Ski Equipment for a toddler
I wanted to introduce my 3 1/2 year old to skiing this year and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations on what type of equipment I should buy. Does it really matter what type of equipment I purchase at this age? I have another 11 month old at home so I would like to get something that would he could eventually use.
I have a three year old that I'm planning to teach this year, and I wasn't looking forward to buying boots that would last a season -- if I was lucky. He grows like a weed! What I decided to do was rent skis for him when we went on the mountain. Since you have another coming up, it may be more economical for you to buy, I dunno.
After talking to some instructors, they said one of the hardest parts about teaching a toddler to ski is getting them used to having skis on their feet. I bought a $20 set of toddler skis (plastic, no edges, strap on regular boots) that I've been letting him play around with in the base area. No hill, but he's gotten used to sliding on skis when we pull him. Next month I'll put the real things on him and hopefully it won't come as a shock that way.
I have four kids under the age of 8 1/2. I started three of them on the plastic skis with no edges at 2 1/2. T-line, Snowshoe, & Silver Creek let me put them on the beginner lifts (or Magic Carpet) with the plastic skis. Either they didn't notice or since you pretty much have to carry them on and off the lift they figured there wasn't much risk to the kids or the ski area. You must be able to ski while carrying you kids. At first, my kids were more interested in riding the lifts than skiing.
In regards to equipment, I buy new skis for my oldest child and push them down as they grow out of them. I also take part in Ski Chalet's trade in program for the boots. I've gotten boots for as little as $17 and as much as $90 with trade-ins. If you plan on skiing more than once a season with your kids I would buy used equipment. Whitetail charges $30 for rentals even though kids 5 and under ski free. My kids got 12 days in last year, so buying vs renting paid off.
Where is a good place to get used kid's skis in the Baltimore/DC area?
I got both my 11 year old (Rossi's) and my 16 year old (Fischer Sceneo XTR's) some great demos at the Ski Center in DC for ~ $100 each including a great base grind, edging and hot wax. Nice thing is if/when the toddler outgrows the equipment, you can come back in Oct and trade them in at the annual ski swap. They also do an excellent Season Lease program for kids. They're just off 49th & Mass Ave, NW by the Crate & Barrel. Ph # 202-966-4474. Good luck with the toddler. You've got your hands full on the slopes.
Being that they are a toddler a would rent for this year, and look at a ski swap next year.
Many years ago, our 2.5 year old begged me to try skiing. I looked around for rentals, and no one had anything that was small enough for her. Went to Ski Chalet, and got into their kids program. For roughly $100 a year until she was a teen, she got new equipment every year. As a ski instructor and inline skate instructor, I personally believe that with good equipment a child will learn faster and have more fun. Cheap equipment tends to disappoint them because they find it difficult to perform simple tasks like sliding down a hill/rolling on pavement, making turns (because they aren't moving) etc. I have taught many kids both snow skiing and inline skating, and the ones with better equipment learned faster and appeared to enjoy the experience more than those with cheaper equipment.
I got my three year old out on skis for the first time last weekend. Liberty has rentals for kids that fit him. My wife and I are taking the "go-slow" approach. His first time out, he wore the boots and clicked into the skis and then played around on the flat part of the base area near the Alpine Quad. Mostly, he shuffled around and threw snowballs at his mother and me while laughing. The good sign for us was that when we took off his skis, he started crying "my skis! my skis!" wanting to put them back on. He clearly likes the equipment. We'll try sliding down the hill next if this weather cooperates. In any event, I would echo others' sentiments that you go with rentals this season. Next year pre-season, hit the swaps and check out equipment there. Kid's stuff is usually cheap but goes fast, so get there early!
Jim you accomplished the best thing for a 3 year old: Have fun.
I did a lesson for a 4 year old who had never skied. The most I got out of him was to glide down the kid area on his own (and that was difficult as he freaked out the first time he fell and I had to convince him to do small hills by himself). Needless to say, Mom was dissappointed. She knew her son would be making nice turns after his first ever lesson because "dad has him doing Ollie's[sic} in the backyard on a skateboard".
My point is, the kid had fun with me. Once he went back out with the overdemanding mother, I don't think he had too much fun.
My wife and I have seen too many kids that have been pushed too fast into things and then end up hating it. Given that we want our son to have a life long love affair with skiing (or boarding for that matter!), we're letting him set his own pace. In addition, I've seen way too many injuries and taken down too many scared skiers off of trails over their ability because their spouse, friend, parent, etc. have pushed them to be there. Not a good recipe for learning to love something!
Thanks for the feedback Roy.
I think lessons for toddlers is the only way to go. Three years ago when my oldest son was 3 1/2 years old, he could snow plow and make a few turns, but he still wouldn't ski more than 20 feet at a time. I don't know if it was a lack of confidence or was just scared. He had been on the snow 2 or 3 times that year, when my Wife and I decided to put him in a half day ski school class at 7 Springs. When my wife went to pick him up at lunch, he asked to stay for the rest of the day. For the additional $20 she decided to let him stay. I went to pick him up at the end of the day and he was all pumped up and wanted to show me that he could get on and off the magic carpet and could ski down the greens without stopping. He is now 6 1/2 and loves to ski and is always asking when the next trip is. It was probably the best $80 I've ever spent.
I was also told by an instructor that one of the reasons kids progress quicker with lessons is that when the parent says "make a pizza, turn left, slow down,..." that all the kid hears is "Clean your room, eat you dinner, put away your toys,.....". Lessons are the way to go.
You can't teach your spouse, girlfriend, or kids. I can't teach my wife without some argument getting started.
Absolutely agree with the previous posters. I'm sure someone has already mentioned it, but try-ski is the best invention for kids. I know they sell them at the Liberty ski shop.
Took my 21 month out a couple weeks ago. We had bought her a pair of skiis/boots at a swap in October. We've been dragging her aound the carpet ever since (we had to hide them otherwise she would wear them to church!)....
Anyway - I digressed.... like many here, we just had fun. Absolutely the best. I'm an instructer, so I didn't have her take a lesson. But do strongly incourage PRIVATE lessons. Many people put their 4 year olds into group lessons (with other children 4 years old). Personally I feel that most 4-year olds are too young for less than 1 on 1 attention on snow.
Personally I feel that most 4-year olds are too young for less than 1 on 1 attention on snow
jimmer I disagree. Now it does vary depending on the child, but sometimes the peer pressure of being with other kids helps them to learn better. Also, I have seen quite a few kids that cling to their parents and it is hard to get them to do anything. However, once the parents go away, it is easier to get the child to put skis on (or sometimes easier to trick to the child to put skis on).
It is tough as an instructor to know which is better until you have that lesson. And unfortunately most parents don't recognize which is better either. I don't have kids so I don't quite understand the feelings most parents have about why their kids are so great (I have to retrain my nephew each Christmas not to be such a wussy). I swear I'm going to buy him a tutu.
Anyway, parents should observe how their children interact with other children in daily play. I think if the child is shy and spends lots of time alone, a private is ideal. If they are shy but follow the agressive kids in play, they are ideal for group lessons. If the child is agressive, it may be a tossup. They may perform better as the leaders of the group or, if they are pretty athletic in their play, they private may be better because they may get bored in group lessons.
Children do learn differently. We had our daughter skiing with us at 2 1/2 last year. She was still in diapers, and too young for a lesson, but we focused on keeping it fun. When she wanted to go into the lodge - we went into the lodge, when she wanted to stop and throw snowballs - we threw snowballs. When she wanted to get back on the lift - well you get it. Overall, I think she ended up with 8-9 ski days last year - pretty good for a 2 year old!
Anyway, as for measureable progress - last year our goal was just to nuture her love of skiing. We talked about skiing a lot during the summer just to keep the fun experience she had fresh in her mind.
This year we got her 1 hour private lessons for the 2 days we were up at Tline over the holdays. I know someone mentioned it earlier, but it is amazing to see how much better she pays attention to her instructor than her parents! We observed from a distance and saw our daughter really focus on what her instructor was teaching her. After each lesson she was excited to show us everything she learned. After the second day, she was able to ski down Salamander on her own.
We still stick by the rule - we go in when she wants to go in, throw snowballs when she wants to, and ski when she wants to.
I have not tried the half-day group lesson with her yet, primarily because it seems like a long time for a 3 year old (her pre-school isn't 4 hours long) and also, I really enjoy my time skiing with her! Seeing her learn, overcome difficulties, and build confidence as she accomplishes things that she was not able to do before - in real time - is truly amazing to me. Though skiing with her has really cut my own runs down to a fraction of what they were, it has been an investment in time that I would not trade for a month of Rocky Mountain powder.
Though skiing with her has really cut my own runs down to a fraction of what they were, it has been an investment in time that I would not trade for a month of Rocky Mountain powder.
You'll get much more than a month of Rocky Mountain powder. You've got yourselves a ski buddy for life!
You have that right Jimmy!
I apologize though for diverging from the original question regarding ski equipment. We scored a season rental of boots and skis from the Ski Barn for $110 or so right after Thanksgiving. The boots are actually brand new. Also, if she grows out of them before the end of the season, we can go back and get a size up n/c.
Peer pressure is a great thing, but at 4 years old, it can be tough to focus on the other one for a while.
I don't disagree in the least about parent's being around. When I do a private children's lesson, I ask the parents that if they stick around, please dont' be visible. I tell them that most of the time, their involvement is harmful.
Having said that, There have been rare occasions where their involvement was a benefit. But, those are very rare occasions.
I still stand behind my original statment that 4 & under should be in a private lesson. Some more mature 4 year olds can go 2 per lesson, Some less mature 5 year olds should still be private.