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Ski Team Programs for 5 Year Olds (Mighty Mites)

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I'm strongly considering putting my son in the Squaw Mighty Mites program next winter, when he'll be five. From both a time and money perspective, that's a pretty significant commitment, so I'm looking for advice from folks who have had little ones in ski team programs before. 


I've been taking my son skiing since he was two. At age two he got about eight days on snow, with each "day" being about 30 minutes. At three we were up at Squaw a total of 12 days. The first couple of days he lasted 45 minutes, and he was up to an hour and a half by the end of the season. 


This year has been a breakthrough in just the four days we've spent at Squaw. Its like everything from the last two years clicked all at once. He's gone from super-scared and super-clingy to completely independant and incredibly excited about skiing. I've woken up the past few days to him screaming "Squaw!" when he first wakes up and realises its morning and we're going to go skiing. I have to stop him when I see his legs giving out because he doesn't want to stop skiing.


He's skiing greens in a mix of wedge and parallel and managing to keep under control as conditions shift from groomed to icy to slush. His speed is a bit dependant on how recently he's fallen, but he's moving well and not just inching along. Based on every "level guide" I've seen he's a solid level 4. We've gone down short sections of blue to get to places we wanted to go and he held it together well, but fell back to a wedge on the steeper terrain. 


He'll get about 18-20 days on snow this year and he's able to ski for 2-3 hours a day right now. I'm a good skier, but not a technical skier and its been a long time since I took lessons. So far I've taught him by physically putting him in the right position, moving his body through carved turns, and skiing backwards telling him what to do. It's worked great, but I know that I'm fast approaching the point where I'll be doing him a disservice teaching him.


He hates the idea of lessons. He did Squaw Kids (ski school) for two days at three because he saw all of the kids and wanted to ski with them. It turned out to be a disaster. At the time I don't think he was ready to be away from me and the ski school paddock at the base of the mountain was just not fun for him. He wanted to be up at the top of the tram riding chairlifts and skiing trails. It was such a bad experience that he react pretty strongly to the idea of trying it again. 


He likes the idea of the ski team. He's seen the ski team kids ripping up the mountain in packs while riding the lifts and asked about it over and over again. He's met and played with some of the ski team kids while staying in the Village at Squaw. As long as he sometimes gets to ski with me, he's interested in doing ski team in the future. He's an incredibly social kid and the idea of skiing with the same kids every weekend and having friends to ski with is really appealing. 


So... how do you know when kids are ready for programs like the Mighty Mites? At age five he could do Mighty Mites or Shooting Stars and the difference isn't super-clear to me. How do you evaluate which program is right for a given kid?


I also have a one year old girl who will be two next year. I'd like to start her skiing next year also, and if my son were in a ski team program it would make it easier to take her up on those days and then meet my son after his program is done. Extra days (Mondays / Fridays) I could just ski with my son. 


Anyway... any relevant experiences or opinions would be appreciated. 



post #2 of 2

Both of our daughters did a program called Mighty Mites starting at ages 5 and 6. I don't know if it's the same teaching methodology as Squaw's Mighty Mites or if they just coincidentally have the same name, but it was an effective program for our family. The kids all seem to love it. Most kids are much more open to trying things and being brave than when they're with mom and dad. The instructors have ways to teach skills without the kids even knowing they're being taught something. It's more game playing that "secretly" builds skills. Of course there's always a kid or two that isn't quite ready for it but the instructors have been pretty good about knowing how to handle it.


I guess there's no real way of knowing if your own child is ready without just jumping in. Don't be a helicopter parent though; check your kid in with the teacher then jet out of there before the kid gets anxious. The instructor will call you on your cell if it's really not working but I think they try to avoid having to do that as much as possible. Also, the instructors are good at figuring out if your child is in the best group for him or her. They'll move your kid to the most appropriate group if necessary.


I've also read that ski programs generally start at age 5 because before then the kids are just too physically immature to do much (e.g., they lack the leg strength to really have edge control). Starting at age 2 seems incredibly early. Ski parents can be a little gung-ho wanting their kids to start as young as possible and advance quickly, but I think it's more to satisfy some need in the parent than it is to benefit the child. We have a ton of aggro parents around here who want their kids to be top notch athletes and I've seen it backfire as the kids get a bit older.

Edited by Toecutter - 1/24/15 at 9:59pm
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