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|December 25-31, 2008
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Teach a child to ski
Professional instruction is the best way to get children to enjoy skiing
by Bill McKeown
So, you’re thinking, how hard can it be to teach a child to ski? Pick up some sticks, load up the kids with hot chocolate and Gummi bears and plop them on the bunny slope, where you can give them a tight-lipped lecture about how they are going to have fun, dang it, while trying to wrestle their boot into a binding.
Not a good plan, say three Coloradans who have spent decades teaching kids how to ski.
“What I see with parents is they become very demanding,” said Franci Peterson, director of Ski Cooper Ski School since 1986. “They forget how hard it was for them to learn to ski. Parents expect their kids to learn as adults do.”
Peterson should know.
Despite being a certified ski instructor, she let her husband teach their two children to ski.
“He was a little more detached,” Peterson said.
Their children, now grown and good skiers, decided to spend the money for professional lessons for their own kids.
There’s a reason, said Dave Holdcraft, general manager of the children’s program at the Breckenridge Ski and Ride School.
“We really train to deal with the different physical, emotional and cognitive needs of kids,” Holdcraft said.
“We have the environment to set them up to be successful.”
The professionals’ advice may be a tad self-serving — they make their living teaching skiing, after all. And paying for ski lessons can be a hard nut to swallow.
Lessons, even for young kids at the smallest ski areas, are not cheap.
Prices vary, depending on the number of hours of instruction and whether lunch or rentals are included, but prepare to dish out at least $100 a day.
For parents who can’t or don’t want to spend that kind of money, there are instructional books for sale on the Internet, and there’s lots of free advice on various Web forums.
But anyone who has taught his own kids to ski knows it can be a frustrating experience, with no guarantee that the sweet little things will progress — or stay with the sport after they’ve been berated enough times down 1,200 vertical feet.
Plus, teaching the little brats really cuts into your own ski time — and kids can sense that frustration.
“Parents or husbands, wives or boyfriends — it’s really tough to get over that relationship,” said Jack Sciacca, director of instruction at Monarch Mountain. “Being a good skier does not translate into being a good teacher.”
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