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Our son is 3, and will be almost 4 this winter. Would like to
try one or two ski trips this winter. Where is the best place
to get lessons for him? Ideally, lessons that would take 2 or 3
hours, so we can get a little skiing in also. Tahoe is fine,
but interested in places like Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley too,
which are probably cheaper and easier to get to with a kid.
We went to Dodge Ridge last winter with our three year old twins and had a
great time. They have an all day (or half) preschool ski program that is
terrific. They don't really ski but they get used to the equipment and
play in the snow and they have a great indoor classroom and they get lunch
and snacks. They need snowsuits, boots, gloves and sunglasses to
participate. Our kids can't wait to go ''skiing'' again. The snow hasn't
been epic but that is the story just about everywhere. Welcome to global
We put our daughter in ski school at Squaw Valley since she was 4 (she did
snow cubs at 2 & 3 which is daycare with snow/ski play) and now she is a
solid intermediate skier at age 7. For a 3 year old, it may be a bit
young, but try Tahoe Donner (very kid oriented) or Bear Valley. Bear
Valley also had a magic carpet area that you could use without taking
lessons which made it nice for a family experience after lessons. Keep in
mind some places require reservations, especially for weekends and
holidays. Happy skiing.
We have skied recently at several places with my son, now age 6, including
Bear Valley. We liked Bear Valley a lot, but we stayed at a place you took
a snowmobile into, so it was great for sledding, but difficult to schlep
to morning lessons. For the best bargain and easiest option, I would
definitely recommend Badger Pass in Yosemite. It is not very crowded,
very family friendly, and has great ski classes. Since the lift tickets
were so inexpensive (and free for young kids), I chose to invest in a
private lesson - following several friends' suggestions. That was some of
the best money I spent. After one hour, my son now can ski on his own.
We rented a house nearby (within a little development on the edge of the
park), but you can also stay in the valley and take a shuttle bus up.
Another more expensive option, but one worth considering is Northstar.
There is a good ski school program, and it is so handy to get there -
either staying in the new village (very fun and !
so convenient, but $$) or in a nearby rental (with a shuttle bus). So
many of the issues with small kids and skiing I found to be about
convenience and avoiding schlepping equipment, kids, and gear around.
Have fun on the slopes.
Our 8 year old has expressed an interest in skiing. Does anyone have any advice on
wether two plank skiing or snowboarding is easier for a child of this age to learn.
We've also seen ski schools at Heavenly and Kirkwood, does anyone have
recommendations on a ski school in Northern california?
I can definitely recommned Squaw Valley Ski school. My oldest daughter
has been in their program since she was 4 yrs old and at 7 she is
finishing their last level (8) before going on the ski team. My husband
and I are avid skiers so having a great ski school with amazing teachers
was important. She enjoyed it right away, learned really fast from them
and now our little one (3yrs old) is attending the snow cubs program and
after 2 times she is really excited about skiing and going to school all
day there!! That is the best thing for us.
I am relatively new to California and I have never skied in my
entire life. I would like to take lessons this winter,
together with my preschooler. Any ideas or suggestions about
companies you recommend or any other advice? Again, I have
NEVER skied in my life; I wouldn't even know what questions to
Thanks a lot for any info!
New in the snow
We went last year to the Sierra ski resort in Tahoe. They had
great ski lessons for my then 4 year old, and daycare for my 2
year old. They also had ski lessons for me...very
convenient...the lessons include skis, which you pick up right
next to where you start out for the lessons. I found the
instructors to be very good and the whole set up very convenient.
You can do private or group lessons. I am sure other places in
Tahoe are good, but I thought Sierra was perfect for our family.
The only potential negative is that it is about 30 minutes away
from Tahoe itself and since lessons for the kids start early in
the morning, you have to get up early! Check out the website.
Learning to ski
First of all, I think skiing is one of the best family sports that you can all
do together! I commend you for trying it. It allows for ''car time'' in
getting to the slopes for quality talk time, then you usually have to stay
over somewhere, so it feels like a vacation even if it is only for the
That said, I learned from friends and do NOT recommend it. I started my kid
at the daycare center at Northstar Ski Resort in North Lake Tahoe. In the
daycare package they would take the toddlers out for a quick ski lesson
starting at around age 3 or 4... later she took half day lessons and is now a
black diamond skier. We still have her take a half day lesson about once a
season just to perfect her skills... Northstar used to have adult ''free''
lessons at the top of the hill! I hope they continue them. The best part about
Northstar ski school is that they have an area for beginners and a couple of
easy lifts (one is called the magic carpet - think flat escalator up the hill)
to get kids and beginnng adults a place to practice their new skills. This
helps build up the confidence of a new skier or boarder. I highly recommend
Northstar ski school as they have really great ski instructors and you can
rent the whole package, skis or snowboard, with lessons at one place. I live
In my opinion, the best place to learn how to ski is not in Tahoe but in
Yosemite, at Badger Pass. It is terribly boring for really great skiiers but
it is perfect for beginners. I learned there, as an adult, in 3 days. After a
few trips you will be able to ski every hill there which gives you a great
feeling of accomplishment. They have adult and kid group and private lessons.
There are cabins you can rent at http://
redwoodsinyosemite.com or condos called ''Yosemite West'' or stay at the
Wawona Hotel. It is very old fashioned--no tv, piano player in the lobby, some
rooms have shared bathrooms. Both the cabins and the hotel have ski packages
sometimes. Happy skiing! I love Badger Pass
We're planning to go to South Lake Tahoe this Xmas. We have a 4
y.o. boy and he wants to ski. Unfortunately, we do not ski but
we're thinking to enroll him in a couple of classes, so he can
get the basics. I looked at the kids program at Sierra at Tahoe
(Wild Mountain Lesson 3-Pak). Any parent out there whose kid
learnt at Sierra at Tahoe? Good and bad experiences, please.
I also checked Heavenly, but the program is full day, kind of
child care that we do not want and Kirkwood is still not
offering classes for the next winter.
Both my kids are learning to ski at Sierra. We only get to go
once a year but we keep going back there because it's a very
pleasant place and it's pretty easy to watch the kids while they
We started my daughter when she was 4 and she is now 6 1/2. This
past winter as she kept going up and down the slopes, she kept
telling us how much fun she was having. My son started this year
and he was 3! By the end of the first day, he was riding up the
chair lift (with help!) and barrelling down the hill...in
control, I might add. I highly recommend Sierra as a place to
I just found out about the Ski Area Citizens Coalition of
environmental groups which has issued ratings for Ski Resorts in
the West. Northstar at Tahoe, where we've skiied in the past,
received an ''F'' for its practices, and in fact was rated one of
the 10 worst in the West. We won't go there until they clean up
their act (and the website had a handy way to send an email
telling the manager of our decision.)
The Tahoe area resorts which earned an ''A'' are Alpine Meadows,
Boreal, and a few I've never heard of: Sierra Summit, Snow Summit,
and Snow Valley.
I'd like to hear about the ski schools for kids at these places,
if anyone has any experience (they aren't mentioned in the
Here's the website, in case you'd like to check out your favorite
ski resort in the West. It also has handy links for sending
messages of concern to the appropriate resort:
This may be more than you were looking for but...
The Auburn Ski Club has great ski programs for kids, both
nordic and alpine. The Alpine lessons start at age 6. It's a
season package that includes a season pass for Boreal.
They meet about every other week for lessons. This is a
winter-long program that kids sign up for in the fall. It's
probably full for this year but it might be worth checking out.
Does anyone out there have experience with teaching young kids to ski?
I took my 3 year old skiing last weekend by putting his skis between
mine and holding his hands constantly. He enjoyed it, but it was clear
to see that he wasn't learning how to balance his body, or to ski by
himself. Is three too young? Are there any special techniques you have
tried that were successful? I've seen some skiers use a harness for
small kids. Does anyone know how it works?
We were in Tahoe last week and had my 3 year 8 month old daughter take a
ski lesson at Northstar. Here's the details:
Northstar has a very small bunny hill that the under 5 crowd practices
on. The instructor used what he called an 'edgie wedgie' which is a
thin, round piece of rubber about 6 inches in length that has a screw
clamp on both ends. She would hop on a motorized ramp that took her to
the top of the bunny hill and then the instructor would screw the wedgie
onto the front of her skis. He then had her bend her knees and place
her hands on her knees and give a gentle push off. The wedgie basically
forces her skis into a permanent wedge. He would then take the wedgie
off so she could walk back over to the ramp. The lesson consisted of
her doing this exercise over and over. Incrementally he also worked on
getting her to look at me as I moved positions at the bottom of the hill
in order to get her to turn. There were also some arches that were
staggered that she didn't really get to. There was a four year old
practicing going through the arches and ending up at his mom's feet and
he appeared to have the same crouched position with hands on the knees.
No poles were used.
Whatever your child's age you could probably glean a lot just by
watching the exercises that the paid instructors have the kids go
The hill was being used by the ski school as well as other folks that
weren't taking lessons. The hill is right across from the ski school
building at the top of the gondola ride. If you tell the lift ticket
checker in the gondola line that you're going up for a ski lesson they
don't require a lift ticket.
My kids, now aged 10 and 14, have been skiing since they were old enough to
walk. I did start each for the first day between my legs. However, most
of the larger ski areas (i.e., Northstar, Squaw Valley) have excellent ski
schools for younger children. I highly recommend the younger children's
programs as they combine elements of day care (little kids can't ski all
day) snacks and ski instruction. Most of the traditional ski schools won't
take kids under 6, so they've developed the little kids programs.
Personally, I like Squaw Valley's the best. I hope this helps. Have fun!
Jean-Claude Killy claimed he learned to ski before he could walk, which was
probably as much brag as fact, but a kid can learn to at least slide down a
short & very moderate slope on skis pretty much as soon as they can stand
well and balance. It's easiest as a two-parent exercise--one to release
the tyke, one to catch. Very much like the routine during first steps.
Even so, expect him to still want to ruin your back with that "skiing"
between your skis bit. I didn't have much luck teaching my kids unassisted
skiing before maybe five or six, and typically it was a fairly frustrating
experience for both child & parent until around seven or eight. One thing
that really helps a lot is nice weather, because kids fall and get cold &
miserable easily, so planning kid ski trips for the spring rather than
winter helps a lot.
Did you know that Dave's Ski Shop (and maybe other places)
in Tahoe will rent you kids' skis and boots for the whole
season at a very reasonable rate. And you can exchange
boots if you need to while the kids' feet grow. We ski
a lot with many other families, and that seems to be the
best deal around while they're growing so fast.
I have used the all-day ski-school for my 8-year-old at a lot of different
ski areas, and Heavenly has a great program. Although I don't have any
direct experience with the day-care per se at Heavenly, I wouldn't worry.
If it's anything like the kiddie ski school, your child will be happy and
safe. The day-care facility is modern and completely apart from the kids'
ski school. It seemed very peaceful and safe. People are not free to roam
in and out. Parents have to have claim tickets to get their kids back. The
staff seemed really friendly and, while young, interested, organized, and
aware. I think there is a system for assigning pagers to parents. Why don't
you try calling Heavenly or logging on to its web site for specific
questions. Have fun! Linda
Oakland Ski Club takes children. They are located near Northstar.
Here's their website: Welcome to the Oakland Ski Club .
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