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Ski Bunny: Her First Time

We've had several great romps up on Mt. Hood, playing in the snow tubing at Ski Bowl or snowshoeing all around.  We've finally come to the time that our six year-old is ready to hit the slopes for the first time.  We bought her skis (super-discounted at Copeland's Grand Closing!), but - now - how to begin?  Should we do a lesson?  Should we just head up the tug-rope at Meadows and take it from there?  Last year, Shetha mentioned renting skis for $5 at Meadows and using the tug-rope for free.  Is that still accurate?  The Meadows rental page seems to show that Jr. rentals are $20?  Should we head to Ski Bowl because it's smaller (and closer)?


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Welcome to the wonderful world of taking kids skiing!

Here are a few basics that should be taken care of before you head up in order to keep them wanting to go back (if that's your intention ;-) ):

Skis are available all the way down to 67cm. Ski Boots are available in funny sizes, but a 15.5 equates to a childrens's 8, approximately. Room for socks in ski boots is a must. Dont work too hard for an exact fit, and error on too big than too small. Extra socks are OK. Skiis should roughly meet the child around the chin when both are standing up. Ski poles are unnecessary until the child is a bit more advanced.
Goggles are going to come in very useful unless you find yourself on the ski slope in perfect 35 degree windless weather. During the first year, a helmet is not, in my opinion, necessary. Gloves, ski pants, and a thick warm coat are pretty necessary. If the child is younger then 5, I would suggest PJs and a pull up as the first layer. It minimizes the impact of accidents and PJs are usually a great fleecey first layer.

Optional Equipment:
A velcro tip-strap is really useful for kids who are beginning. The strap holds the tips of the skis from getting too far from each other. There is a version with a rubber tube adn wing nuts on the market and at REI that works, but pretty poorly.

Places to Ski Around Portland:
Ski Bowl has 3-4 rope tows and a Poma lift. Rope tows are difficult in the beginning, and the poma lift is up some rather steep terrain. Ski bowl is a little more difficult to get around at the bottom of the mountain as well. I'm not all that fond of it. Kids are free, but an adult can either buy a rope-tow ticket for $10 or go for the whole big ticket. I don't know much about the rental situation.

Meadows is a great place to get started. The "Magic Carpet" (a conveyer belt style lift) is really good with kids, and its free for everyone. There are two neighboring rope tows that are also free. The "Kids Zone" as they call it is really close to the lodge. They have a "Buttercup" chair lift that is meant for beginners as well. You can buy a cheaper Buttercup-only lift ticket if and when the time comes. Adults can hang in the free Kids Zone for free as well.

Timberline has the great lodge and a really nice beginner's ski lift with easy terrain, but I havent seen any Magic Carpets or rope tows, and the trail maps dont show any.

Don't try and teach your own kids to ski in the beginning if you can avoid it. It can be frustrating for Mom or Dad and gives the child a bit of the wrong impression about how fun skiing is. I have tought KinderSki before, and I tried teaching my son to ski just like I've tought hundreds of others. It didnt work well. Your mileage may vary :) I encourage lessons. The prices for lessons depend on the age of the child... (some children may not be old enough).

Be warned though, that lessons are expensive...




Some helpful hints:
-If you have a 3yr old who is pretty coordinated, you can lie and say he or she is 4 to get into lessons.

-If you cant get to the Meadowns Upper Parking Lot, you can tell the guys who will let you through that you are going to daycare. They will let you park at the top, next to the lodge. (Please don't abuse that if you dont have to)

-The Timberline and Meadows Lodges are great places for Mamas and little ones to hang out. SkiBowl....well.... its less expensive ;)

-Bring loads of snacks and extra clothes

If there are any more questions or topics you'd like covered, feel free to email me at cnolke at gmail dot-com! Happy Skiing!

And another helpful hint:
At Meadows, they *generally* rent out the smallest children's equipment for an informally discounted $5. At some age they will jump to the regular $20. They see it as an informal favor, so I'd be careful expecting the $5 rental. Be prepared for the $20 and be happily surprised if they tell you it's only $5.

i took kate last year to summit ski area - on mt. hood - for her first time and it was perfect. kind lift operators, modest slopes, and inexpensive tickets and rentals.

Wow Chris thanks for all the helpful information. We are headed to Mt. Bachelor in a couple of weeks for my daughter's and my first ski experience. My husband knows how, but it's been years. We're planning on getting the private family lesson. I know my daughter will do great and will catch on quickly, it's ME I'm worried about!


Thanks for all the pointers. We did take Philly up on Saturday afternoon for her first jaunt. The weather was far from perfect with the rain, but we are all geared up in warm rainproof stuff. The great advantage to going when weather was drab was that the crowds were thin. Dave and Philly did the free tug-rope gizmo at Meadows, and they had a great time together. Dave heard about teaching her about "French Fries" (aligning skis like two parallel french fries as you head up the tug-rope) and "pizza" (heading downhill like a wedge of pizza) and putting hands on knees (we told her, "like you're going to the potty"). She was a champ!

We found that beating the crowds makes it easier and happier for all: Going during off-peak times (like late in the season in March or April), doing night ski (3pm to close is $15 at Meadows!), or heading up on a Sunday afternoon. We lucked out and had the whole lounge area to ourselves, complete with a fire in the middle to keep us warm.

It was a great first time, and she can't wait to go back.

P.S. we also had the velcro straps for ski tips but didn't use them. The coaching on pizza wedge and squat like you're pottying did the trick.

My daughter is turning 3. I can't wait to go skiing again, but do you think she's old enough to try it? She's not the most physically daring child...unless it comes to climbing then she's a monkey. I'm a little nervous that a first attempt could cause her to never want to go back.

Any suggestions on how best to introduce her to the fun of going fast in the snow? Any teachers you'd recommend specifically?

We just got back from a trip to Squaw Valley with our 6.5 yr old daughter. She was skiing all the blue and even trying to get some air.
We started her when she was 3 with just some strap on skis and playing in the snow. No hill needed. At 4 we started her in real gear, but it was still pretty limited.
last year at 5, was the first year she really could ski.
It is a great family activity, now we are all hungry for fresh powder!
Have fun

Well, it's been quite a while, but how was the skiing trip? It's one of the fun activities families can do during the winter season. It's also a good source of physical activity, no? All that snow limits the choice of outdoor fun - although, thankfully, a bit of skiing and snowboarding can be pretty exhilarating.

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