Monday, March 1, 2010

Tips For Taking Young Kids Downhill Skiing

Here’s what we’ve learned this winter while taking Scooter (5 years old) and Chewy (nearly 3 years old) downhill skiing:

  • Encourage them to try it once, but let them decide how many times they want to go down the hill.
  • One word – HELMET!
  • Start on the small hill. Then venture for the chairlift.
  • Harness and leash. Especially if they’re still learning control.
  • Sun protection and eye protection.
  • A happy, cheerful, and encouraging voice. (Don’t sound terrified as you yell, “Stop” or “Slow down!”)
  • Continually remind your child what to do. (“Make a pizza,” “Snow plow,” “Toes together,” “Look forward,” “Watch where you’re going,” “Don’t hit the snowboarder!”)
  • Hold on tight on the chair lift. (I mean hold tight to the child and tell them, “Yes, we’re as tall as an apatosaurus.)
  • Leave time to play in the snow.
  • Snacks. (Especially ones they don’t get very often.)
  • Pack extra clothes.
  • Reward when done. (Praise, hugs, and the occasional Happy Meal.)
  • Be sure to ask if they have to go to the bathroom.  (Or rather, just tell them they have to go before riding the chairlift.)
Note to self (actually to Biker Boy): It’s much easier to follow a kid with a leash and harness on short skis than it is on a snowboard.

Note to myself: I prefer to follow a child with a leash on my snow blades, rather than long skis. Scooter was pulling me down the hill. Maybe I need lessons. You may recall I have a fear of speed and apparently my children don’t.

To Harness or Not?

For Scooter we still use a harness and leash system. Chewy has even tried it out on small hills. We have rented a ski leash for $5 once, as modeled by Chewy below. Search “ski harness” at Amazon or Google it and you’ll find lots of varieties.

We mostly use a Safety First Child Harness with a nylon dog leash. Yes, a dog leash because it’s 6ft long and we can also use it with the dog.  Plus the strap that came with the harness is our safety strap system on our Trek jogger/trailer. We had the child harness from long ago when we took a toddling Scooter hiking at the mountaintop. He liked to be independent, but we didn’t want him tumbling over the side of the mountain. Now it works as a great ski harness. Chewy models the Safety First system below.

Scooter uses the leash system going down the mountain, but Chewy is small enough to put between legs. Biker Boy’s legs, that is. Biker Boy just puts Chewy’s skis between his skis and held her under her arms and away they went. She did practice with the harness on a small hill. Scooter started out on small hills with the harness, but has progressed to doing those himself. We still harness him up when going down the mountain. We’re not fully confident he’d be able to stop himself if he was going too fast and needed to avoid an obstacle or another skier. The kid likes to go fast. Apparently Chewy does too. She kept telling Biker Boy, “Go faster Daddy!”

Renting or Buying Skis?

As far as skis - if you want to try them out or aren’t going to ski much – rent them.

If your child is going to do a fair amount of skiing – looking into buying your own. A ski swap, ebay, or craigslist are good places to start. We didn’t luck out in any of those areas and bought Scooter new Head boots, binding, and skis from Level Nine Sports. Brand new skis are $49. We figure Chewy will use them someday and then we can sell them. We rented for Chewy when we went this past weekend. They’re the cutest little skis! (See photos above.)

And now I’ll get on my soapbox….PLEASE don’t forget to put a helmet on your child. While you’re at, put one on yourself to set a good example. Helmets will be going on clearance soon, so you can get them at a discounted price for next year. Or rent one. Just protect that noggin. I’m one who can attest to the benefits of a helmet!
My three loved ones in helmets.  Plus some other smart person in the back with a helmet on.

Our children seem to enjoy skiing and I'm sure we'll be doing more of it in the future.  (Yippee for a cheap, family friendly place not too far away!)  Any tips for taking the little ones skiing?  How about snowboarding?  I think Scooter will have to take that up when he gets too fast for his mommy!  Any hints on where to get good deals on all the equipment? 

Hope you had a good weeknd and enjoy your week ahead!  Smile!

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