Kids Carve, too

Image:Kids Carve, too
13. Dec, 2016 Written by: Georgie Bremner


Working in ski & snowboard schools around the globe has made me not only a great observer of successful ways to achieve the desired family snowsports vacation, but an often necessary component in creating a learning environment for kids, and their parents, where skiing and riding can develop into every individual’s love for this sport and become a part of who they are that includes spending quality time with the whole family.

I encourage taking a long-term view. The end point will be amazing family time that all will covet for years to come, but the process to get there takes a little flexibility in how that will unfold. Catering to each individual’s needs’, will set all of you up for your best success. At times the best thing to do is to remove some family members and let them learn as individuals at their own pace, without pressure or a sudden family audience of experts.


What do kids need?

If this is a brand new sport for all of you, or just some of you, I encourage creating an atmosphere of excited curiosity pre-trip. Guesses about what you all are going to learn, how will each new person figure out what is takes to walk with ski boots on and how interesting it will be for each to share their experiences at the end of each day.

Kids need the environment to be fun and without expectations of what they are going to be able to do at the end of a day or a week and ideas to prepare them what a day wearing lots of layers and weird equipment is like. There are milestones to work towards but each will be completed at everyones own timing. Today’s equipment is much more comfortable and supple than in the past, and taking advantage of amazing kids gear like U-Flex boots and skis is a no-brainer for professionals like me and my peers, who are going through this with our own children. Walking around in ski boots feels different and wobbly (direct quote from two seven year-olds that spend much of their winter in ski boots, when I asked them for their ideas on how to explain the feeling.) Ski boots are stiffer than regular boots, yet now kids can at least flex Elan U-Flex boots.

Competition between siblings can motivate improvement however keeping everyone engaged requires encouraging skills to be learnt through fun activities for all to try, and succeed at. Figuring out how to make it more fun when it's taking longer to learn for one of us, may mean taking more laps to build confidence and their own sense of achievement.


What is the best age to learn?

This depends on each child. How kids learn to ski is at their own pace and only as long as energy, temperature and their own personal needs can be managed successfully. If they have no interest, it does not mean that they are not ready, it means that it’s going to take figuring out what is going to be their ticket to this feeling like a good idea and bunches of fun. With our little ones (under 6) putting on their boots and one ski to scooter around on carpet is something many instructor parents do, starting as early as the smallest boots fit. Which ski boot goes on which foot – buckles on the outside! Can we figure out together how to take the ski off and put it on the other foot? Let them know they will get to do this again with you or an instructor who is going to have them move around on snow, ride a lift and slide. Most importantly you can’t wait to hear about how it all goes. If you must watch, find out if there’s a place you can do so, where your darlings won’t be distracted by you – they need to focus on what they’re doing and your presence can distract them into thinking about all the things they are quite capable of working out with their instructor. Things such as being hot/cold/hungry/tired/itchy/bored - maybe this drama is avoided with their instructor - but your absence gives the best chance for less whining and more doing. If you are putting yourself through this process and teaching them, then you must commit to humor and patience. It has to be a fun time, and small doses of trying things with a hot chocolate break prior to meltdown means your timing and attitude is spot on. The younger they are the shorter each on-snow time. However personal stamina also depends on how well they slept, if they ate breakfast and if altitude and cold is affecting them. These things are not restricted to just the kids - this is important for us parents too.

Anything to familiarize with equipment and how it works starts their learning. Ski poles are considered a right of passage. There are varying thoughts on when they are added to the equation. My advice is to influence no poles for as long as possible. It is legs and feet that must learn to move around with attachments, and poles can interrupt that process.

Now it is time to drop them off and escape to your own lesson, to watch, or to head out on our own adventure. A positive kiss and hug and quick departure will allow them to focus on lots of new things and allow the instructors to focus on getting them prepared for their day.

Not everyone has close access to the mountains. Whether you have the one chance to visit per winter, or become a family of weekend warriors, the more actual time each of you spends sliding on the snow, will be your opportunity to improve and become addicted. When you take a run all together, select a run where all can be successful. Get your kids on modern equipment that will accelerate their learning and enjoyment. It has been fascinating to hear from the instructors that ski with our kids, how visibly noticeable the superior affects of the U-Flex gear is, compared to the traditional kids skis and boots out there. I see my kids stance and stability in a turn stronger because of U-Flex. The equipment you select matters, especially for kids. Make your family experiences as fun as possible and get your kids on U-Flex. When our kids are happy it becomes much easier for all of us to have our best days in the mountains.


U-Flex in Real World

When we developed U-Flex™, our goal was nothing short of revolutionizing the way boys and girls learn to ski. A new report by the Austrian ski school Schneeschule Klinger suggests what we have done just that. Teh method called SkiEdina was developed by the ski school’s team of instructors, and aims to redefine the learning process by teaching parallel turns from the start, instead of focusing on the snowplow. In this study a group of children 3-6 years old using U-Flex equipment were compared to a similar control group using traditional equipment. The results clearly showed that U-Flex construction provided significant enhancement to the learning process.

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