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Need advice on how to treat my 'eager' 10 year old

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

  This year is my son's first year of skiing.  We took advantage of the new skier program at Ski Liberty / Whitetail (in PA) and he's had a lesson every time he has been out this year (12 and counting).  He has progressed rapidly and now LOVES to ski everything, including single-black diamonds.  The problem is that his form suffers when he's on the harder slopes... he reverts to wedging in his turns.  The key here is that he's always in control of his speed and direction, even on the steep slopes.

  Recently (the last month) he has been working on 'toe turns' in his lessons, and improving his overall stance.  He can toe turn like a champ on the blues, and sometimes on the diamonds.  Keep in mind that these are Southern PA diamonds, not VT or CO :).

  My question is this - as long as I continue to see improvement on the intermediate slopes, is there any real problem letting him spend some of the day on the harder stuff, even if his form slips a little?  We definitely get our 'blue' time in.

  My objective is for him to love skiing, not necessarily to make his high-school ski team or win an olympic medal.  So far it has worked out... he loves it and I'm hesitant to tell him that he's not allowed to go down the runs that he wants to (given that he has shown that he can handle it without issue).  The main reason I ask is that I have a friend who 100% will not let his son near a diamond until he has perfect parallel turns all the time.  It got me thinking enough to ask the broader internet.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by fbl100 View Post
 

Hi all,

  This year is my son's first year of skiing.  We took advantage of the new skier program at Ski Liberty / Whitetail (in PA) and he's had a lesson every time he has been out this year (12 and counting).  He has progressed rapidly and now LOVES to ski everything, including single-black diamonds.  The problem is that his form suffers when he's on the harder slopes... he reverts to wedging in his turns.  The key here is that he's always in control of his speed and direction, even on the steep slopes.

  Recently (the last month) he has been working on 'toe turns' in his lessons, and improving his overall stance.  He can toe turn like a champ on the blues, and sometimes on the diamonds.  Keep in mind that these are Southern PA diamonds, not VT or CO :).

  My question is this - as long as I continue to see improvement on the intermediate slopes, is there any real problem letting him spend some of the day on the harder stuff, even if his form slips a little?  We definitely get our 'blue' time in.

  My objective is for him to love skiing, not necessarily to make his high-school ski team or win an olympic medal.  So far it has worked out... he loves it and I'm hesitant to tell him that he's not allowed to go down the runs that he wants to (given that he has shown that he can handle it without issue).  The main reason I ask is that I have a friend who 100% will not let his son near a diamond until he has perfect parallel turns all the time.  It got me thinking enough to ask the broader internet.

 

Thanks!


Welcome to EpicSki!  I'm not an instructor but will give you my two cents.  Background is that I got my daughter started at age 4 (10 years ago) at Massanutten in VA and she was skiing blacks in the southeast by age 6.  I was an older intermediate.  Have become an advanced skier in recent years.  Recently been having fun with my friend's son, who is almost 9 and starting skiing the bumps at Mnut thanks to a couple good ski instructors last weekend.  It's his third season.

 

With kids who are taking lessons reasonably often, I did not worry about doing a few runs on harder terrain where their form slips a bit into Z-turns or whatever.  With my daughter, we probably skied about half the time on blues when she was a tween.  Until he was shown the fun of bumps, was about that split for my friend's son.

 

When the boy was wedging on steeper terrain last season, I did not take him to the black trails.  There is one blue (Upper Showtime) that has a short section that is relatively steep.  I told him that he had to be able to make good turns there before I would take him to the lift that only serves two longer black trails (850 vert).  He was required by me and his mother (beginner skier) to do full day ski school the first day of the two holiday weekend trips this season.  After the first day in Jan, he was in good shape.  So we went up to the blacks the next day.  I was quite happy because that lift never has a line.

 

The hard part is modeling good form in your own skiing all the time. :rolleyes 

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  My plan is to enroll him in the month-long ski school at Liberty next season.  This year was all about figuring out if he liked it.  To be clear, he doesn't just wedge straight down.... he traverses and then wedge turns the edges.  Sounds like we have similar philosophies though.  I appreciate the perspective.

post #4 of 8
I say keep doing what he's doing now. Taking lessons, practicing good habits, and getting outside his comfort zone a bit. As long as he doesn't do the later too much (and build defensive skiing habits), he will be good.

Most importantly-sounds like he is having fun!
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by fbl100 View Post
 

Thanks!  My plan is to enroll him in the month-long ski school at Liberty next season.  This year was all about figuring out if he liked it.  To be clear, he doesn't just wedge straight down.... he traverses and then wedge turns the edges.  Sounds like we have similar philosophies though.  I appreciate the perspective.


Yeah, I didn't think he was just using a death wedge straight down the fall line.  Kids who have lessons beyond the never-ever class rarely do that.  I know exactly what you are talking about.  Very common to revert to what is essentially a stem turn when on steeper terrain.  Heck, I still do that when things are on the bumpy side off-piste at a big mountain.

post #6 of 8

Here's my two cents as somebody who has been instructing kids for quite a while now. Not only is it okay to let your son ski on more difficult terrain if he can safely do so, it's absolutely necessary for him in order to improve his skiing. There are a number of reasons for this.

 

First off, your son is 10, so being able to ski on a black diamond is a big deal for him. It's cool, it's bragging rights, it's motivation and excitement. You want to keep him motivated and excited, so absolutely bringing him onto the 'hard stuff' from time to time is a good idea. 

 

From a practical standpoint, bringing a student into more difficult terrain is an excellent way to diagnose where their deficiencies still are. While new techniques should always be learned on easier terrain, that easier terrain can mask how well the student has incorporated the technique into their skiing. Stepping up the terrain every so often will clearly show what the student has incorporated, and what still needs work. Then you bring it back down to a easier slope and drill to that deficiency. This is something that can happen across all levels of skiing. Trying a blue from a green, a black from a blue, trying bumps from groomers, trying trees from bumps. One of the former members of the boards used to say "It's not that you can't ski "x" well, it's that you can't ski well, and "x" shows it." The example usually given was bumps, but it works across the board. Its not that your son can't ski blacks well, its that he can't ski well, and blacks show it. Not that that's bad. I don't know many first year 10 year olds that are actually skiing well from an overall standpoint. Increasing terrain intensity is an invaluable tool in the learning process, as long as its done safely. 

post #7 of 8
If he is taking lessons leave him alone unless you see a safety issue. Once he developes some confidence he'll begin using his bread and butter technique.

One thing not mentioned is that typically 10 year olds do not have ideal equipment. Getting them fitted for any length of time is a lot like measuring jello with a slinky. You get them set up, then they grow. I know that if I didnt have top notch gear i wouldnt ski like me on more challenging terrain. I remember years ago our ski school director made us all go out and ski on general rental gear for an afternoon. What an eye opening experience.

Good luck.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  I completely understand the equipment issue.  We're doing a junior lease program through a local ski shop.  ~$100/year should keep him in gear that fits (at least it fits in November).  In the end I'm not too concerned, especially after reading the answers here.  My evil plan has worked so far.  He loves skiing, he's having a blast, and I can see his technique and form gradually getting better.  That's all I can ask for,

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