Teaching Kids to Ski – and Love It
Now that I have a daughter, people ask how long we will wait to teach her to ski. The reality; there is no age limit for learning to ski, and there are great tools to teach kids as young as one year old. We waited to see if she showed interest. She started on the tube, has spent time with us on the wakesurf board, and lots of time in and around the water. Her interest was sparked, so we got her a ski.
Skis for little kids are as good as they have ever been, many companies have great trainers and there are some amazing hybrid ski/tube devices like the Easy Ski – perfect for building confidence. We chose the O’brien Platform Trainer. It has remarkable stability, a great binding setup, is really easy to modify, plus it’s made from bamboo so it’s super tough. My daughter really likes it because it’s green. Trainers can be complicated right out of the box, mainly the ropes. Trainer skis are often tied together, a rope tied to the front for kids to hold with another rope tied to the tips for adults to hold. An important note: most trainer skis are built to be held by parents in the boat – not attached to the boat itself. Always read the manual during setup and use.
After choosing a ski help them get comfortable. That includes lots of on-land skiing, building excitement, and dragging them around the lawn working on stance with plenty of high fives. On-land training should still include a life jacket even if nowhere near the water, this gets them used to the feeling of being on the ski with it on. Next step – find a beach, similar to dragging through the grass – going through shallow water under man power builds confidence and gets them used to the feeling of sliding on the water. Next, behind the boat – we will be using our ski boat. The thing about the platform trainer is there’s no need to go faster than about 5 mph, so with Mom in the water on a SUP, me on the boat holding the rope, and some extra helpers driving and being crew, we have successful skis every time. Keep the experience short and sweet; never push or force them to do something they are scared to do. Regardless of outcome, high fives and ice creams should take place after! Keep them excited and they will keep coming back to the water year after year.
By Jay Poole, Buckeye Marine,