The suitable — and flawed — age for teenagers to start out snowboarding

I’ve but to satisfy — or elevate — a younger baby who was overwhelmingly excited to go to ski college for the primary (or second) time. I’m certain these children exist, however let’s simply say that for a sure age bracket, tears at ski college are at the very least as frequent as runny noses.

With two daughters, we’ve had years of expertise with varied ski colleges and personal ski instructors in a number of nations, tried to show them ourselves and have collectively spent more cash within the course of than I’d ever dare to whole or say out loud.

Our objective wasn’t simply to show them the right way to ski however to get them to like snowboarding, so it was definitely worth the funding, however we did have some adventures within the course of.

For us, getting younger children on skis has had combined outcomes that ranged from “Finest ever, I really like snowboarding!” to these aforementioned tears and even stories that included, “Um, your daughter ran away from ski college for a bit right this moment.”

As was frequent with many issues we tried with our firstborn, I feel we went “an excessive amount of, too quickly” with some ski-related actions.

That mentioned, each child is totally different, so what was an excessive amount of for one child could also be good for an additional. With over a decade of snowy highs and lows underneath our ski boots, listed below are my ideas on the proper age to start out children on skis.

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Ski college begins as younger as 2 1/2 years previous

Whereas this had paused for a couple of seasons through the pandemic, lots of the main mountains once more supply baby care for teenagers as younger as 8 weeks. The precise ski college applications, the place you strap skis on and get on the snow, have traditionally began for kids round 3 years previous. However more and more, kids as younger as 2 1/2 are included in some hybrid ski-and-play applications.

I’d argue that the very best ski college applications for these within the 2-to-4-year-old vary are normally those who embody a mixture of indoor and outside time.

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For instance, Snowmass (within the Aspen, Colorado, space) has a program for two 1/2-to-3-year-olds that offers them entry to a non-public studying space proper outdoors the indoor Treehouse play space. They spend one hour studying to ski every morning; in any other case, they’re indoors having enjoyable and a few afternoon relaxation time.

The Treehouse play space at Aspen Snowmass. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

At Deer Valley in Utah, 3-year-olds can get a hybrid mannequin that features indoor playtime together with one hour of a non-public ski lesson.

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I’ve seen some very, very tiny children who’re in all probability no older than 2 years previous whizzing down the mountain with their mother and father, however these children have mother and father who ski much better than me — they usually in all probability reside close to the mountain.

In different phrases, in case you are a once-a-season ski household, I might advocate 100% ignoring the potential of your 2 1/2-year-old really snowboarding on their very own. Truthfully, even most 3- or 4-year-olds that solely have one ski journey per 12 months are in all probability not going to be actually snowboarding, however that doesn’t imply you need to keep away from any form of ski instruction.

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Keep away from actual ski college till your baby is prepared

Along with the hybrid applications, many mountains supply baby care (generally in cool settings just like the beforehand talked about Treehouse at Aspen Snowmass) for kids till they’re 5 or 6 years previous, equivalent to on the Playschool at Keystone in Colorado. With these stable non-ski choices accessible, I extremely advocate not speeding into precise ski college in case your baby is hesitant. Your 3-year-old might very properly be prepared and excited for ski college, but when that’s not the case, don’t strive it.

Getting the privilege of studying to ski needs to be thrilling to your child and it is definitely going to be costly for you. In case your preschool-age child isn’t enthusiastic, skip the drama of all of the gear and the chilly climate and don’t threat tainting his or her view of snowboarding.

As a substitute, go for the mountain’s baby care choice till your kids are a little bit older and able to study the fun of snowboarding or boarding. (They could dislike baby care away from you, too, however at the very least it’s not snowboarding they’re actively disliking.)

As eager-beaver mother and father, we pressed ahead with ski college for our first daughter earlier than we had been certain was prepared, and he or she actually confirmed us who was boss when she ran away from ski college that day. We then turned to a really costly non-public lesson on our subsequent ski journey to counteract that have.


For those who actually consider your 3- or 4-year-old is prepared for actual outside ski college, make certain they’re potty educated and in a position to get by way of the day efficiently with out a nap. Think about half-day choices for these children, too.

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The magic ski age is round 5

Some children study to legitimately ski outdoors of the ski college magic carpet hill sooner than 5 years previous, however, for probably the most half, these would be the native and extra common mountain guests or simply the naturally bodily gifted children who decide issues up sooner than common.

Normally, the magic age for snowboarding is nearer to five years previous. If given the prospect, and at the very least three consecutive days of studying, a child round 4 1/2 to five years previous could possibly get the fundamentals of listening, turning, stopping and managing the lifts sufficient to get out of the ski college corral and onto the wide-open inexperienced runs.

My 5-year-old snowboarding fortunately at Steamboat in Colorado. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

For many once-a-year ski trip children, any classes earlier than that age are actually only for enjoyable and to provide them one thing to do whereas the mother and father and older siblings hit the mountain. That mentioned, with non-public classes (that are all the time price pricing out as they will shock you), each of my children escaped the ski college corral at about 4 1/2 years previous.

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For those who can, non-public classes are price it

If you wish to velocity up the educational course of when you suppose your children are prepared, you merely can’t beat non-public ski classes. Truthful warning: Personal classes may be painfully costly. Nevertheless, they’re much less painful than the time I tore my knee attempting to show my first daughter to ski by myself.

Most mountains supply both 1-on-1 non-public classes or household classes that hold the household collectively. A number of years in the past, we did a non-public household lesson choice at Breckenridge in Colorado to maintain the three youngest cousins (ages 3 to six years) collectively for a half-day of studying. This allowed them to be much less anxious about ski college since they had been all collectively, and it ended at midday, so they might then take a day nap. They acquired many extra apply runs in than they’d have at ski college for the reason that group was small.

That household non-public lesson was costlier than ski college, however not by all that a lot once you factored in that three children benefited.

Moreover, we have come out forward earlier than with a non-public lesson at Winter Park, Colorado, so do not low cost the thought till you do all the mathematics.

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If a full-day non-public lesson is outdoors your finances (it might probably ring in round $800 to $1,000 at main mountains), don’t despair.

A one-hour non-public lesson, equivalent to at a smaller mountain we loved in Maryland, can worth round $100. Different mountains supply early morning or late afternoon discounted two-hour classes, which could be the correct quantity of time for a youthful skier.

Alternatively, small-group classes with simply three to 5 children, equivalent to these at Breckenridge and Beaver Creek in Colorado that mix the cheaper price of group ski college with extra individualized consideration and the identical teacher every day, could be a good compromise.

The truth is, this 12 months, we lucked out at Beaver Creek when our 7-year-old was the one baby in her Max 5 lesson, so we basically acquired a non-public lesson for the value of a small-group lesson.

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Backside line

I do know firsthand how it’s to actually need your toddler to study to like snowboarding as quickly as potential.

However the actuality is that simply because ski college is accessible to very younger kids, it doesn’t imply that each one children are essentially prepared to start out snowboarding and even simply being out within the chilly all day with out their mother and father at such a younger age.

Many children who simply ski often on trip might be finest served at these younger ages of two, 3 or probably even 4 by on-mountain baby care or in a program that mixes each indoor play and a few outside time on skis.


As children cross the brink to being at or near kindergarten, the chances of success in ski college enhance dramatically — even when they solely go to the mountains as soon as per 12 months. No matter your alternative, a very powerful components at these younger ages are that they’ve enjoyable and keep secure.

Do not forget that child of mine who ran away from ski college at 4 years previous? She’s now 13, skis black runs and loves the game despite the fact that she lives in snow-free Texas.

The very best age for snowboarding and ski college will range from child to child, however in case you are affected person, you’ll get to the powdery promised land.

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