I have two boys, so I know firsthand how difficult it can be to keep them happy on the slopes. I own Fleischer Sport, a ski and snowboard rental shop in Steamboat Springs. I see many families come in, so I know that many parents experience difficulties with this as well. When it comes to making sure that your kids have a good time on the hill, there are four important factors to keep in mind: your children need to be warm, well fed, well hydrated, and comfortable.
A lot of the parents buy gear before they come into town to be better prepared for the winter elements. While their intentions are good, the gear that they purchase is often inadequate. Gloves and mittens need to have a waterproof exterior fabric, and the inside needs to be made with a high-quality insulation to ensure hands stay warm and dry. Primaloft (interior) and Gore-Tex (exterior) are two fabrics that offer this.
Another issue is hand-me-down gloves and mittens. Kids are always playing in the snow and on their hands, and gloves and mittens lose their integrity after a year or so. Do your kids a favor and get them quality handwear so they don’t freeze.
SmartWool socks are as good as they get in the sock world. Merino wool wicks away moisture and insulates even when feet are moist or wet. This is the key to staying warm. If it has cotton, toss it in the trash. A thicker sock made out of the wrong material is just as detrimental to warmth.
Hand and toe warmers are absolute must-haves for kids. One pair in the gloves or mittens and one pair on top of the feet will ensure they never get cold. Just remember that warmers alone will not solve a problem if the above requirements for gear with integrity are not met.
Make sure your kids have snacks loaded in their pockets. Fruit snacks, granola bars, and even candy will prevent the meltdowns we all experience when kids are starving. Skiing is hard, and keeping blood sugar levels in check is very important.
The most likely cause of fatigue is lack of food and water. Hydration is generally the hardest part to keep up with on the slopes for all of us, especially children. Be sure and take the breaks needed to get water — not juice, not milk, but water. All thirsty kids drink water, and every 90 minutes is the best way to keep your kids skiing strong throughout the day.
Many parents also go with hand-me-down goggles and helmets. Goggles are important for your kids, but many parents think that any pair of goggles is good enough. Do your son or daughter a favor and look through the ones you plan for them to use. If you wouldn’t wear the goggles, why would you assume your child can or should? Seeing is the key to balance and timing, and it strengthens awareness of what’s around them. If your kids can’t see, they can’t perform.
Helmets are safer and lighter than ever, and the interior is made of synthetic fibers that allow for moisture to be wicked away. Make sure your kids have a modern helmet instead of the hand-me-down bowling-ball heavyweight.
Hopefully these tips help you and your kids have a great time on your next ski adventure. You can always ask a professional at a gear shop or rental outlet to help give you some pointers. Just remember, the more time you put into making sure that your kids are happy, the more that they’ll grow to love the sport!
About the author: Chad Fleischer is a 10-year veteran of the US Ski Team who lives in Steamboat Springs, CO with his wife and kids. He owns Fleischer Sport, a ski and snowboard rental shop.
Kaylee Nilsen is a freelance writer based out of the ski-friendly state of Colorado.