Tips for sharing your love for the slopes with your kids
By Mike McKenna
Learning to ski can be a lot of fun for kids, but it can also be a frustrating and mildly painful experience–especially for the parents. To help prevent any meltdowns or hissy fits (from either children or parents), here are some tips for sharing the slopes with young shredders.
Snow conditions, sunshine, a proper night’s sleep, world peace, even the entire cast of The Muppets showing up aren’t nearly as important to a successful ski day with a youngster than a simple cup of hot cocoa is–topped with whipped cream, of course. As luck and the Ski Gods (Thanks, Ullr!) would have it, most bars at ski areas serve hot chocolate, as well as the much appreciated adult beverages.
So it’s usually a good move to locate the closest hot chocolate spout and/or bar to the slopes as soon as possible. There’s a good reason why the tap beer selection at Dollar Mountain is located right behind the hot chocolate dispensers. It’s because Sun Valley didn’t become a world famous resort just for the skiing alone!
Pizza and French Fries
While pizza and French fries earn culinary silver and bronze medals, respectively, to hot chocolate’s gold in the Olympic podium of happy little skiers, they’re also the two key moves for shredders-in-training.
Lessons are, of course, highly recommended for any young skier over the age of four. But if the children are too young or a parent is feeling brave, pizza (wedging ski tips together like a slice of pizza to slow down or stop) and French fries (pointing skis straight like a pair of fries) makes sense to kids and comes in handy. As do ski harnesses usually referred to as "racer chasers.”
These devices are carried by the young skier like a backpack and include a handle and a leash of some sort. It really is a great product, but was obviously invented by chiropractors looking for more business. For there’s nothing like getting dragged down the slopes by a giggling three-year-old.
The Magic Carpet is a great place to start, too, as being dragged around is more prevalent there so people don’t laugh as loudly at you. It’s also free and an easy way to introduce future shredders to the sport.
Crash Test Dummies
Naturally, falling is a part of skiing. Every skier and snowboarder has fallen more times than they can count. Heck, it’s easy to mistake half the athletes at the annual Winter X Games for crash test dummies. So falling is nothing to be embarrassed about or too afraid of–it’s what helmets are for. After all, the sooner a child understands that skiing or snowboarding is all about having fun in the great outdoors during the cold winter months, the better off everyone is going to be.
Hops and Barley
Parenthood inherently forces its participants to deal in the art of handling small frustrations. Little things that add up, nonetheless, and can occasionally make even the mellowest parent nearly blow out a binding. A day on the slopes with some little ones is bound to provide such moments now and again: things like lost mittens or little shredders melting down while struggling to walk in ski boots or tired toddlers refusing to do anything other than turn left and crash.
To help avoid such moments, the experts suggest that it’s important to take regular breaks, especially on cold days. One of the big keys to helping young shredders develop a life-long love for alpine sports is that they enjoy their first few encounters with it. So stopping for hot cocoa before a child gets cranky or a pint before pop gets too POed is highly recommended.
And always remember the old shredders’ saying, "If it isn’t fun, you’re probably not doing it right."
[For more tips about introducing kids to skiing or enrolling them in ski school, please check SV Shred’s Ski School 101.]