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Little girl carrying a snowboard

Why I Am Teaching My Kid To Snowboard

Posted: 01/14/14 | By Tina Hauer

The month of January is Learn a Snow Sport month and it made me think of my first time skiing and why I am teaching my daughter to snowboard.

I grew up in Northern CA and the first time I went skiing was on a day ski trip with a supervised youth group. Prior to this trip, my parents never took us to the snow, nor did they know how to ski (snowboarding wasn’t as big at the time in the early 80's).

Kids Learn to Ski

My first time skiing involved waking up early for a lesson in the frigid cold and bundling up in a ton of gear, gloves, hand-warmers, long johns, etc. Not fun as a kid or as the leader who had to hear us complain! The lessons were difficult at first and included a lot of falling and bruising and I remember thinking my parents were making me suffer for not doing my chores. After lunch, we were on our own and hit the bunny slopes. At the time they still had the duck pulls that would take you up to the top of the bunny slopes and caused a first timer like me a lot of anxiety that you may cross up your skis and take out the person behind you, but after a couple of times I felt more confident and, eventually, got the hang of it. After that day, I went home and couldn't stop talking about this new sport I learned.

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From that moment on, every winter, my parents would take a weekend trip to the mountains and although their experience included sitting in the warm lodge and drinking a hot drink, mine was more than that. It was about skiing, conquering a large mountain, seeing my parents excited that I was trying something different and the family time at the cabin or walking around the snow covered streets and having snowball fights. So when I "grew up" and had my own family, I knew that I wanted this same experience for my child.

I was a little luckier than my parents because I live in Southern California and have Big Bear's ski resorts closer than the 6 hour drive my parents had to take. From the time my daughter was 18 months old we had her skiing. For some, 18 months is young and at 3 she did have more muscle control and balance to keep the skis straight. Skiing was easier for her at that age due to balancing on both feet and since being strapped on a snowboard with both feet is awkward.

Learn to Snowboard

Her first ski experience started with grabbing the smallest skis, helmet and gear and we headed down the bunny slopes at Bear Mountain with skis connected using an Edgy Wedgy, to keep the tips in a constant pie position, and her dad holding a leash (both available at any Big Bear ski/snowboard shop) to keep her safe and from getting away and she went on, down the mountain with a large permanent smile on her face. The new technology and convenience factors at the ski resorts make it even easier as a parent to enjoy the sport more than I remember as a kid! She enjoyed skiing and kept wanting to go again but I think as a parent if was even more exciting that we could share in the experience.

Every year we continue to expand her skills and also taught her to snowboard and enroll her in a few lessons because she listens to the instructors more than her parents! The ski and snowboard instructors at Bear and Snow Summit are professionals with certifications and also teach safety, which is very important to us. Safety includes the importance of wearing a helmet, getting safely off the ski lifts and park etiquette.

This year we decided to drop her off at Burton's Riglet Park at Bear Mountain that introduces young kids, 3-5 years old, park skills and helps them to learn and stop in a comfortable environment. What a great decision! We were able to take a few laps ourselves at our speed, while she learned some new skills for Park riding, after all Bear Mountain is known for their all-mountain Park for beginners to advance riders and freeskiers! It's nice that at her age, she can learn in a safe atmosphere, away from those still learning to control their skills or advance riders. After one lesson, we were amazed at her confidence in hitting a small box and the beginner rollers.

As a parent the entire winter experience is so much fun for me too! In sunny Southern California the winters are nice and mild but I like a break from the norm and want to experience winter, even just a few days out of the month. We snowboard and ski during the day and then make some time for tubing, walking around the Village and taking turns at roasting marshmallows or telling stories by the fire. I know it sounds very Cleaver-ish but we love it and we will keep doing it because it is the one thing we talk about every year when the holidays are starting to come around is "Do you remember last winter in Big Bear when…." That's now the conversation every year and we will continue the tradition.

I think it takes being around young kids and seeing their excitement in their eyes to understand wanting to teach them a new sport whether you are interested in the sport or not. My parents didn’t know how to ski but I was fortunate enough to learn and now I am able to share it with my child. It is now a way of life for her and with lessons she is comfortable and progressing. One day she will be interested in everything we are not, but I am confident we will always have skiing or snowboarding and if not, we can partake in a good snowball fight.

Let it Snow,

Tina