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Tips for Teaching Young Kids to Ski

Tips for Teaching Young Kids to Ski
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There are certain childhood memories that stand out. One for me was counting my turns as I skied down a trail with my father. I loved this game. He would ski behind me as I would yell out the numbers as I made pretty turns down the mountain.

When I started teaching skiing, I realized this was a game masked as a learning tool. A couple weeks ago, I tried this with my five-year-old nephew, who loves to ski but has not yet become all too fond of turning. Based on some unscientific research, I think most kids love to ski but aren’t really that thrilled about turning.

So, we skied down the mountain. My nephew was counting the whole way down, shouting out his updates. Somehow he managed to make 20 more turns than I had made. The next run, the same thing happened. Well, I knew how he made 20 more turns. He used a looser definition of the term “turn.”

Over hot chocolate, we discussed the turn situation. Of course, I was trying to be the diplomatic aunt, albeit, a little conniving with my attempt to get him to make more turns. I explained I was fine with only making 80 turns even though he made 109 because my turns were really curvy and helped me control my speed. He was neither impressed with my turns, nor convinced that I was “okay” with being the loser in the game. His response: “You are not okay with the fact that you only made 80 turns and I made 109.” I responded that every fiber of my being was okay with the fact that I made 80 turns to his 109. My nephew’s response as he sipped his hot chocolate and shook his head, “Every fiber of your being is not okay with the fact that I made 109 and you only made 80.” Thank goodness he doesn’t say things like, “Loser,” because in his estimation, that is what I was.

The thing is, I know this kid is going to kick my butt skiing in about thirteen years—or at least I am hoping he will. By then, perhaps the fact that my turns were prettier than his when he was five will have more of an impact on him. (I know—whatever, Aunt Heather.)

Tips to Teach Kids to Ski or Ride

If you are teaching your favorite little ones to ski or ride, here are some excellent tips, courtesy of a few select ski professionals in New England.

Burton’s Riglet Board and Riglet Reel—Best for Small Tots

I started teaching my daughter Ryder how to snowboard last year when she was 2 and a half. I used the Burton Riglet board and Riglet reel to tow her around the base area before riding the magic carpet and introducing downhill sliding. The Riglet reel (a retractable cord attached to the nose of the board) is the best aid in getting your 3+ year old started on the board.

Jeff Wise, Stowe Mountain Resort, Director of Communications and former Snowboard School Director

Living Room Skiing and Riding, Toys on the Mountain, and Marshmallows—Best for Small Tots

To get three-year-old Bridget comfortable moving around with ski boots and skis, we had her practice at home wearing her ski boots, scooting around on the carpet in her skis, then out in the snow-covered driveway. At the ski area, she would forget all about the potentially awkward feeling of moving around in skis if we threw rubber duckies in the snow for her to retrieve. And stashing a treat like mini-marshmallows in your pocket can prove to be just the reward a little skier needs for successfully making a turn and getting down the slope.

Martha Wilson, Outdoor Mom Blogger for Bretton Woods

Your Kid Needs to Stand Up on His/Her Own Two Feet—Little Tots

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

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