Skiing and snowboarding are excellent life-long sports the whole family can enjoy. My sister and I were taught to ski as young children, and now that we’re teaching our own kids, our entire family can experience multi-generation ski trips together. Of course, kids don’t learn to ski without the dedication of time, effort, and yes, money. Read on for five tips for raising expert skiers without breaking the bank.
1. Start young. My kids were three years old when they first stepped into a pair of skis. Yes, taking preschoolers skiing is a lot of work, but there’s a big pay-off: by the time each of my sons were in kindergarten, they were skiing black diamond runs everywhere they went. Most ski resorts offer free lift tickets for kids under age five, so take those savings and put them into ski lessons!
2. Be consistent. An annual trip to one resort each winter does not an expert skier make. If you live within reasonable distance to a ski resort, purchase season passes as incentive for getting the whole family on the mountain consistently. All resorts offer steep discounts on their passes if you know when to buy: often, the best time is at the very end of the previous ski season. Subscribe to your resort’s email list or Facebook page to know when the big deals are. If you don’t live near a ski resort, consider taking 2-3 weekend visits to a resort instead of one week-long trip. Kids will learn throughout the ski season in a consistent way.
3. Stick with the same ski program or instructor. If possible, keep the same instructor throughout the season. To ensure our kids have the same instructor consistently, we like to book private family lessons instead of group classes. Many skiers think private lessons are more expensive, but they’re often not: most resorts allow up to five family members in one private lesson, making the cost compatible to group lessons. Private lessons ensure that one instructor is able to give your kids individualized attention, and they usually get more ski time: one private lesson perk is front-of-the-lift-line access.
4. Research ski schools before you go. If you do enroll your kids in a ski school, save time on the slopes by researching their class level requirements ahead of time. At Whistler Blackcomb in BC, Canada, their ski school posts skill requirements for each ski school level for parents to view before arriving. That way, they can place their kids in the appropriate class before stepping into their skis, saving the instructors the time it takes to assess skills. Now they can jump right into teaching.
5. Look for after-school or community center programs. If you live near a resort, chances are your school-aged kids are eligible to join an after-school ski program. These programs get kids up on the mountain for up to six weeks in a row, provide transportation, and usually include rental equipment (if needed) and ski lessons for one reasonable price. Our kids love the social aspect of these programs as they schedule in free-ski time (but if they skip their lesson, they’re kicked out!).