Today is part 3 in my 4-part series. Picture this. It’s your five-year-old’s second day on the hill and she’s already rocking turns and stops. You take her up on a little steeper terrain totally confident in her ability. You’re right beside her to keep her safe. As she comes down the steeper part, she doesn’t make her turn. Her speed gets faster, and you yell out “Pizza,” but instead she clicks her skis together and shoots straight down the mountain. You chase after her, but a fence catches her first.
By the time you reach her, she’s in tears and screaming, shaken but otherwise unhurt. Your wife is yelling at you for taking her up something too steep and you feel like a huge cad for not keeping your daughter safe. This is an easy mistake to make but one you can usually avoid.
Depending on ability and age, it’s usually a good idea to have your child follow behind you. And not just because you have a better chance at grabbing them if they get out of control. For many kids, making a wedge and turning is not their default action. So when they get scared or get in steeper terrain, they go straight down the mountain. And the faster they go, the less likely they’ll be able to get back in control. If you’re in front of them, you’re leading them. You should be making turns and asking them to follow your turns. And even without your asking them, they will subconsciously do what you do.
Always be very aware of what you’re doing. Make sure your turns are large enough and slow enough for your child to stay in control. Be aware of the mountain and people in front of you, so you can steer your child around upcoming obstacles. Always be between them and the bottom of the hill.
Just a quick side note. Kids pick up skiing very quickly. When you see them out on the mountain charging the bumps, it’s easy to forget that your little expert skier doesn’t have the maturity or instincts to make the right decisions on the hill.