Some of us are destined to ski, whether we like it or not. My nephew is one of those people.
He’s two and ½ and this Christmas he almost ended up with three pairs of skis. There would have been more, except at some point family members started to coordinate their gifts better.
Unfortunately, he’s still too small for the snazzy ski set-up that I had picked out for him. Instead he’s skiing on a pair of plastic skis that strap to his snow boots, a gift from my Dad who tracked them down in a ski shop after seeing a small child wearing a pair. My nephew likes them because there is a picture of a snowman on each tip. Of course, he also likes everything, except interrupting whatever he is doing to get his diaper changed.
Actually, there is one other thing he does not like much and that is waking up. However, this past weekend while I was visiting him along with my parents, I woke on Sunday morning to the sounds of a little someone happily singing his ABCs. He knows two versions of the song, a fast one and a slow one. He was singing the fast version. I opened the door to his room and there was a little guy who was not bothered by the bright sunny Sunday morning at all, especially considering he is not usually a morning person.
He looked at me with a huge smile and said, “It’s bright outside.” He then explained that he was singing the fast version of his ABCs, not the slow version, while he performed an interpretive dance in his crib of the song. I decided to call for my brother (his father), because, despite having a very stuffy nose, I could smell that it was time to call my brother. I guess my nephew and I have some things in common. He does not like to get his diaper changed and I don’t like to change diapers.
After pancakes, the entire extended family trudged outside to make some turns with our favorite two and ½ year old. My brother packed out a ski trail in the front yard with a tobbogan. My father stood guard on the road, at the end of the slope. My mother attempted to take pictures. My sister in law got her son set-up, strapping his skis on and pointed him in the right direction, down.
I pretty much knew what would come next. As described by my nephew, his technique for skiing is: “Put your hands on your knees and stick your bum in the air.” And that is what he did. And we all cheered. He had perfect two and ½ year old form: His balance was a little bit tippy and his skis kept crossing, but he had a huge smile on his face. And after three runs, he was on to tobogganing. And after that, he was on to making snow angels. And after that, he was on to eating snow. And then, he was on to a nap.
My intention for this post was to outline some tactics on how to teach little kids to ski. It’s been years since my days spent teaching kids how to ski – ten to be exact – and the same amount of time since I actually thought about teaching kids to ski. But with a nephew at the ripe old age of two ½ and another close friend’s kids at two and ½ and three, the topic had obviously come up again. So, when asked for some tips, I said I would write about it in my blog.
I was going to give a lesson plan with tips like, “The key to teaching kids how to ski is pizza, French fries, peanut butter and jelly, and hot chocolate.”
Then I was going to explain:
- Pizza = wedge or snowplow
- French fries = skis parallel
- Peanut butter and jelly = when sidestepping up the hill, one foot is peanut butter, the other is jelly
- Hot chocolate = inside when all else fails
Of course, my ideals were quite high for this younger set, but my nephew said it best when he explained to his grandma and grandpa his technique to schuss down the mountain with phrasing I am sure we will repeat around the Christmas dinner table for years to come.
“You put your hands on your knees and your bum in the air.”
In my nephew’s case, his “bum” goes straight up toward the sky, while his head sort of points toward the snow. That is actually not the proper technique to ski, but for a two and ½ year old who is playing outside in the snow, and walking on the snow with his little plastic skis, it is the perfect technique, especially while he and everyone around him is having so much fun. And that is probably the most important tip when teaching very little kids to ski. Have fun.