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"Raising Rippers:" Outside Mag piece on teaching kids a sport.

#2
Advice I could have used. It’s so easy to get caught up in your kid’s sports and get a little crazy cheering them on. My sweet girl loved to please her mom, and might have played hockey a little longer than she would have preferred, knowing how excited I was, vicariously enjoying her talent.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#3
Here's the piece. It's brief and fairly obvious but does seem to have some good reminders, so I thought it was worth sharing.
Good stuff!

Keep the Stakes Low
Don’t push kids beyond their comfort zone before they’re ready. Beginner skiers don’t belong on black-diamond runs, and little kids won’t remember the thrill of the Class III rapid. Avoid big hazards and consequences until they have the skills and the understanding of what they’re getting into.
* * *

I cringe when I see a parent pushing a kid on a black run in the Mid-Atlantic who is obviously not ready. Even when the kid is not scared and seems to be having fun, what tends to happen is that defensive skiing gets ingrained at an early age. As they get older, some kids think are "expert" skiers because they are skiing fast on blacks, but have no clue that a black in the flatlands is nothing like a black at big mountains in the northeast or out west.

A couple related stories . . .

I remember a father asking for advice for a private lesson for his 11yo son for an upcoming trip to Alta. The boy had finished a trip to Colorado when he was 9 or 10 not wanting to ski again. My regular instructor got the job and worked with the boy for two or three lessons. The father was quite happy with the results. What my instructor told me later was that the boy had clearly been over-terrained and fear had set in. Knowing him, he probably found a way to teach the father what to do to avoid repeating the same problem in the future.

Not always fathers either. The one day I was at Hunter, there was a mother screaming at her daughter at the top of a steeper pitch at the beginning of a blue. The girl wasn't a little girl, perhaps a young teen or older tween. It was icy because it was already skied off that Saturday. She was sensibly scared.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Not always fathers either.
Also boyfriends. My first foray back into skiing three years ago was in a group beginner lesson. There was a young woman in my group who of course had never skied before, but she was athletic and seemed to pick up the basics pretty quickly.

After the lesson, I spent the rest of the day riding the beginner chair, and she joined her boyfriend on the same green trails. I watched as her bf "taught" her to ski by encouraging her to fly straight down the trail at MACH-1 speeds until she crashed. She did this over and over and over. I couldn't believe she kept getting back up for more, honestly, and I can't imagine she learned anything useful. She certainly didn't seem to improve.

But that's the kind of experience people are usually talking about when they say "I tried skiing once, it was scary and awful and I'll never do it again."
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#5
Also boyfriends. My first foray back into skiing three years ago was in a group beginner lesson. There was a young woman in my group who of course had never skied before, but she was athletic and seemed to pick up the basics pretty quickly.

After the lesson, I spent the rest of the day riding the beginner chair, and she joined her boyfriend on the same green trails. I watched as her bf "taught" her to ski by encouraging her to fly straight down the trail at MACH-1 speeds until she crashed. She did this over and over and over. I couldn't believe she kept getting back up for more, honestly, and I can't imagine she learned anything useful. She certainly didn't seem to improve.

But that's the kind of experience people are usually talking about when they say "I tried skiing once, it was scary and awful and I'll never do it again."
Yes, but doesn't usually apply to children under age 8 or so, which is what the article was about. Most of the points will help the most if applied before kids are into their tween years.

Out west it's common to see young kids, under age 6, having a great time skiing down hard blues or easy blacks. But their parents clearly are good skiers and probably started them out slowly by age 2 or so. There are plenty of families around on the green trails at Alta after 3:00, especially during the spring season. That's a really good time for kids to have fun because it's not as dark or as cold as during mid-season.

I enjoyed watching the first time my daughter decided to straight line the harder green at Massanutten. She was with her 15yo cousin. I was tired out. They were skiing under the lights after a full day. What I noticed was that although DD was skiing as fast as possible going straight, if there was a mound of snow in her way or someone skied too close, she would easily make a small turn in complete control. I was clear she liked the speed, which hadn't been the case before. She was 6 and starting her third season, after skiing about 10 times during the first two seasons. I had her in ski school at least one day each of the three overnight stays at Massanutten.
 

MilkyWookiee

Certified Ski Diva
#6
I definitely see a lot of parents who don’t realize what over terraining looks like. With adults, we usually have fear when we are overterrained. One of the joys of being a young child is not knowing fear, so the supervising adult needs to 1) know what good technique looks like for the child 2) identify when there is regression on steeper runs 3) be able to safely get the kid back to appropriate trails and 4) put the child’s learning before their own fun. I think these things are difficult for parents and kids belong in lessons with a professional instructor and their peers.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#7
Ironically, one of the advantages of having a kid learn at a small hill with limited terrain is that the temptation to over terrain is less when only groomers exist. But still happens.

I never took my daughter to a harder trail at Massanutten until she'd already done it with an instructor. She was skiing the blacks by age 6 with the guidance of instructors after starting at age 4. I waited until she was 4 since that's the minimum age for group ski school at Mnut.

From the article in Post #1:

Outsource Instruction
This isn’t lazy—it’s strategic. Kids are often more open to learning, less likely to whine, and more apt to stick it out without their parents around, and instructors are more likely to keep their cool when kids fuss or resist. My husband, Steve, and I taught both our daughters to ski before they turned two. It was purely a lark to see if they could balance on skis while gliding slowly down a slope with almost no pitch. They sucked their pacifiers the whole time and cried to go in for hot cocoa after 20 minutes. Cool. After their first season on skis, we splurged on ski school a couple times each winter. Learning from other adults gave them confidence and independence on the slopes, other viewpoints and techniques, and they always came back to us having mastered new skills.
 

MilkyWookiee

Certified Ski Diva
#8
Ironically, one of the advantages of having a kid learn at a small hill with limited terrain is that the temptation to over terrain is less when only groomers exist. But still happens.
Completely agree! I took my first lesson at age 4 at Shawnee and vividly remember falling in love with a plywood cutout of Tigger. Most kids don't WANT to be overterrained anyway. I was perfectly content on the bunny hills (like magic carpets and pumas) until I was about 7 and turning in both directions. Nobody pushed and it sounds like your daughter and I are both very fond of skiing given this method!
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
Most kids don't WANT to be overterrained anyway.
Ugh tell that to my 4yo. He constantly wants to do the harder stuff, and unlike me, his dad will just take him on it (no harder than an easy blue, but still) and I've definitely noticed his skills regressing as a result. This fall we'll bring him back to the bunny slopes and plan on putting him in the local hill's kids instruction classes so that we don't have to be responsible for it anymore. I figure, we got him to enjoy skiing, now the actual technical stuff I'll happily pay a professional for.
 
#10
Certainly depends on the personality of the kid when they are under age 7 or 8. My friend's son is naturally cautious. He picked up skiing quickly at age 6 because he'd been playing ice hockey for a couple years. But much preferred making turns than going fast. That hasn't changed even at age 11. He paid close attention in ski school and likes to ski bumps.

At age 4, usually it's hard to convince a kid to make lots of turns even if they know how. I found it a lot better for my daughter to follow me than for me to follow her while urging her to "make a turn." She was used to following right behind an instructor.

One of the tips in the article is to "Make it Fun." Have to maintain a balance if a kid wants to go on harder terrain. Setting a goal before going on an "adventure run" might help. I made it very clear to my daughter that I wasn't going to take her to the top of Massanutten until she could make good turns at the very top of the harder blue. The pitch there is as steep as most of the two blacks at the summit. Only long enough for 3-4 turns, but enough to test technique and attitude. Did the same for her friends and my friend's kids as they progressed.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#11
Yes, but doesn't usually apply to children under age 8 or so, which is what the article was about. Most of the points will help the most if applied before kids are into their tween years.
True, I was thinking that "outsource instruction" would be well-applied to any age group. As well as revealing my age as I saw the young woman as a child, which she obviously wasn't! :redface:
 
#12
True, I was thinking that "outsource instruction" would be well-applied to any age group. As well as revealing my age as I saw the young woman as a child, which she obviously wasn't! :redface:
You are quite right that all of the ideas in the article apply to beginners of any age. But the actual approach is quite different for beginners who are young kids less than 8 vs a teen vs a young adult vs an older adult (30-49) vs a senior (50+).

Start Small
Get The Right Gear
Make It Fun
Keep The Stakes Low
Learn As A Family
Give Them A Break
Switch Things Up
Don't Be Too Demanding
Tell It To Them Straight
Outsource Instruction
Follow Their Lead
 
#13
For me, I hadn't been skiing for about 10 years before my daughter was old enough for ski school at Massanutten (4 hour drive). We went as a family for a full week of vacation before Christmas. Since it's a major timeshare resort, there was plenty to do besides ski. Had she not liked skiiing, I was unlikely to push the sport given that my husband is a non-skier. Would've found something else she liked to do outdoors that could be done closer to our home. For instance, horseback riding.

Follow Their Lead
If you were a youth soccer star but your daughter’s way into curling, go with it. Give her the opportunity to love your passion and the freedom to choose her own. This was the best advice my doctor gave me after our oldest daughter was born. “Just bring her along everywhere with you, include her in your life,” he told me sagely. “Everywhere?” I asked. She was only three days old, and I was panicked about how to keep her safe and alive for the rest of her life. “Everywhere,” he said. “Just follow her lead. And whatever you do, don’t look up anything on the internet.”
 
#14
I didn't take DD to ski anywhere besides Massanutten until she could ski the two blacks from the summit. That happened by age 6 with the guidance of ski school instructors. After exploring the options within a half-day drive, we ended up getting season passes at Mnut. Partially because although she liked to ski, she also liked the waterpark, the pool, and ice skating. With kids who are still beginners or intermediates, having non-skiing activities makes them more interested in dealing with a longer drive for weekend ski trips. Made it easier to do weekends with a friend (and friend's mom) who wasn't a skier to start with.
 

MilkyWookiee

Certified Ski Diva
#15
I recall reading somewhere that for kids who don't like to turn but can do it, it can help to take them through some easy glades if you can find some with less pitch. It's exciting and different, plus the have to turn to avoid obstacles. I'm sure some simple version of a scavenger hunt or something like that could help too. For my brother it was if you ski to mommy at the side of the trail she'll give you a Hershey's kiss.
 
#16
I recall reading somewhere that for kids who don't like to turn but can do it, it can help to take them through some easy glades if you can find some with less pitch. It's exciting and different, plus the have to turn to avoid obstacles. I'm sure some simple version of a scavenger hunt or something like that could help too. For my brother it was if you ski to mommy at the side of the trail she'll give you a Hershey's kiss.
Good idea but wouldn't apply in the southeast or most of the mid-Atlantic because there is no blue terrain that isn't a groomer. For that matter, not much black terrain that isn't groomed and very few places have tree skiing. It's more common that someone found skiing in trees after a rare snowstorm that provides enough coverage would have their ticket pulled for the day. I would guess the same is true in the midwest.

Have read about making it a game to see who can make the most turns to a visible target a little way down the trail.
 

MilkyWookiee

Certified Ski Diva
#17
Good idea but wouldn't apply in the southeast or most of the mid-Atlantic
Gotta work with what you got! would love to see somewhere do beginner friendly slalom gates. "small fry slalom" we could call it, and get kids all excited about controlling their speed while doing French fries! I think I did something with little traffic cones in a lesson during my magic carpet days.

I've also had friends get passes clipped at Nutt and would honestly prefer they did it more. they have a huge problem with the college kids not being respectful to families as well as drunk skiing.
 
#18
Gotta work with what you got! would love to see somewhere do beginner friendly slalom gates. "small fry slalom" we could call it, and get kids all excited about controlling their speed while doing French fries! I think I did something with little traffic cones in a lesson during my magic carpet days.

I've also had friends get passes clipped at Nutt and would honestly prefer they did it more. they have a huge problem with the college kids not being respectful to families as well as drunk skiing.
When are you thinking about at Massanutten? The place has changed somewhat since the lifts were upgraded and the lodge was renovated. My family started skiing there just before the the start of spending $10-20 million over about five years. There are less people drinking on the lifts in recent years. Although I haven't been skiing at night on the weekends for a while.

There are times when a little course is set up on the easiest green for the kids' ski school classes. Not full poles, just short stakes. They usually leave it for a while so anyone can use it who is riding that lift.
 

MilkyWookiee

Certified Ski Diva
#19
When are you thinking about at Massanutten?
2014-2016ish, I mostly skied midweek. I actually would build ski days into my class schedule, as I did the saver pass which wasn't valid holidays or before 4 on Saturdays. 2016 when we got the big snow storm was when I noticed the most people trying to ski under the lift to the blacks up top. talking about it really makes me miss that hill though!
 
#20
2014-2016ish, I mostly skied midweek. I actually would build ski days into my class schedule, as I did the saver pass which wasn't valid holidays or before 4 on Saturdays. 2016 when we got the big snow storm was when I noticed the most people trying to ski under the lift to the blacks up top. talking about it really makes me miss that hill though!
Ah, that's more recent than I thought. The SuperSaver pass is a great deal. I take advantage of the early bird and timeshare owner discounts when I know I'll be skiing at least 3 Saturdays, but have done the SuperSaver too.

Reminds me of the Feb 2010 blizzard. That time I followed the Give Them A Break concept. I drove up with my daughter but dropped her off at a friend's house in Charlottesville. The other mom didn't bring the girls until a couple days later when the roads were clearer and the trails were groomed. I just beat the storm arriving early on Friday morning.

I was there in 2016 for that snowstorm too. First time I could really ski in the trees there. :thumbsup:

Feb 2013 at Massanutten, Summit condos
Mnut Feb 2010 - 1.jpg

Jan. 23, 2016, walked to the base from Killy Court
Mnut 23Jan2016 minivan buried.jpg

Massanutten trees, near Lift 5
Mnut 23Jan2016 - 3.jpg
 

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