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What age should children start skiing?

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
I have a 20 month old daughter. How much longer do I have to wait?
post #2 of 92
About five months less than I do.

I think you can give it a shot any time after birthday no. 3.
post #3 of 92
I think it's totally up to the comfort level of you and your daughter. I've seen that looked younger (some much younger) than 20 months on bunny hills. Granted, those kids were between adult's legs, being pulled, etc., but they were getting introduced to standing on skis and the sensation of sliding down the hill. I've even heard of babies being carried in a front pouch. I wouldn't do that myself, but some parents start them very young.

When my daughter started last season (a few months prior to 3yo birthday), she got pulled around, went down bunny hills between my legs, maybe a few runs on very, very gentle slope on her own. Didn't know how to stop or turn, but in her mind she was "skiing". That made it much easier to start this season because the skiing scene wasn't foreign to her, and that includes the skiing environment as well as wearing boots, sliding on snow, etc.

Dealing with equipements is another matter, however. Kids grow fast - look into season rentals with free upgrade (in size). There are places with buy-back programs as well.

I'd say, if you got snow and budget (time + money), why not?
post #4 of 92
My James is 2 1/2 and has "skied" a couple of times this season.
We don't use alpine gear, just some plastic skis with strap bindings that go over his snow boots. I think that alpine boots don't allow him to learn to balance as well as this set up.
He is at the hill almost everyday and wants to do what the big kids are doing.
The skiis are in the living room and scince he could walk if he wanted to put them on and walk around he could but we would never make him do it.
When we got snow in the yard I asked if he wanted to ski and if he said yes we did. If he said no we did not ski.
This year we have have gone up to the hill and skied a couple of times. He is mostly between my legs but will glide on his own for 20m at a time.
Once or twice we have gone to the hill, dressed and gotten out in the snow, only to have him say," No skiing." After a minute of discussion, to make sure he meant what he was saying, we called it off. And that is OK. At this stage it is about having fun and spending time together.

A pocket full of M&Ms helps too.
post #5 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishEH
I have a 20 month old daughter. How much longer do I have to wait?
It depends on each kid of course.
My personnal experience (with my kids and by watching other people's kids) is that 4 is a good age. 3 have been too young for anyhing more than a few runs down the baby hill between my legs.
post #6 of 92
My younger brother learned to ski when he was 2 (I was 4 and we both learned at the same time). I think my nephew and niece were about 2 as well; they started on those plastic skis you can get from LL Bean that strap onto regular snow boots. For all the kids in our family, it was pretty much done the way tief schnee describes above.

Sounds to me as if next winter is a good time to start your daughter and see if she likes it. Since we're entering the time of year that's warmer in the mountains, you could always bring her to a resort on a sunny spring day and let her watch other kids in the learning area, walk around the base area, play with her in the snow, etc., just to see her reaction to it all.

Thatsagirl
post #7 of 92

do it now....

that's plenty old enough, IF she walks well, etc.
Children develop at widely varied rates, and you should base her skiing on her point of locomotive development.
If she walks, let her ski.
No need to waste money on lessons, yet, either.
simply get her suited up with boots and skiis on, and push her around (by her heinie, NOT her back or shoulders), reminding her to keep her feet still.
when she wants to stop, STOP.
Allow her to practice walking with baby steps on flats.
A length of duct tape along the bottom of each ski will help her get used to picking each ski up, independently, and walking. once she's established such independent leg balance, remove the tape and let her rip.
work with very slight pitches and don't obsess on wedging, yet.
let her straight-run and come to a stop based upon pitch gradient.
I started at around 2 years old, and i've taught kids much younger than that.
Again, don't get worked up on her numerical age, but rather, her developmental stage in regard to walking.
post #8 of 92
Snow and water are actually good analogs as far as "right age to start" is concerned in my opinion: they both are environments that initially are foreign to the kid and where balance doesn't happen the same as on dry land. Kids are primed to enjoy new sensations, and can enjoy both skiing or swimming from early on, though they will not be able to ski or swim, at 2, as well as a 5 year-old as they will lack the same motor skills.

However, I have seen a lot of people kill their kid's desire to ski, or to swim, by not focusing on keeping it rewarding for the child and providing appropriate postive reinforcers to shape the kid towards swimming or skiing. Is skiing a joyous thing for you that you want to share with your kid? Or is it very important to you that your kids be "good skiers?" Can you train a dog? Those may seem like off-the-mark questions, but they do speak directly to keeping the process fun & effective for the kid imo.
post #9 of 92
Just to be a little controversial, on eof the best kid skiers I have skied with (she was 9 years old) first slid on skis at 9 months. She walked a week later (but could stand holding onto tables etc. beforehand). Not recommending or criticising, me, just observing...
post #10 of 92
my kids were 3 and on skiis"in house" at 4 brought to a bunny hill to play"we didnt ski" at 5 they were inrolled in skiwee at that point they skied from 9 till 3"we skied..at 11 they went to dark side..now at 20 and 17 still on dark side but barley ever go"to cold"
post #11 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murdoch
Just to be a little controversial, on eof the best kid skiers I have skied with (she was 9 years old) first slid on skis at 9 months. She walked a week later (but could stand holding onto tables etc. beforehand). Not recommending or criticising, me, just observing...
I was hoping someone might bring this up....
technically, standing still in supportive boots, on sliding planks, should be far easier for a child than getting the timing, balance and stride of walking
together.
I've known many families who started their kids skiing prior to walking.
And don't get me started on swimming and waterbabies.
post #12 of 92
Basic sliding around on snow and falling over: any age, depending on how acclimatized they are to cold.

Riding a chair and gliding and turning in a wedge on a mild slope: the middle of the bell curve would probably be three or four, depending on the kid.
post #13 of 92

toilet training, too

Don't forget toilet training issues. How long can the child go without having to go, and how much advance warning does she/he give beforehand? When you are up on hill, this may make the difference between a fun outing and a miserable one.

My sense is that for anything other than shuffling around and just getting used to the idea of sliding on snow, age 3 to 4 is really the minimum. However, your milage may vary, and kids are all different. Coordination does not increase in a straight line, and some kids who are advanced at an early age may plateau for a while, while others may start slow and accelerate more quikly.

I like the duct tape idea. I had not thought of or heard of that before.
post #14 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan from Pa
Don't forget toilet training issues. How long can the child go without having to go...
When my daughter started skiing when she was 2, she skied the whole
season in diaper
post #15 of 92
The right age is when they are ready, not when mom and dad are. Personally I wouldn't consider it before kindergarten but that's my opinion. We rush kids into stuff very early and more often than not because it works for us. With today's instruction technques kids can get good very fast so when they have the motor skills and social development to learn to ski that's the right time.
post #16 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by skidad55
The right age is when they are ready, not when mom and dad are.... We rush kids into stuff very early and more often than not because it works for us.
Based on observations from my highly limited experience, that may sometimes be the case, but it's as or more likely the opposite: skiing parent doesn't start kid at 3, because he or she doesn't want to spend time on the bunny hill.

Kids (some, anyway) can have a great time skiing at age 3 or 4, particularly if it's a parent/child activity (kids that age actually still look up to their parents). It's not so much about acquisition of skills, as development of interest. Skills play into it some: while a later starter can (and very often does) catch up, the early-starting kid is more likely to think of skiing as his or her "thing." Also, skiing -- like various other sports, or dance classes -- does, I think, help kids develop gross motor skills, balance, etc., at any age, as a well as a sense of adventure, confidence and accomplishment. I mean, face it: no 3 or 4-year-old is going to do anything very well, but we don't just shut them in a room with the lights off.
post #17 of 92
in our family, it was kinda like walking anyway, so we just were on planks really young. no reason that a kid who stands upright can't have a few yucks by sliding down a tiny mound while strapped in.
really, skiing is just a form of sleigh-riding that we can still acceptably enjoy throughout our lives.
also, just putting those little toy skiis on tykes and holding them off the snow an inch while you slide down a tiny mound often produces sqeals of approval.
following this with allowing their skiis to slide along the snow for a few runs produces, in most cases, more of the same.
letting them go, as you ski ahead of them, often gets genuine belly-laughs, especially with the 2 and under set.
post #18 of 92
I don't really remember my own reaction to skiing, since I was so young (Mom says we all took to it immediately and laughed the whole time--again, she never made us ski longer than it was fun for us), but since I was there as an adult when my niece and nephew first skied, I can say that they absolutely had a ball when they were that young (2 or so). I have never seen such joy! Perhaps it was because they were doing something they knew Mom, Dad and the rest of the extended family did and it made them feel like "big kids" or perhaps it was just that rush of sliding down the hill!

I do remember when my brother, who started skiing at age 2, began racing in CUSSA at age 5 (I was 7 by then). He blew all the older kids away. And he ripped! Makes me think of that young kid from, I think Aspen, who has been in the latest Warren Miller movies.

Don't force a kid to do something they don't like to do, but why hold them back if they show an aptitude and joy for it? The only way to know is to get them on skis in the first place.

Thatsagirl
post #19 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsagirl

Don't force a kid to do something they don't like to do, but why hold them back if they show an aptitude and joy for it? The only way to know is to get them on skis in the first place.

Thatsagirl
brilliant.thatsagoil
post #20 of 92
My cautious son "started skiing" at 3 years old. It was hard for him and he did not last long (1/2 hour at most). But each year we would go out west for a week to a different resort and he would have to goto ski school. He loved it, but really did not ski - or do something that resembles skiing - until he was 6 years old. The stance of a child on skis is nothing like an adult's stance and I am told that the leg muscles are not developed enough for a mature stance until the kid is 10 or older.

My guy is 7 now, and can turn and stop. He does not like steep hills (blue hills), but he does like to ski. The important thing is to associate skiing with FUN.
post #21 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by vlad
brilliant.thatsagoil
Thanks, vlad! Every once in awhile, the stars line up just right and I get to look brilliant. I try to wait for those moments before posting, which is why I don't post much...

Thatsagirl
post #22 of 92
not me. i try to get a direct, objective cross-section of my most gruesome viscerae anytime i hit the keys.
while every cloud may have a silver lining, every genius and supermodel has to take a dump every day or so.
post #23 of 92
Wondering if there's been any study as to what age you need to start to ski "naturally" later on? I've heard references to a "U.S. ski team study" that said you need to start before 10, but that how much before 10 made no difference, but have never either seen the study nor any proof that it actually exists. For golf you only need to start by your early teens (Euros seem to start much later than over here), at least for the men (girls mature earlier and I'd imagine therefore their neurological "window" may close earlier for some motor skills). For baseball it seems to be later than that

I think there may be some self-selection of experiences here, in that the people who liked skiing at a very early age because their parents did a good job introducing them to it, still ski, and therefore are posting here. The ones who hated it don't, and don't. I live in an area where people are very competitive about the age of various "firsts." I totally agree you can start them young and have them love it...but I think a lot of people may be better served by leaving it until ski school.
post #24 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook
Wondering if there's been any study as to what age you need to start to ski "naturally" later on?
The number of US Ski Team racers who didn't start skiing by five is so small it may not exist. Two or three is typical. I don't think that proves anything though, because the sample is incredibly small and skewed in all sorts of ways.
post #25 of 92
[quote=CTKook]Wondering if there's been any study as to what age you need to start to ski "naturally" later on? quote]

that concept is inane.
I started at two years of age, and i know folks (including one on this board) who started skiing in their teens, whom are far superior, and more innate, skiers than I am.
in fact, the broad definition of a 'natural' is one for whom talent is innate, not learned or mileage-generated.
i Know many innate skiers whom are far more 'natural' than i am, whom started quite late in life.
post #26 of 92
[quote=vlad]
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook
[snip]

that concept is inane.
I started at two years of age, and i know folks (including one on this board) who started skiing in their teens, whom are far superior, and more innate, skiers than I am
Maybe fluency would be a better concept than "naturally," but I don't know that the basic concept that there are neurological windows that allow people ON AVERAGE to develop certain skills (language, certain motor skills) better before the window shuts, than after, is all that inane.

There are certainly people with far-above average abilities to acquire skills such as skiing, or speaking a foreign language, as adults. We all probably know someone who immigrated to the U.S. as an adult who speaks with virtually no accent, and someone who immigrated as a preteen who still has a heavy accent. On AVERAGE, the preteen will do better.

For skiing, there may be physical geniuses who take to it innately as adults. But, if they'd started as kids, they would then be World Cuppers which as adults they assuredly will never be. The question is beyond what cut-off age the AVERAGE person will find it more difficult to learn to ski, than before. A cut-off seems to exist for sports ranging from wrestling to baseball to golf to gymnastics or diving, why should one not exist for skiing?
post #27 of 92
[quote=CTKook]
Quote:
Originally Posted by vlad

Maybe fluency would be a better concept than "naturally," but I don't know that the basic concept that there are neurological windows that allow people ON AVERAGE to develop certain skills (language, certain motor skills) better before the window shuts, than after, is all that inane.

There are certainly people with far-above average abilities to acquire skills such as skiing, or speaking a foreign language, as adults. We all probably know someone who immigrated to the U.S. as an adult who speaks with virtually no accent, and someone who immigrated as a preteen who still has a heavy accent. On AVERAGE, the preteen will do better.

For skiing, there may be physical geniuses who take to it innately as adults. But, if they'd started as kids, they would then be World Cuppers which as adults they assuredly will never be. The question is beyond what cut-off age the AVERAGE person will find it more difficult to learn to ski, than before. A cut-off seems to exist for sports ranging from wrestling to baseball to golf to gymnastics or diving, why should one not exist for skiing?
well, then, "average" is certainly different that "natural".
hell, i can keep changing up the subject of this thread, too, to
get a different reading.....:
I've taught folks over 70 years old beginner lessons, and they've gone on to become real ski junkies of excellent ability.

and, incidentally, there ARE worldcuppers and ex-worldcuppers who started snowboarding as adults
post #28 of 92
The "neurological window" business may, in fact, be right. I think, though, that the "thing" you need to acquire in that window doesn't necessarily need to be acquired by skiing, but could be got from some other body/balance/movement-through-space activity.

That is: a kid who's does gymnastics (say) at an early age might take up figure skating as a teen and be good at it, or vice-versa, but a kid who never does anything at all probably won't be able to be much good at either. [I'm just throwing out gymnastics and skating randomly here ....]
post #29 of 92
[quote=vlad]
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook

well, then, "average" is certainly different that "natural".
hell, i can keep changing up the subject of this thread, too, to
get a different reading.....:
Don't know that I was changing the subject of the thread overall. The o.p. asked "what age can children start?" I was/am asking, "is there an age by which they need to start?" to reach full potential, which I think is a related concept when addressing developmental capacities. And I think my meaning was pretty clear to most, though I'm always open to criticisms of my writing style.

Those World Cup snowboarders (Fawcett comes to mind, though he was a teen when he started riding; Maier was also a teen I believe) I believe all skied earlier. Victoria Jealouse was on the Canadian developmental team for skiing if I recall correctly and then switched and is now certainly at the equivalent of a World Cup level for freeriding. While I have a feeling you and I could parse my words all day long, I think that we can agree that skiing and snowboarding both complement each other and that doing one can help your skills at the other.

If there are World Cup snowboarders who started as late teens or later WITHOUT having skiied first, in all sincerity I'm interested in hearing, both because it's so impressive and also makes me very interested in how they developed such a high level of skill so quickly. More specifically, if I credibly heard that they got so good so quick by freeriding in monkey suits, say, I'd be buying the monkey suit tomorrow because the results obviously speak for themselves.
post #30 of 92
yep-
the most successful high-school/collegiate beegweeners i've ever taught were hockey players....
and i've put alpine ski racers on alpine snowboards (for their first-ever time on a board) and seen them blaze through a slalom course on the same day, on the snowboard.
unreal.
in '83, my best friend, who was the NYS Empire State Games triple-jump gold medlaist of a few years before, and a great decathlete, whom had rarely ever skied, was hired by my mom for teaching first-time skiers. the guy was so intelligent, animated and enthusiastic, and athletic, that it was a no-brainer. after a day learning how to ski correctly, and how to teach it right, he was up to his ears in first-timer lesson days after day (earning a $450- week salary in '83), and turning out excellent linked-wedge turners after an hour of each class.
over a few weeks of skiing with trainers in his spare time, he got his "registration' (lev. I) and was teaching "E" classes (advanced) the same season. by the following january, he was an "associate cert" (lev. II) and much of our "A" "B"and "C" class (lev. I, II & III beginner) staff training.
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