learntoskiAre you waiting to learn to ski, or to teach your kids, until you go on the “big ski trip”? You don’t need Aspen to learn to ski. The bunny hills are the same no matter where you go. Except for Beaver Creek, they have a gondola for their beginner mountain; you wouldn’t want to get cold on the 30-second ride up.

A few tips for brand new skiers or ski moms:

1. Look for a local mountain. If you live in Florida I can’t help you with this one, but the rest of the advice applies. My fourth child learned to ski at the tiniest mountain in New York. There was a chain link fence and the vertical drop on the beginner slope couldn’t have been more than 2 feet. But it was perfect, it was close, cheap and he learned to ski.

2. Rent your equipment from the mountain. Why? Because if there’s a problem with your equipment they can fix it on the spot. This is especially important for beginners who aren’t used to the gear and may need a boot switch for comfort or shorter skis, etc.

learntoski13. Buy or borrow quality ski clothes. No one is going to love skiing if they are cold. If you’re not sure they’re going to stick with it and you don’t want to invest, borrow some good gear from a friend. Make sure they are wearing several wicking layers (you sweat a lot learning to ski). Real ski socks matter, and they are the ONLY things that go in the boot (don’t tuck in long johns, those sit on top of the boot). You only need one pair, the socks and the boots are designed to keep your feet warm, and two pairs will make you miserable. A helmet is a MUST. Most ski programs won’t let you participate without one. They can also be rented.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of a bribe. It’s just plain good parenting. Learning to ski can be scary, and hard, and cold. This clearly calls for hot cocoa or gummy bears, or both.

5. Don’t let them give up easily. I have four children who are all excellent skiers. Not one of them wanted to go to ski school when they were little. Not one loved it the first time they went. We are after all asking them to slide down a frozen hill with sticks attached to their feet. All of my children LOVE to ski now, but it was a combination of bribes, begging and bullying that got us there.

You can find more tips on learning to ski at Snowmamas.com where I also write about all things skiing.