How to ensure your kids have fun on the mountain

With ample snow and sunshine, the Tahoe Sierra provides the ideal conditions for kids to learn snowsports. | Michelle Allen

Not long after I moved to the Tahoe Sierra, I met my husband Luke who taught me how to snowboard. For many years, snowboarding was a big part of our lives, at work and during our free time. That naturally sparked our desire to explore other snow sports such as snowmobiling and skiing.

Check out what’s new & exciting for 2019-20 winter season

Now we share our passion for snow sports with our son Anikin. When he was age 3, Luke introduced him to skiing and at age 4 we enrolled him in a weekly camp at a local ski resort. Whether you are planning a day of skiing with dad and mom or with a camp lesson, the right preparation can be the key to success. Here are some things that work for my family.

Set the tone
Get children excited about skiing and snowboarding. Show them photos or videos of yourself or other people participating in snow sports. If you ski or ride, tell them what you enjoy about it. Kids of any age can have a hard time getting motivated — at least, that is true for my son — but if you are excited, they might be, too. But be careful not to oversell it or your kid might go into stimulation overload and lose interest.

Kids of any age can have a hard time getting motivated — at least, that is true for my son — but if you are excited, they might be, too.

Pick the right conditions
Avoid taking them during bad weather, especially if they are new to snow sports. If their first experience is during a rainstorm or in below-freezing temperatures, they might not want to go skiing or snowboarding again. Choose a sunny and mild day. Luckily for us, there are lots of those days in the Tahoe Sierra. Children will stay more focused on learning and not on how miserably cold or wet they feel.

For kids learning how to ski or snowboard, the right preparation can help make their experience a great one. | Michelle Allen

Plan for the cold and wet
What your child wears can make the difference between a happy child and a miserable one. Choose synthetic fabrics that are quick drying and wick moisture away from the body. Avoid cotton, which stays wet and traps moisture next to the skin.

Dress your kid in layers — long underwear top and pants or onesie and an insulated and waterproof (not water resistant) outer layer. Add an insulating middle layer in fleece or wool if the temperature is especially cold. Kids often end up with wet gloves even on sunny days so pack an extra pair. Even if your kid is potty trained, pack an extra pair of long underwear. Younger kids sometimes have accidents while riding the chairlift or out on the mountain.

Make good food choices
Hot chocolate is a staple of a young skier’s or riders’ diet but save it for when he needs a break to warm up. Before they hit the trails, feed them foods that will sustain them during outdoor winter exercise for several hours. A snack or meal that includes protein, carbohydrates and fat, like a multigrain bagel with cream cheese or nut butter, will provide the energy needed to keep them going. Avoid sugary foods and drinks. The sugar creates a short spike in energy followed by physical and mental exhaustion.

On-the-mountain snacks are important, too. I stash a granola bar and trail mix in Anikin’s jacket pocket so he can nibble on something between runs. Although high-sugar snacks are not ideal, we sometimes give Anikin a few gummy bears for continued motivation.

Stay positive and encouraging
Let them enjoy their time skiing or snowboarding and avoid pushing them farther than they are ready to go. If they feel like it is a chore or a demand, they will be less likely to stay interested.

Consider enrolling your kid in a few group lessons or a weekly camp program. They will learn the basics of skiing and snowboarding, body awareness and technique.

Anikin has been attending a ski camp for the last three years and has shown dramatic improvement. Most ski resorts offer group lessons and camp programs. Compare prices before you make a reservation and consider the smaller, less popular ski resorts for less expensive options.