For every parent with a child out there on the snow, falling on skis or their snowboard is an inevitable rite of passage, something that comes hand in hand with learning how to ski or snowboard. While I cannot guarantee that every fall is going to be painless or result in a skidoo ride to Ski Patrol, there are certain things you can do as a parent to minimise your inner fear factor when watching your children’s daredevil snow feats...
Tip #1: Keep it fun!
For the youngsters and the first timers, make the whole kids snow experience fun for them! Fun is what keeps generations of families coming back to the slopes time and time again, so right off the bat KEEP IT FUN. Young or old Fun Is Key!
Tip #2: Sort out your gear ahead of time
If you don’t have your own gear for your family snow trip, don’t spend time in long lines at the ski resort trying to hire ski and snowboard equipment for your family. Do what the semi-regulars do, pre book your gear ahead of time, hire for the season or better yet go through a rental company similar to Sno Pro in Queenstown-Wanaka, New Zealand where they come directly to your accommodation and fit your gear out on site.
Tip#3: Give it a go at home
Give your children time to get used to their new ski and snowboard equipment. Take your time getting the ski and board boots on as this can be the most frustrating part for kids and parents alike. Especially for toddlers, but also older children, having their kids ski boots and skis or snowboard gear on and sliding or stomping around the lounge can be so much fun! It can also be a great introduction to the fun that waits outside on the mountain where the weather isn’t as controlled.
If you’re confident and a bit creative, go next level and build a mini slope! You can do this out of just about anything, for example, put a few couch pillows sloping from the couch to the floor and there you have it, a ramp to ski or board down!
Tip #4: Start easy
Once you’re on the snow, choose your starting point carefully. Injuring yourself in the first 5 minutes is usually a downer for your family ski trip!
- First test the snow underfoot by walking then running around in your ski or board boots. This will help your kids get a good feel for being on the snow.
- Always put your skis and snowboards on when on the flat.
- Mittens or gloves on before the pole straps. Here’s a great video on how to correctly hold your ski poles.
- Learn to move to the lifts confidently.
Most resorts offer various grades of lifts starting at the beginner magic carpet lifts. Once your child is more confident, head to the green trails or beginner lifts, for example Friday Flats at Thredbo, McDougall’s at Cardrona, Bourke St at Mt Buller.
Tip#5: Take the time
Spending time with your children whilst they learn is extremely rewarding, having a giggle as they fall, picking them up starting them off again. One of my favourites was to run down the learner’s slope in front of my children trying to get them to turn, all whilst getting them to tag or catch me. If this is not an option or if it’s too crowded at the magic carpet, get your kids in ski school lessons. You might find they’ll listen to their ski school instructor better than they do you! One bit of advice I have is to make the time after your child’s lesson to give them the opportunity to show off all the new things they have learnt. They’ll love showing off their new skills!
Tip#6: Take a moment and don’t panic!
If a fall does happen when you are with your children take a moment or a breath. As always, your children will be watching for your reaction, so panicking will not help the situation. Often you can see straight away if it is just a little startle or a bump as they’re learning something new. There’s no need to rush to their aid. Calmly go to your child and help them get up, make a little joke to break up the tension. Fill your eyes with warmth, love and admiration that they’ve experienced something a little different and new! If you can, try not to pick them up, get them to do it all themselves as this reinforces their independence and builds their confidence too. We all know how tricky it is to pick ourselves up after a snowy spill, so if they can manage it, imagine what that will do for their confidence!
Tip#7: Get involved in the off season
If your family finds themselves really getting into skiing and snowboarding, then maintaining your kids fitness in the off season will become important too.
A favourite spring and summer family activity is heading to the local trampoline park. Trampolining is a great way to burn some of that youthful energy as well as learning about air awareness. It's also a convenient and enjoyable way to boost both your and their endurance as well as relieving stress and tension. Jumping on a trampoline can help develop better balance, coordination, and motor skills.
Leg strength is another key aspect of snowsport, some say soccer is one of the best ways to develop leg strength and endurance. While skateboarding is a fabulous way to improve balance, core strength and perseverance. Check out our SnowPow article on 5 Pre-Season Exercises for Families for more ideas!
To be honest any sport that your child loves will improve their fitness and enable you to love your snow time that much faster!
I'll leave you with this piece of sage advice: love your time on snow and engage in each step of your child’s time whether it be skiing or snowboarding. If something unexpected happens, don’t panic, trust in them and their process and you will all have the best family snow trip ever!
Can’t wait to see you all out on the slopes!
Kim is the proud mum to Olivia and Riley who regularly smash out the runs and jumps at their local ski resort in Wanaka. She’s experienced the highs and lows of being a snow parent and has plenty of stories to share.