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  1. #1
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    Kid skiing? OT for bikes but not Norcal...

    I have a 3.5yo who is juuuuust old enough to try skiing for the first time. Or snowboarding, but probably skiing, right?

    Any advice? Should I have him try skates first? What resort has the best daycare, er, lessons?

  2. #2
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    We pull our 1 year old around on a blank skateboard deck (no trucks/wheels), with felt lining the bottom so it slides better.

    Only advice I've read is focus more on balance stuff.

    Wife wants her on the slopes this year, but her helmet doesn't fit yet.

  3. #3
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    Get him out and see how it goes, each kid is different. If the kid hasn't seen snow before, have him play in the snow to get used to it. Make it fun. Make sure he's warm out there. Skiing seems to be easier for most kids to get into, it takes a while for their calf muscles to develop. Squawpine passes are free until they turn five (I think), other resorts probably similar. You can have him ride the magic carpet with a harness at first to get used to it. Harness is key, as they get better you can only use it when they are in over their heads of sketched out, and the handle helps for getting them on lifts and picking them up when they hit the deck. And once he's over it, hot chocolate time, don't push him to do it if he's not feeling it.

  4. #4
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    Make it fun. Make sure he's warm out there. And once he's over it, hot chocolate time, don't push him to do it if he's not feeling it.[/QUOTE]

    This is the most important advice. We had my 6 year old on skis when he was 1, right when he could walk. Things were great until last winter I took him out on a day when it was hammering rain and snow. He hasn't ridden a chair since.

    He still enjoys x c skiing which is a good way to get them into skiing if you already do that...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Svahn View Post

    He still enjoys x c skiing which is a good way to get them into skiing if you already do that...
    +1 on the XC skiing. I have three boys and I started them all on XC skis first.
    We would go out onto the meadow near our cabin and ski around and made it fun. As soon as it wasn't fun anymore, off came the skis and on to other activities. This gives them a sense of skis on their feet. As a sub 5yo I don't think their legs are quite strong enough for alpine skiing, (although many are skiing at that age, this was just my MO). When the boys were about 5-6 yo is when i took them up to the mountain to go skiing. To this day they are all skiing and enjoy it.
    Anybody can ski the groomed

  6. #6
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    I had both my kids in ski/snowboard school at four years old. My son snowboards and my younger daughter started skiing last year. A few things I have practiced/learned:

    1. Always make it fun. Getting to the mountains should be the happy place.
    2. Get them in lessons. I now ride with my son but was sure to get them into lessons so an experienced teacher can show them the ropes and I would not get frustrated with them or ruin their desire to continue in the sport.
    3. Lots of snacks. We always stop in Strawberry on the way home from Sierra for some hot cocoa. They talk about that almost as much as getting on the hill.
    4. Ski/snowboard videos at home. Just like us they get the stoke on by watching some people send it.
    5. Avoid weekends if you can. When the mountain is less crowded the little ones don't feel as intimidated.
    6. When out with them on the mountain stay behind them to protect from the out of control nut jobs that don't have the skill for the speed they are going at.
    7. Layers
    8. Ask them at the end of the day if they want to come back. I know my kids so I knew what the answer would be but it gives them a sense that they have a say in it and allows them to express their enthusiasm.
    9. Helmets
    10. Stickers, kids love stickers on helmets or whatever you can get them on.

    When it comes to skiing or snowboarding to start once again gauge your kids to see what they are capable of and what they will enjoy most. With my son it wasn't a question he wanted to do what Daddy does and still when offered the chance to ski he says he wants to ride instead. My daughter is a different child and I knew that skiing would work better for her. She would have had one day on a snowboard and never would want to come back. With skiing she was able to get on her feet easier and it left her wanting more.

    I appreciate that you are excited about getting the little on one the hill, so many dads I know that ride/ski talk about wanting to do it then three seasons pass by or they took the kid to the hill once, had a bad experience then gave up on trying to get them into the sport.

    Many mountains have lesson packs that work real well. We hit up Sierra and their full day lesson packs with a Star Wars themed approach worked well.

  7. #7
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    I've been working on my guy since he was 1.5y. He's 4 in Mar. He skis, I definitely think its more natural to learn skiing than snowboarding at a young age. And, I want him to be able to keep up with me. You know, hot laps. No buckles. Off the lift and straightline it to the pow. And you know, traverse. To pow. That kind of stuff. But . . . I digress.

    Anyways, Here's the process I used. This may go quicker at 3y than at 1.5y
    1) Get them comfortable in the boots. Put them on in the house, take them off, put them on, see how he feels
    2) Get him comfortable in the skis. Put him in the skis inside on carpet, take them off, etc. M&M's for bribery.
    3) Get him comfortable walking on snow in the skis, on flat. M&Ms for bribery.
    4) Get him a kids harness with a handle in the back so you can pick him up. Get a tip-strap that ties the tips of the skis together.
    5) With you on your skis, go to a gentle slope and skate up (holding him by the handle or carrying him). Then, ski down holding him between your legs
    6) Repeat 5, on your local magic carpet lift
    7) When he's comfortable with that, he's ready to start standing on this own. The first thing you want to do is the reverse hold:

    - You face backwards down the hill
    - Place him facing you, with his skis straddling one of your skis
    - Place his tip-strap up against your binding
    - You are going to snowplow backwards, holding his hands. He can't ski past you, because his tip-strap is stopped on your binding. This allows him to get the feel of standing up on his own.


    8) When he's ready, move on to gentle slopes with harness. Try to get him skiing down on his own, you are holding him back by the reigns from his ski harness
    9) Finally, find a REALLY gentle slope, which runs out to flat or runs out slightly uphill, and allow him to ski competely on his own, without you holding him.

    Repeat 8/9 until he's qualifying for Jr. Nationals, then sit back and wait for the Olympic Gold and endorsement deals!

  8. #8
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    The most important thing: make it fun, for both of you. They will be encouraged later in life to get outside if they have fond memories. A kid is not really strong enough to ski well until they are about 10 years old. The key is to keep them interested until then.

  9. #9
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    Both my kids started skiing at age 4 at Mammoth. My son switched to snowboarding at age 6 and my daughter switched at age 10. I have a friend who started his daughter at pretty much 2.5 on a snowboard and she's 14 now....ranked #1 in the USA and #2 in the world for the Half Pipe and ranked in the top 10 in Slopestyle.

    We always went to Mammoth because 20 years ago, it was $100 a day for all day lessons, rentals and lunch. Most of the instructors were from Australia and were great with the kids. I don't know if there's any "best" area as most kids programs are similar and unless things have changed, the kids instructors CHOOSE to work with kids so they are good at what they do. I will say that if you go consistently, I'd try to pick one resort as the kids will adapt better and the instructors come back year after year. I miss those days.
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  10. #10
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    We started our kids on the plastic skis at 2(ish) just walking up and down the driveway for fun.

    At 3, we had them out at Alpine on the Subway chair with mom & dad. It's not perfect (the start's a little steep for teeny tiny ones) but it's the right length run and there's a snack bar at the bottom with mac & cheese (and beer). We had them on real (2-buckle) boots, bindings set to 0.75 DIN, and short skis. We had to use racer chasers in the beginning (back saving, but not great for building good technique. GUMMY BEARS, GUMMY BEARS, GUMMY BEARS. But not big blue gummy sharks, as those made my kids puke green stuff.

    At 4 we had them in the Squaw Shooting Stars program (way better than Squaw Kids but only really makes sense if you can go >75% of the program days, given the cost). They had the kids linking (snowplow) turns in half an hour. Can't speak highly enough of this program. It's amazing. The coaches are fantabulous. The program leads are excellent. They ride two kids per coach, and don't go on chairlifts until the kids are ready for the responsibility (and still have an instructor arm to hold them on).

    Our kids graduate to "Mighty Mites" this winter, assuming I am okay with them riding the chairlift with random strangers. I'm not sure about that, but my kids grew a ton in the last year, so maybe it's not quite as scary (for me) now.

    Word of advice: don't cheap out on ski clothes. A cold, wet kid is a miserable kid. Ill-fitting and ill-performing boots suck the life out. Get real, thin, ski socks. And a helmet, which they will use CONSTANTLY.

  11. #11
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    Thank you everyone whoís responded so far.

  12. #12
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    Great thread. I'm going to be introducing my 6 and 9 y.o. daughters to skiing this year. We have a long weekend planned at Sierra (plus I finally bought a pass). Lessons have gotten $$$, but I figure one day of them will probably be well worth it. The "keeping it fun" part would be the biggest struggle for me as I get frustrated with them and I think an instructor will do a better job. I grew up skiing and remember some of the biggest problems were being properly dressed and boots that felt like your feet were being crushed so I know those are huge to making the experience enjoyable.

  13. #13
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    We put our son in the Sierra-at-Tahoe program when he was three. Expensive, but the do a really good job of making sure the kids learns AND have fun. Three days of that and he was ready for us.

    Got a racer-chaser (think steerable leash for kids). He really didnít need it since he always maintained good speed control, but if you have one of those mini-bombers they are helpful to control speed and steering.

    Find a good run. Detachable high speed lifts are much easier to get on and off.
    Go early so that there are fewer people. Crowds make learning difficult and dangerous. Too many obstacles and too many fast skiers in marginal control.
    Take breaks.

    Consider doing something that will make it more fun for you. Itís easier to be on skis than a snowboard when helping out young ones. If youíre already a skier, try telemark. You can still ski, but will find some challenge in the bunny runs. Thatís how I got hooked on tele.

    Finally, as suggested before. Good cloths. TWO pair of gloves (at least), they will get them wet. Helmet is mandatory. Donít forget sunscreen if sunny. Put the bar down when youíre on the lift. Have fun.

  14. #14
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    I just got a downvote for starting this thread. Haters gonna, I guess :-D

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    I just got a downvote for starting this thread. Haters gonna, I guess :-D
    Up vote from me. Let's see if I get a down vote for giving you an up vote!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    I just got a downvote for starting this thread. Haters gonna, I guess :-D
    From who?

  17. #17
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    I started my son at 4 years old, this will be his third year skiing. We go to Diamond Peak over in Incline since they offer free passes to kids 6 and under. They also have a great kids ski program (not free)

    I think it helps the kids and adults both when the kids get into one of those types of programs. Some lessons, play in the snow, inside play and snacks, a ski with the parent later in the day. Keeps the kids into going to the hill rather than a whole day hitting the slopes.
    And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver. A. Senna

  18. #18
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    "You have given out too much Reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later."

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWhiz View Post
    I started my son at 4 years old, this will be his third year skiing. We go to Diamond Peak over in Incline since they offer free passes to kids 6 and under. They also have a great kids ski program (not free)

    I think it helps the kids and adults both when the kids get into one of those types of programs. Some lessons, play in the snow, inside play and snacks, a ski with the parent later in the day. Keeps the kids into going to the hill rather than a whole day hitting the slopes.
    I agree about the programs. At a young age they are good on the slopes for about an hour at a time. The ski programs give them other play time with other kids, so they have a break from the slopes.


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  20. #20
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    Some things that worked well with our kid. Most won't apply at this stage, but might be useful later. We started when our boy was 2.5. He's now almost 7.5:

    1. Lessons. Because he 'knows everything' and got upset whenever we tried to give him any instruction (... sigh, but see #3). Also because he learned by watching the other kids in the class (again, see #3). We put him in group lessons for the first 2 years. Then a few private lessons at key moments in the 3rd year (such as skiing the blues for the first time, or learning to use poles).

    2. We used to hold our boy between our legs going down the bunny slopes. Both on skis, making slow turns via snow-plowing. Whenever he started to get too far off-course, we would lift him and set him right. Sugar bowl sets up hoops on White Pine and he had great fun going through them as we whooped and hollered together.

    3. The most valuable lesson we learned from one of his ski instructors (Leon at Bear Valley- highly recommended): Kids mostly learn by watching. Therefore, it's best to have them follow you instead of the other way around. (But see #4.) This, of course, only applies when they are actually capable of making it down the slope by themselves (Pizza, or otherwise). A corollary is to keep verbal instructions to a minimum, especially if your kid is like my boy (see #1).

    4. It sucks to have to hike back up the slope to help your kid get back onto their skis after a fall. It's also hard to get feedback on how they are doing if you are in front. So it's best if you double up with your spouse or another person: One to lead (usually my wife, since she is by far the better skier) and the other in back to observe and help with crash recovery. Helps if the one in back has a go-pro to record the action for later review.

    5. Once they can handle some greens, start hitting some of the easy features on the sides of the piste. Little bumps and what-not. Makes it interesting and teaches valuable technique at the same time. Start skiing though the trees on the flatter runs, e.g., Harriot's Hollow off Christmas Tree in Sugar Bowl, for the same reason.

    6. Kids don't have the strength or stamina to last the full day. So, stop often and regularly to let your kid rest, even if they claim they are 'never tired!'. Give them snacks and water. Don't depend on them telling you when they are tired, hungry, or thirsty. By the time they admit it, it's way too late. To make the rest stops more interesting, stop in the middle of a run to let them work on a snow man on the side. They love messing around in the snow. (So, yes, like someone above suggested, bring a second pair of gloves at a minimum!) They will get a kick seeing their creation on subsequent runs.

  21. #21
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    Any tips for a dad who is a mediocre skier? I grew up in Florida, never skied until I was 22, and haven't skied for the last 7 years. My wife is a little more experienced, but even more out of practice

    We are putting the 6yo girl and 4yo boy into ski classes day 1, and hopefully I will get my limited mojo back. ON day 2, I want to take the kids out, but I'm not sure how capable I will be ...

    they are both very active and brave. the 4yo boy is going to bomb down the hills, for better or worse.

  22. #22
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    Take this opportunity to refine your own skills. I've been skiing for 9 straight seasons now and I thought I was a decent skier until I started skiing behind my wife and boy. She really stressed the basics such as skiing in control and perfecting the snow plow. I always thought snow plowing was for beginners but she showed us how important it is in dicey conditions. We exclusively snow plowed until my boy started to learn how to ski parallel (>1yr). But we went through the trees, down blacks and did the moguls by plowing so it wasn't nearly as boring as it sounds.

    Another thing I did was to follow my kid with his instructor from a distance (so as not to be a distraction). Then I would repeat the same type of lessons with him after class was over. That's how I learned how to get a bit of air on the bumps and how I started skiing through the trees.

    As for bombing the hills, I would stress proper technique and control. It will be much more difficult to teach technique once they get the taste for speed and it's difficult to break bad habits once they're set.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshmj View Post
    Any tips for a dad who is a mediocre skier? I grew up in Florida, never skied until I was 22, and haven't skied for the last 7 years. My wife is a little more experienced, but even more out of practice

    We are putting the 6yo girl and 4yo boy into ski classes day 1, and hopefully I will get my limited mojo back. ON day 2, I want to take the kids out, but I'm not sure how capable I will be ...

    they are both very active and brave. the 4yo boy is going to bomb down the hills, for better or worse.
    Get some ski classes yourself !!!!! Or in a few days you won't be able to follow them. Let the teachers train your kids, and then ski together and have fun !

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