This month we have been lucky enough to sequester ourselves away to the mountains and go through another lockdown in a beautiful part of the world where we used to live, Mayrhofen. This trip had a couple of weeks without much snowfall and it meant we had lots of opportunities to take the kids up and get them going.
I’ve realised that teaching kids is as much of a learning process for the kids as it is for parents. It’s also ironic because as with most things, you need to remember when teaching kids to snowboard you can relate to life in general. So for each of these headlines, whilst its about snowboarding, spend a second thinking how you would relate this to everything off snow too
Has everyone slept well, eaten and drank water?
This was something my mum always used to say about parenting. If these 3 questions are a yes, then in general you will be well set up.
Don’t be that pushy parent.
The balance between encouragement and pushy is such a fine line, it’s a constant tightrope. The first time I realised this was a couple of years ago when my son Lenny (3 at the time) and we took paternity leave to Mayrhofen for a month, which was amazing. Lenny was doing well and I was asking him every day for the first few days if he wanted to go snowboarding. We went up for 4 days or so and then one morning he said, “I don’t want to snowboard today” and I tried to get him to go but the next day it became “I don’t like snowboarding”. After my despair had subsided, I thought about it and then we decided to not ask him to go for a few days until he asked, “so can I go snowboarding today?”
Keep it fun.
Between this trip and the last I kind of framed it up as more of a game of exploring the mountain than snowboarding. “Let’s go and check out that snowcat”, or “there is a new snow blower over there!”, “oh I think I saw a yeti!”.Each time it’s kind of an excuse to get them to ride somewhere else.
Keep a steady stream of snacks.
On this trip with the mountain restaurants closed its actually been really good for us as it has meant we just go up and ride and then have snacks on the chairlift or somewhere sitting in the sun.
We all know the difference in our kids between a “I don’t want to do this” vs a “I really can’t do this”. Today Lenny had a really big scorpion slam and that took him out for the day. Some days you have to assess when it’s time to just hit the hot chocolate and head home and that’s a totally good solution too.
Look for easy starts.
With resorts being so quiet it’s been amazing because the kids don’t get scared by people whizzing by them.
Also try and find nice blue runs that can help kids go from edge to edge as that’s likely the hardest thing getting them off their heel edge. Some resorts are now building fun slopes too which have things for kids to ride through, high five and bonk. It’s such a great way for them to ride without having to think about the actual snowboarding itself.
The right kit works.
We have been buying and trading kids product with other parents which have snowboarding kids, because they grow out of boots so damn quick! It’s the best way to get the kids in the right kit without breaking the bank, because having the right kit does work. We’ve been using the Burton Riglet for Lilly (aged 2) and then The Burton Chopper for Lenny (aged 5).We had a Protec helmet for Lenny but just switched to an anon one as it seemed warmer plus safer. The game changer in terms of teaching has been the MDXONE backpack, where you can help kids learn to sideslip and ride straight whilst ensuring there aren’t any major slams.
The other innovation for kids I have seen is from Burton, the handlebar which I saw my friend Ofi using and having success with is the Burton handlebar. I don’t know the full insights but I have thought about this a lot and when kids learn to ski they just hold their knees. I tried for snowboarding but that doesn’t work so maybe this helps on that initial phase.
The thing that I love about snowboarding and this is something I am trying to take into everyday life, is that when you’re on a chairlift you are there. No iPads, phone calls, distractions, just you looking at snowcats, eating snacks and watching people ride by. I need to remember these chairlift rides in the future, when I’m making the dinner, whilst on the phone and parenting, which isn’t the greatest combo.
One of the things I loved to do growing up was watch snowboard videos, turns out our kids are the same, they love it. Good music, fun and a perfect way to get ready for the hill! Good follows if you enjoy watching other kids snowboard are Grilo or The Snowboarding Family. Then for a great combo of resort riding and music this edit from Arthur Longo is one of the best.
Get stuck in.
For sure you could hire an instructor. For sure you could start them skiing but chances are if you got this far you love snowboarding anyways and know roughly which edge to start on (heel edge). I was fortunate enough to have an amazing powder day this morning. Blue skies, fresh snow and I came down at 12 to get my son and we spent the afternoon on the bunny hill and he got both his turns linked. Guess which part of my day will stay with me forever? 100% those turns he did. I was trying to keep it chill on the slope but inside I was screaming with delight for my dude as he’s off on his own now and I will be chasing him from here on out and I couldn’t be happier. Of course you could put them into ski school but sharing those moments when they learn are priceless for me and I’m sure they will be for you too. If you do want to put them in for lessons (I did think about it to get him onto his toe side turn but we managed to get through, just chose a proper snowboard school.
I hope that helps, as I say keep an eye out for kid friendly resorts and if you see other parents with kids learning either at the hill or online, reach out and give them a huge high 5!