Seano and I both grew up skiing. But, in very different ways. Seano was practically skiing before he was walking and during the winter skied at least weekly. He now serves on our volunteer ski patrol and, at the least, skis every other Sunday during the season. When he found out we were pregnant, Seano was immediately excited to someday teach our child to ski. On the other hand, my family took a week long ski trip to Utah once a year until I was about 14. After that, I didn’t ski much for about eight years. When Seano and I started dating, it became something we could do together and I got back into it.
We decided to get N on skis this year and just see how it went. Other than memories Seano has of his dad teaching him to ski, neither of us knew where to start with N. Our goals were to make it fun, let him lead the way, and keep him safe. If he liked it, then we’d keep going. And if he wasn’t into it yet, we’d try again a different time or next year. As it turned out, he loved it!
We went a handful of times throughout the season. We’d get some skiing in, play in the snow, and find a yummy snack. This became a time for our little family to share a hobby. We tried several different toddler skiing techniques (if you can call them that) throughout our days on the mountain this year and I wanted to share our thoughts.
Technique 1: Holding Toddler Between Legs
We used this tactic our first time out with N. Seano simply held N between his own legs by the arm pits.
Upside: N was able to get the feel of skiing and still feel safe in his dad’s arms. Also, Seano was in control of both he and N and easily able to change their speed and direction.
Downside: This killed Seano’s legs. It’s an understatement to say Seano is a great skier. And, it still hurt his legs. So, if you aren’t a strong skier, I’d avoid this approach.
Technique 2: Hula Hoop Skiing
Some friends of ours shared this hula hoop technique with us. Place the new skier on the inner, downhill side of the hula hoop and let them hold it around their waist. Then, have the parent or instructor hold the outer, top hill side of the hula hoop.
Upside: I didn’t catch any photos on this day, so I grabbed one from another site. In theory, you should be able to direct and turn the new skier while allowing them to use the hula hoop for balance. Additionally, this is easier on the parent or instructor’s legs because you aren’t having to bend down to hold the little skier.
Downside: N thought it was a good idea to fold himself in half over the hula hoop and for Seano to carry him down the run. So, instead of sore legs, Seano had sore arms from holding his flailing son up. It was also a pain to get both a hula hoop and inexperienced skier on the chair lift or magic carpet lift.
Technique 3: Harness
Seano purchased a ski harness on a ski trip last year. We knew N would eventually be on skis and thought it would come in handy. A ski harness wraps around the skiers chest and back. A strap on each side of the harness extends to the parent or instructor to help turn and control the kiddo.
Upside: This gave N a better sense of what it feels like to actually ski (instead of being held by something or someone) as well as more flexibility on speed and direction, which he seemed to like as he became more comfortable. But, it still gave Seano the ultimate control. Using the harness, you’re less likely to have a runaway skier or find yourself trying to step between your child and a tree.
Downside: If you have a nervous skier, you may want to stay away from this option at least from the get-go. Out of the three techniques described so far, this is the most like “real” skiing and could frighten a reluctant toddler. Other than this, we just didn’t find any downsides.
The Harness – N seems to sit on this fine line between needing to feel safe and wanting to be independent. So, the harness best met these needs. Also, this was Seano’s preference because he found it to be the easiest way to ski with N and it gave his legs and arms a break. When we took N on the chair lift, the harness gave us a place to easily hold in case he tried to bail.
And after a day of skiing, you will have an exhausted toddler! Happy skiing!
What age did you put your kids on skis? Have you tried any other successful techniques? Please share!
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