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8 year old - learning snowboarding - will skiing mess up his learning?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi guys-


My 8 year old boy has skied 10-12 days a year here in the poconos since he was 3 or 4. He was doing all runs at Jack Frost and Blue Mountain through the Blacks/Double blacks, with no problem (wedging if it got icy and steep) and plenty of confidence. He nagged me to try snowboarding this year. A couple of weeks ago, he put in like 5 hours of lessons on the snowboard and was doing the greens and the easiest of blues, but slowly. 


We have a ski trip with some relatives to VT for the first time this year, and since the relatives are all skiers, I figured I'd rather he ski that week so he can hang with everyone, since he was as good or better than his cousins on skis. So, since he hasn't put in a day of skiing yet, I want him to spend a day this weekend on the skis to brush up. I said he could snowboard the second day.


Will putting him on the skis for a quick lesson & whole day mess up his snowboard lesson/day Sunday? We might only get 1-3 days on any slope after this weekend before the VT trip.


I guess my question is - is it bad to switch back and forth at this stage for him? I don't want his skiing ability to go away, but if he can get to a similar level on the snowboard, I won't care what he eventually does in the next few years. We're talking carving/riding the snowboard, not any trick stuff. 


I know he'd rather snowboard right now, but he's nowhere near his last year ski level. 


Any advice would be great, thanks!



post #2 of 9

He is 8 let him have fun. He isn't going to win a world cup this season. I am pretty sure a snowboarder can ride a lift with a skier so what he uses to slide down the hill doesn't much matter. Let him pick and have some fun.

post #3 of 9

I would just let him ride or ski whatever he wants.   Ideally if he can practice both it would be better imho, but it's more important for him to be doing what he enjoys most.

post #4 of 9

I switch gear a lot. At first it was a little goofy for a run as the muscle memory reset. Next the weird feeling lasted only for a turn or two. Now it is just sliding. Don't worry. Once you get to the stage where you are engaging the edge on both sets of gear it turns out the experiences are very similar (i.e. just making turns).

post #5 of 9

he's young... his mind can soak in a lot of knowledge... so, have him learn both...


the bad side is... once he stops growing... he's going to ask you to buy him a set of skis/boots & snowboard/boots... and it can get costly

post #6 of 9

He'll be fine and better for it.  Anything that challenges his balance is going to help his skiing and riding.  It's almost like asking if riding a skate board will mess up his riding a bike.

post #7 of 9

What a great question!


I suspect there is little data to supply a solid foundation for the answer to this question. As most have noted, "we" choose to ski or board for fun. "We" think others should consider fun as a very high priority when deciding how to proceed in the recreational snow sports realm. Your question is not focused on this proposition, rather on the affect of departing a regimen and that change affecting the movements and skills required to maintain proficiency in that realm.


Studies regarding the learning of motor skills relative to feedback from the sensory systems have not specifically focused on recall of learned patterns when they are altered or abandoned for limited periods of time. Studies have shown that the brain has the capacity to store and recall information that sits unused for some period of time. Additionally, that longer times between recall of data increases the chances that that data will be recalled less efficiently or accurately.


I think this points to the fact that it is unlikely that a day on skis will eliminate learned behavior on a snowboard. I should say that either discipline will suffer recall due to lack of practice. Practicing snowboarding precludes practicing skiing (for a given moment in time). I should include that practice alone is not the only influence on one's learning of motor skills. Desire plays a role.If your son does not want to ski, but rather he wishes to snowboard, his learning will be affected by that. In light of that and the fact that recall aids learning we may deduce that skiing when he wishes to snowboard will lessen his likelihood to learn skiing patterns (outcomes relative to movements). All things considered he may best learn what he wants to learn and learn less of what he does not want to learn.


If you, or others, have research providing evidence to support a loss of sensorimotor knowledge or ability to recall said knowledge exists due to the practice of other skills I would be interested to hear it. Studies focused on the time frames associated with recall and its practice, or lack thereof, on future ability to recall are also of interest to me.


I do like the concept that we are here to have fun!

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Great stuff Brian - I'm a Phys Ed. teacher, your post reminds me of my old exercise science classes... He ended up spending a half day on the skis, and within a run or two, he was up to his same proficiency as last year. He even was surprised, and was having fun. He switched to the snowboard that afternoon, and picked up just where he left off a couple of weeks ago, and then continued to progress nicely. He seems interested in seeing how far he can go with the snowboard, while keeping his skiing good enough to have fun with it. I figure we'll squeeze in a couple of hours on the skis each trip while he's getting more into the board, just to keep it rolling (as long as he's into it, anyway.)



post #9 of 9

The only issue I´ve seen with the kids switching back and forth is that it costs (me) more in gear and slope time.


If you only have say a few slope days a year learning pace will be severly reduced if you split it fifty/fifty, I suspect the more days you have on snow the less of a issue

that will be. Unless the objective here is to be world champion getting base skills to build on in both worlds is a great investment imho.

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