How to Teach Kids to Ski Without Losing Your Mind

kids skiingSo, you’ve got kids. Or nieces and nephews. Or your friends have kids. Either way, there are kids currently happening in your life and, if not properly trained, they can put a major damper on your ski season. Not only are the littler ones typically slow, but they’re also winey, accident prone, and dirty. Right?

They don’t have to be. If you start them young, have a little patience and a good sense of humor, you might find that you actually like skiing with kids, you own or not.

Here’s how.

Teach Diligence

If kiddos are gonna ski with you, they have to understand that it’s a fun but serious thing that takes planning and preparation. No matter how young, there are a few things you can do to help them be proactive about skiing:

  • Have them help with food prep for mountain lunches.
  • Involve them in packing their ski bags and maintaining their gear.
  • Help them get into a good routine of going to bed early so they can wake up early for skiing.

Teach Them the Language

If they’re old enough to speak, then they’re old enough to start adding ski related words to their vocabulary. In the documentary “McConkey”, Shane McConkey’s mother lovingly remembers how she would strap Shane to her body on powder days and he would coo, “Pow, mommy, pow!” and “Bump, mommy, bump!”

Giving them the language of skiing early-on will help to instill a love for skiing that they can draw upon later.

Start with these terms:

  • Boots, bindings, poles, helmet, and goggles
  • Greens, blues, blacks, double blacks
  • Moguls
  • Tree skiing

And, the most beautiful word of all…

  • Powder

First Things First

So, you’ve built a base but where do you start?

Start with safety and respect.
When you get them on the hill, talk about who has the right-of-way and teach them to always make sure they’re paying attention to their surroundings. Set boundaries for them so they know where they need to stay in relation to you. Be calm. Then do this:

Teach them to pizza-pie
Then buy them an edgie-wedgie. It’s the most wonderful thing you’ll ever do for your kid and it will probably make your life a lot easier. They may only need it for two or three days, but the $5 is worth it). In fact, the author of this article learned to ski at the age of 27 and rocked an edgie-wedgie for the first 3 days without shame.

Teach This Later

After they’ve got their pizza-pie and their edgie-wedgie is producing fluid turns with ski tips together, now is the time to remove the edgie wedgie and teach them the following:

  • Proper ski form
  • How to utilize their edges
  • How to control their speed

One of the best visual aids out there for this is Ski School by Elate Media which has dozens of videos broken into skier level: beginner, intermediate, expert, etc. Watch these before taking your kiddo out to see how these beginner techniques can be broken down and practiced.

Instill Safety and Independence

At first, they’re going to be completely dependent on you but you’ll be surprised at how quickly kids pick up various techniques. Once they’re skiing becomes more confident, their fluidity improves, and you’re noticing fewer falls on green and blue runs, it’s time to cultivate some independence by doing the following:

  • Show them ski maps and quiz them on what the symbols mean so that, eventually, they can ski safely and independently on the mountain.
  • Have them show you, on the resort map, the route they would take to get to the base of the mountain should you get separated.
  • If they’re old enough and carry a cellphone, make sure they have ski-patrol’s number for all of the mountains you frequent.

Finally, if they’ve demonstrated enough skill and maturity, let them go on few runs alone. Set up an agreed upon rendezvous point and meet there after. Your heart might skip a few beats waiting for them but, in the end, you’re raising a ripper.