Two year old on skis
September 13, 2005
My daughter turns 2 on September 24th. I would love to start her skiing as soon as possible. From what I can tell, the local resorts seem to have a minimal age of 3 before they'll offer lessons. Can you start a child eairlier. Also if anyone has advice on equipment or anything else that would be great.
I've seen many 2 yr olds learn to ski, but you probably won't be able to find an instructor willing to take her on. Generally at that the children will have trouble learning from strangers. All the 2 yr olds I know were taught by parents.
If you do go that route, take a lot of patience with you. I taught my son to ski just after his third birthday (with Liberty's Ski With Me program), and he loved it. But one hour really was the upper limit for his day. Don't take a two year old to the slope expecting to spend the whole day with her, and don't expect her to become a great skier within a year. She'll learn fast, but chances are she won't develop the skills required to judge speed for a few years yet.
On the other hand, I firmly believe the earlier you learn to ski, the less likely you are to ever forget how. At such a young age, you're promoting balance skills that will help her throughout her life.
I think the 3 year old limit stems from the requirement that the child be far removed from diapers.
I have 2 daughters, now 18 and 14. I think, generally speaking, that 2 may be too young to start her. This stems from my observations of many a parent becoming frustrated with their little ones when they get cold, get hungry, need to go to the bathroom or just lose interest mid-slope. Not that you would do this
but I have often seen this turn ugly with the child crying and the parent(s) screaming. I often wandered if these children ever skiied with their parents again.
I waited until they started bugging me about skiing, which was about 6 years old for both of them. I took them to the easiest ski slope near our house (Boyce Park in Pittsburgh) and kept taking them there until they could stop and turn at will. I used one of those harnesses that give you a ten foot "leash" so that I could stop them if need be until they felt comfortable. We graduated to the big hills and the rest is history. We always tried to make it a fun family outing and made sure we made plenty of food and bathroom stops.
Your mileage may vary...only you can decide if she (and you) are ready for this big step. Good Luck!
I think Lordhedgie and Robert hit the mark on their comments. I hate seeing parents screaming at their kids and the kids being miserable, but see it every year. From my calls to local resorts, they don't take kids before 3. My little boy will be 4 in October. Last year, I rented a pair of skis locally and just ran him down the hill at our house. he was bored after about 30 minites, as the guys have said, and since we were at home we went inside.
When I do take him this year, if he really bugs me, I'll go to the closest mountain, on a weekday, with my wife who doesn't ski camping out in the lodge, and not plan on really doing much skiing myself. He can take a break with mom, but will likely want to go home after a few hours at the most. I think he's a typical kid, so that's my 2 cents worth.
I had my four kids doing "snow play" on the slopes from a very early age. I put some of them in a backpack type carrier and cross-country & downhill skied with them (on my back) at ages 1-3. As toddlers I used to bring them up on short chair lift rides and let them stand on my skis in front of my bindings while I held their hands and glided down beginner runs. By the time the youngest was a toddler (mid-90's) most ski areas actively banned any of these semi-dangerous practices, and probably rightfully so. But it was fun while it lasted. I also had them in crude, toy store cross-country skis puttering around the base area, which was quite valuable. My wife was kind enough to do the majority of baby sitting for them in the base lodge when they needed breaks (frequently), while me and the older ones kept skiing. All this stuff got them mentally acclimated to the idea that ski areas = fun, probably a more important accomplishment at that age than working on physical skiing skills.
I didn't really take them formally skiing until they were about five. This proved to be about the right age to have the stamina to justify buying eqmt, lift tics, special clothing, etc. for a more lengthy day on the slopes. By five they were good for a nearly normal day on the slopes. I fondly remember enjoying repeat runs down the "black diamond" slopes at Massanutten with my second daughter before she turned six.
Main thing at age 2 or 3 is to moderate your expectations. Get supervisory coverage for both the on-snow and in-lodge segments of the day. Keep them warm. Perhaps take advantage of the low crowds and warm temps of spring skiing rather than frigid New Year's Eve mobs. Make it fun and act confident in yourself so they don't associate skiing with fear.
I believe most ski areas offer free skiing for kids under five, but rentals could be a little pricey if child only uses for 45 minutes. Suggest you go to a local ski swap if you want to find a whole set-up of used kiddie gear for the price of about one day of rentals.
And I HEAR the other posters about frequent potty stops. Never fails that several times a day they will express the need for one just as you've pulled down the safety bar to start a chairlift ride up the hill?!
SBS- I started skiing when I was two and I can't recommend it enough. Get your kid on the skis early and often! That said, here was my progression:
at the age of 2, my parents had me clomping around in skis on the living room floor and occasionally out in the snow.
at 3, I was on the snow at the ski areas in skis, sliding down very gentle hills but not on the lifts yet.
at 4, I was in lessons with an instructor.
When they're young, you're gonna have to take the time to be with them and understand that for them, this is just a new way to play. They're going to come around slowly to the concept of skiing, they're a little young to "get it" just yet. But be patient, maybe let them glide down very gentle slopes so they can get a feel for the motion, and I think you'll be fine.
But the earlier you get them started, the more addicted they become and by the time they're 21, they won't blink at spending $141 for a lift ticket at Liberty.
I taught kids at the shoe for several years and am a school teacher, coach, blah, blah, blah... Generally speaking, I have found that most children under four are not physically developed enough to control the ski, let alone walk on them. What I recommend is that you find a pair of kids skiis as short as possible, and let them learn to walk in them. If they are the exception to the rule and can control their body, they will pick up on the basics from this. Usually most can only take the frustration for a ver short time, then it's hot chocolate time. Some ski areas offer a children's day care which does offer some on snow time. Be selective and talk to other parents who have used that particular ski school. Sometimes it's the bottom line of making money that their interested in, not what's good for the child.
I tried my son on skiis at two, had a miserable time
(both of us),and let it ride until he was four. I then enrolled him in a good kid's program and he excelled. By age seven he was skiing everything at the shoe, bumps included
. Once a kid has success on boards, you can't keep them off them. But the key is for the child to WANT to do it.
Let me add a twist to this since I'm not a parent (not even married yet! - where's those women that like the snow??) but a friend of mine has two young daughters. One is 6 and the other is turning 2.5 here soon. She would like to learn how to snowboard herself and if it's something that she enjoyes she's curious if she should teach her daughters how to snowboard. I suggested that it might be wise for the kids at that age to learn skiing first and migrate over to snowboarding around age 8.
What would everyone's thoughts be on that? Obviously snowboarding for children would be a tad harder than skiing.
Bawalker, I started skiing but now snowboard almost exclusively. My boy wants to snowboard, but I am going to start him on skis. Anyone who has done both will (hopefully) say that the first day or two on a snowboard can be frustrating. On skis, if you start to lose balance, you can shift an individual leg to compensate where snowboarding you have to commit your whole body. That seems like it would be more difficult for a child to do. Also, when you're skiing, you're "standing" and your feet can be side-by-side, more like walking. The guy's analogy of using skis and letting them walk around on the floor sounds great, but you can't do that with a snowboard (unless they want to Ollie hop).
I am actually getting my boy on roller skates now during the "unseason" to try to give him a feel for the balance needed for skis.
I believe Winterplace has a children's day care where they try and get them on skis. I know nothing about it but I may get my oldest daughter in it this winter. Rather than even using the bunny slopes, they have a flat playground area where they play with and without skis. Could be a good way to get them comfortable. They also have a good children's slope with a rope pull. It's completely isolated from all the big kids.
The best, and just about the only thing, you can do with a two year old is get some skis on their feet and get them to move around and shuffle around a little bit.
You don't really lose anything by waiting. Kids under 5 really still have a lot of muscular development left to do.
Ditto what Otto said. At 2 years old, promote having fun. If they laughed in the snow and had skis on at the same time, you've accomplished alot. Even when I take out 3 year olds, I brief the parents that my only concern is the child has fun in the snow. In fact, I say the same for 8 year olds if it's their first time.
As far as the snowboard vs skiing, the skiing would probably be easier. As Otto said, the child has a lot of muscle developement left to do at the young ages. They are also developing their balance. When skiing, we can teach a child to "stack" their bones which helps with balance and control. With snowboarding, you need to be more flexible and stacking doesn't work.
You're definitely not going to teach a child to ski at the age of two, but you can get them to have fun letting them flop around in skis. Not putting them in skis because they don't "get it" is like not teaching your kid to kick a ball because they don't have the skills to play soccer until they're six. So what? If they learn that it is fun to have skis on their feet, and that sliding on them is fun, that sets a theme in their head that they won't let go of for a long time. Let her slide!
Thanks for all the advice. Seriously, I think the repsoneses are some of the most informative and helpful I've seen on a message board regardless of topic. Looks like my girl will have to wait a little while before she hits the slopes.
For what its worth I am waiting til my little guys are 4 (5 if their Mom gets her way which let's face it she will!)
I tried when she was 3 but she was too shy with the instructor. I started my daughter the next season when she was 4. She took to it right away though. This season she'll be 10 and she is a solid 5+ level (out of 6 levels) skier!
We went to Whistler-Blackcomb for spring break and she did great. She spent most of her time off of the groomers and on the black-diamond hill-sides and bowls with me
We started our daughter at 2 1/2 on skis at Whitegrass and also Timberline. Whitegrass was a good option, because she could start walking on skis on snow. She got a big kick out of that, and we also discovered that she is very fond of the ski lodge scene. The major issue with Whitegrass is picking days when the wind is not blowing too hard or conditions are otherwise unfavorable for little ones.
She also skied probably 8-9 days at Timberline that first year. We were able to get decent rentals at the local ski shop (Ski Barn). I agree that 2 year olds really do not have the leg strength to control skis; however, she loved skiing when I held her between my legs or holding onto a ski pole between her mother and I. This was great fun for her - but very tough on my back and knees! We took her out on days when the temps were mild and wind was low. Under the right conditions, I was really amazed at how long she wanted to stay out- it was not unusual for her to ski 8-10 runs down the bunny slope with us.
Last year, she was 3 1/2 and ready for ski lessons. We had a regular routine where she would start each day with a 1 hour private lesson (usually with the same instructor all season) - this costs about $40 at Timberline. My wife and I could get three runs in (slow Timberline lifts!) before her lesson was up. Then she would ski the rest of the day with us. She made great progress last year. Skiing by herself. Making nice turns. Stopping. She graduated from the bunny slope to Salamander, White Out, and finally Almost Heaven. Her instructor even took her into the woods off Salamander as a fun method of teaching her to turn and stop! We did find her endurance was much less than the previous year - mostly becuase she was really skiing on her own and using a lot of energy. Last year we were lucky if we got more than 3 runs in with her after her lesson.
A key to our success has been patience and listening. We take skiing at her pace. When she wants to go in we go in. If she wants to just play around in the snow and not ski - well that's what we do. Also watch the weather. Mild days make for happier little skiers. March is usually a great month for kids skiing - at least in WVA. Still plenty of snow, but the days are longer and milder.
So far our daughter has a big love of skiing. She has been talking all summer about skiing this winter! She is really excited to show her friends and cousins around the mountain! Last year, riding up the lift at Tline I saw a dad let his young son lead him down the mogul field in the middle part of Thunderstruck. I'd seen the 2 before during the season, skiing the whole mountain - including the black diamond White Lightning. I was amazed how well the kid ripped the moguls. I called down to the dad to ask how old his son was - FIVE! Good luck with your little one.
SBS - let me add my two cents from a guy who's son is going through this RIGHT NOW (not from memory!). Basically, most of the postings about 2 being too young are right on. Also, the posts able low expectations (on the parents' part) and achievable goals are good too. My boy will be 4 this November. We started him playing in the snow at 1 - he hated it the first time he was in it. Fair enough, we kept him inside. When he was two, he learned that stomping on snow was fun and that year, we just played in it. Now he loves the stuff. Last year (at age 3) we got him on kiddie skis and just let him clomp around the base area of Liberty. He LOVED his skis so later in the season, we took him up the bunny slope and with dad holding him between dad's legs while in a snow plow, we "skied" down the bunny slope. He LOVED it - but then again, every time his legs got wobby or tangled (i.e., EVERY run), dad simply had to pick him up (while still moving), and set him down straight again. My son's enthusiasm lasted far longer than poor old dad's legs, back and arms. This year, he's going to start out the same way and maybe (MAYBE) by season's end, he'll be joining a lesson with an instructor. The key for us was baby steps (including snow introduction) and keeping it fun fun fun. After every trip, he got hot chocolate and popcorn (his favorite winter foods). Good luck!
A key to our success has been patience and listening. We take skiing at her pace. When she wants to go in we go in. If she wants to just play around in the snow and not ski - well that's what we do.
tgd, you hit a big key to pulling off skiing with children. If they're not happy, no one will be happy. I've seen a few parents who are pushing their kids to keep going (typically guys who want to ski fast and don't have time to watch their kids but it's the only way their wife would let them out of the house to ski).
There are exceptions to every rule. I met a guy at Stratton who was using a kid-ski
T bar device with a 9 month old. The girl was not walking yet, but she was turning the skis and grinning from ear to ear. Dad says he was supporting about 30% of her weight. We later saw dad out with his 2 year old who was skiing unassisted and his four year old who was ripping. His teaching system was definitely working. The Applerise site has some great tips for starting out youngsters.
Prior to witnessing this, I would have said not possible. It was still hard to believe when seeing it in person. In general, 3 years old is too early for all but the most athletic kids. If you are going to start early, it's got to be low key, good weather, limited time and with the parents in order to have the most chance of success. If you must use professional instruction (because you don't have a clue - and there are many parents in this category), make sure that separation issues have already been addressed or that you are able to be with your child during their lesson.
I always recommend little ones wait until 7 before snowboarding because snowboarding requires more muscular dexterity at the extremities than skiing does and kids develop dexterity from the core outward. But there are also exceptions here too. I had one 3 year old first time rider a couple years ago. He was limited to surfing (straightlining with 80% weight on the back foot) only (no back foot out maneuvering, no turning) and he was done after 40 minutes, but he had a GREAT time. Unfortunately I literally had to carry him up the hill, point him downhill, then run to get in front of him to stop him at the bottom. I've also had success "power assisting" (riding side by side with hands supporting the rider on their hips) younger riders who were not yet strong enough to ride by themselves.
Finding good snowboard equipment for little ones is difficult. Look for resorts that offer the "mini-rider" program. With the right equipment, kids under 7 can learn to ride with very little assistance. With the rental equipment we have at Whitetail, kids under 7 learn to ride best when they have one on one assistance from a pro.
The age and discipline at which you start kids is not as important as getting the right match of all the variables to the abilities of the kid and the parent. The key is to start slow and easy and work your way up.