Snowsuit, gloves, and warm socks — check. Lift pass, skis, boots, and goggles — check. Patience…
Anyone who’s been on a ski slope as an adult is familiar with the frustration of watching youngsters carve circles around your timid descent. It’s an entirely different feeling, though, when your child is the one learning to slice through the snow.
The suggestion of taking a preschooler downhill skiing can be intimidating. But just think: When they fall (and they will),
it’s a short way to the ground, so there’s no need to delay starting the annual family pilgrimage to the slopes.
The weather, a child’s attention span and potty breaks can all determine your stretch on the slopes. Introducing a young child to the thrill of skiing can be very rewarding, but parents need to fully plan their day in order to make the experience as simple
Skiing requires a fair amount of gear – of course there are the skis, boots, and poles, but add to the mix protective helmets, bulky clothes, and other accessories and parents have the perfect recipe for some early aggravations even before reaching the top of the chair lift. If you decide to save some money and a little time by renting skis at a local outfitter and bringing them to the mountain, you’ll need to mentally prepare yourself for several trips across a parking lot with all the equipment. Renting slopeside, at least for the children’s gear, can alleviate some of the stresses of getting settled – in fact, many of the youth ski camps include rental skis.Getting through the rental line can take awhile, so be sure to build that into your schedule, especially if you have a lesson at a specific time.
Each of the local resorts offers a variety of options for introductory and refresher lessons. There are half and full-day camps, private lessons, and private lessons with parents. We opted to try to Ski with Me program at Ski Whitetail — one hour of private instruction for both the child and parent that provided us the opportunity to learn how to escort our son down the mountain.
Most lessons begin at the base of the bunny hill, where children are taught how to walk in their boots and move with skis across a flat surface. Our son quickly lost patience, and we appreciated the flexibility of the private lesson and the instructor’s decision to quickly move to the top of the beginner hill. The early frustration of our son quickly turned to jubilant laughter as he raced 30 feet ahead to his instructor. His descent was characterized by pointing his skis toward one of us further downhill, letting gravity take over with the instructor coaxing subtle turns. We repeated this several times until we reached the base of the hill. It was difficult to tell what he enjoyed more– gaining some speed and stopping in our arms, or gaining speed and falling to the ground. Our guide suggested the best way to coach a child who is steady and fearless is to allow them to coast downhill without direct assistance. However, parents going without an instructor must be skilled enough themselves to quickly maneuver to grasp a child whose skis accelerate following the contours of the slope.
For those not keen for the challenge of chasing their kids down the trails, a ski camp is probably the best option. Children are grouped together for instruction — usually limited to the bunny hills — and the ski school program includes indoor breaks and lunch. With the time apart, mom and dad will enjoy the mountain without the anxiety of minding the little ones.
Content and tired, everyone will savor the hot cocoa in the family-friendly version après-ski session. Soon after, you are guaranteed a quiet ride home and evening as the kids quickly fall asleep, dreaming of future trips to race each other down the mountain.
-Waterproof outerlayer and gloves (avoid cloth/cotton)
-Change of clothes and socks for the ride home
– Goggles – snow is bright and any wind can make the eyes water
-Warm hat that covers the ears (when not wearing the helmet)
– Sunscreen and lip balm
Ski Resorts within easy reach
(times from Annapolis)
-Ski Whitetail (~2 hrs)
-Ski Liberty (~1.5 hrs)
-Ski Roundtop (~1.5 hrs)
-Wisp Resort (~3.5 hrs)
-Bryce Four Seasons Resort (~2.5 hrs )
-Masanutten Resort (~3 hrs )
-Canaan Valley (~4.5 hrs)