Growing up in a ski town much like Breckenridge, CO, I saw families that would travel year after year to stay in ski lodges and enjoy the mountains in the winter. These groups would arrive every year for major holidays and have a grand time skiing, socializing and enjoying each other’s company. Whole families skied together and had a great time. There was a time when that dropped off in the 80s, but it is great to see families getting involved in skiing again.
As more adults think of skiing as a family activity, it raises the question about what age the young ones can learn to ski. It isn’t so much about age but about your child’s personal development. They need to have good motor skills as well as an interest in learning a new sport. I learned to ski at 5 years old back in the 60s when skis were long and boots were leather. Nowadays the equipment is lighter, more efficient and easier to manage so kids are getting on snow even earlier. It isn’t uncommon to see parents with kids in tow as young as 2 or 3 years old. If you are going to place your child in ski school, though, some schools will have age limits. Breckenridge’s Ski and Ride program requires kids be 3 years old and potty trained. Beyond that their requirements are mostly common sense: kids must wear a helmet, sunscreen and googles or sun glasses.
Enjoying outdoor sports and family time should be your primary goal no matter how you approach skiing with your child. We have ski rentals for kids visiting Breckenridge so you can be sure to get the right fit in boots and skis. Your child’s skiing pleasure will be reinforced by warm comfortable clothing. Layering or “onionizing” (think Shrek’s “Ogres are like onions; they have layers”) is key to keeping your kids happy on the slopes. Base layers of long underwear wick moisture away from the body. Mid layers provide insulation. Outer layers to keep the wind and snow out. Don’t forget a neck gaiter, googles, sunglasses, hat and sunscreen. These accessories will keep your little one comfortable so that being out in winter is fun.
Ski schools, of course, have programs that specifically address the needs of children learning to ski. Don’t expect them to be a Lindsey Vonn or Ted Ligety by the end of the day or even a season of skiing, though. Let your kids enjoy the experience of being in a winter wonderland where skis are simply the means to get around in the snow. You’ll want them to enjoy their time in the snow and learn at their own pace so they grow to love the slopes as much as you do. Taking your children skiing can be a rewarding experience for you and your children, so let them come to skiing when they’re ready and let the sport create a remarkable bond that will unite your family trip after trip.