Tag Archives: kids skiing

Kids Skiing Powder

We’ve been skiing with our kids for quite  a while now, and they can ski almost everything we can. We started them young, getting them to the mountain when they were 4 years old, and now they are great little skiers.

The hard work of teaching them to ski has been evident this year, because their skill levels have shot up. This was made crystal clear when we took the kids powder skiing.

Our local mountain got a fresh dump of 10 inches of light powder. It was hovering around 17 degrees keeping the conditions perfect. It was snowing at least an inch an hour the entire time, adding to the perfection.

We skied hard, not having to worry about lift lines because everyone was waiting out the storm (silly fair weather skiers).

You’ve heard the quote, “there are no friends on powder days”? If you can’t keep up you can’t ski with us…we aren’t waiting. I’m not saying I’d ditch my kids…but I didn’t have to, they were right there with us.

We skied the trees, the bowls, everything and we never had to wait for them. Sure the powder was light and perfect, but even then, skiing powder can be tough for kids. They’re used to groomers, but not our little powder skiers, they ripped it up.

All the hard work of the previous years was paying off. They weren’t only keeping up, they were begging for more; wanting to hit the trees and find all the fresh lines. One of my boys was even launching off some pretty serious jumps. We couldn’t stop laughing all day long.

I don’t have any tips for teaching kids to ski powder other than just doing it. There aren’t any magic techniques, there’s just practice.

The only thing we were careful of, was making sure one of us was always behind them, especially when we were skiing the trees. In deep snow, it can be dangerous if a kid falls. It’s damned difficult to get yourself up, and sometimes they need an adults help.

It’s important to keep sight of the kids and make sure you designate a meeting spot after the tree section. My biggest fear is losing them in a tree well. I’ve been trapped in one before and it can be a nightmare trying to extract yourself without some outside help.

We didn’t have any incidents though, and the powder day with the kids was more magical than any other powder day I’ve ever had.

Here’s a YouTube video of my wife tearing it up on that magical day

Powder skiing on Mt Ashland

 

When should Kids get Ski Poles?

 

kids on chair lift
on the lift with ski poles secure

Our kids started skiing when they were 4 and 5 years old. Now they are 9 and 10 and can ski anywhere on the mountain.

When people see how well our kids ski they start asking questions and one of the most common is, “when should we give our kids ski poles?” Ski poles are an important piece of ski equipment, but not something they should start out with.

 

The simple answer is, give them poles when they’re ready for ski poles. It sounds flippant but what I mean is give them ski poles when they master these skiing moves:

1. They can stop and turn when they want. This sounds obvious but until they master these basic moves they don’t need to be thinking about ski poles.

2. They’re tall enough to have poles that fit. Kids’ ski poles can be cut down to    whatever size is needed but if you’ve got a real shrimp, the poles won’t do much good anyway.

3. They’re responsible enough to take care of them. I don’t mean taking care of them in the sense of keeping a pet safe, I mean able to take care of them while they’re in the ski line and on the lift.

They need to know not to swing them around using them as a sword or a bludgeon on other skiers. They also need to be able to get the straps off they’re wrists before getting on the ski lift. This takes practice but be sure they understand how it’s done before getting on the lift.

4. Give them ski poles when they ask for them. If they’ve met all the above points wait for them to ask for ski poles.

It’s pretty obvious how useful they are in ski lines. The kids see how easy skiers move in line when they use their poles to push them along. They notice how difficult it is for them to move, having to rely on their parents to pull them along.

Pretty soon they’ll get sick of not being able to move well, and they’ll ask for the poles.

Skiing with Poles

Once they have poles and they understand how the straps work, you’ll have to teach them what the heck they’re for. Skiing with poles goes beyond the basics of teaching skiing. Don’t get too involved with this step. Tell them to use them to help them turn. Have them try to plant the pole whenever they turn.

Most kids won’t do this initially. they’ll turn the same way they always have, not using their poles at all. That’s okay, don’t push them too hard or they’ll want to go back to no poles.

Eventually they’ll see other skiers using their poles to help them turn and they’ll figure it out on their own.

Once kids get used to having ski poles they’ll never want to go back.

 

 

Kid’s Ski Gear Programs: The most Bang for your Buck

Heart and Cross Ski's
Creative Commons License photo credit: CraigMoulding

Our local ski shop, Rogue Ski shop, has a great way of getting families into skiing painlessly, both financially and effortlessly.

I’m not sure if this system is a common occurrence in other parts of the country, but if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere where there’s a similar program, it’s definitely worth doing.

Here’s how it works. Basically, it’s a ski exchange. When kids reach an age, or more exactly a height and weight, they are eligible to join the Rogue ski shop junior ski exchange.

It’s simple to get started and doesn’t cost much when you look at everything you get. For around 300 bucks per kid you get three years of ski gear. I’ll walk you through it.

When my oldest was 8 we enrolled him in the ski exchange program. He had been skiing since he was 4 so he was a decent skier, a perfect candidate for the exchange. The ski technicians measured and weighed him then found ski gear( boots, skis and ski poles) that fit him perfectly.

That first year he was given a pair of used skis and bindings that had been turned in by a young skier the previous year. Since there weren’t any good ski boot matches, he was given a brand new pair of boots. This gear isn’t chincy or cheap either, good stuff like Rosignol and Volkl.

Once he was outfitted the ski techs adjusted the ski bindings to the boots and adjusted the settings that were appropriate to his height, weight and ablility, they even tuned the skis. All I had to do was show up and take the gear home.

It was ours to use for the rest of the season. If anything went wrong with the gear (it never did) we were assured that it would be replaced or repaired at no charge.

The next year we got a call from the shop in early November asking us to bring in the gear to be evaluated and exchanged out for more appropriate lengths and sizes.

Since my son had grown so much over the year, we exchanged our gear and got a second set of  boots, skis and poles. Even though the gear had been used, it had only been used a couple of times, it was still in pristine shape.

The following year, same thing, only this was the final year of the three-year program. This third set of gear was a little different.

This gear we’d get to keep. We wouldn’t turn it back into the exchange program. this year all the gear is brand new. It’s all top of the line, name brand ski gear.

The techs made sure to get us dialed with gear that we’d hopefully get more than one season out of. For instance, they put my son into a more aggressive ski, knowing that as he gets better he’ll want the more aggressive style. they also tried to size the skis and boots big to give us some growing room.

My oldest is done with the program now. For that 3oo dollars, I got 3 different sets of ski gear, the third set we keep. If I had to buy new skis, boots and poles every year, it would have cost a lot more.

It was also a relief to rely on the experts to outfit my son with the perfect gear, set to the perfect settings. There was no guess-work and no fuss.

My youngest son is in the ski exchange now and  were just as pleased with the results.

Teaching Kids to Ski: 7 Tips

Teaching kids to ski can seem like an impossible task. There’s so much to think about, gear, transportation to and from the mountain, not to mention actually showing them how to ski without killing themselves or you.

My kids are 8 and 10 and have been skiing since they were 4 and 6. They’re pretty darned good skiers now. They still have lots to learn but we feel we’ve done a good job teaching them the basics. They can ski most of the mountain and we don’t have to wait or worry about them.

We were successful because we followed these simple tips:

1. Keep it fun. We never made skiing a chore. We made it fun first and foremost. This meant we didn’t rush to get onto the slopes. All the kids really want to do when they get into a snow zone is play in the snow. We’d let them run around and play for about an hour before we went skiing. Letting them play helps in a lot of ways; it gets their yah-yahs out, and gives the whole day a feeling of fun.

2. Teaching Skiing. The fun continues on the ski slopes. When we first started out we’d take off our skis, and cart them up and down the bunny hill. One of us would be up and one down. The up person would release the mini-skier and they’d ski into the arms of the down person.

Whenever they’d fall we never made a big deal about it. We never coddled them, asking if they were okay…instead we’d laugh and describe how cool the crash looked.

Of course this was when they were little. If they’re a little bigger taking them up the bunny hill chair lift shouldn’t be too hard. Just be sure they know how to move around with their skis on and know what it feels like to slide before getting on the chair.

3. Teach by Example. Whenever possible show the kids what you want them to do. Show them how to stop, show them how to turn, exaggerate things so they can see what you mean. For example, really bend your knees and show them the different pressures you’re putting on your legs that allow you to turn.

Don’t try to explain everything, there’s no need for them to understand the physics involved, just demonstrate and let them figure it out.

4. Keep it Short. The ski teaching sessions shouldn’t be long. When kids are just starting out, don’t go beyond 30 minutes. Take lots of breaks. This is a great time to romp in the snow or head into the lodge and introduce them to the wonders of hot chocolate.

Even the act of taking off and putting on their own skis is a learning process; the more they do it the better they get. Think of these breaks as learning experiences.

Of course the older the kids your teaching to ski, the less breaks they’ll need. Keep your eyes open though, if they look like they’re getting frustrated or bored do something else.

5. Show them you’re Mortal. Once you graduate to the bigger slopes and you’re actually skiing on more than just the bunny hill, show them that it’s okay to fall. Ski in front of them and “accidentally” crash. It does wonders for a kid to see that even their parents who’ve been skiing for years still crash. It makes them feel good about their own crashes and usually gets them to crack up laughing.

6. Don’t constantly Instruct. Even if you see your kid making obvious mistakes, don’t be too quick to correct them. Just ignore it and remember to hit on it some other time, like maybe when you’re riding the lift.

7. Teach without Teaching. Say you notice your kids’ arms are getting behind them and they’re leaning back, play a game with them that makes them reach forward. I’m constantly pretending I’m flying a world war I fighter and I’m holding onto the front machine gun.

I’ll be behind them and “shoot” at them, then pass and allow them to get on my “tail”. They love this game and immediately extend their arms forward and start skiing better. 

This is also a great way to get them to try to follow your turns. It’s amazing watching them suddenly turning like pros trying to stay in my path. When they stop trying to turn they can do it without thinking. With this exercise, I’ve gotten their arms forward gotten them turning and never once “instructed.”

Another great lesson is to have them try to spray you with snow with a quick stop. Do it to them first then tell them to get you back. Ski below them, stop and have them come at you and try to spray. Be careful, they may misjudge and actually careen into you…be ready to move.

Stay Positive and be Patient

The first year or two can be frustrating, but stick with it because the payoff is huge. There’s no doubt that struggling with the kids is hard to do especially when the skiing is really good. Stick with it though; it’s only temporary.

All the struggles were worth it; now we rip around the mountain as a family. Watching them ski and have fun is an awesome experience.