Grandparents Tips

Introducing Your Grandkids to Skiing or Snowboarding

By Harriet Wallis


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You love to ski or ride – and you're sure your passion is genetic. So here are some tips to get things off to a good start if you want to share the snow with your grandchildren.

First and foremost: Enroll your grandchild or grandchildren in a ski or snowboard learning program taught by professionally-trained instructors. Their first experience is critical. Afterwards, you might want to help reinforce what they have learned so here are some additional things to think about.

Look for deals . Some resorts offer free or low cost tickets for youngsters (including learning programs). That takes the financial pressure off you especially if the day’s weather turns iffy or if your grandkids get restless at the last minute.

Start on flat ground . Kids should start sliding on nearly flat ground, says Jo Garuccio, a Snowbird, Utah, instructor and a PSIA trainer and examiner. Garuccio also runs Ski Utah’s 5th and 6th grade “Passport” programs.

“A child will not miraculously assume a balanced stance on the beginner hill. It’s imperative that the child stand and slide independently on a flat surface before taking on a more significant 'downhill experience'. The terrain should be so flat that the child can go straight, lose momentum and stop,” she says.

Cool kids . Pediatric journals say that children cool faster than adults because they have proportionately more skin surface in relation to their body size. Even though you have them bundled up, when kids say they’re cold, it’s time to go into the lodge and thaw them out.

Aids . "Aids are not a substitute for skill," says Garuccio. If you use a harness, leash or tip clamp Edgie Wedgie with your youngster, stay on green and easy blue slopes. “Do not take your child onto high level terrain until they can handle it without aids." One suggestion - KinderLift makes a helpful tool when riding a chairlift with a small child.

Stifle your expectations . Make it fun, fun, fun. Your grandchild might be super athletic and coordinated, but put your expectations aside and make sure it's fun. That way they'll want to do it again. It’s okay to give them little tips, but back off from the overkill of teaching, says Mary Whittke, retired ski school director of Brighton, Utah.

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