Jeremy Swanson, Aspen Snowmass
By Katy Dalton
Originally published at The Go Guide.
If I could change one thing about my childhood, it would be that I wish I started skiing at a younger age. Not because I wish I was a better skier (which I’ll admit, I do), but because it’s a special kind of activity, one that goes beyond the purely athletic and competitive basis of any sport and reaches a new level of enjoyment, bliss, and freedom in the outdoors. Here are the top three reasons why teaching your kids to ski is a great idea.
Kids have so little fear; the world is their playground and their minds know no limitations. Every time I go skiing, young whippersnappers without poles zoom down the mountain, going three times as fast as me, weaving in and out of trees, leaving their parents, ski instructors, and myself in the dust. While my ski experience is sometimes ruled by fear of a slope too steep, an icy patch, or those terrifyingly large moguls, I’ve yet to see a youngster hesitate. It’s dangerous, people say, for such tiny little beings to brave the slopes, but I counter that by saying starting young is the best way to instill confidence in one’s skiing, confidence that will help prevent any accidents that stem from fear or inexperience in the future. Not to mention that their bodies are flexible, spry, and tougher than they look.
Furthermore, spending time in the mountains, in the cold and snowy arena of high altitude and extreme weather is humbling. Understanding this through a practice of skiing or snowboarding will give your kids a respect for the grandeur of mountains, an appreciation of winter, snow, and an awareness of how things are so rapidly changing (and hopefully a drive to do something about it).
But it’s so expensive, you say. Well, its not exactly cheap, I’ll grant you that, but its not as expensive as you think it is. Many resorts let children age 6 or under ski for free, and often the first lesson is free or at least highly discounted. Season passes are usually very affordable for juniors, and buying an adult pass may qualify you for a free kids pass. Rent or lease gear instead of buying it, since they’ll outgrow their boots and skis as fast as they can ski down the mountain.
If your kids are fiery little balls of energy that wont stop bouncing off your walls, then this is yet another reason to strap them on skis for a day. While they’re careening down runs over and over again they wont even realize how tired they are, leaving them pink-cheeked, smiling and totally tuckered out. The best part? They’re going to love it. Once they’re comfortable they wont be able to get enough. Riding the chairlift, sitting back on their skis, playing in the powder, laughing with siblings and friends, and of course, going faster than anyone else as they fly down the slopes, hardly turning at all, and gulping down hot chocolate in the lodge after a day that ended all too soon.
It’s the beginning of a lifelong activity, one that will keep their bodies healthy and limber, their minds happy, and will foster a unique reverence and love for the mountains, our winters, and the magical spirit of the sport itself.