My oldest son turned four this summer, and I want to get him started sliding at resorts. The big question is snowboard or skis. What's the current thinking on the youngest age when it makes sense to start snowboarding? I'm familiar with the "wait until six or seven" arguments. I'm just wondering if anything's changed significanly in equipment or instruction in the past few years.
For the record, I'm a solid intermediate rider. I also cross-country ski some. I've only done alpine skiing a handful of times, and I have no current plans to pursue that further. I don't think I'd personally be very good at teaching my own son to ride -- that's one of the reasons I'm looking to classes.
For the record, son spent last two winters playing on some toy cross-country skis in the back yard. Did about as well on them as one could expect. He balances very well on a run bike, but I'm not planning to put him on a pedal bike until next spring. He tends to have an "ok, I've tried this once, now let's move on" approach to things rather than my "practice many times until you get it just right."
I'm really looking for him to spend a few days in all-day programs at a resort. (We'll probably do two one-week trips east this season.) That heavily skews toward skiing, because it looks like few places do snowboarding for children in group/all-day classes before six or seven, and I'm not interested in lots of private sessions. (If I recall from some previous sleuthing, Smuggler's Notch will do children on boards at four, Stowe and Okemo at five, and other places in the east at six or seven. Sugarbush and Whiteface are my two most common destinations in the east, and their programs seem to suggest starting kids on skis.)
Locally (Michigan), I'll spend all the time with him on the snow he wants, but when we go on "big trips" I'll want him in a program most days. I'm looking for the classes to teach basic technique and me having the "hey, let's go have fun and explore" role. (I also, selfishly, want some "me time" at the big hills.)
I thought I was set on starting him on skis, but at two stores I've visited lately scouting out equipment the salespeople have said they sell equipment to kids his age/size "all the time" and he'd be fine snowboarding. I'm not sure I believe them.