We’ve taught Jack and Rowan to ski, but we definitely were making it up as we went along and made a lot of mistakes. Stephanie Anderson has taught a number of kids how to ski so we asked her to share her methods with all of you on our blog!
You want your little guy or gal to love skiing like you do? I did. You can get them up and going sooner than you would think with a few modifications. Everyone does this a little differently so here is just one take on it.
There are only two rules: Have fun and be safe.
We put our daughter Eva up on skis at around 18 months but honestly it wasn’t her thing. We used strap onto shoe skis for her tiny feet and I honestly found them too slippery and wouldn’t recommend them for more than just getting used to walking around with something on your feet which is what we used them for.
I have found that 2 is a GREAT age to learn. Her skis and boots are honestly a little big but our thought was always “it’s not like she’s going to be power turning”.
Dressing for success
Bundle that kid up! We like base layers like Ella’s Wool, a pair of generic fleece footed jammies, ski socks, a down coat, and a waterproof one piece like Oakiwear or Tuffo. We add or subtract layers as the weather changes. We have tried a few different mittens but overall prefer the Veyo Mittyz because they go on and stay on well while keeping hands warm with no thumb in the hole battle! Any goggles if your kid will wear them and most importantly a helmet! I also wear a helmet. Look around for used skis and boots on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or local ski swaps, they are all over and much cheaper.
Step by step
1. When you get your kiddo up on the hill let them walk around in their ski boots. Then pop on the skis and let them practice shuffling around in them on flat terrain.
2. Attach an edgie wedgie (a small connector at the front of their skis that stops them from spreading apart) and let them start sliding down a very gentle slope, maybe a foot or two to start. I let them shuffle forward until they start to slide so they have to balance themselves and I position myself to catch them so they feel confident.
3. After they can get started and slide I start working on what we call “BIG SKIS!!” But most people call pizza. I can’t see myself yelling pizza at a kid on the hill and she seemed to understand big skis a little better so it’s what stuck. On flat again position their feet in a wedge. Have them practice standing on flat and pushing legs apart. Then go back to the almost imperceptible hill and have them practice there also with you below them.
4. Next pop on your own skis and go to the magic carpet (conveyor belt or other beginner beginner area with barely there hill). Practice sliding down and stopping hard before they even get going too fast just so they get the feel of it. If they are not solid with this skill and feel panicked you can ski backwards in a wedge in front of them and have them practice with you as a backup safeguard.
5. Getting on the magic carpet: Position yourself at the on-ramp and have them straight skis slide on and stand still. I make sure knees are bent so they can absorb the shock of it inevitably stopping and starting as kids fall getting on/off.
6. Getting off the magic carpet: Have them keep skis straight and slide off knees bent. I just let them do it themselves so they don’t depend on you helping them each time.
7. Start to get them doing turns by having them ski down that imperceptible slope and just calling them over to you from one side. Out of the 4 two-year-olds I have taught they all lean into the turn and turn without realizing they are initiating it! (So much easier than teaching adults) some kids respond well to you in a backwards wedge calling them over from two or so feet away and some kids prefer when you have your skis off and are in boots. Either way I tend to call them and say “come and get me!! Catch me!!! Can you get me??? Here he/she comes!” And make it a game. Practice here until you are confident they can turn and stop.
8. Getting on the beginner lift. Follow lift instructions for your own area. A lot of them I have seen have a bar between the two seats. If this is the case the lift operator will sometimes help by stopping the lift or boosting them up. Be prepared to push them back into the seat and I always hold them there. We are clear there is no messing around on the lift and no turning/squirming.
9. Getting off. I typically have the kiddo lean forward at the last minute holding my arm with two hands and have them slide onto the landing zone at the top of the lift. They keep holding and sliding next to me while I am slightly bent down until we are clear of the lift.
10. There is typically a big jump from the slope to the lift bunny hill for some reason. It’s frustrating for kids. Keep it fun! I always slide backwards in front of a two-year-old when introducing them to the bunny hill. Take it easy and work in a traverse. Play “come and get me” as you work your way down the hill. Most kids have a harder time and this first run (or 3) have been a place for extra treats, loves etc. try to keep it light.
Eventually you can try different green hills and terrain like small kickers or cat tracks.
Time on the hill
We have a lot of tiny treats on hand, make sure your kid can manage these obviously before they get on the hill and that their mouth is empty before you start sliding again! We started out taking a break EVERY run down for hot chocolate or something else. This is ALL brand new for them and the bottom line is you want it to be fun and safe. Some days we get hours of skiing out of a kid and some days only one run, we let their attitude be our guide which can mean a long trip up and down for 30min on the hill sometimes. I do not like ski trainer harnesses because I have seen it teach kids to sit in the back seat and/or not ski responsibly. Parents can use this to have kids ski terrain beyond their ski level which is simply not what I wanted to do. I also don’t love skiing with kids between legs because it can make them into rag dolls, limp in your arms and not learning to control their own skis. That being said I have done it a few times which my own daughter when she didn’t feel motivated to ski the basic slope, she always needs to see the end goal. I have also done it with a friend’s kid who panicked at the top of the bunny hill and couldn’t/wouldn’t go down. Both the leash and between the legs skiing are well liked by some parents and of that works for you, great! Kids are all so different and you have to adapt to what they will work with.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a professional ski instructor or that every two-year-old is ready to ski. Skiing is a dangerous activity as is riding the lift. Please only put your child in a situation you feel comfortable with and ask for help from a professional if you are not a confident skier. Follow all rules at your own ski area. How I taught these kids involves skiing backwards, please be confident in this before attempting to do it with a child. We Found Adventure and I are not responsible for any injury you, your child or anyone else while skiing. Ski with caution.