Teaching your young kids to ski can feel daunting. Heck, getting young kids to the mountain, dressed properly, and clicked into their skis can be daunting, let alone teaching them to ski. We’re here to help.
But first things first: How do you know your kiddo is ready? We asked Brian and Aleks Smith, PSIA instructors at Aspen Snowmass and parents of two daughters. The Smiths work with the youngest sliders all winter, and what’s more, they went through the process of introducing the sport to their own girls not too long ago. In other words, the instructor pair is a wealth of information when it comes to the how and when to get the groms sliding.
Most kids are ready to hit the slopes between the ages of 3 and 4, says Aleks Smith, but some 2-year-olds may already be interested and able. One thing to look for is the ability to balance, says Smith, e.g., riding a push bike or playing soccer or other sports. The other thing is interest: Do they want to try skiing?
Once you’ve determined that your child is ready, one option Smith recommends is using props. “Many parents choose to use tools to aid in their children’s skill development,” Smith says. “If used properly, these tools can be useful.” The props Smith reaches for most often are the harness, the Edgie Wedgie, and the Hula Hoop. Here, Smith walks us through how to use each prop safely and successfully.
Related: Renting vs. Buying Kids Ski Gear
Prop: Hula Hoop
- Age: 2-3
- Indication: Child is struggling to maintain balance while sliding
The idea here is to teach young kids to stand independently while sliding forward and resist the urge to lean back. Slip the hoop around the child’s waist and hold onto the back of it. You’re in control, while the child feels the sensation of sliding.
- No longer needed: When the child isn't leaning against the front of the hoop
Prop: Edgie Wedgie
- Age: 2-5
- Indication: Child is having trouble keeping his tips together
Making a wedge can be difficult for kids five and under, as they often don’t have the leg strength to hold their skis in that position. That’s where the Edgie Wedgie comes in. This device easily attaches and detaches to the tips of the child’s skis. Ashe stretches the Edgie Wedgie, his skis will naturally form a wedge; the bigger the stretch, the wider the wedge. Once the child understands the shape and knows what it feels like to arrange his skis just so, he should be able to start to wedge without the Edgie Wedgie.
- No longer needed: When the child isn’t stretching it while turning or stopping
- Age: 2-6
- Indication: Child can’t stop on her own or is nervous
A harness is a great tool for very young kids who haven’t figured out the wedge stop. It can be tricky to put on properly, so be sure to read the directions. The idea is to keep your little skier in front of you as you descend very gentle terrain, holding the straps with some slack. Don’t ever tug on the straps, or you can throw the child off balance.
- No longer needed: When the child can stop on her own
See also: How to Start Your Kids Skiing
Getting your groms on the hill this winter? Check out our new online course, How to Raise a Skier, produced in partnership with the Professional Ski Instructors of America. The five-part lesson plan covers everything from preparation and equipment to those first days on snow—and everything in between. Info at skimag.com/raisingrippers