I have written several posts on how to start your kids skiing. This time I decided to talk about something that I think about all the time: How to raise a young Ripper. Besides raising my own son into a strong skier and developing racer I have 9 years of experience coaching a season long kids program. There are dozens of kids that I coached who went on to become excellent racers, top freeride athletes, or became certified ski instructors themselves. This is the thing that I am most proud of during my 25 years of ski teaching. I decided to post this in the Woodstove since I think this is a topic that many Moms and Dads will want to discuss.
Big Air during The Ski Meister Race
FUN First and foremost it’s got to be FUN for a kid to want to become a great skier. If it’s not fun for them they won’t want to keep skiing enough to become experts. Parents need to pay careful attention to keeping it fun. Play games, hit the trees and the park, ski with other kids and families. Take some trips to different ski areas and explore, new trails and experiences keep it fresh for everybody. Read the kids to know when it’s time for a hot chocolate break or when to pull the plug on a nasty day. Never underestimate the power of having some candy or a treat in your pocket when you hit a rough patch. After skiing take some time to let them slide on trays or have snowball fights.
Commitment. If you want to raise a Ripper you have to commit to skiing – A LOT! Mileage is so important for skill development. Kids need to ski and ski often if they are going to become strong skiers. Less than 20 days a season is not going to cut it. USSA recommends 60-70 days on snow for 10-12 year olds. Sure they can become proficient with less but we are talking about becoming more than just good here. In our family that means no school plays or other organized winter sports on our dance card. X-C skiing or ice skating are good complimentary cross training activities for fun. Last season NYSEF invited my son to train on Friday’s and the amount of improvement that happened in only a few weeks of skiing 3 days a week was incredible. The angulation light all of a sudden clicked on for my son which is a key to becoming a Ripper. You can’t just be a fair weather skier if you want to become great. You need to ski not so perfect snow or trails.
Training Pays Off
Coaching is key. Get your kids in a season long program. Getting them skiing with a professional coach will make a huge difference. Pick the right one for your kids personality and goals. Programs like Whiteface’s Cloudsplitter Club or Gore’s Mt Adventure build strong foundations in young skiers in a non-competitive and fun atmosphere. NYSEF and other race and /or freeride programs take that foundation and make athletes out of young skiers while having a ton of FUN. You will be amazed how well your kids will ski after just one season in a program.
Brian Gardiner - Top NYSEF Freestyler - Former Cloudspiltter
Equipment matters. Make sure you dress your Ripper how you dress for skiing. No cotton tee shirts or pajama bottoms. Technical clothing from underwear to pants and jacket make a huge difference keeping you warm and dry. The same applies to your kids – they can’t have fun if they are wet and cold. Buy ski boots to fit now. Trying to get 2 seasons from yours kids boots are only going to make them ski poorly and pick up bad habits. Boots need to be the right flex, if your child can’t flex the boot from their ankles alone in the shop they will not be able to on the hill. Gear does not need to be new just fit properly so ski swaps are great ways to lower your costs. Tuning matters too. You can’t properly rely on using your skis properly if the edges have not sharp – EVERY WEEK! Learn to tune for yourself or find a ski shop that you like and keep skis sharp and waxed.
Raising a Ripper is not an easy task. There is an investment both in terms of time and money. But it pays big dividends. Hockey and soccer can cost just as much or more. The difference is raise a hockey player and you get to sit on a cold bench in an ice arena in Malone. Raise a skier and you will get to go skiing. You also will create a skier who will continue to share the love of the sport with you well after they are done being little kids like when you have skiing grandkids.
if You French Fry when you should Pizza you are going to have a bad time
I raised a ripper also, but don't push too hard, cherish every day you get out there with your kids, they grow up way too fast. New gear and clothing every year ,cost me a bundle ,but seeing my sons tearing the mountains apart was totaling worth it. In their teen years priorities might change and a little variety will keep them more interested.
Want to spend special time with your children, teach them to ski or snowboard. The reward will be endless!
I saw Brian's dad yesterday on the mountain and got permission to add these videos of Brian to the thread. Brian certainly is a young ripper.
Brian is 14 and is training full time at Whiteface this season. Currently he competes in slopestyle, moguls and aerials. In the next year or so he will likely have to make a decision on what part of freestyle to foucs on. That will be tough given his talent for all of them. He also has a gymnatics coach. Brian and his family are certainly committed to his development as a skier.
He was close to making the national team in aerials in the tryout last summer. The second video has him doing doubles into the pool.
if You French Fry when you should Pizza you are going to have a bad time
Raising a Ripper is a long processes. A great book "The Sports Gene" by David Epstein talks about reaching 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to reach mastery, this is true even for Chess masters. So dedicated practice is important, but you need to make it fun as Coach Z has stated. I think it is important to not burn out kids, if they are over scheduled (karate, wrestling, basketball and other winter activities) and over stressed they lose the fun factor. I think what Coach Z. meant by not doing school plays and other sports in the winter is to decrease that over stressed factor. I am sure he still makes time for his son to have time "hanging with friends" after school as well as alternate fun days and makes up for the arts in the spring through fall with summer Drama and arts programs like those offered at many area art centers.
The most important thing to raising a young ripper is living very close to a ski area, hopefully one that holds the parents' attention.
The 10,000 hour thing is bs. If you don't have the right genetic make up all the hours have no meaning other than making a highly competent rec athlete. If you do have the right genetics, odds are a child will physically and /or mentally breakdown.
We're just raising kids who likes to ski/board. My son rips and is a pretty good hockey goalie. He could definitely take either to a higher level if he was willing to give up one or the other and I was willing to part with bookoo bucks and my life as I know it. We've had the conversation at the beginning of every season that we'd support him if he chose to persue one and I gotta say I'm proud he chooses to stay well rounded, I think it's better long term. It has its perks, tommorow morning he ships out to Pasadena to march in the rose parade with his high school band. A friend of ours kid just gave up her spot on the junior luge team - it was just too much. We'll see how he feels when comp and tournament time rolls around!
We've had the conversation at the beginning of every season that we'd support him if he chose to persue one and I gotta say I'm proud he chooses to stay well rounded, I think it's better long term.
THIS is major topic these days. Soooooo many kids, in all kinds of sports, just concentrate on one sport ---- I don't get that. Like many here, I played 3 sports thru HS , only one sport in college, well, two if you count da fooz , but that's only because there was NO way I could swing anymore. How do these kids stay focused, or more importantly, have fun concentrating on just one sport. 60 Minutes of Sports did a special on this same topic. I watched in amazement seeing parents grinding/yelling at their kids to get better.....college scouts at elementary baseball games, soccer games, hoops, v-ball, etc. etc. It would appear that being "good" has taken the place of having fun.