If you want your kids to fall in love with skiing, a great first experience is critical! Here are our tried and tested tips for fun ski days the first time and every time:
- Pack the night before so you have time for a decent breakfast. Full tummies= happy kids! We use a 3-bag system as follows:
- Ski bag: Skis (and ski poles for those who already know how to ski)
- Duffle bag: ski boots, 1 midlayer (fleece or down sweater) per person, extra socks and mitts/gloves, snacks and/or lunch. Leave this one in the lodge!
- Small backpack to carry when skiing: cell phone, wallet, keys (clip them in so you don’t lose them), hand and foot warmer packets, lip gloss, sunscreen, high calorie snacks that won’t freeze (chocolate is good), small water bottles (refill them throughout the day).
- Take a load off: Bring a large sled and a couple bungee cords to tow all your gear. Your shoulders will thank you.
- Set a meeting time and place: If everyone’s lessons are at different times or family members will be skiing in different parts of the resort, set a meeting time and place and talk about what to do if you become separated on the hill (e.g. wait at the next junction, or ski to the bottom and wait at the chair lift).
- Dress for Success: Layers are the key to staying comfy and warm. Wear synthetic/merino base layers, wool blend ski socks, snowpants, ski jacket, mittens/gloves, helmet, and goggles. You can always swap the jacket for a midlayer (you packed it, didn’t you?) if you get too warm; or double up if it’s super frosty. Avoid cotton clothes.
- Snack breaks for the win: We carry a mix of healthy snacks and treats to keep energy levels and spirits high. Call it what you will – bribe or incentive – but gummy bears and chocolates got our girls to do turns (1 gummy bear per 3 turns so they wouldn’t shoot straight down the hill). Be sure to wash that snack down with a drink!
- Wear snow boots: Change into your ski boots at the lodge. It’s faster and comfier, and you’ll be all set to play in the snow or go tubing when you’re done skiing!
- Rent or buy gear that is height/skill-level appropriate: A ski shop can outfit you accordingly. Do some research before buying used gear to ensure you get the right size of skis/boards and boots.
- Say no to poles: Beginners don’t need ski poles. In fact, the first thing your instructor will say if you have poles, is to leave them on the ground so you can focus on your balance.
- Always wear a helmet: This goes for you too, parents! And buckle that brain bucket so it stays on!
- Book a lesson: Some kids prefer private lessons, but most enjoy skiing with other kids their age. It is amazing how much kids progress in group lessons because they want to keep up with the best kid in the class! Learning from a professional also ensures they don’t pick up bad habits from you.
- Avoid naptime! Ski at your kids happy time of day. If your kids don’t nap, however, the runs are usually less busy in the afternoon.
- Keep it fun: Instead of drills, play games! Children learn best through play. If your child wants to play in the snow, go play in the snow (but find a safe place near the lodge to do so). When my kids were 2, we spent more time playing than skiing, but it paid off. They love snow and love being at the ski hill because they associate both with FUN!
- Be patient: Every child learns at a different pace.
- Celebrate wins – big and small! Reward efforts with something your child enjoys. Have pizza to celebrating mastering “the pizza” aka snowplow, or plan a movie night or games night.
- Quit while you’re ahead: Stop while your kids are still loving it to make them want to go skiing again soon!
Words & photos by Karen Ung
Ski season has started and it’s not too late to get a Nakiska Season’s Pass! Why Nakiska? The best hill is the one you go to! Since my first visit in ’99, I’ve made lots of turns at Nakiska, and return each year to the promise of great skiing less than an hour’s drive from home. There is terrain for all levels, with fun features such as the NaJibSka Rail Park and Monster Glades, an amazing snow school, and a long season thanks to state of the art snowmaking equipment. Last year, we made the most of our season’s pass (15 visits!), and were surprised at how quickly our kids progressed from bunny hill to blue runs! If you love to ski and want to go often, a Season’s Pass or RCR Rockies Card is the best value for your money.
- Ski Close: Since Nakiska is less than an hour from Calgary, you not only save time and money driving, but on lodging and dining also!
- Ski any time, all season long, for a great rate: Your Season’s Pass pays for itself in only 11 visits (way less if you get the early bird special)! Not sure you will go that many times? Consider the RCR Rockies Card*. For little more than a single lift ticket, you get three free days and discounts at partner ski resorts. *Only available until December 26th
- Flexibility: Whether you like to sleep in or have children that nap, a season’s pass allows you to ski when you want. There’s no need to wait until 12:30 pm for half-day lift tickets! Since our girls are late risers, we head out mid-morning after a big breakfast and ski until the lifts shut down. It’s just the right amount of time for little legs (and by not overdoing it, they’re keen to go back)!
- Terrain for All Levels: Nakiska boasts a large learning area, beginner-friendly green runs, the NaJibSka Rail Park, Monster Glades, and everything in between. While the runs off the Gold Chair are my favorite, now that I have children, I appreciate the beginner terrain. There is an easy way down, so even beginners can take long runs down from the top of the Silver Chair. My daughter quickly advanced to blue runs by the age of 5!
- Super Fast Gold Chair Express: I love the Gold Chair Express so I can wait less and ski more. Tip: Play in the Monster Glades after a big dump of snow!
- Kids 5 & Under Ski Free: For real! Nakiska is the only mountain that offers free skiing to children 5 and under, so if your children are the right age, you only need to purchase adult season’s passes!
- Resort Size: With 71 runs, Nakiska is just the right size. The hill is easy to navigate, with all runs on the same side of the mountain, and there are plenty of fun runs for everyone. Pop in to the mid-mountain lodge or main lodge for a bite. Fun fact: 28% of Nakiska’s runs are advanced!
- No Getting Stuck In The Flats: Nakiska doesn’t have long, flat stretches to get stuck in, so you can ski or ride more!
- Family Friendly: Families will love Nakiska’s onsite daycare, Snow School, great learning area for first timers, and beginner friendly runs from the Bronze Chair. The Bronze Chair is not too fast, so first-timers can safely get the hang of getting on and off.
- Partner Discounts: Your Nakiska Season’s Pass includes discounts at partner resorts, hotels, and businesses. See all member benefits here.
Bonus: Skiing at Nakiska is fun!
See you on the slopes! At Nakiska!