This video was originally posted as a bonus clip for the Coaching Taka series, where you can also find the full-length version.
During our lockdown season 20/21 I did not ski very much, as all hotels had to stay closed and none of my clients could travel. I therefore mainly worked on the Taka Video and coached online. I was very happy that my godchild Marina gave me a good reason to go skiing for two days and the video shows some of the footage that I took then.
As you might know, I always have my GoPro on my pole and document the key moments of all of my lessons. In the evening my students then all get an edit from the day and can do some mental turns over dinner or while dancing on the table at the apres ski.
Needless to say, it was a real pleasure to ski with Marina and great to watch how quickly she adjusted to the new skis. The little progression that you can see on the video is quite typical for a situation like this and not much different to what I would do with an adult (see Coaching Taka). I never have a lesson plan and always base what I do on what I see, but with a child that age on new skis it will most likely always go in this direction.
The key adjustments that I tried to show in the video were:
- Finding the balance fore aft – being more in the middle
- Finding the outside ski – adjusting to the forces working on us going through the turn
While we did make things easier on day one and gave Marina lots of time to find her balance, we then varied the terrain more on day two and looked for further stimuli.
SAFETY: This is definitely the most important element of all! It is easy sometimes to forget about safety when people are having a good time. Sometimes the things that we are used to are a challenge for smaller ones and rules first need to be understood and learned. Make sure to take the time and point out potential hazards and teach them the different rules on the slopes. There is nothing worse than seeing your child get hurt and while this is an obvious thing when we are walking on the street, it is easily forgotten in the fun, holiday environment!
EQUIPMENT: Definitely a huge factor. Here are some guidelines for picking boots:
- Don’t do it yourself! Talk to an expert
- For kids under 14 usually 1,5-1,8cm are added to a normal fit to account for growth which roughly is 1cm per year and will make sure the boot will fit for at least one season. You can take out the liner or the sole/footbed and see if there is more than one thumb width space or not. Thumb width to the edge would be ok, more would be too big,…
- Skis: the length of the skis depends quite a bit on their level. For beginners we would be roughly at chest height, intermediate chin to nose. Make sure that the ski has some sidecut and don’t go too long!
So aim for a boot that will last for one year but not for more. A boot that is more then 1 size too big will make a huge difference for the child and it won’t be able to figure things out the way it should. It will adjust to an unnatural situation and will come up with moves that help compensate that.
As said in the video we so far rented boots every single season. My daughter skies about 15-20 days a winter and renting probably cost the same as buying,… but I could make sure that she had a tight fit without more space then necessary. Also for junior racers 10+ we will go with a correct fit.
How the kids figure it out is quite a miracle and we should just try not to get in the way.
Another popular way to get in the way is to push them into terrain that is too steep for them. This is usually driven by the parents’ ego, who would like to have the black run as their trophy.
The child needs to be in an environment where it dares to do the right thing. As soon as fear plays a role everything will get a lot more complicated. A talented child taken on a run that is too steep will start to power wedge and lean back. To get the kid out of this again will take time,… Every meter skied on a run that is too steep is poison for the kids development. Don’t push it!
Once you have ticked all the boxes, got your ego under control and the kids have understood what they are allowed to do and know what they have to do to be safe then the fun can begin.
Still keep looking over your shoulder more often than usual to see who is approaching from behind. You will sometimes be slower than the rest of the skiers and having kids behind you can feel like driving a slow truck on the german Autobahn. So keep looking over your shoulders and stay away from out of control skiers!
That’s all I can think of for now. 😊
Have fun skiing with your kids and post below if you have any questions!