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Kids and very first introduction to skis

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone, new member here, and I'll post a proper introduction once I figure out where to do it.

But what's pressing on my mind right now is how to proceed with my 4 year old. Essentially what I'm wondering is if it's better to let them start fresh, having never worn a pair of skis, at the mountain with an instructor. Or, if it's worthwhile to get him out a few times on a sledding hill, or the rope tow hill in Ouray, and let him get used to having skis on his feet and learning some balance. I feel like the second option may allow him to do better once he gets real lessons from a pro, but I don't want to mistakenly set him back by him developing instant bad habits or tendencies.

Thanks for the help!



ps - I searched a little and didn't really find my answer, sorry if this has been asked a million times before.
post #2 of 12
I think the best way to introduce little kids to skiing is to make sure it's a shared family fun time out in the snow in an unchallenging environment. If you have snow in your back yard, have mom, dad, any siblings and the tot out there clumpking around laughing at/with eachother and your big feet. Fall down and make snow angels. Adults take off skis and tow the tot around. If you can find a short, smooth and shallow slope, take turns pulling him up and sending him back down to the other parent. Make sure he knows skiing is all about fun and everyone keeps at it only as long as it remains fun. Don't make him stay out if he gets cold or wet, etc.

If you don't have snow/slope in the back yard, find some place like a golf course or park setting that does and use that.

If the tot has fun and wants to do more, take him to the community ski hill and continue in the same pattern of the family having fun out in the snow. When he asks, "how can I do that" regarding some aspect of skiing he sees others doing, that's the time to say he can learn at ski school and sign him up for a lesson.
post #3 of 12
I agree with Kneale - at that age the first introduction should be to the Snow rather than to the skis. Since they'll be spending an amazing amount of time in the snow rather than on it I'd also spend the money for waterproof clothing, warm mittens, socks, etc.

I kinda like the idea of starting out on Tele-skis (cross-country) as well. Just learning to slide around on flatlands, change directions and balance would be accomplished without ever having to worry about acceleration, controlling speed or stopping a downhill slide. You'd also be able to scoot around the yard and local parks or playfields.


As to Alpine skiing - I'd consider a Parent/Tot type of class.

This is where the Ski Instructor teaches the parent what to do with the kids and it's the Parent who actually interacts with their own young kids. If one child has an 'issue' (of any sort) that parent can deal with the tears, restroom break, cold hands, etc - while the rest of the group continues on. Good way to start out since the parent also learns what to do/teach/reinforce which maximizes any instruction received through subsequent regurgitation by the parent many times.

.ma
post #4 of 12
IMHO a 4 yo is plenty old for a group lesson tailored for kids of that age. To start out, I would not go beyond a so-called half day (2-2.5 hrs) program. It all depends on the child, some can only endure 1 hr peewee and other can easily handle something a bit longer. Observe how the lesson is conducted (be sure not to get in the instructor's way), how your child fits in and assess the result. From there (and assuming that they are doing a decent job), you can probably decide whether you child is ready to start skiing for good - even full-day lessons.

Mon-n-me or Dad-n-me is also a good option if you'd like to have it to be more of an introduction. That is, you want to hold off really lessons until next year.

Good luck with this great beginning.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies so far, keep em coming! For what they charge for lessons out here ($100+ for even a half day!), I'd like to be sure he gets the most out of it, which is why I'd like to take him out to a sledding hill a few times and let him get some balance, maybe even get a little used to crashing. Also, I can teach him the basics of how to get back up and how to put the equipment on as well. At the same time, I don't want to screw this up as I see alot of parents do, being too harsh with a kid and not making it fun, so being sure he's having fun is a very high priority.

I'll let the pros teach him the tricky stuff like the wedge and learning about edges.
post #6 of 12
Gonz,

I think the answers above are all correct answers, and I also think you have the right idea of how to proceed. I teach a lot of 3 and 4 year olds b/c I teach full time. The first time on skis is about finding the balance in boots and then skis while walking and climbing and even a little gliding. A few times (an hour at a time) will help a child before he or she is in a class.

The biggest thing is not to have any expectations of how the child should be progressing. As stated above, it is a fun activity on the snow. If your child is going to preschool, it becomes a big assest to the learning process and how they handle being in a different enviorment being seperated from the parents.

To be able to hold a wedge takes time and patience at that age because of the development rate of the lower extremities compared to the core and upper extremities. Once a wedge is established, turning and stopping by turning is not far away. Children learn very differently than adults and best left to experienced childrens instructors after some fun walking and sliding is introduced. The biggest mistake parents make is taking their child that can ski the bunny slope to a novist run. That is where defensive movements are developed and hard to break. The child will agree to go back on the run with the parent eventhough they hate it, so they can please the parent and get praise for doing such a good job. Let the experienced pro tell you where the child can ski. I see this happening all of the time by well meaning parents.

RW
post #7 of 12
Gonz I don't teach many children anymore as most of my students are very upper level adults but I can offer you first hand experience as I can remember my first day on skis like it was yesterday.

I was exactly 48 years ago, Christmas day 1959, I was 4. This is one of the only vivid memories I have from that age and that is probably so because it is one of the very rare times my father actually spent any time making me feel like I was somebody special.

Christmas Eve was the day that we opened presents and there were two pairs of skis under the tree when I was allowed to enter the room. Those were identical except one was a red pair and one was a blue pair. My sister being a year and a half older than me demanded the red pair which meant I was stuck with the blue pair. OK as my parents explained that blue was really for boys. Those skis were shiny and fantastic. I remember them as clear as day. They were made of maple with shinny new edges that were held on by tiny screws. The bindings were cable bindings that were so pretty. My father, a WWII vet of the battle of the bulge and the A bomb in the pacific painted a picture for me of men from the tenth mountain division in WWII saving the day for the allies. The hardships and the things the went through raced through my mind as I skied with them in my vivid imagination.

Bed time did not come easy and I wanted to sleep next to those skis. I just knew everything was going to work out fine the very next day as I joined the tenth mountain division for another crack at the Nazis.

The next day my father explained that I must be patient as the skis needed wax. We melted the paraffin in a pan and poured it over the skis steaming hot. Soon we were scraping the skis and preparing them for my big day. We had no ski boots, only the plastic goulashes that had the little loop on the side and went on over your shoes. You simply strapped yourself in as best that you could.

Out the front door we went with the promise of hot chocolate when we were ready. Our front yard had a slope to it that petered out after a drop of about 4 vertical feet. The day was perfect, in the 20's, about 3" of snow on the ground and bright sunshine. I had help strapping on the skis and then a nudge from my dad straight lining it down that mountain. Arms a flailing the sensation was one of Oh Sht. Ooooooh I stopped, cool.

Carry me back to the top dad, one more time. I fell rolled onto my back with the skis in the air. All I remember was looking up at those skis on my feet with the blue sky beyond them. The blue of my skis seemed to match the blue of the sky and I was hooked. A snow angel with my hands made me feel like those skis could make me fly all the way to Sweden and the tenth mountain division. I mostly played with the skis in the air and did more straight runs with my dad encouraging me the whole time. The best was that hot chocolate at the end.

That was nearly five decades ago and I am now considered one of the top pros here on Epicski. You may take this for what its worth and glean the lessons that jump out at you from this story. I cannot tell you the best way to approach you and your child's skiing. All I can relate to you on this fine Christmas day is what started five decades of skiing at its finest.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, we've headed out and he absolutely loves it!

Let's see if this picture shows up:

post #9 of 12
In the same boat! My little guy has 3 "days" in (about 2 hr sessions).

2 times on the beginner area with the magic carpet, and last week on the "big" lift serving the bunny hill.

Keep it short and sweet. M+Ms are highly motivational.

I fashioned a ski "harness" out of a weight belt with d rings on the hips. Ride 'em cowboy! Seriously helps him be confident, keep his weight and hands forward and you can "steer" him across the trail.

He did great but little legs get tired easily on the big trail.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous... practice gearing up at home (including potty double check). The smoother and more efficent the set-up - the more time skiing before they run out of gas. Don't be cheap on gear. Make sure little hands stay warm especially.
post #10 of 12
Just a quick thought on 'rope tows'-they're tough on beginners-especially the little ones-it requires more skiing skill (and strength and coordination) to ride up a rope tow that it usually requires to ski down the learner terrain they serve. falls are endemic-usually with a couple of rope-tow handle head-whackings to follow. I know, a lot of folks learn that way-but I'm just saying they seriously up the ante for a bad experience!

I have to say, on of the greatest inventions in bunny-slopedom is the magic carpet-the conveyor belt lift-takes a lot of anxiety. Find learnerr terrain with these and you''re golden.

Next best is the learner lift-with an adult to help getting on and off (my five-year old-who skis pretty decently is on the short side and can't get on and dismount on his own that well.

The idea of searching out sledding hills and locall pitches is one that has worked for me.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah, the rope tow hill in Ouray turned out to not be a great place for beginners. At most ski areas, that little hill would be considered an intermediate run.

But if anyone's up for a challenge, try heading up a rope tow with one hand, while holding 40 pounds of 4-year-old wearing skis in your other hand!
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonz View Post
Hey everyone, new member here, and I'll post a proper introduction once I figure out where to do it.

But what's pressing on my mind right now is how to proceed with my 4 year old. Essentially what I'm wondering is if it's better to let them start fresh, having never worn a pair of skis, at the mountain with an instructor. Or, if it's worthwhile to get him out a few times on a sledding hill, or the rope tow hill in Ouray, and let him get used to having skis on his feet and learning some balance. I feel like the second option may allow him to do better once he gets real lessons from a pro, but I don't want to mistakenly set him back by him developing instant bad habits or tendencies.

Thanks for the help!



ps - I searched a little and didn't really find my answer, sorry if this has been asked a million times before.
Gonz,

Here's the link to a thread I started a while back asking how best to start a child in skiing: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=29756.
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