Introducing Young Children to Winter Snow Sports – Alpine Skiing
Winter offers many opportunities for families to participate in outdoor recreation. Alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are all sports that families can enjoy together and pursue as lifelong hobbies. If your children are young, how do you know if they are ready to begin a snow sport? To help parents make that decision, the following tips were collected from snow sports program managers at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, whose family programs have received a #1 ranking for 14 years from SKI Magazine readers.
Harley Johnson is the director of Smugglers’ Snow Sport University, which provides skiing and snowboarding instruction at the Resort. She comments, “Ability depends on the child, so gauge your child’s athleticism, balance, and interest in new things. One way to do that is to go a ski shop and find boots that fit, and then allow your child to clomp around a bit. Are they happy and interested, or cranky and complaining?” If your child already has equipment, wearing the equipment at home in a familiar setting can help children overcome the foreign feeling of this new equipment before they get on the slopes.
Johnson feels that easing young children into the skiing experience is very important. “Take it slowly and read your child and how they are doing. There are lots of instructional options. For instance, rather than trying all-day camp, perhaps a shorter amount of time in a private lesson would be better. Another option would be a nurturing program like Smugglers’ Little Rascals on Snow, designed especially for 2 1/2 – 3 year olds to introduce them to skiing in short segments interspersed with play and relaxation time.” She also recommends chatting with the instructor at the day’s end to solicit their feedback on where the child is at after time on the slopes and what the recommended next step should be.
Comfort is important to a child’s happiness on the slopes. The child’s equipment should be carefully fitted by a trained technician; equipment rental shops usually carry a good selection of ski gear sized for children. Apparel should be layered so that it can easily adjusted to temperature changes. Johnson notes that “careful planning will allow you to introduce skiing in a safe, fun and relaxed way.”
About Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont: Smugglers’ is widely renowned for its quality family programming and beautiful setting in Vermont’s northern Green Mountains. The popular Club Smugglers’ winter packages offer great value with ski-and-stay, children’s instruction and family instruction options and include mountainside lodging, daily alpine lift tickets, cross-country and snowshoe trail passes, and numerous activities and entertainment for families and adults. For more information on Smugglers’ vacations please call 1-800-451-8752 and visit Smugglers’ website at www.smuggs.com.