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    November 2018

    Teaching Kids to Ski – Part 1: The Air Turn

    *This is Part One of the family ski series. If you read Part Two, please scroll to the bottom for specific tips on air turns.

    Raised by the Mountains

    Do you want to share your love of the mountains with your children? Teach them to ski with passion as much as skill? Follow along with @chrislennonski and @sastrugi_gill  in this five part series as they share some of the tactics they use to raise mountain kids in a skiing family. Written by Chris Lennon: freeskier, writer and grom Sherpa living in Squamish British Columbia.

     

    Photo: Michael Overbeck

    How Do You Teach Your Kids to Love Skiing?

    If you compete or participate in any sport at a high level, there will come a time when it’s very difficult to continue improving at a satisfying rate. Thankfully, in our experience, this often arises around the same time that your kids are ready to join you on the mountain. Some people take up new sports to feel like a beginner again and experience the joy of learning a new sport. We opted to instead introduce our kids to the sport that had influenced the direction of our lives for over a decade.

    Make the Experience Positive

    Watching and helping your youngsters experience all the fun and excitement found in the sport you love can make the experience completely new and fresh. It does, however, also require some consideration to set them up with a positive experience. The goal in our household has always been to ensure the kids enjoyed their time in the outdoors and to set them up to develop the skills necessary to fully enjoy the mountains.

     

    Photo: Michael Overbeck

     

    Lead, Don’t Teach

    Although we both have coaching and ski teaching experience, we have always approached it from the perspective that we are not teaching the kids. Instead, we are leading them through terrain, giving them experiences, and introducing tactics to use to develop their competency. There are no drills in our family ski experience. Rather, it is all about playing in the snow and trying new things.

     

    Photo: Michael Overbeck

     

    Share Your Passion as Much as Your Skills

    After spending many seasons skiing 180+ days a year, competing on the big mountain circuit, and working with photographers (or in Gillian’s case, shooting photos), we both found a renewed passion for the sport by sharing it with our kids. Over five different stories, we will attempt to share some of the tactics we use to make our family ski time fun and rewarding. Read on for part one of this five part series.

     

    Photo: Michael Overbeck

     

    Ski tip 1: Learning to Air-Turn

    A great way to build skills to adapt to varied terrain is to find isolated features of unique terrain that can be skied in isolation without significant consequence. In other words, a challenging spot without dangerous consequences: a little pocket of steep terrain.

    1. Find the right place to practice. While exploring a tree section I frequent, I discovered this small feature that was setup like a pillow but dropped onto a wide apron of shallow and safe terrain. If this sat atop the entrance to a steep chute, it would be an intimidating feature to negotiate for a youngster. However, in this location, they could virtually fall off the feature without consequence.
    2. Set an appropriate challenge. The challenge I set was to turn down the roll and ski away without stopping.
    3. Teach a useful skill. Learning to turn down steep convex features is a great skill to have because it requires commitment to stay in balance.
    4. Set them up for success. It’s impossible not to get a little bit of air as they ski off this feature, so this was a great opportunity to introduce the feel of linking a turn down a feature where your feet naturally lose contact with the snow.

     

    See the slideshow below for these steps in action.

    1/4

    While exploring a tree section I frequent I discovered this small feature that was setup like a pillow but dropped onto a wide apron of shallow and safe terrain. If this sat a top the entrance to a steep chute it would be an intimidating feature to negotiate for a youngster. In this location, however, they could virtually fall off the feature without consequence.
    Photo credit: Gillian Morgan @sastrugi_gill
    Snow credit: Whistler Blackcomb

    2/4

    The challenge I set was to turn down the roll and ski away without stopping.
    Photo credit: Gillian Morgan @sastrugi_gill
    Snow credit: Whistler Blackcomb

    3/4

    Learning to turn down steep convex features is a great skill to have because it requires commitment to stay in balance.
    Photo credit: Gillian Morgan @sastrugi_gill
    Snow credit: Whistler Blackcomb

    4/4

    It’s impossible not to get a little bit of air as they ski off this feature so this made for a great opportunity to introduce the feel of linking a turn down a feature where your feet naturally lose contact with the snow.
    Photo credit: Gillian Morgan @sastrugi_gill
    Snow credit: Whistler Blackcomb

    Read Round Two of Family Ski Tips for advice on little drops!

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