January is learn-to-ski month in the northeast so how do you get your kids on the snow as cheaply (and painlessly) as possible? Here are five steps to teach your kids to ski and introduce your littles to a fun and life-long sport.
1. Get the ski equipment early
Visit a local rental shop to fit your child for skis, boots and poles before your ski trip. Nothing ruins a day of skiing like waiting in line to try on multiple pairs of boots in all of your warm weather gear. Talk to your child about the equipment and how to care for it. Start having the child carry some of the gear and be responsible for keeping it together. You’ll appreciate it later when you have your own equipment to transport as well.
Consider a seasonal rental if there is any chance you will take multiple trips in attempt to teach your kids to ski. Most rental shops offer youth packages with free exchanges should the child grow out of the equipment during the season. The cost is worth the time and hassle of renting equipment each trip.
2. Look for discounted lift tickets
Remove the get-your-money’s-worth stress by finding discounts. This month there are “learn-to-ski/snowboard” days at major resorts offering discounts for youth. For example, New York offers ISKINY (https://www.iskiny.com) for 3rd and 4th graders offering free lift tickets and rentals. Tickets for kids under 6 are generally reasonably priced at major resorts (~$10). If your child is small and you don’t plan to ski along side yet, you may not even have to purchase a ticket for yourself. You can walk with them as they slowly glide down the slope and ride up the lift in your snow boots.
3. Get on the snow
The best way to teach kids to ski is to just let them loose! Choose a “slope” that is gentle and relatively flat. While walking backwards, let your child glide towards you. Holding them with your hands, a harness or ski poles is tempting but you will be surprised how quickly they adapt and develop their own balance.
4. Ski positions: Pizza and Fries
Introduce the “pizza” (i.e. snowplow). Creating an inverted V with your skis to slow themselves, working their way up to applying weight on each ski to turn. “Fries” are positioning the skis parallel and create speed going down the hill. You will soon be running after them yelling “pizza!” while they laugh and fly down on their “fries”.
5. Celebrate small victories
When you are teaching your kids to ski, make sure to take a break for a hot chocolate or a snack after any or all successes. Stuff your pockets with treats and hot chocolate packets so you don’t blow all the money you saved on discounted tickets in the cafeteria.
Let’s face it, teaching your kids to ski can be expensive, exhausting and frustrating but follow these easy steps and they will be racing you to the bottom in no time. Enjoy!