Yay! There is finally snow on the ground, and soon the skis will be taken from their summer hiding place and readied for another winter of outdoor fun.
The Anchorage Daily News did a great piece last Sunday about our area's Nordic ski programs. We, like many skiing families, are a mixed group of Alpine and Nordic preferences. However, since we have a preschooler whose snow time is still limited, downhill has taken a back seat to cross-country, simply because we wanted an experience that would include all of us moving in the same general direction at one time, rather than being scattered across a mountain.
As a former ski instructor and mom who has spent countless hours coaxing little ones along the path to schussing bliss, I have learned a few tips for pre-ski success. Both my children were on skis around age 3; not necessarily skiing, mind you, but at least wearing the boards.
Even before the registration form is turned to the Junior Nordic League or Little Nordic Ski Club, there are activities parents can do at home to encourage a certain comfort level on skis. This works for Alpine style too, by the way.
First, teach your child how the skis go on his or her feet. Since they will probably want to do it "by myself" anyway, don't be afraid to let them have the opportunity. Skis won't break so easily. Try on boots and be sure they fit, then show how to connect boots to skis.
Once the skis are securely fastened, clear the room and let them practice walking around. Most kids will automatically try to walk as they normally do, thus crossing tips and falling down. No problem. Tell them they are a big duck or dinosaur that has to be careful when they walk around so their feet don't get in the way. My sons enjoyed being T-Rex, accompanied by appropriate growling sounds. Join in, your goal is to do this activity together!
Kids find that wearing their skis indoors is goofy, and kids like goofy. But the strategy is to promote confidence on skis before the move to slippery, cold snow. Keep this in mind as your little dinos or ducks tromp around your living room.
Think snow, and we'll see you out on the trails!