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  1. #1
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    Kids skiing ages?

    hope this isn't a DSM thread...

    I've got 3 kids (boys) 9, 7, and 4 years old.
    The 9 year old started skiing last year and had the typical struggles of a kid. Tired after 1/2 the day, cold, shitty gloves. blah, but really wants to ski this year so It wasn't that bad.

    My 7 year old is a 110% goof ball. I almost put him up for adoption when he asked if he could snowboard. #jokes but really I did a double take. "you wanna what?"
    He does everything at his own pace so I wonder if a instructor would quit after a day with him?


    What years did you Mags with Kids start them at? Norsman probably has his skiing already in the livingroom :-P
    Did they resist?
    What would you do different?
    My circle either has kids that don't ski, or don't have kids yet.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2006
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    I have 3 year-old twins (August birthday). One was really really getting into it last season and was starting to get his wedge stops down (after probably 4-5 days, and by "days" I mean an hour or two each session). The other didn't want to ski. I figure (hope) this season she probably will. Bigger, stronger, more confidence. She's said she wants to ski with mom, so we'll see.

    Your kids are all plenty old enough, including the youngest. I'd say just feel it out. An instructor may get tons of results that you can't--because she/he works with kids all the time and isn't dad. Or not.

    Biggest general (potentially obvious tips):
    1. Pacing is important. Both in progression and simply the amount of time on the snow each day.
    2. Good gear (e.g. clothes and gloves) is important. Everybody hates numb hands.

    There are a bunch of threads on this, by the way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernest_Hemingway View Post
    I realize there is not much hope for a bullfighting forum. I understand that most of you would prefer to discuss the ingredients of jacket fabrics than the ingredients of a brave man. I know nothing of the former. But the latter is made of courage, and skill, and grace in the presence of the possibility of death. If someone could make a jacket of those three things it would no doubt be the most popular and prized item in all of your closets.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Vinyl Valley
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    What I've learned is that it's not really about skiing or snowboarding, it's about having fun outdoors.

    My kids were about 4 years old when first on skis or snowboard.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2014
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    Issaquah, WA
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    I started our oldest too early at 4, but that was just her and it was the wrong program/school. Our youngest did just fine at 4, but I found a great school. You already have it figured out that all kids are different, learn different, etc, so finding the right school (assuming you're going to put them in lessons) is a big part of it too. I could never teach my own kids to ski. It just wouldn't work and I feel strongly that's the case with most families, but of course there are exceptions. The biggest piece of advice I can give and it's not much, is to drop them off and disappear. Don't hang around, go off and ski on your own, with your wife and/or friends. I'd also recommend an "all day" class. They're going to get a lunch break and they're there to learn and have fun, so why not make it all day. You're still going to have plenty of time to ski with them before and after. The quicker they start learning and building confidence the quicker their stoke levels increase and want to return. Also as said above, don't skimp on any of the soft goods.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by skuff View Post
    What I've learned is that it's not really about skiing or snowboarding, it's about having fun outdoors.

    My kids were about 4 years old when first on skis or snowboard.
    100% agree I just want them to be outside.
    I think more lessons will be in order for the oldest and others if they want to start.
    LVS took my boy for a few hours and it really helped. They always seem to listen better to folks who aren't constantly parenting them.
    Full on lessons might be a good way for him to meet some other kids too.
    Mom want's zero to do with the snow/ Raised in Reno by parents from Hawaii.
    We didn't start them earlier because I took a 10 year hiatus from skiing.
    Now that we've moved 20 min from Mission Ridge and I'm skiing again I'd like to get the kids going.

    Quote Originally Posted by thebrucemac View Post
    I'd also recommend an "all day" class. They're going to get a lunch break and they're there to learn and have fun, so why not make it all day. You're still going to have plenty of time to ski with them before and after. The quicker they start learning and building confidence the quicker their stoke levels increase and want to return. Also as said above, don't skimp on any of the soft goods.
    Our mtn has some cool multi week lessons I'm looking at for sure.
    Last edited by Neil Fiedler; 10-31-2017 at 01:03 PM. Reason: quote addition

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    310
    Kids ski programs at either of our local mountains (Hood or Bachy) were a great way to start our grom at age 6-ish. He's 10 now and will ski just about anywhere I want to ski, and usually isn't the first one to want to pack it in for the day.

    I think the structure of the group lessons were critical--especially if you can get a good recommendation from a friend on an instructor. On the mountain or in sports in general, getting instruction from someone other than the parent is 50% of the battle--probably more. It's also hugely beneficial for groms to ski around other groms at first. There's some sense of healthy competition and camaraderie that discourages shitty attitudes. I can't really explain it, but it's good.

    From there, we transitioned to half-day lesson, half-day family. I didn't try to teach much of anything in that 2nd half of the day--just let him be stoked on what he learned and show me the new cool places he skied. I let him guide me around the mountain. Kids love that kind of shit!

    After 2 seasons of lessons, we were ready to ski together all day. The first year or two of that was transitional. I let him choose if he wants to do his own thing for a bit or work on skills. We make an agreement upfront, on the focus of the next run, and that's key, IMO. No matter what, I never launch into coach mode without asking "can I give you tip about something I just noticed?" unless he was doing something dangerous. If he says "no thanks," I say "no worries" and just put it on the list to work on the next time he's in the mood for "coach mode."

    You see a lot of kids "resisting" at the mountain, but the kids that are having a blast don't stand out because they're not being loud and their parents aren't yelling at them or carrying them by their bib straps back toward the parking lot. The kids that have a good time usually have parents that understand the ski trip is no longer all about what the parent wants to do. He wants to lap that mini-terrain and get 1-3 inches of air, but he's super stoked on that? Then so am I. I parlay that terrain park stoke into a search for jumps elsewhere on the mountain--especially places where mom and dad also like to ski. Gradually, we shifted the focus of the "fun" to steep and deep. Now that's primarily what he wants to do, and with a lunch break, he can hang all day when it comes to resort laps.

    Also, after you move on from lessons, try to connect with friends who have kids. Regardless of skill level differences, they tend to bring out the best in each other

    Pro-tip: try to keep all the non-skiing-related aspects of the day (lunch-time, car ride, coming home) fun, just to associate another positive memory with the experience.

    Bottom line: as long as you find ways to make it fun for groms, you win.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2009
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    Park City
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    Started both kids at just before 2. A successful day was show up, take a run or not, play in the snow have hot chocolate, repeat. Read somewhere when they can stand on a shopping cart they are ready. Agree w great gloves.

    We used the hula hoop method. Also read books w helmet and goggles on, slid around on the carpet in Skis and boots in the summer. Just donít want the first time to be at the ski hill.

    Both kids love to ski and are little rippers.

    Here is the youngest when she just turned 4


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    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Donner Summit
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    Started both kids at 3, balance and motivation was tough at that age but it got them some exposure and things like riding a lift were exciting. Things started to click the next year, the motor skills were much better and they were able to see progress and really have fun. Both were skiing full days (with breaks of course) at 4, the oldest put in about 40 days that year and the younger one over 50. That included days when it was nuking snow and wind. Ski school was key, did a lot of half days (morning ski school, afternoon ski with mom or dad) as well as some full days. Letting the kids learn with an instructor and then having "fun time" with parents makes it better for everyone involved.

    Now both kids are ripping teens - one has climbed and skied Shasta twice and the other is doing freeride comps. They're occasionally willing to ski with me but usually complain that I'm too slow.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2008
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    Not Brooklyn
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    Started my boy last year at 2.5. Some days he basically said, "NO!" and I said ok. Other days he did a bunch of magic carpet runs with me running downhill backward in a crouch, tapping his ski tips to keep them pointed in the right direction. I also took him on a few low angle tours in a backpack carrier, which he loved. And a few gondola rides, which he still talks about.

    He turned 3 a few weeks ago. I watch ski videos with him frequently, and he has taken to asking to see "bad ski videos" which means watching people crash. Sometimes he puts on his skis and clomps around the garage. Seems like the approach is working out.

    I might try putting him in a lesson or two this year, but I have a feeling he'll be pissed off. I'll need to sell it pretty hard for him to not think he's getting ditched.

    He's pretty small for his age. I think it'll be another year before he's big enough to really manage even the smallest skis. I probably won't have him out more than 8-12 days this year. Next year I'll probably get an Eldora pass so we do at least a weekly half day together.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2004
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    158
    I started my 7.5 year old at just under 3. He was wanting to do what I did and is my shadow. I hiked him 30 feet up the bunny hill and he skied right to the lift and i had to skate to get to him and he rode the lift. That was that. Lots of time goofing off and lots of frustration on both our parts.

    Some good instructors as well when I needed to get my fix.

    Now he is a little ripper and does his own thing at all resorts except I won't let him ski Alta and Bird without me close by.

    My 2.5 year old is gonna start this winter. He wants to do whatever his big brother does (he already is on hockey skates).

    My advice, plenty of gummy bears, plenty of patience, plenty of snow angels, and nothing is that big of a deal. Ive made all the above mistakes and my own as well.

    My boys respond to being pushed, others don't. Know the kid. Ive also had my fair share of 1400 foot vert runs holding a screaming child over my shoulder while his skis kicked me in the face. Ive also had nice people give me parking lot beers as he threw fits and rolled around like a ding dong.

    in the end, its all good!

  11. #11
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    Oct 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Fiedler View Post
    100% agree I just want them to be outside.
    I think more lessons will be in order for the oldest and others if they want to start.
    LVS took my boy for a few hours and it really helped. They always seem to listen better to folks who aren't constantly parenting them.
    Full on lessons might be a good way for him to meet some other kids too.
    Mom want's zero to do with the snow/ Raised in Reno by parents from Hawaii.
    We didn't start them earlier because I took a 10 year hiatus from skiing.
    Now that we've moved 20 min from Mission Ridge and I'm skiing again I'd like to get the kids going.

    Our mtn has some cool multi week lessons I'm looking at for sure.
    I started my oldest at 1.5. She is 2.5 now. She will be able to link turns in a confident open parallel before I hand her over to someone else for instruction or coaching, but that might occur by the end of this season. Or, at the very least, before she is 4.

    Both my wife and I worked as instructors for many years and are still current on our certs.

    Just keep it fun. A multi-week program at your local hill is likely a great call, provided that it is reputable and it works for your schedule and budget.

  12. #12
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    Feb 2010
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    north aspect
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    Skittles are key to success.
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  13. #13
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    Nov 2010
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    NYC
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    My kids both started around 2.5 years old. By started, I mean they were out with me on skis on a gentle slope where I'd schlep them up 20 or 30 yards, and then have them ski down to their mom. At 3.5 they had 5 to 10 days in ski school, and about the same a 4.5.

    It really depends on the kid though. My son is now 7 years old, and for a kid from the flat lands, he rips. He loves to ski, and he wants to be great at it. He's really coachable and takes instruction well, goes bell to bell, and wants to challenge himself. He makes good turns on blue and black runs, skis bumps pretty well, and skis double blacks with at least a little bit of flow. Hiking Highlands Bowl with him last season was one of the best things I've ever done.

    My daughter, now 4.5, is a little different. She's kind of a free spirit, and while she loves to ski, she isn't as intense about it as my son. She's all about the reward M&Ms at the bottom of the run after she makes some good turns, she loves ski school and meeting other kids, and just likes to cruise around having fun. I really didn't know I could have so much fun skiing slowly on blue cruisers until I started skiing with her.

    I don't really push my kids into anything, although I did give them plenty of exposure to skiing and made it available to them. I'm lucky that they both love it.

    My advice is to start them slowly, be prepared for some short days, keep it as fun as you can, and get them some lessons. Your older kids may be past it a little, but my daughter especially responded well to playing games (follow the leader, chasing one another etc) and treats at the end of runs if she did well.

  14. #14
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    Nov 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Fiedler View Post

    Our mtn has some cool multi week lessons I'm looking at for sure.
    Mission Ridge is a great place to learn. It's where I started and eventually worked at for a few seasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattig View Post

    Pro-tip: try to keep all the non-skiing-related aspects of the day (lunch-time, car ride, coming home) fun, just to associate another positive memory with the experience.

    Bottom line: as long as you find ways to make it fun for groms, you win.
    THIS! We make Saturdays awesome. Fresh baked doughnuts at the crack of dawn, taking turns DJ'ing tunes on the way up to the hill, "candy store" stops on the way home and topping it off with dinner out in there hot chillies. Our kids have memories that will last a lifetime. Our oldest (now 14) is starting dryland training with me next month (instructor's apprentice), our middle, 11, can ski just about anything and our youngest, 9, is a little ripper on his second season of racing that wants to ski everything.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    174
    I have four (now grown) children. I found starting them before age 4 was a PITA and waste of time. At 4, each had the leg strength and balance to be able to turn and stop on their own. That's when the fun started.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    2,659
    You've gotten lots of good responses here. After raising two kids totally addicted to outdoor adventure, I would stress that it is worth it to make sure they've got the right gear. I'm not talking about skis and boots, I'm talking about the stuff that makes being outside comfortable. They don't have to be name brand, but good base layers that fit properly, quality socks, gloves that will stay warm and dry (an alternative is just to own several pairs that can be switched out during the day). Until the early teen years, I think those items and helmets were the only things we bought new for the kids. Outerwear, skis, boots, all came from the swap. Goggles werenew but cheap.
    "Judge me by the enemies I have made." -FDR

  17. #17
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    Jan 2008
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    The Queen City North Carolina
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    My oldest now 13 started on his 3rd birthday. The youngest now 11 was 4. I pretty much gave them the choice, go to ski school or daycare. They both cost about the same per day and my expectations were low. I just wanted to take a nice family winter vacation and if the wife and I could get some turns in, great. I will say, we had great experiences at plenty of mountains with both. Oldest started at Steamboat, youngest had it click at snowbird.
    In between were trips to Beaver Creek, Snowshoe, Aspen and the skiwee program at Winterplace WV. They've been to Jay Peak, Winterpark, Vail, Brighton, Deer Valley, Alta, Powder Mountain & Beech Mtn. If it has snow on it, they will ski it.
    When it really clicked was around 8-9 for both and they became "skiers' at Solitude. They used to offer 3 days of lessons and lift tickets for $300. Which is a bargain. Now the oldest and I can sneak off to hit the summit lift and honeycomb. They are both out of lessons at this point.
    Its a proud feeling to be honest that 1) I never pressure them. If we needed a day off during vacations, hot tubs, water parks, eating meatball subs whatever, I let them do it. I always told them it was their choice
    2)They now beg me to move the whole family to the mountains. Being in the Southeast, most if not all our trips we fly.
    I have purchased and fitted way more ski gear then anyone in North Carolina and I have outfitted a small army of youth with hand me down skis, helmets, boots and skis for the past decade.
    However, we have traveled to more states then most of their peers and have good memories, from Interlodge at the Cliff Lodge, bone numbing temps at Jay and ridiculous powder days.
    I love looking at the photos and see them always smiling on the lifts with their mom and I.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    25
    Lots of solid advice here that I won't copy. But one thing I would add is: always have hand warmers in the mittens and always have lots of treats and water/Gatorade/ cider. Keep 'em warm and fed and they will be much more inclined to take to it.

  19. #19
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    May 2009
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    pdx
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    tried a day at age 4 -- ended with crying
    tried a day at age 5 -- ended with crying
    went for weekly group lessons at age 6 taught by someone else -- boom, success!

    my lesson in all that was that i shouldn't be the one teaching

    YMMV

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Canada
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    57
    Good to hear the older two are keen. They will take off on their own.

    We had all our kids in the local kids program. Prior to age 11 it is fun skiing with a couple or fun days of quasi racing and scavenger hunts etc.

    The youngest was 2 -3 when we got rolling with the other two. He did daycare and a half hour to hour session each day or half day. It is really a function of leg strength. Once his legs were strong enough they were all away to the races. After that is is time with buds on snow.

    If really cold, lots of hot chocolate stops in Lodge.

    I found the huge confidence gains came in the spring. Warmer, softer snow, allowed real progress and confidence to build. Cold and icy mid January just made things hard. Could still be fun, but warm sun makes it all good.

    Have fun with the gaffers!
    Using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    Feb 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by acinpdx View Post
    tried a day at age 4 -- ended with crying
    tried a day at age 5 -- ended with crying
    went for weekly group lessons at age 6 taught by someone else -- boom, success!

    my lesson in all that was that i shouldn't be the one teaching

    YMMV
    ya taught me to look before I leap when following the kids
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  22. #22
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    Nov 2012
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    gnArvada
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    Some great info in here, thanks!
    This will be year 1 for my daughter @ 3. We are setting low expectations, but are excited to give it a try.
    If she glides for a few feet down the bunny hill, it's a good day.
    More than anything, she just likes being out in the mountains!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Carbondale
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    What years did you Mags with Kids start them at?
    Kid 1 is 5. She did a few days at 2 with luckybums on the driveway, She did 2-3 days with Dad before the program started at 3 in Snowmass, which was 5 days. She cried the 2-3 days before, but we just went and got hot chocolate and did something else to make sure the experience was still good. She was then the kid laying behind the group eating snow... was kinda meh. We then skied a few more times with her after that and she got into the family aspect. When she was 4 we got her in with friends and they had a little shred posse and she was hooked. She asked to get on skis this year and is interested in what she's skiing in and on.

    BUT, it's our lifestyle living here, and it's what you do on the weekend as a family for many of us and our friends.

    What would you do different?
    I would have tried to get the friend thing down the first year when she was 3.

    My circle either has kids that don't ski, or don't have kids yet.

    Do the kids know anyone in school that skis? Do THEY run into anyone they know at the hill? What's your context? Can you do a few days or a weekly program?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowing alpy View Post
    ya taught me to look before I leap when following the kids
    every day i'm still learning

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by grskier View Post

    Do the kids know anyone in school that skis? Do THEY run into anyone they know at the hill? What's your context? Can you do a few days or a weekly program?
    We just moved so they are trying a new Co-Op school/home school, they are making friends but haven't asked if they ski.
    He hasn't mentioned seeing any kids on the hill he knows.
    I have friends that ski over here but they don't have kids yet and the kids my kids are friends with don't ski.
    So basically he needs some friends that don't play sports ball all year.

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