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My 4 Year old like's Skiing. Best practices?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So this year I took my son Skiing, praying he would love it, and he DOES!  He just turned 4 in January.  My wife is very pregnant right now with our next son, so this has given me ample excuse to get out skiing with him February (we got started late). 


So far we have been 4 times.  In chronological order.

      -Moutain Creek NJ.  I got him a 2 hour private lesson.  Was not super thrilled with what he seemed to get out of it but he had fun and I figured that's all I could hope for.

      -Campgaw Mountain Mahwah NJ

      -Camelback PA

      -Campgaw again



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When I took him to Mountain Creek his instructor said they do not like "Edgie Wedgies" because they do not promote muscle memory but she said she did like the harness leash thing.  I've read a few other websites and peoples preferences on these two items seem to differ VASTLY.  So here is what my thoughts are on each and what I've been doing personally and please give me your thoughts and input.


My first goal is to make sure that my son is WARM, SAFE and that he is having FUN.  If these 3 things are not happening he's never going to love the sport as much as his mother and I do.  I've also been keeping my expectations very low and just hoping that he enjoys it and that I have someone to take with me on weekdays that is as amped about skiing as I am.  


My use of the EDGIE WEDGIE is mainly so that while he's going down the mountain he can have better control.  He's not gaining muscle memory some will say but to that my thought has been "It allows him, at this early point in time to have as much fun as possible".  He doesn't have his ski's going all over the place and it helps him to stop a little better.  I usually will try and take it off for a little while to asses his progress and if he starts to have troubles then I'll put it back on.  


The LEASH/HARNESS combo is used for the handle in the back so I can pick him up easier when he does fall and to get him on and off the chair lift with better ease.  The leashes I try to keep slack and have him control his own speed.  I've heard people use the "walking the dog" metaphor and think it is the way they should be used.  Do I use them the correct way all the time? No =(.  My son, like many kids, is fearless.  He wants to go fast and every time we go I think I am slowly getting him out of that habit.  


He's getting better at stopping and turning.  I really think that when my wife starts to go with us that he'll have someone to follow and turn harder to get to.  I'm sure you guys have some pro tips maybe.\


Here is a quick video of him turning a little better and stopping a little better.


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Thanks for your time and sorry for the Potato quality on the videos.  My x-mass gift next year will have to be a go-pro.

post #2 of 15
Wow! Great skiing for the wee guy! Just do what you're doing. He doesn't appear to have any need for edgy wedgies.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much markojp! We're going again to this little mountain on Wednesday and I'll leave the wedgies off again. I have SOOO much fun watching him get excited about going down the mountain.

Once he gets alot better at stopping and turning I'll try to do "follow the leader" type thing maybe.
post #4 of 15

nice stuff, you are on your way, try having him slide a bit more across the hill sometime taking some of the slope out of it to help in speed control, When you get to the following the leader stage , meaning you leading ,go with big round turns and try not to get too far ahead of him. His natural inclination will be to go straight to you with out much turn and using power wedges to stop, much better to have him gliding after you in big arcs with you a few feet in front. keep having fun

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback Snowbowler.  Once in a while I let him ride between my leg's and we make really wide turns so he can get used to his legs being uneven and see how daddys feet look.  Not sure if that helps him but he did seem to be a little better with his feet and willing to go wide.  


So looking forward to going out tomorrow and seeing how he progresses. 

post #6 of 15

That's awesome!  Watching the videos brings a smile to my face.  My kids are 6 and 4 an this brings back a lot of memories!


The most important thing is to stay extremely positive, which I can see in your video.  They have to be warm.  If it's cold or snowing, just forget it.  You want them to associate skiing with fun.  Big smiles all the time.  High five.  Bring some plastic animals with you, throw them out and have him find them.  Do a few turns, stop and play some games.  If it's a warm day, spray snow on him and white wash his legs.  If he falls, fall down next to him and laugh about it.  Basically, just be a clown.


Resist the temptation to advance to steeper terrain quickly.  Build up their confidence on easy stuff and they will progress quickly.  I made that mistake with my older son, where he regressed a little and picked up some bad habits.  


Edgie Wedgie - I never had to use them on my kids.  Sure they cross their skis quite a lot at first.  But they learn pretty quickly to untangle.  I feel that if I use the edgie wedige it will delay their progress.  If they get frustrated, I would just stop and rest for a bit.


Harness/leash - I used the harness at first but never the leash.  I feel that the leash pulls them backwards when their weight should be forward.  As for going too fast, I would let them intentionally wipe out (of course evaluating terrain / traffic etc to make sure it's safe).  It hurts a little.  Snow gets in and it's cold.  Not fun.  Well, that's what happens if you go too fast without control.  What should you do?   Ski across the slope, follow dad, like this.  That worked for both kids.  I feel that sometimes the leash is more for the parent than the kids.


Your son is turning and I think he is ready for follow the leader.  Make big turns across the terrain, almost to a stop.  Build up his confidence.  Make sure his eyes are up.  If you can ski backwards, even better.  Have him look at you.  Try asking him to put outside hand on outside knee, gets the body forward and put pressure on the outside ski.


When I get my kids to the point of making consistent wedge turns, I turn them over to ski school.  The next progression is side slip, parallel in between turns, hockey stop, carved turns.  I feel that by this point it's better for a profession instructor to teach the correct fundamentals.


This video was from a month ago.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUQmL-WLrig

post #7 of 15

Oh man, I could write a book about teaching them when they were little.  I used to call it one and done.  They were three and four when I started to teach them.  One run without a meltdown was a good day.  Then get them inside for a hot chocolate.  I knew If I stuck with it for a few years the dividends would be big.  Now they are yearning to ski by the time July rolls around.  Keep doing what you are doing.  He will turn into a skiing nut.  I have two girls, neither one was ever too athletic.  Put them on skis though and it is a different story.  They are now 18 and 16 and they both rip.  Our biggest issue is that we are waiting for their mom when we ski together :)  Bumps, trees, groomers, pow; they do it all.  Both of my girls now teach at our mountain.  They will only work three and four year olds.  I don't know how they do it, but they do and they love it.  Kind of a pay it forward, without them even knowing it.  My youngest has a day off from teaching tomorrow (we are on February vacation).  I am looking forward to ripping some turns with her.  My oldest just started college, but I suspect she will end up out west where she can ski before long.  


Nice to see vids like this.  Pete

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Great tips Galun!  Really appreciate your insight and your kids are amazing and adorable!  I'm looking forward to the day when Zach teaches his little brother Benjamin a thing or two.


The edgie wedgie I'm gonna take back off tomorrow when we go out.  You're right that he should be able to figure it out himself.  And an added benefit to no edgie wedgie is that he'll probably be able to move around a little better.  


The harness I try my hardest to make it so he's slack and I'm not pulling back on him.  I do like it to stop him from running into people and other things.  But you're more then likely right that he'd probably figure it out himself and that it is more for my own piece of mind.  


I love your idea of tossing like a bright colored plastic toy around.  That seems like it could get really fun.


Peter- Your girls sound just about how I want my boy's to end up, LOVING the sport.  My wife can hold her own on her snowboard so hopefully we'll all be having a blast before to long.


My main theme of our days is FUN and Father/Son time.  This is probably one of the best if not THE best sport ever.   


Thanks again for the feedback you guys.  You're giving me the confidence to try and let the little guy off the leash and off the Wedgie.  I'll let you know how he does.

post #9 of 15

Just keep doing what you're doing and he will do great!  I teach tons of kids and would much rather teach skiing to youngsters than adults.


You can ditch the edgie wedgie since he's already turning his skis just fine.  He'll learn to control his skis better without it.  Encourage him to ski parallel and not in a wedge since he'll just have to unlearn the wedge later.  Just use the wedge for stopping and encourage big parallel turns across the hill for speed control.  You can get rid of the leash as soon as you feel confident that he can turn and stop to avoid obstacles.  We never use them when we are teaching, we just put the kids in a safe environment where they can ski without too much in the way.


Mine are 10 (almost 11) and 8 and started when they were 5.  Used and edgie wedgie for like one day and the leash a couple of times before I ditched both.  Used the harness to help get them on the lift, but left the leashes at home.  They're both solid intermediates now and love to go to the hill with me whenever they can.



post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

I wanted to give an update since you guys were all so informative and supportive.  


I took everyone's advice basically and took him off the wedgie and also stopped using the leash (I kept it in the backpack thought because pulling him on the flats is just the best thing ever).  


He KILLED IT!!  I'm so proud of my son.  At first, without the wedgie, he was a little wobbly in the ski's but after about 2 runs he was really good.  After those two runs and still using the leash I decided it was time to go back to the smaller green hill.  This is where I basically stopped him at the top told him to wait and just skied backwards and he followed me and turned so well I was amazed.  We hit up that Green little hill about 10 times with him just doing so well I stopped going backwards and we were just doing follow the leader and he kept going down this little quick drop off thing he kept calling a "Jump", it was great.


After doing that hill so many times he wanted to go back up to the top and ride the super quad, and I figured we'd give it a shot.  We did the same thing where I'd ride ahead and he did a great job at controlling his speed and I just made sure to not get to far ahead and also stay on the side where the tree's were and where it dropped off (that's the only thing that freaked me out).  He found some girls that he wanted to "race" and decided that we were going to follow them down the mountain and we ended up going down a blue but when he felt like he was going to fast he snowplowed and turned like a pro.  


Thank you guys for the tips and words of encouragement.  I really feel like it gave me the added push I needed to give my son the extra challenge.  I'll post a video next time we go.  I tried taking one today but I was focused on Ski'ing backwards and watching out for other people that the one I took came out miserable.


GALUN-  I also took the advice of "Falling" down with him when he takes a spill and the little ham loves it.  That was a good idea and I like the snow so it was fun for me also. 

post #11 of 15
That's fantastic! What a little man! You're going to have a beast on your hands in no time. Right now I wouldn't dare ski anywhere near him because his cuteness would render me completely helpless. I don't know how you parental types do it!
post #12 of 15

Sounds awesome! Now that you've gotten rid of the edgie wedgie and the leash, you absolutely need to resist the urge to reintroduce them. Sounds pretty simple, but there is going to come a time where your little guy is begging to do harder terrain, and he might not be ready for it skill wise. A little voice in your head is going to say "well, if I just put him on the harness, we can do it." Don't let that voice tell you what to do. Now that he is autonomous, you want him to learn and earn his progress on his own. Not only is it good for his skiing, it's also better for his confidence. Knowing he did stuff all by himself is a huge boost to any little skier's confidence. 

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Litterbug his cuteness is indeed infectious.  All he does on the mountain is try and make friends and then RACE said friends/ follow them down the hill.  


Freeski919 you are right on the money there.  The one run we did down the mountain where he was all by himself I could totally feel me getting freaked out inside and thinking about the leash.  I fought it though and he totally did it himself, and like you said he was so proud of himself.  Kid's amaze me.  


If it wasn't so cold out today with wind I'd take him again.  Maybe friday or at least Sunday for sure.

post #14 of 15
Originally Posted by Derikthin View Post

Litterbug his cuteness is indeed infectious.  All he does on the mountain is try and make friends and then RACE said friends/ follow them down the hill.  


Freeski919 you are right on the money there.  The one run we did down the mountain where he was all by himself I could totally feel me getting freaked out inside and thinking about the leash.  I fought it though and he totally did it himself, and like you said he was so proud of himself.  Kid's amaze me.  


If it wasn't so cold out today with wind I'd take him again.  Maybe friday or at least Sunday for sure.


That's great!  Glad my advice helped.


I am constantly amazed by the kids.  This weekend I was skiing with both kids.  My son disregarded my instructions and blasted off to the trees at speed.  I shouted in my daughter's direction to ask her to wait, and chased off after my son.  Half way down the slope I chased him down, and talked to him for maybe 10 seconds - you cannot go unless I said go, blah blah blah.  Then I looked back up the hill to ask my daughter to come down.  She was no where to be seen.  I got a little worried and shouted her name.  Felt a little tug on my pants, and she was right behind me. It was a solid blue run.  Prior to this run I was doing big arcs across the slope worried about speed, and she just made it down on her own.  No idea how.


Just let go of your worries.  These little kids have such low center of gravity that they just sit down and stop.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Galun that would have severely freaked me out haha. I just hope my kids end up as skilled as yours. This is so exciting and fun for me. I can't wait to get back on the mountain on Friday or Sunday with my little buddy. It's great also because by the time Ben is about 3 Zach will be a freaking pro and he and the wife can just rip all over and I'll work with son #2.

One of the reasons I'm so glad he is doing so well is that my wife was worried that she would not be able to snowboard with him and the leash. But now that he is basically self sufficient almost all shemail will have to do is just watch after him and we can take turns in the lodge with our almost 1 year old next year.

It might be crazy but I really really did appreciate the tips and support I got here. You guys/gals were giving me the extra Bit to do what I figured he should be doing.
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