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Teaching Little Kids to Ski

Abominable

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Hello everyone and happy start to the 19/20 ski season.

Question for those who've been there - what's the best way to teach your little ones to ski? The junior yeti is 2 1/2 and getting his first real skis. He's already done a couple trips between the legs on plastic skis - he's familiar with the scene and excited!

Obviously this year is more about just getting a handful of days at the mountain, hopefully sunny ones, and maybe a couple runs here and there. Not gonna push it of course. BUT, what's the best method? Leash and those ski tip holder-togethers?

I'm sure there's a thread on this but my searching yields nothing, so feel free to point me to it.

In other news, I will also be on skis for the first time since 1989 (outside of XC). I've been shredding the gnar from the Caucuses to the Cascades for the past 30 years, but exclusively on snowboards. Got myself a seasonal rental of short skis.... we'll see how that goes! (Kinda terrifying, actually.)

Here's to a white Christmas!
 

Smellytele

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Set expectations low on a daily basis. Be flexible and don’t push him into doing too much. Go with the flow.

We used the edgie wedgie thing a few times. Just did the carpet the first few times. Actually if you are close to a local hill, at 2 1/2 you can carry him up the carpet area. No need for a pass for you.

Friends help out as well. His I am talking about. Make it fun and he’ll catch the fever.


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Greg

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Yes! Reasonable expectations are key. I started my kids around 3-4. At that age it's more about the ski area vibe, hot chocolate, etc. As far as actual skiing, I found good success with a ski tip lock (edgie wedgie). I would ski backwards in front of them and loop a ski pole underneath to control their speed. Probably not the approved method, but worked for me. Be prepared to pay your dues and put your time in and you will be rewarded. I'm going to Mount Snow tomorrow with my 13 year old daughter and we plan to bee line to the north face and rip it all day. She loves bumps and trees now and can hold her own. My 16 year old has plans to night ski with her friends this weekend and she's the best in the group. It takes a lot of effort and patience, but it's worth it! Enjoy! They grow quickly!
 

jaytrem

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Make it fun and he’ll catch the fever.

That's the key I think. My 8 year old twins are hooked for sure. They started putting in full days right when they turned 4. Their choice, not mine. We would just go out for hours on end with 1 on a homemade leash and one between my legs. I wasn't much concerned about teaching them anything, just made sure it was fun. If he's into it, when he's a bit older, don't be afraid to take him on week long trips. Out first non-Mount Snow "road trip" was when they were 5 and it went great. Did a few others since then and a plane trip to Tahoe last year. But yes, FUN FUN FUN is the key. ENJOY, it's gonna be a blast!!!!!
 

Smellytele

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My youngest son was skiing bumps and trees by 6. Would cry when the trees weren’t in play. At squaw when he just turned 6 the 2 days before he went down the Siberia bowl because he was angry when we wanted to take a picture.
I now see him at 16 yo for about 3 turns every run


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DoublePlanker

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All 3 of my kids started when they were 1. Actually, 21 months. Pats Peak is the best. Free magic carpets. My youngest is 2.5. Using straps on the magic carpet run. She can now ski without the straps but can't stop or turn yet. But that is what we will work on this season. My 4 yo can ride the chairlifts and ski intermediate runs at Pats. I have an older kid too.

I found that I would hold them until they were strong enough to use the straps. That's 2.5 years. 1 kid I used a wedgie edgie. But 1 kid I didn't. At 3.5, I take them on the chairlift and they ski the novice runs by themselves.

I find Pats Peak is the only place with free magic carpets. Even for parents.

I finally got my first season pass ever for this season.
 

ss20

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Not a parent, but a ski instructor of 5+ years.


Keep it fun. Kids have unlimited imagination; use it to your advantage (what do they watch on TV, their favorite superhero, etc?) find a way to relate it to skiing. Do not be the parent that just "drill sargents" their kid trying to make them a pro skier.

Quit while you're ahead. If they're having a meltdown on the ski slope already it's too late, because they're only going to get more unhappy undressing, walking to the car, etc.

If I was a parent of a 3-5 year-old I'd give almost no verbal feedback to my child. Change the terrain or do something different to get them to do what you want. Stance too far back? Give them a pole or something to hold onto in front of them. Get them to pretend they're flying like a superhero in a somewhat crouch position (weight forward, of course). Once they're off the carpet the terrain really become the teacher- have them do "dips" on the sides of trails, duck under tree branches, go into chopped powder if you can find it. They'll learn more that way than any of your words; kids learn by doing at this age, some watching, and very little listening. To put it this way, a 4yo can't dress themselves, can't (or barely can) use the bathroom independently, and has a vocabulary of roughly 1,500 words...so even simple phrases in the highly stimulating, new skiing environment aren't going to "compute" in their brain.

Get them in the habit of turning. Turning, turning, turning. Teach them turning is how we control our speed (not a wedge). If they get comfortable with the wedge to come to a stop, and repeat that habit on tougher terrain, they'll get stuck in a "power wedge" - skis far apart, legs locked, and "turns" are simply slight changes in direction still pointed down the falline. That's REALLY hard to break once the habit is developed. At a young age, it's much easier to get them to turn rather than wedge (the muscle groups aren't developed yet), so use that fact to your advantage.

I'm personally against leashes, but I've found mixed support for them in the instructing community. I use edgie-wedgies. They do build the skill of wedging. But if I had all the time in the world with my own kid I probably wouldn't use it...what's the rush?...they'll build the muscle and get it eventually.


I got wayyyyy too into this post. I spent roughly 30 minutes so that'll be $60, plus tip :lol:
 

flakeydog

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Go for it! Both of mine had diaper changes integrated into their first ski days. Just remember, starting them that early was really more for me than for them. If you start a kid at 2 vs 4 or, the end result will be the same, just a lot mere work for you. It was just such a thrill for me to be out there with them at such a young age that i would rather spend the time with them. At that point I had skied so many days and places that the rest of the mountain could wait, plus I had the rest of my life to ski.

The big thing in starting them at such a tender age is really exposure. You are not teaching the fundamentals of skiing to a 2 year old, you are getting them used to the routine of leaving the house, putting on the boots, hanging out in the lodge, etc. You can teach a kid to ski at almost any age, you cannot teach teach them to love it- that comes with the routine and regularity of going, often.

Also, like has been mentioned before, some days will be short. Some days may be very short but that is just how it is. Don't push it and enjoy the days that last longer. Make it fun for them. If it is not fun for you at this point, put them in ski school. They will not have fun if you are frustrated, impatient or wishing you were somewhere else on the mountain. It is a lot of work but this was an investment that has paid itself back 1000x over.

Oh yeah, you will learn to ski backwards. And I used a tip connector (edgy-wedgie?) and sometimes a harness but each kid was different in the extent they used them.

Good luck!
 

bdfreetuna

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My kid just turned two. I think she'll get some ski gear for her 4th b-day. Her cousin is 3 and she ain't ready yet.
 

BenedictGomez

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Not a parent, but a ski instructor of 5+ years.

Curious if you teach a kid who....lets say is 2 in January, will they remember what they learned when they turn 3 the following January? What I'm wondering is if there's a point to starting kids on skis at 2 instead of say, 4, etc...
 

Boxtop Willie

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Father of 3 skiers. (and an instructor for more years than I care to admit). All started at 2 1/2. It was all about fun...and hot chocolate. Some days it was 2 hours of sliding around on snow, other days 10 minutes.
Family rule was once you could walk up and down a flight of stairs without holding on the the railing, you were ready to ski. They all liked the challenge.
Seems to have worked. All three are dedicated skiers now as young adults, all three raced (one in college), all three are instructors, all three made fantastic friends through skiing.
Not sure where the OP lives but many of the smaller feeder hills have great ski school programs for little kids (Nashoba, Bradford)
 

tnt1234

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I don't really have any tips for teaching, just mentioning that most states have program for 4 and 5 grade level kids to get discount or free tickets. We used the PA program.

Also, seasonal rental shops often offer coupon books that contain youth coupons to help offset the price of the rentals.
 

Greg

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Father of 3 skiers. (and an instructor for more years than I care to admit). All started at 2 1/2. It was all about fun...and hot chocolate. Some days it was 2 hours of sliding around on snow, other days 10 minutes.
Family rule was once you could walk up and down a flight of stairs without holding on the the railing, you were ready to ski. They all liked the challenge.
Seems to have worked. All three are dedicated skiers now as young adults, all three raced (one in college), all three are instructors, all three made fantastic friends through skiing.
Not sure where the OP lives but many of the smaller feeder hills have great ski school programs for little kids (Nashoba, Bradford)

That's a fantastic story. You must be proud!
 

DoublePlanker

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Curious if you teach a kid who....lets say is 2 in January, will they remember what they learned when they turn 3 the following January? What I'm wondering is if there's a point to starting kids on skis at 2 instead of say, 4, etc...

My kids did remember that they loved skiing and wanted to do it. They picked up where they left off.
I don't think it matters at all for the kid when you start. It is way more work for the parents when they are that little. But I found they did really enjoy it. And are motivated to do it again.

My 4 year old started this season with a season pass, riding the chairlift to the summit, and skiing intermediate trails. For me personally I now get to ski chairlift runs instead of magic carpets. So I actually get to ski which is great for me. He wants to go skiing all the time. So my wife is allowing him to do that. Which allows me to go skiing! So HELL YES, there is a point. Otherwise I would just be starting on magic carpets now. And not riding any chairlifts.
 

SkiMom80

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My kids have been on skis since they could walk. You've gotten some GREAT advice; be flexible and keep it fun. My youngest started "really" skiing at 3 1/2 (as in skied blues and some blacks on mountains in NH and ME), but at 2 1/2 was still only up for a few runs on the bunny slope between my legs or on a leash. We'd ski with him for 30-60 minutes first thing in the morning, and then he'd go to mountain care so the rest of us could ski all day.

A really helpful tool is the harness, even if you don't use the leash...it's helpful getting them on/off the lift and for getting them back on their feet when they fall.

Good luck!
 

tumbler

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If you can swing it- put them in ski school. We started ours young at 3-4 and they went all day. Some days were longer than others but it was about having fun and making skiing a regular part of their life. You can go ski all day and do what you want then you can take a run with them and they can show off what they have learned. As they get older they stay in groups for a couple years and make friends that they still have today. They would ski all day Sat and Sun and we would ski with them before or after. Saved a lot of stress and back pain and they are much better skiers than I would have made them.
 
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