It's Never Too Early to Learn to Ski
December 8, 2010
If you live in an area of the country where it snows, chances are you spend your winters finding ways to be outside even in the cold, while still enjoying yourself. If you live in a region that offers downhill skiing, then learning to ski is a wonderful gift you can give yourself and your children.
Skiing is not just a sport; it's a culture. Sure it involves physical exercise and fresh air, but skiing is also synonymous with a warm roaring fire, roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, and a whole lot of après-ski fun. The rustic lodge, the rosy cheeks, the good night's sleep following a long day on the slopes is something no person -- adult or child -- should miss out on.
Teaching a child to ski is a joint venture. If you are a skier yourself, chances are your earliest memories of skiing involve both your parents and an instructor. But some initial tips to consider are:
- It's never too early to start. Putting a child on skis the year of his third or fourth birthday is ideal. As long as he can walk up and down stairs with one foot in front of the other (instead of joining feet on each step), he is agile enough to ski. But remember, it's never too late either.
- Outfit your child properly. Take him to a ski store and invest in warm clothing including undergarments and socks. A cold child is an unhappy child so consider this when purchasing clothing. Buy decent quality skis and boots as well. You can always pass them down or sell them when they're too small next season.
- Practice with the new gear at home. Getting your child comfortable in these strange new contraptions is half the battle. Put on the boots and skis in the house a few times before heading out to the mountain. Even take them outside on a snowy day just to give them an idea of what it feels like.
- Skiing is like eating. When teaching a child to ski, show them the proper way to position themselves. For example, the snow plow position looks like a slice of pizza. Parallel skiing looks like french fries. Explain it in a way they can understand.
- Become one with the bunny hill. Do not take little kids on a chairlift, even if you intend to have them stand on your skis to get down the hill. This is very intimidating for a beginner. Stay on the baby hill -- it's intended for learning.
- Find a ski hill with a "magic carpet." Like a moving sidewalk, this is a fun and simple way to get kids up the bunny hill.
- Play games on the hill with or without skis. Follow the leader, singing songs, it only adds to the fun.
- Put the child in a ski class. Most mountains offer ski schools with fine instructors. This is an ideal way for kids to learn -- no hovering parents, no pressure to perform.
- Keep it fun! Like anything, if the activity itself is not enjoyable, no one benefits. If your child is done after 20 minutes, consider it a success and treat him to a hot chocolate in the warm lodge. If they don't want to ski at all, allow them to enjoy the environment. Next year they'll be a whole year older and you can start again then.