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You’ve heard it before, and you may have said it yourself: there are no friends on powder days.  But when the snow gets tracked out, you may find that your non-skier pals aren’t happy that you left them behind.  Maybe you could be a better friend.  Or, maybe you can teach your loved ones how to ski. Teaching beginner skiers can be challenging. But the reward is watching them catch Powder Fever for themselves.

teaching beginner skiers kids
Make sure they know: 80% of skiing is about looking good.

Shop experts have weighed in with their pro tips. Here’s your guide to turning your best friend, in-law, nephew or kiddo into a better shredder.

Full-Grown Noobs (18+)

  • Get up:  The first thing to teach a beginner is how to get back up after a fall, says Derek, a Powder7 ski tech and long-time ski instructor in Steamboat, Colorado.  “Have the skier sit down on flat ground and get the feeling of standing up.”  Not only will this come in handy for the imminent falls to come, but it will also help the skier find their edges.
  • Get technical:  For a true beginner, start with flat land exercises.  Hold a pole out and instruct your skier to apply pressure to one ski at a time, allowing them to get a feel for edging. Later, when your skier graduates from pizza to french fries, instruct the skier to alleviate pressure on the uphill ski, putting all of their weight on the downhill ski.
  • Get your mind right: Stay positive and talk to your skier about what to expect before getting on the hill.  “Don’t expect to be a pro day one,” says Nick, Powder7 shipping guru and amateur instructor.  If your skier is frustrated, just enjoy the good company and mountain air.  “When in doubt, grab a drink at the lodge and enjoy the views.”
  • Get the right gear: Long skis feel heavy and unwieldy for a beginner.  It’s tempting to buy a longer pair that your skier will “grow into,” but it is easier to learn on a shorter ski.  If you have the means, grab an inexpensive pair of of beginner skis and replace them later on.
teaching beginner skiers
Spontaneous yeti hunts keep lessons fun.

Pint-size Shredders (11-17)

  • Bring it back to sports:  Teens are quick to pick up the basic movements of skiing because they’re used to trying new things.  In Derek’s words, “Teenagers play all kinds of of sports.  Adults take spin classes.”  We love us some spinning, but it won’t do much for your skiing.  For teens, try to relate the edging movements of skiing to movements you make in other sports (particularly skating).
  • Make it real:  If your teen thinks he or she is too cool for (ski) school, Derek says to tie it back to the outside world.  “If they’re a fan of the Olympics, try relating it to an event like the halfpipe where people have to ski backwards.  Teach them to walk uphill and slide back down.  In the process, they’ll get the feeling of using their edges.”  They’ll dig it.
teaching beginner skiers kids
Teaching beginners to get up after a fall keys their progression.

Lil’ Rippers (3-10)

  • Get out there:  Put your kid on boards before they fear gravity.  Little kids are made of silly putty, so when they fall, they bounce right back up.  Jake, a ski instructor at Winter Park when he’s not at Powder7, says you can expect your kiddo to “get twisted into a pretzel.  But then you just shake ’em out and send ’em on their way.”
  • Get cozy:  Plan on taking a lot of breaks, throwing snowballs, and sipping hot chocolate.  Depending on the child, a 4-hour day may only be an hour on the hill.  (And if that ratio doesn’t work for you, consider ski lessons.)
  • Get creative:  To help a child with a short attention span, Jake suggests going on missions with your kids.  “Go look for Mom or the yeti in the woods.”  Better yet, find the lodge with the best cheese fries.
  • Get helpers:  Much like training wheels on a bike, you can use a leash to help your skier along until they learn how to properly pizza.  Derek says to use leashes that attach to boots rather than a backpack because beginners have difficulty keeping their weight forward.  “If they’re being pulled by a backpack, they’ll fall further in the backseat; if you use the bootie leashes, it helps them lean forward.”

The Number One Pro Tip (for skiers of all ages)

  • Don’t teach on a pow day.
powder day skiing
Pow shots: how you show your students what they’re working toward.

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