or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Heavenly advice

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Going to Heavenly with my 5-yo daughter this W-F. I know I want her in lessons all days (my boy had a great experience there at 6), but I'm unsure whether half days or full. Likewise, I want instruction all days, but am unsure what kind.

She was on skis a few days last year and the year before, but did not really ski.

I ski blue and black; just finally replaced old straight boards; and want to learn technique for new equipment. I'd also like to be shown some lines not on the map. Private lessons are beyond my budget.

Please advise: Full or half day lessons for my girl? And for me? Better to do a clinic? Instructor recommendations (and can anything be done about that for group lessons)?

post #2 of 11
I'm not an instructor, but I was five only twelve years ago. For her sake, PLEASE only do half-day lessons. A full day won't hold her attention and she'll probably be tired and unhappy with that much time. Full-day lessons are a waste of time on small children. She won't enjoy it if she has to spend that much time.

I dunno, that's my opinion. If she were eight, or maybe seven, it might be harder to say, but at five, a full day sounds way too long.

post #3 of 11
Check out the Children's Ski School section of the Heavenly website. I hear it's really great, and informative. It might help you make your decision.

post #4 of 11
I think I can help you with this one, having taught children for 8 years exclusively.
A five-year-old needs time to acclimate, bond with her instructor and group and get used to her environment in order to set herself up for an optimum learning experience. Pacing is key so all three of her needs as a learner - physical, cognitive and emotional - are fulfilled. Remember that emotion drives attention which drives learning - if your child is in an unfamiliar situation with a new teacher, unknown peers and new surroundings, she will need time to get comfortable so she can focus on the task at hand - learning to ski and enjoying the process.
Good children's programs optimize the day for the age of the learner, pacing the skiing, breaks and lunch time appropriately so she isn't bored. She learns some, practices some and applies some with plenty of just plain skiing so her skills get anchored. Repetition, structure and familiarity all help the learning process, along with fun.
During a resort's busy times, when class numbers are higher, this is even more important to consider. A five-year-old does not move as fast as we do. Therefore a "half day" lesson for a bunch of five year olds conceivably might include only two to three runs, because you factor in bathroom breaks, putting on and taking off clothing, behavioral issues and interventions with others in the class, organization, equipment management, etc.
If she were mine, I'd put her in all day ski school all vacation, and take her out once or twice for a special ski with Mom and Dad in the afternoon.
post #5 of 11
Listen to her; she's smarter than I am.

*Complete non-expert backs down*
post #6 of 11
I took an afternoon group lesson while at Heavenly last February. It was my first day out West in a couple of years so I was looking for a nice refresher on new ski technique and was hoping to be shown some advanced terrain in Mott and Kilabrew Canyons. All 8 of us who signed up for upper level lessons were grouped together and it was clear at the beginning of the lesson that we would not be skiing in the Canyon areas. Most, if not all, were level 5-6 skiers who could not put their skis on edge. We worked mainly on carving technique and patience while tipping the ski on edge. It was a perfect grouping for someone who is transitioning to shape skis. We skied mainly blue cruisers except for the lower portion of Milky Way Bowl, which was nicely bumped up. I had a good time, received the refresher I was looking for, and got some good tips as well. I asked the instructor at the end of the day about lessons in more advanced terrain and he said to specifically request a lesson that will be held in diamond and double diamond terrain. I think Heavenly plays the game of grouping all together in order to keep upper level students from having a private lesson if they are the only one signed up. Too bad, I’ve been other places where it was just me and the instructor skiing his favorite lines. If you are lucky enough for this to occur, tip well afterwards!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Just back from the trip, here's the skinny on our lessons.

I signed myself up for a full-day group lesson and identified myself as a level 7 or 8 skier. They squeezed me into the third day of a 3-day advanced clinic with three Brits and super instructor named Bob Haas. Bob showed me fundamentals for the new skis on one blue run, then we were off for Mott Canyon. We spent the whole day skiing bumps and crud through trees, neither of which I could do worth squat before. I made a lot of progress, got a terrific tour of little-visited areas of the mountain, and had a lot of fun.

Mixed results for my young daughter. I put her in three full-day lessons as well. The good part is she enjoyed it enough to go all three days, and could do wedge turns in both directions at the end. The bad part is she had those skills at the end of the first day, yet they kept her doing laps on a 30-foot slope with magic carpet for two days more, and that was not conducive to further progress.

I think this may be due to the terrain at the base on the California side. The chair lift on the only green slope empties onto a steep, narrow catwalk crowded with people who can't ski, all struggling to get down to the top of the run. I had to physically steady my daughter down that and can't see how an instructor could get more than one beginner down it at a time.

In hindsight, I should have put my girl in school on the Nevada side, where the bottom of the mountain is suited to beginners. I also should have questioned the staff more when checking her in on the third day. I thought she was headed for the chair lift, but see now that that was not practical at all.

Thanks for your advice, Vera. I'm going to follow it again next month at Squaw.
post #8 of 11
DTS, I am glad things worked out for you and that your daughter did so well. Your child definitely deserved an alternative to the magic carpet on the second and third days, but it sounds like the Heavenly program had "terrain limitations".
You now have enough savvy to research the Squaw program, particularly what terrain is available for children at your little girl's level. Also ask whether children in the program are allowed to ride a lift by themselves or if they need adult accompaniment. If the latter is true, this also can create limitations on where and what she will ski in a class situation, and how much skiing she gets.
Good luck.
post #9 of 11
Somewhat related, at what age should one consider enrolling a small child in lessons? I'm sure in my case, it's a little too soon (he just turned three!), but this topic got me wondering, as we're headed for the Rockies for a week sometime in March.


Wilmington, DE
post #10 of 11
Originally posted by Aaron:
...at what age should one consider enrolling a small child in lessons? I'm sure in my case, it's a little too soon (he just turned three!), but this topic got me wondering, as we're headed for the Rockies for a week sometime in March.


Wilmington, DE
Teach your kids to have fun in the snow. This does not have to involve uncomfortable shoes. Most ski schools have programs that involve mostly playing indoors and outdoors with other kids. Wait until they really want to ski before actually taking them up the hill.
By the age of 5 or 6, or even 7, most kids are ready for group lessons. They will be ahead of the other kids if they can walk comfortably in their boots and carry their own skis. Those are skills they can learn before they get to the mountain. Make sure they have fun.
Group lessons are better and more fun for kids than private lessons. They will imitate other kids much more readily than they will an adult instructor. Peer pressure is the best motivator. Make sure they have fun.
Kids can learn a lot of ski skills from ice skating, which is something else they can do before they get to the mountain. Make sure they have fun.
Did I mention make sure they have fun? Otherwise, you're going to Disneyland next year.


[ January 20, 2003, 07:32 AM: Message edited by: John Dowling ]
post #11 of 11
Sounds like good advice. Thanks.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching