It’s a question many ski enthusiasts ask themselves once the little ones get older: “They’ve mastered walking, what about skiing?”
This question usually has two key motivators: the desire to make sure the kids don’t miss out on an opportunity to join you in something you love, and the worry you’ll start them before they’re ready.
So when should children start skiing? And what can you expect from their first go at it?
Is it possible to start too late?
Don’t worry about your child “missing the boat”. With skiing, it’s all about fun and it’s measured in enjoyment rather than technical milestones or how many years they’ve been on the snow for.
Of course, like any other sport, an early start does help. However, this is only really important if you’re looking to become an international skiing athlete, and even then, a large number of pros weren’t introduced to the slopes as toddlers.
Like any other skill, it’s a winning combination of 90% practise and 10% natural aptitude, (or roundish about). So, if you want to be good, then the precise start date isn’t going to be so important, as long as the practise is targeted and useful.
In reality the difference between a pro who started aged 2, and one who started age 15, can be very small.
Is it possible to start too early?
Put simply, yes.
However, this doesn’t mean children can’t start young. You’ll always see very little tots speeding around like they were born with skis, but they are the rare exception.
The absolute earliest that kids should start skiing is about 3 years old. Realistically, any children below that age are likely to struggle too much with their coordination to control skis, and many lack the physical strength. Comprehension and concentration spans are always going to be an issue too.
The risk of putting a child off by starting too early is fairly considerable too. Ski school can be an enforced experience and too similar to real school, causing some children to be very resistant to learning. Also, if a child takes a bad fall, (by their estimation or otherwise), whilst learning to ski, it may very well evoke feelings of trauma and even develop into a phobia of skiing, which is the last thing you want.
So when is the best time?
Children “can” start to ski as young as two. However, it is asking a lot of a child so young and often doesn’t end well.
If you want to try it, don’t expect much from them or put pressure on them to succeed. Remember also not to put pressure on yourself for them to succeed too. All parents can be guilty of judging their parenting based on their child’s successes and pitfalls.
There’s no rush, children have a lot of time ahead of them in which to learn.
What can I expect from their first time skiing?
Prepare to be proud and impressed and video every bit of progress they make so you can show them their achievements at the end of the day, but also expect to be building snowmen, having snowball fights, and sledging down the slopes too.
At the end of the day, if they associate skiing holidays with having a great time, you’ve done a good job.