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Discussion: Skiing with little kids questions

in: acjospe

Oct 9, 2018 6:07 PM # 
Hi Alex,

If you don't mind some dumb questions...

Should they learn cross-country or downhill first? Or both simultaneously? From what age? (They are 6ish and 4, oh so very 4. The 6ish-year old had one downhill intro group lesson, the 4-year old has never been on skis.)

If we go somewhere in northern New England, ideally VT or NH rather than ME, at one of the peak times (Thanksgiving if there's good snow, MLK weekend, Presidents Day, but especially the Christmas-New Year holiday week), do you have any recommendations? Plusses: feasible for rusty adults and novice kids to get lessons; not too far north from CT; other things to do than ski for when they get bored of that.)

Oct 9, 2018 11:53 PM # 
Jumping in...

As a parent, I think they'll like the rush from "downhill" better than XC at those ages. Our younger son started downhill lessons at age 6 (the older one was in ski club i.e. group ski lessons through his school in grades 5-6). If they teach 4yo's too, they both would most likely learn to traverse and snowplow, both transferable to XC. No suggestions on where, though Bosquet in Pittsfield (if it's open) or Jiminy Peak in western MA shouldn't be too far from you. Everywhere will be crowded at holiday times, though. VT might offer better skiing and aprés ski.
Oct 10, 2018 12:29 AM # 
Our kids learned at Sundown when they were 3 and 4 with Lyn pulling them up and them skiing down between her legs. Of course, when they fell it was her fault. Lucy just finished her 20th year teaching at Vail. Bob is a powder hound at Alta. Never too young to start.
Oct 10, 2018 5:13 PM # 
Well, if a kid has never been on skis before, downhill vs xc doesn't really matter - you just need to get them used to sliding. 6 is getting kind of old, but 4 is just about right. The Bill Koch Youth League starts at age 7, but most people who really enjoy skiing have been doing it since much younger.

Renting something like this is a good start, because you don't need much equipment for them to start sliding around. No need for poles, in either downhill or xc.

The approach of a parent pushing/pulling the kid up a small (think sledding hill or smaller) hill, and letting them glide down, is about the level we're talking about.

As to downhill vs xc, once you get past the basic dad-pushing-you-around-on-skis level, that's more up to which sport the family wants to do. Good to have both skills, the fundamentals transfer easily, and as Janet says, the thrill of going downhill fast is a good one.

As for places... assuming the kids will quickly lose interest, you'll also want access to sledding and indoor stuff. Craftsbury is awesome, because of the lodging and food and snowshoeing and fatbiking and all the rest, but that's probably about as far from you as you can get. Staying somewhere in the Upper Valley near Lebanon gives you access to a wide variety of both xc and downhill, and is closer. Notchview xc in MA is pretty limited, but probably the closest thing for you to actually ski at. Not much else going on than xc skiing and snowshoeing there. Prospect Mt. in VT has really good skiing and reliable snow, and a nice lodge to warm up in. Dublin XC is free skiing, but no lodge and definitely no lessons. Windblown xc is near Dublin, and might do lessons, bonus that it has a [pretty wonky] orienteering map.

It's not a destination, but Weston is great for beginners and offers lessons for both kids and adults... and the Boston Children's museum and Aquarium and the Science Museum and and and...
Oct 11, 2018 2:40 AM # 
What about winding trails near Hartford? When there is snow, it's a really nice place, and close to you guys.
Oct 11, 2018 2:22 PM # 
I remember feeling for unpopular for falling over and getting in the way of pros at Winding Trails - people were pretty huffy with us and didn't enjoy it much.
Oct 11, 2018 2:33 PM # 
As someone who didn't learn to ski at all until my teen years: I wish I had started on nordic skis as opposed to downhill. There are definitely transferable skills, and maybe if you start both young enough it doesn't really matter which you do first. But I feel like if you are really comfortable on nordic skis the transfer to alpine would be even easier than the other way around. I still feel insecure on nordic skis, despite a decent amount of nordic skiing over the past seven years, and almost never downhill skiing any more.
Oct 12, 2018 1:13 AM # 
It’s a long way, but we went up to smugglers notch in VT this winter and our 3 year old loved it. Lots of indoors stuff to do as well as great skiing :-) when we were there there wasn’t enough snow for the xc but normally there is.
Oct 12, 2018 1:17 AM # 
Also Jackson XC and Great Glen XC in NH, where you have all that North Conway has to offer. The lodge at Great Glen has great views of Washington, and they have DIY tubing as well. Cranmore (in North Conway) is a great beginners area for downhill
Oct 14, 2018 10:27 AM # 
Boris is huffy with everyone who gets in his way.

And Dublin is free *of* skiing.

[being helpful as usual ;)]
Oct 14, 2018 1:28 PM # 
+1 for starting at home with those plastic strap-on skis. Bring them to the park along with the sled. Just need a little hill and a little bit of snow.
Oct 14, 2018 1:41 PM # 
Yeah. Take them to the top of the hill and give them a shove. Worked with my kids.
Oct 14, 2018 9:45 PM # 
There was skiing in Dublin in early March this year, wasn't there?
Oct 15, 2018 11:45 AM # 
Sort of. More people went shopping with a JCB than on skis, though.
Oct 18, 2018 12:32 AM # 
Further to ahall's comment: Great Glen also has some great instructors (my kids learned there). As to which to learn first, that can depend on the kid, the snow and the weather. But really either, or both! When our kids were 4 and 6, they definitely did not have a ton of stamina, but that enabled the adults to go out one at a time and do some hard skiing for an hour or so!

Friends who spent time used to live outside Hartford used to head to the Berkshires
I think those areas are almost all family friendly, but haven't been there myself. Quite a few options for both downhill and Nordic.
Oct 23, 2018 8:03 PM # 
Thanks belatedly for all this. And all the 'family instruction' part is assuming the parents actually are comfortable doing this, but since the parents haven't themselves been on skis (in one case) in 6 years and (in the other) more than one single time in 25 years, there's a role for professional instruction.

(One of the costs to raising your kids in a different country than you grew up in is that you can't teach them stuff you never learned to do. I'd be happy coaching my kid's cricket team; US sports I am lost on. Skiing is intermediate.)
Oct 24, 2018 5:54 PM # 
Good professional instruction can be a great way to get the kids going quickly. They learn surprisingly fast and are often more willing to listen from someone not dad.

This discussion thread is closed.