Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Teaching Hiro to Ski: Lesson 1

Hiro, my youngest son, turned 2 yrs old a couple months ago. For Christmas, he got a pair of ski boots, size 14.5 mondo. As far as I can tell, no one makes boots smaller than that. He can stick his little foot into the boot without unbuckling it. And he does that quite often. Lately, several times a day. Then he clomps around the house. At least he doesn't sleep in them -- something he did when he got them. I think the toes of everyone in the house have been stepped on by Hiro and his ski boots.

Given his enthusiasm for the boots, I assumed he would be equally enthusiastic to ski. Plus he talked a good game, telling Bart that he was going to go ski with him. But when the actual moment came and I latched him into his little skis he freaked out a little bit. And since Christmas, he hasn't been willing to entertain the thought of skiing. Just boots. The sight of skis causes him to wrinkle his face and cry a bit.

However, this week, we had a breakthrough moment and as of yesterday, Hiro has decided that boots and skis go well together. So, tonight we had our first ski lesson -- dryland training, on carpet. Here is a video (I am "daddy" and "Buster" is Hiro's nickname):

My other two kids, Ethan and Miya, both started skiing at 2ish or 3. I'm definitely not a pro at teaching kids, but here are the steps we have generally followed and that seem to work:

Step 1: The Tow I've found that towing the kids around initially and letting them get the feel of having their feet bound down and sliding on snow (or carpet) is a good way to start.

Step 2: The Pizza Slice Once they are comfortable and happy being towed, we take it to the next level: the "Pizza Slice," which with an edgy-wedgy is quite easy for a little person. All he or she has to do is step outwards.

Step 3: The Harness I have a harness made by Lucky Bums that has worked well. I've yet to try it on Hiro, but I will soon. With the harness on, I can control which direction they go, and stop them if necessary. At first, I use the harness a lot to control them, but soon enough, they pick up the snow plow.

Step 4: The Turn I struggle with teaching my kids to turn. They like to just go straight. But, one way that is effective is to simply reach one arm up into the sky. I ski in front and we play follow the leader with me raising my arm and the child doing the same thing, causing him or her to turn.

Step 5: Ditching the Edgy-Wedgys Depending on the kid, this may be hard, or it may be insignificant. With my daughter, I found that her 3 year old legs weren't strong enough to keep a snow plow without the assistance of edgy wedgies. Some instructors say that edgy wedgies are evil, but I think that for small children they work miracles. So, my thinking is, use them until the kid doesn't need them anymore.

I think Hiro is ready for the Harness. We'll see.


Bart G said...

Buster- I'm waiting to ski with you little man...

Anonymous said...

All I do is teach little kids all day as a first year instructor and you seem to have the routine down. That is pretty much all that we do minus the harness. Instead I ski backwards and have to catch out of control kids, not as much fun as it sounds. I swear by the edgy wedgy and all its magical power. I have even had two on an adult once.

Grizzly Adam said...

The Edgy Wedgy does work miracles, especially for smaller kids that have not developed the muscle control they need to control their skis.

I've been teaching my kids the last couple of years, and they are doing well. I've struggled to articulate some of the technique for turning, the arm idea sounds good.

I mostly ski backward, tell them to keep their eyes on me, and to ski to me. After a few tries, they end up making nice big S's down the hill.

It's fun! Mostly.

UtRider said...

Jared - My youngest is almost 20 months and should be ready to start a similar training program during the 2011/12 season. When Hiro has outgrown his gear - if you're interested in selling - let me know and I'll be happy to buy it from you this summer.

skimoyukon said...

Teaching kids to ski is also new to me. Though my wife was a Nancey Green coach for years (Canada). My 4yr-old started at 2 and our 1yr-old will start schralping next year.
For turning, try putting stickers or draw with sharpie bugs or something on the ski tips. Say a big ant on one and a big spider on the other. When your kid has the straight-lining down, start telling them to "step on the ant" or "step on the spider"!! This puts pressure on the bug being squashed and results in a turn in the direction of the opposite bug. It works!!!