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  1. #1
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    Teaching Skiing to Kids

    Yes, I know, profession instructors are the way to go. Ski School and Ski Teams. But we are not dentists and can't really afford more than one or maybe two classes per season. My kid gets 20-25 days on snow each year, and I want some advice on working with him on his next steps. So I thought I'd start a thread on teaching kids to ski better.


    Anyway, I have a ton of advice for getting your kid out on the slopes and enjoying it.

    Always carry snacks.
    Use your big mountains skis to make a bench.
    Gummi Bears.
    Hot Cocoa.
    Listen to them; quit when they are tired.
    Dress them warm.
    Ski where they want to.
    Buy them decent gear, especially goggles.
    Don't expect too much; keep it mellow; keep yourself mellow.
    Patience Juice - just a little.


    Anyway, my son is turning 8 next month and is a solid snow enthusiast. He can get himself pretty much any where around the mountain. He is super confident and can work himself down double diamond terrain without much concern. As long as a chute is at least 240 cm wide, he is stoked to be in it.

    He has pretty good form and a great athletic stance. Hands are pretty much always forward, if perhaps a little low.

    What I've noticed (and his last instructor as well) is that he is the king of the stem christie. Almost every turn starts with a wedge, unless he is skiing on low angled terrain. As soon as he is in terrain when're he needs to cross the fall line in order to control speed, he will most likely stem christie to turn. On the positive note, he almost always hops the inside ski into a parallel carve once back into the fall line, and finishes his turns strong.

    His last instructor thinks this might be due to his wide stance. So, we have been doing a little low angle skiing with his knees together. He can feel how much less stable this feels, but I also point out how much easier it is to roll the ankle of the outside edge in this stance.

    I want him to find a natural stance, not to narrow or too wide. But I also want him to learn to initiate a carve in steeper terrain, with out the wedge.

    I've also started keeping him in the lower angled terrain for a bit, asking for carves, before we venture out into the steeps he enjoys.

    Anyway, looking for advice on how to work with him through his development. Other than just - ski school.

    Things like hand placement, drills, concepts.... I ski decently, but I don't really think about what I'm doing, so it is hard to explain to some one else the subtle shifts in weight, etc.

    While I'd love for him to be on a ski team, we just don't get out regularly enough. And ski school single days are so expensive since Vail bought our resort, that we really can't afford that either. So, it is home Schoo for the most part. The good news is that skiing is the one thing he will allow instruction from me.

    Funny, as I tried to teach him surfing, but he really wont listen to me at all in that regard.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2011
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    Most important rule?

    Make it fun.

    Everything else comes second.

    I coach u12s (and have coached u10s) in the race program at my home mountain and if they're not having fun it's all for naught.

    Here are some other suggestions.

    1. Try to make mantras for him to remember things by.

    When I was younger ours was "hands up, shins against the front of the boots, eyes looking down the hill".

    One I use now is telling kids to snap the alligator jaws shut when they begin a new turn.

    2. With regards to drills, don't make it a drill, make it a challenge.

    Tell your child "I bet you can't do XYZ" and I can almost guarantee you he'll try to prove you wrong.

    3. Make sure his gear is not detrimental to your efforts.

    If you live somewhere with ice, make sure his skis are sharp.

    Make sure he can flex his boots. We tend to have our kids ski with the buckles unbuckled but the powerstrap done up for the first few weeks of the year to help them with this.

    4. Just ski.

    Mileage on snow>anything else you can do for him. Too much talking and he's bound to tune you out.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2008
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    Couple things since I am thinking about the same thing lately: #1 would be peer modeling. Probably highest probability of this would be in group lessons though. #2 is find some terrain where the unweighting element becomes “fun?”. If you have a mellow groomer that has some sidehill action where you can show him how fun it can be to go up, pivot, and come down I think he might try it himself. Just my thoughts since I am at the same stage with my boy.

    I do disagree with the sharp edges part. I would detune. I’m not an instructor though.

  4. #4
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    May 2011
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    Agree that mileage rules all else. But I'm having a heck of a time getting my oldest daughter to get that inside ski tucked beneath her.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2009
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    Stay to lower angle terrain. Itís the steeps that cause the anxiety and get the stem back.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  6. #6
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    watch thall (rip) ski and ask yourself, do i really care that my kid used a mini pizza instead of a french fry in that chute? but seriously, in order to break my lil g’s wedge habit was to teach her sideslip then jump turn in some steeper terrain, practiced it today. but seriously, if her go to is a mini pizza in the steeper bumps, then pizza it’ll be. sometimes i let her traverse across hill like the ikon gapers do so she can practice french fry where pizza is slow.

    did not stay at a holiday in nor am i psiaa sanctioned
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  7. #7
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    I'm not a race coach, but I learnt a lot from messing around with my friends and getting down the hill on one ski when I was young. He would probably think it's pretty fun too.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_pretzel View Post
    I'm not a race coach, but I learnt a lot from messing around with my friends and getting down the hill on one ski when I was young. He would probably think it's pretty fun too.
    That is interesting. (Blog story coming)...My first bindings were Geze plate bindings with a heel throw. They had built in cable leashes. So no “safety straps” (I think that is what we called them in the days before ski brakes) were necessary. Problem is I outgrew the hand-me-down Archilles boots that they were set to, and lost a season due to no snow in ‘76/‘77 which put me in to those red K2 boots that were also hand-me-downs. My heel throw plate bindings with no runaway straps were still set to my old boots which led me to chasing one ski or another on one precariously attached ski throughout my first season of skiing. Thank god no one was injured. I did learn to ski on one ski pretty well though.

  9. #9
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    Teaching Skiing to Kids

    Lots of good tidbits here.

    Iím not too worried about it, and generally we are just out, having fun.

    He has no anxiety in the steeps. He actually prefers them and that is usually where he wants to go. He just does not have the skills to initiate a carve in the steeps. But seriously, he handles them way better than a lot of adults do.

    He can beat my wife down a bump run. But that is partially because she is too concerned with her form and gets thrown even fifth mogul, stops and rests.

    I like the side slip to hop turn.

    He kind of likes drillls. He will ski a groomed black pitch with his poles set like trays across his wrists. For fun. I just donít have enough drills to give him.

    I agree with mileage. He gets a fair amount. He averages about 10k very per day with his big day this season just shy of 19k. So doing decent in that category. I just want to make sure the skills development happens and he does not fall into bad habits. I see plenty of adults who ski plenty and ski like hacks.

    I use a wedge from time to time. Slows me down before a huck, or a straight line.

    He has decent edges. Not too worried about a sharp enough edge. No new skis for him, so they have all been detuned to a degree.

    Iíll see how a single ski might work. But then he will ask me to do the same. And I suck on one ski. Unless it is less than 80mm underfoot and soft. Got to find me some park skis I guess.

    He loves gullies. And spinning. We were working on 360 spins in both directions last time out. Not sure if this translates to carving skills.

    Anyway, awesome stuff. Keep them coming. He is getting back out on Saturday. And he is bummed Kirkwood closed down chair 10 (which only has steeps). I love his attitude.

  10. #10
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    We had a kid this year, that I helped coach during winter break when I was back in college, who managed to do a pond skim on 1 ski this year.

    It was shorter than normal but he still made it, quite easily too. I was really impressed.

    But with regards to getting that inside foot back, easier terrain (flatter), 3 parts turns as I call them which is where you initiate the turn, flatten the ski, ride it flat for a bit then begin the new turn (and have her focus on her skis being even when they're flat because it feels weird as hell when they're not), or have her lift the uphill ski so the tip is the only part on the snow while making turns across the hill (ski's literally point across the hill towards the woods).

    The final option, which I'd only recommend if you have an empty hill, is tall tuck turns across the hill. Have her focus on her shoulders following the direction of her ski tops. You can't do that in a tuck if you have offset skis. The one caveat here is that she needs to initiate the new turn by throwing her shoulders (and upper body) down the hill which if she is afraid of doing, will result in her using the new inside ski (former downhill ski) to initiate the turn and give her the offset you want to rid her of. But if she does initiate the turn that way, you (and she) will be able to see it since her shoulders will likely be pointed down the hill more than across it as her skis come around.

    There are probably some dumb PSIA drills that would help with this per their program, but every person learns differently. Just experimenting with different drills can help. The drills I mentioned above focus more on turn initiation, but it's really hard to initiate a clean turn if you have that much offset.

    Just make sure she is slowing down.

    I coached a kid this year that had that problem and it took us a while to figure out how to approach it. He was fine in the drills but as soon as he was freeskiing or in a course he reverted back.

    Part of it's just age. It takes a while for little kids to figure out what feels right versus what feels wrong.

    And Ottime, I feel your pain with 1 ski on fat skis. Don't try to do it when you're going slowly, it doesn't end well I reminded myself of that the hard way in front of a bunch of 1st timers.

    If your son is having a hard time initiating a carved turn on the steeps, try the 3-part turn I mentioned above on flatter terrain and move to steeper and steeper as he feels more comfortable. I assume his weight and balance aren't an issue. This would really be the one drill I'd tell any competent skier to work on.

    If it's done correctly, you should be able to see the full carve with no line between each turn.

    If you don't initiate the turn correctly, have poor balance, or have any other discrepancy, you won't get a nice clean arc like that.

    I'll see if I can grab some video next year if someone reminds me.

    And FWIW, skiing moguls is one of the BEST ways to figure out if your balance is off. If you can haul ass down a zipperline or pick your way down a mogul run without issue while going quick, chances are your balance is perfect.

    I wish my mountain had more bump runs because I'd have my kids skiing in those all the time at the beginning of the year.

    But if he can carve on flatter terrain, it's just a confidence thing for steeper stuff. And that's just more time, age, and exposure.

  11. #11
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    DO you have video of you son skiing?

    If you want to get rid of a stem(or wedge) christie(2 very different ski turns), think about way to ski that make it impossible to wedge christie. the simplest thing I can think of is skiing on one ski. You can nt stem or wedge if there isnt another ski or stem or wedge. If your sons is unable to ski on one foot you ll probably find the underlying cause to everything, which will most likely be either a balance issue orthe hips are turning and not the legs.

    Also fat skis shouldnt matter on 1 ski skiing, I can easily do it on 110mm skis on blue terrain. You should be able to do it a crawl if you cna actually ski and are actually in balance, most people who need speed are body turner and or backseat.

    Drill for the sake of the drills are pointless, the drill should isolate a movement that is impossble for your son to do and you should coach with in the drill until he can do it. 360 translates to good skiing if each release is actually in balance and parallel

    Lastly you dont narrow a stance by holding your legs together, you narrow it by learning to balance on the outside ski. IF I was you outside ski to outside ski, and then take the left ski off go ski bunny hill untill you can turn where ever you want, and then take right ski off and repeat.

  12. #12
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    hop turn practice yesterday
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  13. #13
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    This is all great stuff but I'd make one point that is maybe a little at odds with a couple of things said. If the kid is initiating the turn in a wedge. that means the ski that is making the arc is the outside ski. Which is totally normal. He's using the inside ski as a balance ski, but is not describing the arc of the turn. That's why once the turn is halfway done, the kid will step the inside ski in and bring it parallel to the outside ski.

    So I would do everything I can think of to get him to try to turn on the inside edge of his inside ski. For example - make a game to see how much he can pick his outside ski up during the turn. Kids love that kind of game - but they still have two skis on so they can always put it down when they almost fall. So it's not scary.

    Work on the inside ski inside edge carving the turn arc and I'll bet he'll get it more quickly.

    That said, it's mostly just time on skis. Our son had one formal lesson in his life, our daughter zero, and they are highly skilled skiers that charge in any terrain. Lessons are not critical. We are lucky to have a peer group that is highly qualified to suggest things here and there, which they picked up, either from dad or parent friends, but mostly they spent time on snow and fucked around without supervision many, many hours on the mountain. Bumps teach balance for sure, as mentioned below, but so does being 11 and screwing around all over the mountain with your friends doing dumbass stuff. At 17 and 14, they still do. Last time we were out they were skiing "doubles" with the 14 year old standing inside the 17 year old's skis, with him in back with his arms around her waist, carving groomers at high rates of speed, totally under control, and launching rollers. They do jumps like that too. They've been doing it so long it's easy for them, but it looks crazy and requires amazing amounts of control and balance.

    I guess my point is that free play on skis and getting good at stupid shit is a great way for kids to get better.

  14. #14
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    I taught hundreds of kids to ski eons ago working at the local ski hill ski school. Proved the assumption that your/my own kids learned way more and better from an objective other adult than myself.

    +1 to making the day and activities, run selection, etc their choice. Be prepared to bail if the really little ones aren't digging it. Older kids can hang out at the lodge if they don't feel like skiing.

    Before you even take the little ones to the ski hill let them play with the boots and skis stomping around the yard. Don't even need snow. They should have gloves on though because sharp edges. They can practice shuffling around, falling down, getting up. Practice putting in and taking off skis, etc. Already being comfortable with the gear and mechanics gives you a big head start for the first day when they get to the magic carpet or ski school play yard.
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by beece View Post
    This is all great stuff but I'd make one point that is maybe a little at odds with a couple of things said. If the kid is initiating the turn in a wedge. that means the ski that is making the arc is the outside ski. Which is totally normal. He's using the inside ski as a balance ski, but is not describing the arc of the turn. That's why once the turn is halfway done, the kid will step the inside ski in and bring it parallel to the outside ski.

    So I would do everything I can think of to get him to try to turn on the inside edge of his inside ski. For example - make a game to see how much he can pick his outside ski up during the turn. Kids love that kind of game - but they still have two skis on so they can always put it down when they almost fall. So it's not scary.

    Work on the inside ski inside edge carving the turn arc and I'll bet he'll get it more quickly.

    That said, it's mostly just time on skis. Our son had one formal lesson in his life, our daughter zero, and they are highly skilled skiers that charge in any terrain. Lessons are not critical. We are lucky to have a peer group that is highly qualified to suggest things here and there, which they picked up, either from dad or parent friends, but mostly they spent time on snow and fucked around without supervision many, many hours on the mountain. Bumps teach balance for sure, as mentioned below, but so does being 11 and screwing around all over the mountain with your friends doing dumbass stuff.
    I guess my point is that free play on skis and getting good at stupid shit is a great way for kids to get better.
    love this post
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  16. #16
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    I know its not in the cards for the OP due to cost, but in the different strokes for different folks category, the best thing we did for our kid is send him to seasonal ski school. Unless you're Candide or somebody like that, some kids learn really quickly and outgrow your ability to teach them. He skis freestyle competitively now and he's doing things at 13-14 that I or any of my friends could never teach.

    It's kinda like home schooling. At some point they're smarter than you. It's fun though, watching them now do things that you could never do.
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  17. #17
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    ^^^^ +1. (EDIT: this was to Flowing Alpy post)

    EDIT: Would love season team. That is actually more of an acmes than money thing. Seasonal teams around here come to about $75/day, with the same coach and group every week. We lodge at a friends place and get unlimited use before New Years and after mid March. And a few weekends mid winter. So we don't get up every weekend. Kind of a money issue as we don't have a proper lease. But to be honest, we enjoy missing the shit show weekends. Live in Santa Cruz and ski KW, and the Bay Area traffic most winter weekends is nuts.

    Anyway, he might do a seasonal team when he is a few years older and can understand what "every weekend" means. If he wants it at age 10, I'll pony up for it, even if it means some day trips.

    Still selling off unused gear to buy a pair of IKONs this spring and ski till summer.

    The more mileage comments have supported this plan. Lookin at calendar this week to see where we can fit in trips to Squaw and Mammoth.

    Love the idea of just using down hill ski but not fully ditching the uphill ski.

    And bumps. More bumps.
    Last edited by Ottime; 04-15-2019 at 12:57 PM.

  18. #18
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    As a Mitten Fetcher for 3 years I offer the following advice:

    Make it fun.

    Never teach them the "Snowplow"/"Braking Wedge" Turns/micro terrain are for speed control.

    Kids have lots of fun anywhere. Don't push the terrain for no good reason. It'll just cause the ski technique to break down and encourage backseat skiing. Ever see that kid going straight downhill in a braking wedge in the backseat?

  19. #19
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    Nov 2014
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    Couple of quick ideas:

    Think about what type of input your kid best responds to when learning a new task. Some kids need to be told exactly how to do something and want to do it only that way. Others just want you to show them visually, and they can figure out how to approximate what they see with their own mechanics/style.

    The first kid might respond better to drills, the second might respond better to "follow me down the mountain and do it like this for 5 turns."

    A drill I remember to work on turn initiation (or early pressure on the edge and should/hip placement) was hold poles horizontal in front and keeping your shoulders facing downhill while making turns across the hill. This can be done on greens or mild blues. (I think some of the wedge-stem christie may be a method that helps your son keep his shoulders and hips square at the start of the turn, allowing for more edge pressure when it gets steeper).

    Another drill might be working on longish gs-style turns as they require a more sustained pressure of the downhill ski, but likewise less initiation than steep turns. Finally, work on rolling edges on cat tracks when getting around the mountain. The flatter the terrain, the more finesse needed. Good tool to understand the micro-inputs needed to get on and off edge.

    A lot of young and skilled kids tend to have the opposite problem of outrigging the downhill ski and using 80% of the inside ski to turn. But it's all tied to the same problem: Getting early pressure on the downhill ski and keeping hip and shoulders square while still engaging the edges of the ski. None of this is really possible without driving those shins to the front of the boot, so continue to hammer that cue home.

    And its awesome that your kid is spinning threes already. Honestly, he'll likely figure this all out on his own since he seems to have the determination to work through things already. Eventually he's going to get bored just making it down double blacks and want to get down as fast as possible. At that point he'll ditch the stem christie.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leavenworth Skier View Post
    As a Mitten Fetcher for 3 years I offer the following advice:

    Make it fun.

    Never teach them the "Snowplow"/"Braking Wedge" Turns/micro terrain are for speed control.

    Kids have lots of fun anywhere. Don't push the terrain for no good reason. It'll just cause the ski technique to break down and encourage backseat skiing. Ever see that kid going straight downhill in a braking wedge in the backseat?
    love seeing those kids rock the power wedge yhuuge grin poles draggin their 2nd season pass flapping behind em big sister out front carving just fast enough to stay in front, love it.
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  21. #21
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    Just get em to jump while skiing.

  22. #22
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    Mellow terrain & short skis with a 2 meter radius.

    https://twitter.com/alpineathlete/st...252201473?s=21

  23. #23
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    Good gear matters too. Especially boots.

    Kids over 6 should be in 4 buckle overlap boots.

  24. #24
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    so many turn types
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    each one a piece of the skifun
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  25. #25
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    ^^^ I love it. That is awesome. Hands in front! Holding the pole out is a good trick for sure.

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