Ahhh…SKIING! The sport that can fill you up with adrenaline just about as fast as it can empty your wallet. That’s right, skiing can be expensive; really, really expensive. However, if you’re careful about how you go about it, it’s a sport that most people can afford (check out our post on 5 ways to get your kids skiing for cheap). One of the major ways that you can save money is to teach your own kids to ski.
If you are at least an intermediate skier and are willing to invest some time and a whole lot of patience, you too can teach your own kids how to ski. Skiing requires 2 major things – balance and control. Your skill depends largely on your ability to master these, so naturally they are the foundation of teaching your kids to ski. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:
Before you even get out on the snow, practice balance. Walk around in ski boots (it’s harder than you think), and then graduate to walking around with your skis on. Practice falling down and learning to get up before you start.
Tip #1 Getting Up
Before you hit the snow, teach your kids how to get up. Your back will thank you!
1. Have your kids sit on the back of their skis and grab their knees. Pull up.
2. Sit down on the uphill side of your skis. Put your hands on the ground in front of your boots and push.
Remind your kids that you always want to get up with your skis pointing across the hill (not up or down).
Your goal when skiing with your kids is to teach them to balance. Balancing independently is an important skill to learn when going down the mountain. Although it is tempting to hold onto your kids as they are skiing, independent balance is critical to skiing, so the earlier that you practice this, the better. To do this, start on a very gentle slope (the bunny hill of even your backyard) so that your child can get comfortable with gliding. Don’t move up to a harder hill until they have MASTERED the first.
Tip #2 Harness or Not
Head to any beginner lift, and you’re bound to see tons of kids with a harness and a leash on. This is one of those sights that can be awesome or terrible. Harnesses are great. Most of them are equipped with a handle to help you put your child on and off the lift or to assist them when standing. When used this way, they’re GREAT. However, a majority of the time, you’ll see kids careening out of control straight down the mountain, towing their parents along. BAD! A ski leash should only be used to guide your child, or as an extra safety precaution not as a way to get around actually teaching them or to go on terrain above their level. 90% of the time, I see these used incorrectly, so be wise. Bad habits learned on a ski leash will be hard to break!
The first thing that you need to teach, once your child starts moving is how to STOP! A wedge (also called a snowplow or “pizza”) is the best way to do this. Tips together and backs apart. Before you head out on the slope practice moving skis in and out of a wedge so that your child can understand the motions before they start moving. If you are comfortable, this would be a good time to ski backwards (in a backwards wedge) so that you can make sure that they are doing it correctly. Just try and avoid the trap of allowing them to stop by skiing into your arms!
Tip #3 Get an Edgie Wedgie
Edgie Wedgie: A bungee that attaches to the tips of skis to hold them together when forming a wedge shape. In my mind, it’s a priceless piece of equipment that luckily costs only around $10. Most kids have a difficult time making a wedge shape, and the edgie wedgie solves that by allowing them to simply spread their legs apart and making the wedge for them. It is an excellent tool for learning skiing muscle memory. Unless your child is really young (3 or under) shoot for no more than a few days with it on to avoid dependence. Our tip? Buy one before you head to the hill and keep it in your pocket just in case!
Once your child can start and stop, work on movement. Turning is essential, and no matter how good your child is at stopping, they need to know how to maneuver. Make large S turns down the hill and have your child try to stay in your tracks. Start with very large turns (all the way across the hill) and work your way down to smaller ones (about 15 to 20 feet apart) A simple way to teach turning is by playing follow the leader.
Tip #4 Watch Where You’re Going
Kids tend to go where they are looking. If they’re checking out the big trees, chances are they’ll smack right into one. When skiing with your kids, get them to focus on watching you. This way you can model safe turning and show them what to do. Be prepared to make faces, tell jokes, or even bust out a toy to help keep their eyes on you.
Before you head off of the beginner hill, your child needs to know how to stop and make regular turns independently. Both Mason(5) and Chloe(3) have gotten to be awesome little rippers and have been primarily taught just by us. Yes, we both have experience teaching ski school, but lucky you we shared our secrets. You’re welcome!
Hookease by LaunchPad –
This is a new product that is a great way to get your kids into skiing if you are comfortable yourself. We tested Hookease out with Chloe on her first day up this season and she showed huge improvement throughout the day. At the beginning of the day, she was crying to have us hold her and by the end she was attacking blues with us or linking turns on her own. Her comfort level with speed and stopping on her own increased dramatically. The main thing is that Hookease allows you to not just talk through skiing technique, but also show and act it out with your kids while being in control. You’re able to help your kid with turns and rolling them from one edge to the other with relative ease. The hooks take a second to get used to attaching, but stay in, offer good control and leverage with a simple roll of your wrists. Our skis were a little thin (height wise) for the clamps to grab onto, so we just inserted a strip of cardboard between the clamp and the ski and never had a problem all day. One down side is that the instructor may end up doing a power wedge much of the time, thus making your legs much more tired. In the end though, this product beats out leashes or holding your kids up because it forces them to balance on their own and saves your back from trying to carry your kids everywhere. Hookease is a very unique product that really does help teach children learn balance and control!
Launchpad also makes an edgie-wedgie type product called the Wedge-ease. Although we really enjoyed the simplicity of the clip on design, the metal teeth on the back created some damage to the bottom of the ski.
Lucky Bums Winter Sport Ski Helmet – Looking for a good helmet at a great price? Make sure to check this one out. Lucky Bums has taken the increasingly popular adjustable size dial and integrated it into their winter sports helmet. This allows for easily customizable sizing and comfort. We’re also big fans of the padding on the neck strap, which protects necks from being pinched by the buckle. Coming in at just under $50, this is really a great helmet for the price. Before you buy one, we recommend having your child try it on, as the sizing seems to be a bit off. Chloe at age 3 with a head that’s about the 75th percentile wears a kids Medium/Large and will likely grow out of it by next season.
One lucky reader will win the ultimate package to teach your kid how to ski including one Hookease and one Winter Sport Helmet. Enter using Rafflecopter!
See you tomorrow for more great giveaways!
We would like to thank LaunchPad for supplying products for this review. As always, these opinions are totally our own and are not influenced by anyone else.