Teach Your Kids How to Ski

Volume 2: From Beginner to Intermediate Skier

Last year we wrote an article about "teaching your toddler to ski" if you're teaching an absolute beginner toddler to ski start with that article.  If you have a child who knows how to stop in a wedge (aka Pizza stop), can turn a little bit, and is comfortable on easy terrain as well as riding the chairlift this article is for you.  How do we get these kids off the bunny hill and skiing more intermediate terrain?  Here are some tips on how to do it!

  1. My first piece of advice from last years article still applies.  If you don't feel comfortable teaching your kids how to ski...Don't!  Every resort has an awesome ski school that will be fun for your children and takes the work and stress off your shoulders.  Because I taught skiing I know how great ski schools are and because I love to teach skiing I was excited to teach my kids on my own, but it's not for everyone.
  2. Make sure your children are confident and having fun on the easy (green circle) runs.  It's important that your children are "crushing it" on the easy runs, having fun, and excited to try new terrain.  There is no need to rush or force your kids to the more difficult terrain.
  3. It's really all about turns!  Let's face it kids hate turning, they'd much rather fly down the beginner slopes in a huge pizza to control their speed and only turn when something is in their way.  In order to be successful on more difficult terrain, they are going to need turns to control their speed.
  4. Teach the turn.  This is where it sounds likes it's going to be hard but isn't.  Teaching adults to turn is hard because they think about it too much, teaching kids to turn is much easier.
    1. Start teaching turns on the easy green runs, don't' wait until you're up on the more difficult runs to do it.  Even if your kids don't want to turn, use incentives like going to the bigger lifts and runs, offer candy etc.  
    2. Follow me!  Assuming you, Mom and Dad can make good round turns on green terrain "follow me: works great! 
    • "Ok follow me down this run making turns and we'll go to the big lift"
    • "If you can follow me and make 6 turns right behind me I have M & M's in my pocket for you"
    1. "Point your toes where you want's to goes" That's it.  That's all you need to say, and you'll have kids turning. Follow me and point your toes where you want to go.  Make sure you are making big round turns and your kid(s) are right behind you.  Turning in a wedge/pizza for both you and your kids at this point is fine.  Yes, YOU need to ski in a pizza too!  Set a good example.
    2. French Fries. If your child is making good smooth round turns have them make "French Fries" (skis go parrallel) when going across the hill.  You can even shout out "pizza" during the turn and then when going across the hill (traverse) "french fries."  Make sure you are doing the same so they can mimic your moves.  If your child can do a Pizza turn and then French Fries across the hill they are ready for the more difficult terrain.
  5. Once you arrive at the top of the more difficult terrain you've picked make sure your child follows you, and once again remember big round turns.  We're talking big snake like turns with lots of time spent traversing the hill to control speed.  

Other things hints and tips.

  • If your child has difficulty turning here are three things to look for:
    1. Are their skis tipped up on their edges? If your child is having a hard time turning or bringing their skis parrallel (french fries) keep an eye on the angle of their skis.  It's likely that one or even both of their skis are tipped up on their edges too much.  Have them keep their skis flatter by pointing their knees out (away from their body) this will help flatten the skis and they'll be easier to turn.  Tell them to "spread the peanut butter" with their skis, don't cut into it.
    2. Are they leaning back?  Lots of kids end up in the "back seat" with their weight over the backs of their skis.  Have them stand up tall and press on the front of their boots.  Tell them to pretend they have $100 bills in the front of their ski boots and they need to press against their boot so they don't blow away.  I've even been known to put my ski glove between a childs chin and their boot and have them press against it while they ski and tell them "Don't lose my glove"
    3. Last but not least do they have their weight on their down hill or outside ski? During a turn and after a turn (while traversing across the slope) most of a skiers weight should be on their downhill ski or as I tell kids the ski closest to the parking lot.  You can even point to your leg while you ski and say "push on this leg, now this leg, now this leg"  A simple game would be to play smash the bug and have kids step hard on their downhill ski on each turn.
  • After a few runs warming up and preparing on the easy runs and after a long run on the more difficult terrain it will be time for a break.  Don't push it with too many runs in a row even if the kids are into it.  You might even want to take a short snack break before you got up the more difficult terrain.
  • Skiing is fun!  Pack cookies, gummie bears, and hot cocoa, take the time to reward your children for good runs, turns, stops.  My 5 year old asks for "gummies" everytime we get on the chair.

Ok, I know that was a lot of information crammed in, sorry.  I tried to narrow it down to just hte key points I learned over the years teaching kids how to ski. I think with the above advice you'll be able to take your kids from the bunny hill to the intermediate slopes without too much effort.  As always please leave comments and questions below we'd love your feedback and tips and happy to answer questions as you have them.

Thanks!