescue and life support CPR and AED," Duesdieker said. "The class starts the end of March and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for 11 weeks. Every patroller is required to do this class and then we refresh their skills every year."

The highly trained volunteers come from all over the area and from all walks of life.

"We have accountants, lawyers, fire personnel and professionals in medical areas to volunteer because they like skiing and helping other people," Duesdieker said. "Each shift will have 8 to 10 people."

Serio says it is "not likely" a person will get hurt on the ski hill, but personnel are well-trained and prepared to handle all situations.

Lisle is unique in having a ski hill within its community, Serio said. In January, the ski season kicks into high gear, giving residents reasons enough to enjoy our four-season climate, especially when it is in your own backyard.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at jgbroz@yahoo.com.