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  1. #1
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    I swore I'd never ski with kids - but now must teach gf's 4 y/o son to ski. help!

    I sorta can't believe I'm admitting I have any paternal instinct. I always relished being single with no kids and having the freedom ski wherever, whenever. I used to silently feel sorry for parents with kids.

    But my gf has a 4 year old son who has never seen snow. And I'm sitting here in my condo waiting for the bell tomorrow, and I'm actually wishing I had the lil guy with me so I could suit him up and drag him off to the hill. It sounds more appealing right now to introduce him to the mountains than to get fresh powder for myself. Something is wrong - I need to have my testosterone levels checked.

    In any case I'm completely clueless about what to do. He is excited and wants to go. Mom has given me the green light.

    Is there some master thread about "The best way to introduce tiny groms to skiing?" Like with gear/clothing/instruction recommendations?

    I measured him before I left for Mammoth yesterday. He is 3' 8" and his feet are 6 7/8" long. He's gonna turn 5 in a few months.

    Q1: What to buy for clothing? Miniature versions of what we wear? I.E. shell pants/jacket, wool base and mid layers? I looked on backcountry and only saw puffy insulated stuff from Columbia.

    Q2: Gear. Renting seems dumb - thought I'd buy him some used gear and go from there. Any ski recommendations? Boots? Should I take him to the boot fitters I use for myself? Do you bite the bullet and buy groms new boots every season as they grow? Are we doing footbeds and custom fit and molded liners these days for kids? When I was coming up I was in cavernous rear-entry boots and on crap skis.

    Q3: Instruction. He's a bright kid, good attitude. But has never played sports. How do I balance quality instruction with fun-times and not making him hate this? Teach myself (I've never taught) or put him in ski school?

    If there is some thread with all these answers please point me there.

  2. #2
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    Whatever you do, try to be really stressed out and project that on him. Also, scream at him a lot and call him a pansy for not carrying his own shit and for being cold. First and foremost though, and this is universal the world over: NO HOT CHOCOLATE! EVER!
    No Roger, No Rerun, No Rent

  3. #3
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    Feb 2010
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    skittles work
    b
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  4. #4
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    Mar 2006
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    First lesson should be in ski school. No exceptions. imo..

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4matic View Post
    First lesson should be in ski school. No exceptions. imo..
    I agree with this, then take it from there. The proximity stoke from getting a little kid into skiing is unbelievable. And gummy bears work much better than skittles.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2009
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    OldLarry - there will be no hot chocolate for him. Mornings will start with calisthenics and then 30 minutes of reading ski history, followed by a quiz. Evening study session examining everything he did wrong.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2003
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    Big in Japan
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    I was riding the top lift at Gore Saturday with mom and six year old. I knew he was six because he told me. He had been skiing since 2 1/2, so you think you are going to have trouble finding boots? Mom said they actually made them that small. Kid was still tiny. Cool part of the ride is when they pointed over at Rumor, the steep and icy run off the top (like Outer Limits at KMart) and Dad came ripping down. Then Mom said they were going down, too. Awesome little bugger. I was jealous.

    Anyway, what made the kid want to ski was watching his sisters go out one day, and he threw a tantrum for skiing right there. So they suited him up.
    So maybe he needs a sister to compete with.

    Let's do some livin'
    After, we die

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    The proximity stoke from getting a little kid into skiing is unbelievable. And gummy bears work much better than skittles.
    ski school and gummy bears are for the weak.
    b
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  9. #9
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    Apr 2009
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    This vid was a huge help when taking my GFs little man out for the first time...

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba-XwY-fUXk

  10. #10
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    pdx
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    off the hill:
    show him "gnar". he won't get the drinking stuff, but i'm sure seeing naked butts and calling his mom from the hill will make him laff

    on the hill:
    constant fun (don't actually ski)


    ...& gummy bears

  11. #11
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    Nov 2012
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    flatland
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    Quote Originally Posted by calisnow View Post
    OldLarry - there will be no hot chocolate for him. Mornings will start with calisthenics and then 30 minutes of reading ski history, followed by a quiz. Evening study session examining everything he did wrong.
    I'm pretty much this attitude with my off-spring. Don't want to grind on him, so he always takes the morning lesson were ever we go and I can work up a sweat. Then pick him up and show him how happy it makes you feel and the rest should be history. Renting (annual lease) the kid new equipment each year is by far the easiest cost commitment rather than popping for new equipment at a high rate.

    Any reputable ski shop should have a used and new rental capacity, even premium for the right price. Be sure to match the ski type to the snow conditions he/she is most likely be in to insure max fun factor.

    I also insist in a painful boot for best feel...
    "knowledgeable in escapades of the flesh"

  12. #12
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    Nov 2011
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    Put yourself in a 4 yr old's world. Warm is first, fun is second, and learning to ski is third. Clothing is huge, over do it . Too warm is better than too cold. Silly shit like bunched up toes in socks is big at that age. Focus on warmth and comfort .

    Next is make it fun. The entire time. It's not about ski skills at that age, but having fun outside.

    Private lesson if you can swing it. Otherwise just be patient and have fun.

    I had my 3.5 year old outside 2 weeks ago playing in the snow for 2 hours. Temp was 7 with windchill of -5. He had a blast . He's had a few lessons, has fun , but is lazy with the effort required for skiing.

    Keep him comfy and get him outside having fun. He'll learn to love it. Maybe he'll even learn to keep his upper body out of the back seat before 35. For some of us it was hard to do that .
    Best Regards,

    UMKP

    "Peter, You've been missing a lot of work lately".
    "I wouldn't exactly say I've been missing it, Bob".

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by acinpdx View Post

    on the hill:
    constant fun (don't actually ski)
    This. He'll practically teach himself the basics, and probably will be too excited to listen to any tips.

    Anything that gets him leaning forward without thinking about it is key. Jumping over things, even if imaginary, will do the trick. Ski under the chair lift and jump over the shadows.

    I like the gummy bears idea...pockets will be stuffed next Sunday.

    Oh, and get him skiing with other kids. School programs and local clubs can be pretty affordable, and get him out regularly. He'll learn more watching other kids learn than he will watching you.

  14. #14
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    Oct 2012
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    I've got a four year old and a two year old skiers. So have done this twice recently. I would recommend you don't buy a lesson. Kid will be more comfortable with you than with a stranger and if you can ski than you can get a 4yo down the bunny hill. You most definitely need an edgy-wedgie (the rubber ski connector that keeps them in a wedge). I also like starting them out in the harness (gets them going fast, you should be able to control them so they dont fall too much and it appears to them that they are doing it BY THEMSELVES, so its fun). For equipment, just get the cheapest used stuff you can find. Skis: short as possible. Boots: comfortable. Then yeah have fun. I did the chocolate afterwards. If they need candy while you ski maybe its still too early. Clothing: warm. Don't go out and buy all new shit.

  15. #15
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    This is spectacularly accurate and 10x more important than gear and clothing considerations. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by UrMomsKneePads View Post
    Put yourself in a 4 yr old's world. Warm is first, fun is second, and learning to ski is third. Clothing is huge, over do it . Too warm is better than too cold. Silly shit like bunched up toes in socks is big at that age. Focus on warmth and comfort .

    Next is make it fun. The entire time. It's not about ski skills at that age, but having fun outside.

    Private lesson if you can swing it. Otherwise just be patient and have fun.

    I had my 3.5 year old outside 2 weeks ago playing in the snow for 2 hours. Temp was 7 with windchill of -5. He had a blast . He's had a few lessons, has fun , but is lazy with the effort required for skiing.

    Keep him comfy and get him outside having fun. He'll learn to love it. Maybe he'll even learn to keep his upper body out of the back seat before 35. For some of us it was hard to do that .
    "Buy the Fucking Plane Tickets!"
    -- Jack Tackle

  16. #16
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    Jan 2009
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    All the warm, fun candy stuff. But, we made a hula hoop out of 3/4 pex and a fitting. Make the diameter such that the kiddo can be inside the hoop holding on without you bending over or running him down. Mine is like 4 1/2 feet. Wrap in fun duct tape.

    You can turn them, they get used to leaning forward into it. The harness promotes leaning back. We totally skipped the edgie wedgie, just taught them how to turn to stop.

    3-4 days and they are on their own transition to switch w them outside the hoop as they get better, then when starting on their own you can "catch" them with it if they get outta control.

    My 3 and 4 year olds ski damn well.
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    1,364
    Pursue his expectations of this experience, not your own.

    Leave the resort before the tantrum. Leave with him wanting more. That said, kids often cry less when non-parents are in charge. (Less testing of the limits.) Try to leave before he gets tired.

    There are two memories for little ones:
    I wanted more. Skiing is fun.
    or
    I was exhausted/cold/hurt/crying... skiing sucks.

    Don't feel bad if you don't even get to ski because making snow angels was more fun for him. Ski resorts are magical lands to first timers of any age.

    *edit- hoola-hoop is a good idea. I use a single ski pole for her handle at my side. The pole is horizontal across my thighs. That worked until she could use a wedge to control her speed herself. Next up is turning. She's 4. The smile housing "I'm skiing by myself!" floored me yesterday. So much fun watching them 'get it.' Before she was even comfortable in ski boots I would carry her around the resort for snack breaks and "cheering at other skiers." She's been riding chairs for 3 years now but only wedging this year. They're all different. The best you can do is maintain positive play.

  18. #18
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    Jun 2006
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    Take him into the woods and say "Now don't tell Mommy, this will be our secret."

    Put him in a half day lesson (while you go rip the hill), let the instructors instruct, then spend the rest of the day farting around with him doing fun stuff. Ski backwards, go through the kiddie park, drink hot chocolate (peppermint schnapps in yours is a plus.)

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  19. #19
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    Dec 2009
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    around the bend
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    Excellent advice all - thanks. Especially on the chill and have fun part. I guess I'll go with the kiddie half day lesson plan and then farting around after that - and leaving before tiredness kicks in.

    So - as to the warm clothing thing. Do you guys do lots of thin layers or a few thick ones? Puffy thick jackets? I guess you can tell I don't have kids - I would think since they jump around so much all the time they'd get really hot and sweaty and then mad.

    I assume they spend a lot of time IN the snow - so as for waterproofing you want as much as possible yeah? Wet kid = angry kid right?

  20. #20
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    Nov 2009
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    da eskalaterz
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    Q2) Just rent the gear, but do buy an edgie wedgie if you are teaching him yourself. Use it only if necessary. The first big step is stopping in a wedge (PIZZA!!!!!), and if the kid struggles an edgie wedgie is critical.

    Q3) Absolutely put him in a lesson, preferably a private. If you put him in a class with X number of kids, the level of attention he will receive is 1/X. If you really want to get him hooked, get him a private instructor, it's worth it in the long run. If you ignore this advice and try to teach him on your own, crank your patience dial up to a billion. I can tell you right now, your goals and expectations for his first day are WAY TOO HIGH. If you only get him to stop you have hit a home run. Take breaks, screw around, have snowball fights, make snow angels.

  21. #21
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    Mar 2004
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    Good advice....make it fun, not about skills, and keep it short. Where you taking him??

    I have 2 boys, 3 and 6, and have done a lot of this. My kids have refused to be in a lesson, and rather than force it, we said "ok whatever". So, my view is see where he stands on lessons.....if it freaks him out, fuck it.

    My few ideas.
    The first win is just will they put on clothes, helmet, goggles, weird boots. So, if you make that far....WIN.

    On skis. Don't make him think about it....skills, pizza, blah, blah. Start at a flat place and just put on some skis. Just have him walk around.....throw out a ball or something, just get him moving on his own on skis. Or just have a goal.....go over there then we'll start. Anything so they don't have to think about it much.

    You probably want a harness too. You can start with him between your legs (and with a harness you can choke up on it, and lift him if he crosses skis. As soon as the legs are stable, you let him get out in front on the harness.....and you are just controlling speed.
    ---with first kid I tough "pizza".....but at 6 he is a bit too hooked on the wedge.
    ---With the 3.5 year old I haven't told him that yet, but I have him on the harness and I control his speed......and tell him to go places.......he is basically moving right into parallel. Think I might skip the pizza talk.

    Last thing.....bring a pack that can hold skis. Put both your skis and his on the pack (leave the poles in the car). That way your hands are free to carry the kid. At the end of day when cooked this will be key. And/or bring his shoes in the pack.....end of day. Plus you bring the treats in pack.
    Donjoy to the World!

  22. #22
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    Jul 2005
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    My three year old girl never gets cold - I call her our little furnace. We dress her warmer than she needs and she never complains about being hot. Layer like you would yourself. Honestly we have her decked out in expensive kids stuff because it is still cheap. Synthetic long underwear top and bottom, thin fleece top and bottom, puffy top, insulated ski pants bottom, warm coat over puffy top and if it is really cold (like it has been all year here in the midwest) she has a vest we add in there.

    Get a harness. Even if you don't use the ropes the handle on the back works great to help the on the lift and to pick them up when they fall.

    Forget the lesson. Hang out. My little girl wanted to ski all day from the first time we turned her loose on skis but my stepson only took a few runs the first day and then wanted to play video games so that is what we did. In fact most of the runs didn't even involve the lift. I just pulled him around mostly. Then we quit. My little girl only wants to quit when she is exhausted and unable to maintain her composure so we quit when she melts down Her call.

    Pancakes.

    Do what they want. My three year old likes to take a few runs down the big mountain now that she can do it but then she wants to hit the magic carpet, the bunny area, then the jump area, then we have to hit the terrain park so she can hit rails. Then more pancakes.

    Bring a dog and a sled. We go for walks in the woods. I bring a beer. Before my girl was old enough to ski we'd do this while my wife skied then switch. Sleds are also great for hauling kid to and from slope. Tie or lock to ski rack for easy walk back to car.

    Cheese sticks in pocket for fuel.

    I tend to coach just because. Find a way to make it a game. French fries please no Vee.

    Video to watch later. My girl loves that especially with music.

    I see the biggest improvement between ski days, not during a ski day. Keep the days short but go as many days as you can.

    Enjoy. I've never been a kid person and never wanted kids till my mid thirties. Skiing with kids, like telemark skiing, gives me another reason to go and I enjoy it but it helps to have a significant other around to take over so I can go take laps and both of our kids often have a total attitude change when going from mom to dad or vice-versa.

    A run with my three year old girl:



    Edit to add: My stepson responded really well to me as his instructor but his mom was helpless to teach him anything because he basically turned into a giant whine machine when he skied with her for the first couple of years. He threw down for me. Girlfriends kid I think you're good doing this yourself. YMMV.
    Last edited by uglymoney; 02-11-2014 at 10:32 PM.

  23. #23
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    Mar 2006
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    Missoula, MT
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    1. Go to the store. They make mini versions of ski clothing with price to match. Obermeyer even had this thing with seams you could cut and make legs and sleeves longer since kids grow like crazy.

    2. Rent. Get a rental and lesson package then ski with the kid in the afternoon. You'll get fresh pow and after it's slayed you can ski with the kid.
    If kid is stoked to ski, find a ski shop that does seasonal rentals.

    3. I don't want kids or to raise kids, but little kids skiing is cute/awesome. Remember, when it's a knee deep day for you, it's a waist deep day for them!

    Ps, kids heads don't grow nearly as fast as their feet so just buy a helmet and googles. Should cost like under $100.
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

  24. #24
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    Jul 2005
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    I say forget renting. You can buy everything used for the price of renting. Spit the cost with your girlfriend.

  25. #25
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    Oct 2010
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    Edmonton, AB
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    247
    Let their Mum decide what clothing they'll wear. She'll know. And then you'll know. Kids don't stay still just because they're not on skis, so it'll be the same as anything else. I have so many "bad" habits from being an adult skier (I don't want to sweat, I change layers all the time, I dress cold because I know I'll warm up, and I wear super-thin socks). These things don't apply to kids because they don't think about their gear and it isn't fitted precisely (and even if it is, it won't last long). Spare gloves / hat / neck warmer / hand warmer in a backpack are essential but heading into the lodge early for a hot chocolate is even better. And just to be nice I'll answer your question: they'll be dressed in a few thick layers including snow pants, pants (or a pink ballerina dress under the snow pants!?), and underpants. And they won't they won't tell you they're cold until they're hypothermic because they don't want to stop skiing with; so you'll have to watch for signs of them being cold or just head inside early. Same thing with peeing. They don't want to stop skiing until they throw a tantrum, at which point you've got a lot of repair work ahead of you.

    I take my buddy's kids out every chance I get (2.5, 5, and 7). There is no better feeling in this world than a kid pestering you as to when we'll go skiing next the moment you walk in the door. Lessons were well worth the investment, all but the toddler follow the instructors' instructions more than mine. Seasonal rentals at this age make sense where I am ($200/year for the whole family and their dad also uses it when he comes with us). It does tie us a bit to one hill but so does the season's pass, and eliminating the incremental cost of going skiing is huge (aside from the cost of hot chocolate). I ski in 45-minute blocks with the younger ones and 1.5-hour blocks with the 7yo and don't be afraid to make it shorter.

    The 5yo doesn't want to progress off the bunny hill because I took him on the bigger beginner hill a bit too early and I was focussed on the toddler at the time and he ended up falling and riding down on his ass. I had too much to manage to effectively get him up and back on the horse. I regret that, but he's still having fun and I think it's more me that has the problem (I so badly want him skiing at his older sister's level). On the other hand, his 7yo sister scared the shit out of me straight-lining a blue run but she stuck it and ever since she's been so much more confident on the slopes and has been leading the pack on the stoke-meter.

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