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Tips for First Time Skiing

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December 1, 2011

For both parents and children, going skiing for the first time can seem daunting. But the potential rewards are so great that most families who ski together can’t wait till their next trip to the mountain.


The key to your ski clothes is to dress in layers. Weather can change quickly in the mountains, so you want to be able to peel off or add on a layer.

Wear one good pair of socks and bring a spare pair of socks for every member of the family. We swear by Smartwool ski socks to keep our feet warm and dry; they are also not itchy.

Invest in good ski mittens or gloves and hats. These can also be used to play in the snow if you live in a cold weather area. Cold or wet hands make skiing a misery and hats keep the whole body warm. Spare gloves are a good idea.


When it comes to accessories you’ll want to be prepared. Rent or buy helmets (and make sure your hat fits underneath). Unlike bike riding, helmet wearing while skiing is not always required, but even experienced skiers should always wear one.

Protect your eyes with ski goggles or sunglasses that block UV light. Kids are less likely to lose goggles, since they have a strap. Goggles also make it possible to ski in snow.

Bring sunscreen for wind and sun protection. Keep a stick in your jacket pocket.

At the Slopes

Arrive early for a lesson, so you can fill out paper work, meet the instructor and take your kid on a last bathroom run.

Kids who go to preschool or day care may have an easier time in a group lesson; if your 3 year old has no experience in a group setting, you might want to try a Mommy & Me ski lesson. Northstar California, in Lake Tahoe, has a Teach Your Tots program where parents and an instructor work with kids on skis for the first time.

Pack an easy-to-eat snack in your kid’s jacket. Organic whole grains CLIF Kid ZBars can be eaten on the lift, with gloves on, and will help power your kid through a few extra runs.

Finally, keep it fun and keep it short. Your child may only want to hit the slopes for a couple of hours his first time, and then play in the snow or sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate.

But if he enjoys himself, he’ll want to come back.

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