Skiing with Kids
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Skiing with Kids
my husband and i are avid skiers and we now have a tot in tow. so the question is
what is the earliest age we can get our babe on skis? she will be two in april and we
were hoping to give her a try on the slopes before the end of this year's ski season.
does anyone have any personal success (or unsuccessful!) stories to share?
a family of ski bunnies
Oh my, what an exciting question! Skiing as a family is SUCH a
rewarding experience! We had terrific success downhill skiing
with our son last ski season, when he was four. And this year,
we keep hearing the question, ''When can we go up again?'' And I
think that was a wonderful time to start him out in the sport.
After returning from our trip, we spoke to friends who also
felt 4-5 years is really a great time to start kids out. For
starters, he was as excited as could be to be going skiing,
with dad (formerly a ski instructor) and that helped
tremendously. We rented skis and he carried his heavy skis and
poles to the lift and we had difficulty getting him off the
hill for lunch despite the fact that it was snowing (brrr)! We
have found the fourth year to be quite magical intellectually
and physically for our son. At this age, I believe children
have a certain readiness (neurologically and physically) which
enable them to take on and progress in complex activities such
as downhill skiing. I am not saying that there aren't 2 year
olds out there on the slopes, but it seems awfully
uncomfortable for the adults on the bunny slope who have to
support them (aching back) all the way down. Why not snowball
fights and snow angels and sledding for the next season or so?
That'd be just as fun for a 2 year old!!! We used a harness
which attaches to a vest and that was wonderful. Your child
skis in front of you and the parent holds the harness straps
which help stop (and turn) him if he gains too much speed, like
reigns on a horse. The extent of my son's first ski ''lesson''
as my husband says was, ''Whoa, wait for Daddy!'' -- he was off.
By day's end, he was skiing down beginner/intermediate slopes
from the top of the mountain (without stopping for a break!)
and at the end of day came all the way down to basecamp
I was up on skis when I was two years old. Find out from the
place you'll be skiing if they have the means to get your babe
on the skis.
if they can walk, they can ski!!
I started alpine skiing at age 4 with a very enthusiastic
father. I tried starting my son at about 2 or 3 on cross
country skiis but he would just walk around the meadow a bit
and be tired. Last year my then 8 year old son started snow
boarding lessons and loved it. This year he took a down hill
lesson and loved that, heading off on the lift by himself. He
and his younger sister (age 5) took a cross country lesson and
both were into it and developmentally ready to enjoy it. We
have enjoyed sledding previous years. Each kid is different but
I would recommend holding off for a couple years until your
child is more coordinated, has a longer attention span and is
stronger to be able to move the equipment around with minimal
frustration. We loved the cross country lesson at Royal Gorge
and the staff at Soda Springs give great skiing and snowboard
lessons. Both do group or private. Check out Planet Kids at
Soda Springs. For $10 you get a rental of skiis or snowboard
and access to the kiddie area with a snow carousel, tubing, a
moving carpet, etc. For $25 you can upgrade your child to a 30
min. lesson on the lift.
We started our son skiing at 3 years old. The first year was
not a success due to him not being ready and our trying to
teach him ourselves. At 4 years old, we put him in ski school
at Diamond Peak in Incline Village. The teachers there were
wonderful and used language (''french fries'' for parallel
skiing, ''pizzas'' for snowplowing) and exercises that we never
would have thought of. Our son was skiing well by the end of a
week in ski school. At 5, he is a very enthusiastic skiier.
We just spent a wonderful long weekend on the slopes with him
doing intermediate runs. Of course, he says he's ready to move
on to snow boarding now.
Go to Tahoe! We just got back from a weekend in the snow there. At Soda
Springs (N. Lake Tahoe), there's a great kid's snow play area (for 8 and under)
called Planet Snow Kids. It's small, but it's perfect for that age. For $10 your
toddler can go on skis, the tube carousel (a merry go round in the snow), and
do snow tubing down a very small hill. If your kid is older they can try a
snowboard too. There's even a tiny conveyor belt ski lift to get to the top of
the tiny hill! Our daughter wanted to go back and do the skis a second day,
and she's only 2 1/4. We rented a cabin in the Tahoe Donner area, which is
about 20 minutes drive from Soda Springs over Donner Pass when the roads
are good. We've also stayed at a B&B right at Planet Snow Kids (you can walk to
the play area) called the Always Inn (it was OK but B&B's aren't really our style;
we preferred renting the cabin). There's an adult downhill ski area there too.
I enjoy cross-country skiing, and I'm trying to figure out how
to do it with an 11 month old baby. He weighs 21 pounds and I'm
hesitant to use a backpack for him since falling is part of
skiing for me and it's a long way down from up there. Has
anyone else used a backpack for skiing? I've also seen people
pulling little baby sleds that attach to their hips, and that
looks fun, but I'm not sure where to rent one or how well they
Most XC places that rent skis also rent those baby-trailer sleds
(they are also called 'pukhs' or something like that) -- but you
may want to call ahead and reserve it as there may be only one.
We have an Equinox bike trailer that converts to a ski trailer;
buying one is a good option if you could also use a bike trailer.
I think my Ergo soft backpack may be a more comfortable solution
this year, though I wouldn't have tried it with the heavier and
more awkward frame backpack we had for our first baby. I won't
know until mid-March though! But the trailer works well enough
once you get used to it, and it certainly won't hurt the baby if
you fall while using it! Just be sure your baby is well
bundled, because sitting in there with just a thin sheet of
plastic between body and snow gets COLD -- and don't expect to
ski as far or as fast as you used to, because the sled is heavy.
Those little sleds are called ''pulkas,'' at least where I've
rented them. It changed my skiing life as a mom when I
discovered them. I first rented one at Tahoe Donner (it was
helpful to reserve it). We have also rented from Marmot
Mountain Works in Berkeley. I'm sure many cross country ski
places that rent skis also rent the sleds, but it's a good idea
to check first. We bundled the baby up warmly, as he wasn't
getting the workout we were. He was NOT crazy about it, but he
often slept. My 4 year old daughter loved it, and we found the
two of them could go together in the sled, when she was tired of
skiing. It also gave me more stability--less of those falls.
I have a friend who works at a ski resort and he told me this
story about a man who was skiing with his baby in a backpack,
fell down and caused multiple injuries to his child. Granted,
this was downhill skiing, but since you know you're prone to
falling, why would you want to carry your baby like this?
Remember that kids, up until the age of four or so, are subject
to shaken baby syndrome, since their brains have more ''wiggle
room'' than ours and can easily be slammed up against the skull,
causing swelling, injuries, death, etc. It seems like people get
this idea that they can do anything and everything with their
babies, and they don't always use common sense. Pull your kid in
a sled if you like and wait until he's old enough to start skiing
on his own.
I am a single mom with an 11-year-old boy who has suddenly decided he
''hates'' to ski. I, on the other hand, love skiing and am feeling very deprived.
I've posted a request for a caregiver where I could leave my son for occasional
weekends so I can go skiing without him. Any other ideas? He's quiet, spends
most all day reading, and likes other kids, older and younger. (I'd also welcome
suggestions for sitters in the Donner Pass area, too.) HELP! Thank you.
To Ski-bummed: We too had a boy who hated skiing. We had to pay him a
quarter each short run so that he could spend time playing video machines in
the lounge afterwards, to even get him on the slopes. Then he took a
snowboarding lesson and everything changed. Give it a try. It might work
for you too.
It seems to me that an 11-year old could stay in the lodge by himself - or
better, with a friend his age as a companion, especially as you say he likes
to read and likes other kids. That way he could go on the drive and share
meals with you, but you could spend some hours on the slopes without him.
Maybe with a friend he'd at least make a snowman!
this page was last updated: Jul 9, 2012
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