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How young can we start him?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
My soon to be 3 year old is a big guy and I'd love to start him "playing" on skis this winter. Alot of people have said wait til' 4-5 yrs old. The "kid-ski" says as early as 1-2 yrs. What is professional opinion and what real life experiences do other parents have to offer?


post #2 of 13
I started when I was three, my brother when he was two. There's no reason not to start that early, but in terms of how it will affect his skiing later in life, it probably makes no difference whether you start at two or at six--the skills a six year old picks up in a week will take a three or four year old a month or two to learn.
If you want to do it, and he likes it, why not?
post #3 of 13
Gotta agree with Pete. My suggestion (If you aren't planning to already) is to stay involved with the very young skier. Don't just drop him/her off with a ski school and leave for the day. If planning to do lessons, try out a 1/2 day at first and then spend some time on the snow with your child. Some ski schools even offer a quick private lesson (with just you, the instructor, and the child) immediately following the group lessons so that you can see how to help them on/off the lifts, games to play, and how to help your child stand up, etc.

If you are already knowledgeable in these fields, just make sure they have lots of fun. Lots of snowball fights (no head shots), snow angels, and sliding to you. (for for example: set the child up on his/her feet and walk down the hill a bit, "OK come get me!" and catch them.) Always smile and always encourage. Laughter is contagious! So fake it if you have to. Don't push the wee ones too quickly or you WILL have to wait until age 6-10 for them to even feign interest in the sport again.

my 2 cents,

Spag :
post #4 of 13
Somewhere between the time they're out of diapers and the time when they can put their own skis on.

My boys both started around three. The first lessons they had were in the living room, how to get in their bindings and how to get them off.

Both are now excellant skiers and boarders but not from my lessons. It was well worth all the money I spent putting them in ski school all those years.
post #5 of 13
My son started to ski when he was 2 - and just barely 2 as his birthday is in December. We got him a pair of Trek (or was it Trak?) skis with fishscale bottoms and no edges and NO POLES. His first on-ski experience was on the living room carpet on Christmas morning and his second was walking around on snow in our flat backyard that afternoon. The walking around on the flat is extremely important and worth the patience that it will take while he gets used to the skis. The fishscale bottoms were a huge plus. I think one of the most frustrating things for little kids is slipping backwards.

Your characterization of "playing" will also be a huge plus. I consider "adult expectations" to be the single greatest impediment to small children enjoying learning to ski. The initial objective for your son will be to move across the snow to where you are, at which point you will either catch him and give him a big hug or laugh with him when he falls onto the snow before reaching you. If you expect him to control his speed, turn, stop, press forward in his boots, distribute his weight evenly from side to side and front to back, keep his hands up and in front of him, or any of the rest of that junk, you will be disappointed, he will sense it, and he will not have fun. And he MIGHT get turned off to skiing.

Everybody who's had success introducing their 2 or 3-year olds to skiing will have a different methodology that worked. Many will insist that theirs is the best or the only way. It isn't. What will work is what will work for YOUR CHILD. And the only sure-fire way to assess whether it has worked, at that age, is when he tells you he wants to go skiing again. Don't fall into the sometimes convincing trap that some will set when they tell you that you must teach him skills that he can build upon later so that he will avoid bad habits and ski "correctly". That's nonsense.

In our case, I skied with my son between my legs, holding him under his arms(for what seemed like a hundred miles), until I felt that I could lower his weight down onto his skis without him collapsing into a giggling mass. When he felt stable I would let him move out away from me, ski down ahead of him, turn around and let him ski into me. About half the time, in the beginning, he would tip over before he got to me. No big deal. Sometimes he would be eager to get right up and try it again, other times he would lie there eating snow or making angels. It was all part of the experience.

The next year, at 3, he could ski down from the top at our little local area, dragging a stick and making rooster tails in the snow. He never really learned to turn, he just followed the trail. Sometimes I would ski beside him holding the lower edge of the back of his jacket to help him control his speed. (This was more for my peace of mind than for his.) Many people have success with harnesses. Some people rant against them. It is true that small kids can get tangled in the straps, but that's usually because of the adult's ineptitude and clumsiness.

The next year, at 4, he skied from the top of Mount Mansfield in Stowe, VT., down the 4 mile long Toll Road trail. it took about an hour and a half and he never really made it to the bottom. He was so exhausted he literally fell asleep and skied off the trail into a snowbank about 100 yards from the bottom.

And so it went. When it came time for him to actually "learn" stuff, at age 5, even though my wife and I are both instructors, we signed him up for the kiddie classes at the local area. WHEN THEY'RE READY, kids have a great time with others their age, especially if the ski school has the same attitude that you do - that it is "playing".

Have a ball. My son is almost 19 now, he instructed after school kids programs all through high school, got his Level 1 certification, and is an incredible all-mountain skier and a blast to ski with. But some of my fondest memories are of skiing with him, at his pace(very important), when he was 4, 5, and 6. Do what works for your boy and it will work for you, too.
post #6 of 13
I started my nephews when they were about 2.5. Not so much skiing as just being jelly bags between my legs. But they had fun and they were out doing it. Thing is you wonder what they really get from it that young but the next season they could burn down the gentle hill with the snow plow and turn at will so something must have gone in. They both went to Europe this year training with their respective ski teams. Neither has a 'career' in competing probably but they both love it and burn around the hills looking to huck and will certainly ski anything and don't balk at any conditions.
post #7 of 13
3yo is ok, but it depends on the 3yo. Some can handle it, others can't.
post #8 of 13
Like many of the other parents in this thread, I started my daughter relatively young - 3 and a couple of months. She took to it like a duck to water and still loves it at age 11.

I think there are a couple of reasons you see so many reports of early starters in this thread:

1) There is a self-report bias: Whether they admit it or not, the parents in this thread are all probably somewhat proud that their kids started skiing early, whereas you won't hear as much from the parents of kids who start at a more traditional age , say, between 5 and 8 y.o..

2) The parents participating in this forum and represented in this thread are undoubtedly more "hard core" about skiing than most typical recreational skiers. Whether intentional or not, the kids of EpicSki participants are probably more exposed to skiing than most other kids on the hill (excepting parents who work in this industry). Kids pick up on this enthusiasm and want to please their parents.

Personally, I don't think an early start is any big deal - It just happens with some kids and in some families.

Tom / PM
post #9 of 13
Originally posted by Seth:
3yo is ok, but it depends on the 3yo. Some can handle it, others can't.
This is right on the mark, it all depends on their maturity level. I've coached kids of all ages and the difference between the maturity levels at a given age is sometimes amazing. My boys both hit the snow the same day. The oldest was 5 and the youngest had just turned 3. I wasn't skiing at that time so I had no choice but to get them into a kids ski program. They were begging to go. By the end of the first weekend they could both ski down the bunny hill and have steadily progressed from there. There're now 8 and 10 and can ski pretty much anything groomed pretty well. So, in my experience 3 years old to start was fine. That said my youngest son has always been very mature and in fact, much more so than his older brother. I'm not so sure the oldest could have handled it at age 3.
post #10 of 13
A lot of good stuff has been said here. One of the first things we always did with small kids 3-5 yrs old was get them in their boots and playing games. This can be done in your yard. After they master the clunky boots, put on the skis and play more games in your yard. When they play games they forget they have skis on their feet and learn to use them to walk, skate, slide, etc on flat ground. Pretty soon it becomes very easy for them to maneuver and that helps a lot when the actual lessons and skiing start.

I started when I was 3, so why not introduce now? I always thought a child from around 4-7 was the easiest to teach bar none. They have little or no fears, no bad habits and "what if" thoughts running through their heads inhibiting progression.
post #11 of 13
I agree with everything that has been said here. Both of my kids started at about age 3. My daughter started on XC skis the first year, one time, walking around on the snow in spring. That was enough for her that year. She started downhill the next winter and hasn't stopped yet (she's 18 now). My son started at Snowbird in their toddlers program (no more than 2 kids per instructor, coupled with indoor and on the snow play- HIGHLY recommended). They used the "Edgie -Wedgie", a 4 inch long piece of rubber tubing that is clamped on to the tips of both skis. This allows the kids to hold a wedge without crossing tips and with minimal muscular effort. Since holding a wedge can be very tiring for a 3 year old, I believe that this is a very useful aid for young children who lack both the endurance and motor coordination of older kids.

One additional tip- pick a warm sunny day to start. Nothing makes a kid more miserable than being cold, wet and uncomfortable. The more fun the first time is, the better the experience will be.
post #12 of 13
The French attitude (sorry, I mean "Freedom" attitude ) is that if they are old enough to stand on their own, then they're old enough to ski.
You'll see a lot of 2-3 year olds on the slopes in Europe.
post #13 of 13
Just as a reference point, my daughter was 2 1/2 last Christmas, so we bought her her first pair of skis. The plastic fish scale things. They came with a pair of poles, which I didn't really want. On top of that, we had a banner snow year here in the mid-Atlantic. My daughter loved walking around in the snow with the ski poles, but would NOT let us put the skis on her feet, inside or out. Oh well. Maybe this year. And it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. If she learns this year or when she's seven, by the time she's 8, you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference. My big thing, is that I want her to like it and want to do it.

I've also heard that you should quit for the day while the kid is still having fun. Don't wait to get to the point where they are completely exhausted and getting really cranky. That way, they'll want to come back, because they remember that it's fun.
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