I love the winter. Sledding, tubing, and all the fun that goes with the crisp, winter snow and cold days. There are a ton of fun ways to get out there on the mountainside and just have a wild time. Skiing is one of the more popular sports of wintertime, and people who love it, really love it. It inspires active devotees like few other sports. If you're a parent and a skier, or want to be, you might wonder, when is a good age for kids to learn to ski? It might be earlier than you think.
Skiing follows much the same rules as dancing or t-ball as far as the age of participation. If your kid can run and hop on one foot, generally around age 3, then they can likely handle their first ski lessons, according to Ski Mag. Soon enough, they'll be passing you by like the geezer you are, in a whirling swirl of snow and neon-colored ski suit and unicorn helmet. The earlier you get your kids in their boots and on their skis, the easier their transition will be. However, be aware of the rules of the mountain you're on. Some slopes don't allow the littles on them all the time, instead designating periods where the littlest children can ski.
I spoke with friend and former ski instructor, Thomas Graham of Montpelier, Vermont, asking him when is a good age for kids to start learning to ski? He tells Romper, "If they can run and play without falling over all the time, and if they can hold their sticks, they can hit the bunny slopes." He says that while they can and should get out there early if their family is a family of skiers, you need to be extra careful about their equipment. "You don't want a helmet that's too big or too small, and a ski suit isn't something you should buy for them to grow into. It needs to fit properly as soon as they put it on, otherwise it can be dangerous. The same goes for their boots and the length of their skis. A good ski instructor will check all of their equipment before they even hit the snow."
As for buying all of that equipment, there's no doubt that it's really expensive. A ski kit for a kid from the hardware to the headware will run between $250 to $500 per child, per year. You can mitigate some of this by buying secondhand gear and making use of hand-me-downs, but Graham stresses that you should never, ever buy equipment you can't inspect first, and that you should never hand down or buy a secondhand helmet. Also, he says to make sure your kids have a good set of polarized goggles that are comfortable and snug on their face, without pressing too firmly on the bridge of their nose.
While there isn't a lot of effort being put forth by the ski community to make it more affordable or inclusive, with weekend rates for ski passes still around $90 for most parks in the Northeast, some sports enthusiasts are sounding the horn that this needs to change. Winter sports tend to be the whitest, richest sports out there. The average ski family makes over $100,000 per year, according to market research. This is similar for ice hockey fans, and ice skating, with dancing, speed skating, and figure skating families raking in the coin.
Thankfully, skiers excited about their sport are working against the tide to make it available to everyone, starting with kids in schools who have a very low rate of winter sports participation. A pilot program in New Jersey is going into lower income areas and getting these kids kitted up and on the slopes. It's looking to be a smashing success.
So get out there, kids, and maybe bring a few friends.
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