Skiing is a very popular winter sport for East Coast families. It’s great exercise and fun for the whole family. Children, and even adult beginners, can greatly benefit from the ski lessons offered at most major mountain resorts. However, the sport can be quite overwhelming if you’ve never skied before or haven’t done so in several years.
Best of NJ spoke with Robin Manfredi, Children’s Program Director at Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos. Here, she provides some helpful ski advice for the entire family:
- Wear a helmet! You can rent them at the ski resort. You never know when an accident can happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, leave the scarf at home and wear a turtleneck or “neckie” (furry neck warmer) instead.
- Educate yourself about the resort you’re going to. If ski lessons begin at 9:30 am, arrive a little early to get yourself situated. If you’re late to the lesson, you might miss crucial information or hold up the group.
- Know the mountain basics, such as where the lessons will be held, where the lounge is located and what the bunny slope looks like. If you’ve never been to the resort before, being organized and having a plan will work to your advantage. You’ll feel more confident about the whole skiing experience if you’re armed with information about the mountain. Chances are, you can download a map of the mountain online to get familiar with the layout before you depart.
- Ski equipment can be heavy, bulky and cumbersome to those not used to it. Help prepare your kids in advance by having them practice walking in their snow boots, even if the boots are borrowed or rented. According to Manfredi, kids only need to wear one pair of socks inside their ski boots. The boot is supposed to feel snug but their toes should not be crunched inside. Make sure your child’s toes are flat inside the boot with their toes hitting the end of the boot. They should practice walking heel to toe to make sure the boots fit and don’t cause any pain.
- Explain to kids that they most likely won’t be using poles in their lessons. In fact, Manfredi explains that most kids don’t use poles. “Poles push you from Point A to Point B—that’s the number one reason to have them.” In ski lessons, kids will learn how to turn from their hips and feet, and they don’t need poles for that.
- Warn your children that skiing is not always easy and requires a lot of patience and practice! Expect to fall and use the core to sit up. “Skiing and snowboarding isn’t the Nintendo Wii—it’s a very physical sport,” says Manfredi. “It’s very gratifying once you make your first couple of turns.”
- Lessons will teach balance, the proper way to bend the knees and how to make “stopping wedges.” The smaller the wedge, the faster they’ll go. Practice, practice, practice.
- Rent the skis at the resort if you don’t have your own pair. The less you have to lug around, the better. Often it’s much easier to rent the equipment so you don’t have to carry and store it. Plus the ski rental employees can help answer any last minute questions you may have about the terrain, mountain or ski gear.
- When renting skis, seek out a pair for kids and adults that comes up to the breastbone. (Hold them against the body to check ski height.) You don’t want skis to go past the breastbone or they’ll be too big.
- Leave strollers at home. Bringing them to the mountain is a hassle.
- Finally, proceed with caution if you’re new to the sport. Stick to the green slopes for beginners and avoid the advanced black diamond slopes. If you feel more confident after some practice, consider trying a mid-level blue slope. Always know your limits. Just because your more experienced friends are skiing down black diamond trails, doesn’t mean you have to.