At what age
should you take your children skiing?
watched multicoloured snakes of tiny children on the ski slopes, many parents
are desperate to take their own offspring skiing. They have this idea of what
fun it would be to glide elegantly en
famille down the blue runs, their grateful children glowing with health and
grinning from ear to ear...
It can happen like that, and when it does
there’s nothing better, but there’s a lot of work along the way before you
arrive at that stage.
can start to ski a little at two, if they are confident, co-ordinated and
relatively fearless. Boys seem to take to it earlier than girls, perhaps
because they don’t have the intelligence to imagine how much careering into a
tree could hurt! But you need good weather, good snow, a very gentle nursery
slope and lots of time and patience, one to one. They can manage about an hour
per day, probably at lunchtime, when the weather is warmer and the slopes at
the best preparation for skiing is tobogganing. The combination of speed,
terror and lack of control is good practice. Beware, however: sledges are
faster and more dangerous than skis. You need to pick your slope very
When two year olds are ready to start skiing, don’t be fobbed off
imitations of skis: they should have proper little skis and rear-entry
boots, but will not need poles. They must have sunglasses or goggles.
won’t be skiing fast enough to crash hard by themselves, but could
always be fallen
on by a twenty-stone beginner, or hit by a drag lift, so a helmet is
olds will probably start by being pulled along the flat, holding the end of one
of your poles. After half an hour or so they’ll be ready to be carried or
dragged a few yards up a gentle slope, and allowed to slide back into the arms
of Mummy, or someone else in whom they have total confidence (probably not
as young as their third birthday, children can learn to go up the drag lift and
ski back down in gorgeous little parallel turns, though still only for about an
hour per day. A parent can help with the initial stages, such as getting used
to the drag lift. You put one of your skis between the child’s, put the drag
between your own legs, and push the child along with your leg. But most parents
are survival skiers, getting down the piste in spite of their technique, not
because of it. Children learn largely through imitation so they need someone
technically perfect to copy. If you can get an instructor from your own
country, it makes life a lot easier. Children find even practically bilingual
foreigners very confusing.
easiest way for them to learn is with a private instructor per child. This is
very expensive. You can halve the price by sharing the lesson between two
children, but with two tiny beginners an instructor spends most of his time
rushing between them, preventing wipe-outs and tantrums. It costs half as much,
and each child learns a quarter as much and enjoys it a tenth as much! Ski holidays
are expensive, but if you want your children to learn to ski and be happy there
is no alternative to spending a bit more.
your child can get on and off lifts alone, you can start thinking about shared
lessons or even ski school, so long as classes are small and lessons relatively
short. But don’t rush them. Skiing is only meant to be a bit of fun. If they
are as happy tobogganing or building a snowman, let them.
three- or four-year old with, say, twenty hours’ experience on the nursery
slopes can probably manage to ski a green run with his or her parents. And that
will be the proudest moment of your life! And if they don’t get there until
they’re six or eight, who cares? As one Brit living in a ski resort was
recently heard to say, ‘My lad skied red runs at three, blacks at four, bumps
and slalom at five, and got his adult Giant Slalom badge at six. But he still
can’t write his own name!”