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How can I progress my kid's recreational skiing?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'd like some input on a good next step to progress my child in his skiing.  He is 9 years old, started skiing last season.  We went out a total of 3 days last season, have skied 5 so far this season and heading out for another day this weekend. 

 

My son is a very safe and reserved kid, and my approach with him thus far has been to get him to build his confidence up.  To this end, he never learned to ski the snow plow.  Instead, I started him with turns:  turn, turn, turn to control his speed when he needs to.  I think that this has been effective, to a point.  He has developed a lot more confidence in knowing that he can get down the tough spots by zigging and zagging, but he has also developed the ability to ski with speed and control down the less steep portions of the runs.  It has been great to see him build the confidence to be able to select an intermediate run (yes, it's our small local hill, but still...) and enjoy it. 

 

I have been watching video of him, and thinking that it's time to progress him a bit more in technique.  His turns are predominantly what I would describe as "shoulder-led smears."  He tends to turn his entire body together and smear the back end of his skis through the turn.  I'm thinking that a next step would be to get him working on tipping his skis on edge and keeping his upper body stable:  hands forward, facing forward. 

 

Any thoughts or recommendations on this?  Good ways to get him working on this?  Or am I off the mark and should I go another way?  He is game for trying to improve his abilities, and we're ready to spend a good chunk of time cruising the green lines working on some of these things.  I'd really appreciate any help or recommendations that the epic community has for us.  I fully expect some comments on getting him formal lessons:  I'm planning for that to start us out next season, but probably not until then.

 

Cheers!

post #2 of 15

why the hesitation to get a lesson?  If you book a private, you can often ask the pro to just tag along for a bit and get some ideas on what he's working on,  I've had parents do this and I never have an issue with it unless the kid get distracted by the parents.  Some ski schools might have a product that is a parent and child skiing together with a pro. 

 

Hard to suggest what to work on without seeing video. Maybe take him into gentle fun widely spaced trees? 

post #3 of 15
You've already taught your son the wrong way to turn and now you want to improve upon it?

Do you have video of your own skiing? If he's learned by following you around, maybe he skis the way you do?

The good thing about learning with a wedge (your snowplow) is you can develop the understanding that the FEET manipulate the skis, not the torso.

Start by standing with parallel skis across the fall line. Roll the uphill ski onto its uphill (little toe) edge. Feel the outside of the foot pressing against the corner of the boot where the last meets the sole. Then
go ski straight down some really flat terrain, where speed develops slowly. Stand on both feet equally. Gradually roll one foot toward its little toe edge. Avoid any upper body involvement, any "trying" to turn. Repeat repeatedly. Same move with the other foot. Be aware of downhill traffic coming from above you. Start linking by stopping rolling and flattening both feet.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

jthski, thanks for the reply.  I'm not against lessons for him, indeed I plan to get them for him at the beginning of next season.  The reason for the wait is that, to my thinking, I'd rather he start off the season with learning new techniques and practicing throughout the season than ending the season and leaving those new skills/ideas sit for 6 months.  I hope to be doing a fair amount of spring skiing with him, so I was hoping to get pointers or fun drills on ways to get him tipping skis on edge and keeping a controlled upper body while we ski out this season.  

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernFlicker View Post
 

I hope to be doing a fair amount of spring skiing with him

 

Right there is the reason to get him a lesson.  If you were going to just ski one more day and then hang up the skis for a year, a may agree with you, but if he's going to ski a few more times, a lesson is the way to go.  

post #6 of 15

Yeah, he needs lessons. Not a lesson, lessons plural. From what I'm gathering, you're already leading him down a bad path, one that will lead to plateauing skills and frustration pretty quickly. It appears that you have taught him to use turns as a defensive maneuver, a skidding, braking maneuver to dump speed and lose energy. A good turn is an offensive maneuver, it isn't done to lose energy, but to harness energy. A good turn gives energy back to the hill to let you slow down, then you take that energy back when you speed up.

 

It sounds like you want your son to really enjoy skiing, and make it a lifelong activity. If that is what you want, you're doing him a disservice by teaching him yourself. The longer he uses poor technique, the harder it will be to fix later on. And the fixes need to be done by a professional. Giving you drills or tips to pass on to your son would be the equivalent of me telling you that your car's transmission needed to be replaced, and handing you an instruction manual to do it yourself. You might manage it, but chances are it'll be a mess, and the professional mechanic is going to have to spend more time and more of your money to fix it. Go with a pro, sooner the better.

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for taking time to read and reply.  I hear loud and clear that you would all recommend lessons (plural).  I will take your advice.  I understand that I am not a professional skier or trained coach, but I am interested in advancing my understanding of skiing technique and even my ability to work on specific areas with my kid. 

 

For what it's worth, I have tried to provide a couple of videos of his skiing for context here.  He's the one in the multicolor jacket and green helmet. 

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernFlicker View Post
 

Thank you all for taking time to read and reply.  I hear loud and clear that you would all recommend lessons (plural).  I will take your advice.  I understand that I am not a professional skier or trained coach, but I am interested in advancing my understanding of skiing technique and even my ability to work on specific areas with my kid. 

 

For what it's worth, I have tried to provide a couple of videos of his skiing for context here.  He's the one in the multicolor jacket and green helmet. 

 

 

 

 

 videos are showing up as private.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Sorry about that.  Think I fixed the video links.  Thanks!

post #10 of 15

 He is turning using his upper body exclusively to initiate turns, which is opposite of what it should be.  He has NO IDEA what to do with his legs and no idea of turn shape. He will get in trouble on steeper terrain. These are very bad habits that he is driving into muscle memory.  The more they are muscle memory, the harder they will be to unlearn. 

 

Start him with a private lesson the very next time you ski with him.  Most privates are 1 to 2 hours depending on your hill.  Then ski with him afterwards and let him show you what he learned with the instructor.  That will help reinforce what he has learned that day.  I think you will be surprised at his improvement. 

 

If this is your local hill where you will be spending a lot of time this year and next, then consider season passes and finding a children's season long program to enroll him in.  Typically, he will have the same instructor all season and be skiing with a group of kids of similar abilities.  These are often morning programs, so you will have time to ski with him. 

 

My hill has about 300 kids enrolled in a program like this.  Kids LOVE it, and often continue for several years.  They do so much to improve their skiing and they have a blast.  What's not to like?

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdog View Post
 

 He is turning using his upper body exclusively to initiate turns, which is opposite of what it should be.  He has NO IDEA what to do with his legs and no idea of turn shape. He will get in trouble on steeper terrain. These are very bad habits that he is driving into muscle memory.  The more they are muscle memory, the harder they will be to unlearn. 

 

Start him with a private lesson the very next time you ski with him.  Most privates are 1 to 2 hours depending on your hill.  Then ski with him afterwards and let him show you what he learned with the instructor.  That will help reinforce what he has learned that day.  I think you will be surprised at his improvement. 

 

If this is your local hill where you will be spending a lot of time this year and next, then consider season passes and finding a children's season long program to enroll him in.  Typically, he will have the same instructor all season and be skiing with a group of kids of similar abilities.  These are often morning programs, so you will have time to ski with him. 

 

My hill has about 300 kids enrolled in a program like this.  Kids LOVE it, and often continue for several years.  They do so much to improve their skiing and they have a blast.  What's not to like?


 +1 to everything above. He needs to break the bad habits he has ASAP. I am going to be very direct about this next point, and I don't want you to take it the wrong way. This type of direct statement is for your son's benefit, as I know that's the most important thing in this whole thread. It is time to step away from the role of instructing your son. I know you mean well and are doing the best you can, but there are fundamental flaws in your son's skiing that tells me that you just don't have the tools right now to be a positive influence in his improvement. I am glad you are reaching out for an increased understanding, and encourage you to pursue that knowledge. However, just like your son, you're going to find that knowledge in face to face instruction, not on an online message board. Until you have a sound understanding of the mechanics and physics of skiing, and how they are applied, you aren't going to be able to help your son.

 

I also would say a seasonal program is a great idea as well. I instruct in a seasonal program at Stowe, and have the same group of kids every weekend. My group is your son's age, and they can all rip. This weekend we'll be skiing high angle woods all day, doing drops and jumps, and shredding the entire mountain. They all got to this point because they're on the mountain with an instructor every weekend all winter long. The improvement these kids make from year to year is phenomenal.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the candid feedback.  You have confirmed my perceptions of his skiing technique, and we will be getting him into lessons to help him improve and fix these things asap.

 

Cheers.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 


 +1 to everything above. He needs to break the bad habits he has ASAP. I am going to be very direct about this next point, and I don't want you to take it the wrong way. This type of direct statement is for your son's benefit, as I know that's the most important thing in this whole thread. It is time to step away from the role of instructing your son. I know you mean well and are doing the best you can, but there are fundamental flaws in your son's skiing that tells me that you just don't have the tools right now to be a positive influence in his improvement. I am glad you are reaching out for an increased understanding, and encourage you to pursue that knowledge. However, just like your son, you're going to find that knowledge in face to face instruction, not on an online message board. Until you have a sound understanding of the mechanics and physics of skiing, and how they are applied, you aren't going to be able to help your son.

 

I also would say a seasonal program is a great idea as well. I instruct in a seasonal program at Stowe, and have the same group of kids every weekend. My group is your son's age, and they can all rip. This weekend we'll be skiing high angle woods all day, doing drops and jumps, and shredding the entire mountain. They all got to this point because they're on the mountain with an instructor every weekend all winter long. The improvement these kids make from year to year is phenomenal.

 

From the parent's perspective, I completely agree with this.  The benefits of a seasonal program are amazing, and if they take the lessons and get out on the hill and ski for fun once a week too, they can make amazing progress.  Having the same instructor over the course of the few weeks is important; there is not always a connection on the first day and sometimes it takes a bit of time for the learning interaction to develop. And in a lot of ways, I think the group lessons are better than privates because a) the kids have fun together and b) they can learn from each other.  And it has  lots of benefits. My kids now both want to do the instructor program at our local hill when they are old enough; a great opportunity for some income and work experience.

 

I've been toying with the idea of taking my CSIA level 1 for a few years now, but even with that am planning to avoid teaching my own kids.  We will often discuss after one of us has a lesson (I am in a seasonal group lesson program too) what we've learned, some drills that we went over, etc. but I try not to give them advice myself.

 

PS: I realize that you're on the right track and have gotten the message about this (I had started this post before your last one came in) but lessons (especially the seasonal group ones) have made such a difference for me and my kids I can't say enough about them!

post #14 of 15

Ditto to your comments, freeski919.  At my hill (Cannon in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire) the better kids in Junior Development (JD) rip it up.  Moguls, trees, steeps.  A thing of beauty - makes me jealous - it's not fair that they get so good so young!  Some of the kids move on to the Franconia Ski Club racing program - Bode is an alumnus. 

 

I suspect this is true at your hill also - we have many instructors who have been teaching in the program for many years, and will do so until they drop.  I am not sure who loves it more, them or the kids. 

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernFlicker View Post
 

Thank you for the candid feedback.  You have confirmed my perceptions of his skiing technique, and we will be getting him into lessons to help him improve and fix these things asap.

 

Cheers.

 

Don't forget to take lessons yourself! The day will come when your son is better than you, but do your best to delay that day as long as possible :). And as I am very fond of mentioning, lessons aren't just for beginners. I've been skiing for close to 3 decades, and instructing for over a third of that time... and I still eat up instruction whenever I can get it. 

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