Skiing with Toddlers and Kids on Mt. Hood December 27 2014, 1 Comment

For all you Portland mamas (and papas) there is finally some snow on Mt. Hood! If you have been anxious to get your Little Ones up skiing for the first time ever or for the first time this season, there are a few things to consider in order to make it a successful day for all.

 If you take the time and do a little research to get it dialed, you can get your kid hooked on skiing at a young age and in no time, you'll be shredding it up together- spending more time on the slopes than slope side. After all, there is nothing worse than spending $89 to go skiing, only to actually NOT go skiing.

1) For the first timers, make sure it is a mild (maybe even a sunny?) day.

I see so many parents dragging their kids up in a blizzard for the first time expecting them to have fun. So much fun in fact that next time they will want to return with a CAN DO attitude next Saturday- maybe even early enough for first tracks. YOU may be stoked to get some fresh powder but when your child is riding the magic carpet or skiing the bunny hill with you as their guide, you're not going to be getting any fresh powder. Plan the introduction to skiing for a warm, windless, sunny day. Your tot will ski longer and be happier.

2) Consecutive weekends skiing is best when learning 

Weather dependent of course (see #1). If you can swing it with your schedule and finances, plan on getting your kiddo up there weekly as much as possible as they are learning to ski. This helps you remember your systems that you set in place the weekend prior and, will  also help them with their muscle memory (and also with organization). If four weeks go by between strapping on the boards, they tend to forget- even the basics. How do I walk in these boots? How do I put on my helmet ? HAVE I done this before? 

You get the picture. Encourage independence + ownership with the gear. Even a 2 year old can have a job- they can carry the hand warmers! 

3)Timberline is  best for teaching kids to ski

We tried them all. We were anxious to get to Mt. Hood Meadows because the terrain is the best for us. But, I can tell you, the day lodge at Meadows is NOT where you want to spend your day when you child is tired after 1 hour. It's the most expensive, the drive is farther and often the parking lot gets full. If you have anything in your car you need you may not be able to access it. More importantly (and more often the case) if your kiddo is ready to retire to the car to play with the windshield wipers with one parent while the other one sneaks in a few extra turns, you don't want to have to take a shuttle or bus to do it. Save Meadows for when they can actually ski.

Skibowl has a free rope tow which we used for a while. It helped our son get strong.  It's hard to squat going up hill, holding onto a moving rope with all your biceps can muster -but its a good workout and he became solid on his feet. The other thing about Ski Bowl that I never would have noticed until I had kids.. The whole scene is like a PG13 /R rated movie. LOUD Foul language, skiing/boarding while drinking or under the influence skiing out of control. When you have a 5 or 6 year old, you will want to keep the scene (relatively) safe.

Timberline is the most family friendly. It is affordable, often sunny, has an amazing, spacious Lodge ( two actually with huge fireplaces) with plenty of distractions to entertain your little when they come in to take a break. Speaking of taking a break, if you have 2 kids and they are taking turns being out side with one parent while the other is chilling, the day passes and tickets for kids and adults are transferable. That means, you can use your spouses in the am and he can use it in the pm and the kids can just share the same jacket w/  the ticket. Bonus, kids 6 and under ski free! Just another reason to get 'em up young.

 

4) Pick your poison: leash, between the legs or Hula hoop?

We're sort of no nonsense and skied holding our kids between the legs, bent over for a few years. It was especially hard for my 6'3 husband to "pizza slice" all the way down holding on to a  2 1/2  foot, squirly peanut. But, it worked and worked us out. I figured it was good training for when they really became strong skiiers and I would be challenged just to keep up with them

Some choose to snap on a harness and a leash and let the child ski out in front. I could see how that may work for some, but it doesn't seem to offer the proprioceptive feedback that skiing in between the legs does. The child becomes used to you PULLING on the leash and then they are in the "back seat" of the skis. Not a  good place to be when you are trying to teach them to lean forward. The leash is easier for the teacher but to me, seems like it might actually hinder the child's ability to find balance and stability and slow down the process.

I have seen people skiing in the Sierras with Hula hoops out on front and this seems like a great idea! the child is contained, has something to hold on to, can find their balance and you don't need to be stooped over all day. There even tons of fun ski games you can do with a hula hoop. Definitely worth ha shot. And, if you live in Portland, you probably have one rolling around anyway.

5) Be Comfortable

Our attire and gear selection changed as the kids progressed. Depending on the day, we would get really warm crouched over, lifting/ twisting our 3 year old onto the lift. The bunny slope runs are short and we stayed VERY warm with all this schlepping. Once their skiing improved however, time was spent skiing a little and waiting a lot. I busted out the down jacket for these seasons. We also wore our touring boots as they were much more comfortable to clomp around in and we didn't really need the high performance alpine boots on Buttercup. We always had our backpacks on filled with treats, hot tea, and extra gear. Lots of breaks and real food in the parking lot before we set out seems to still work for my hypoglycemic one.

Have fun, be safe and get stoked!  Don't take it too seriously and just have a fun family day. This is what your kids will picture when you tell them you are all heading up to the mountain: fun, outdoor time, pushing their limits ( and of course, hot chocolate) and then they will always want to ski with you!

Wendy Foster is a skier and avid outdoors person. She started her boys skiing young and now can barely keep up with them. She is the owner of www.mamalates.com 

Do you have tips for skiing with toddlers/ kids? Please share!