Expert tips for getting your kid on the slopes

No matter the age, introducing a child to skiing or snowboarding is a big step. It’s never too early to start—classes are offered to children starting at the age of three—and certainly, it’s never too late. After introducing herself to ski recently, Marie-Claude Perron brings her son to a Maneige event to try snowbording.

The Quebec Ski Hill Association (ASSQ) and Sports Experts give you their tips and tricks, so that just like Marie-Claude, your child’s experience (and yours!) is safe and positive.

Test your child’s interest

The ASSQ, whose mission is to create initiatives to get kids onto skis and snowboards, has created many programs where children can try out skiing (and/or snowboarding) in the company of monitors — and all for free.

This winter, five program sites will be set up in urban parks throughout Quebec and kids between five and eight years old will have access to free equipment and training. Visit maneige.ski to discover sites near you and know the remaining dates. After the activity, each child receives an initiation, including a free group class and equipment, at a ski resort.

If you’re not available during the initiation dates, or if you live too far away from a Maneige Experience location, the bunny slope at a ski resort near you is a great place to start.

Start out slowly

The beginner’s first few slopes should ideally take place within the framework of a class, accompanied by a certified instructor who is trained in introducing kids to the sport. This is the key to starting off on the right foot. These instructors are there to make sure the kids have a positive experience: they respect their pace, make sure the kids have fun, and give them plenty of tricks and tips to learn while staying safe. Which class should they take? Call the ski resort closest to you for a quick, easy suggestion on the best class for your child according to their age and the teaching method you prefer.

We suggest arriving 45 to 60 minutes ahead of your first class so that your child has time to take in the surroundings and be well prepared for the lesson. Be positive and familiarize your child with the slopes by pointing out people skiing or snowboarding and noting the layout of the resort.

Provide adequate equipment for your child

If you want to ski once or twice a year with your child, you can rent skis or snowboards at the ski resort. Most ski resorts offer class and rental packages. If you plan on going more often, it’s more affordable to buy the equipment rather than renting it, especially if you do so through Sports Experts’ buy-rebuy program.

When purchasing the equipment, the most important thing to check is size. In-store sales assistants are trained to help you, but there are a few basic rules that are good to keep in mind.

Ski and snowboard size

The tips of the skis should come to the eyes or forehead, and the height of the snowboard should be around the mouth or nose. If your child is starting out young, consider going shorter (between the mouth and chin), as this makes the skis or board easier to maneuver.

If your child is under six or seven, poles are optional—they’ll get in the way more than anything else. To find the right length, place the pole upside-down and have your child hold it beneath the basket—the forearm should be parallel with the ground and the elbow should remain at a 90-degree angle.

Boots and socks

It’s important to select boots that are not too big, because you’ll end up compensating by tying them too tightly, which cuts circulation to the feet and prevents them from staying warm.

To choose the right boot size, remove the sole and ask your child to line up their heel with the back of the sole while remaining upright. There should be about one centimeter of free space in front of the foot, as the child is still growing.

Avoid multiple pairs of sock, as they will retain humidity. Instead, choose a pair made of synthetic fiber that reaches up to the knees. Pro tip: keep the socks off until you’ve reached the mountain.

Ski helmet and goggles

The important criteria to consider for the helmet and goggles is comfort—so you’ll have to try on a few models to make the right choice. Make sure to choose a helmet first, then check that the goggles can be adjusted correctly to the face and nose.

Clothing and snowsuits

Select clothing that is sufficiently warm, well insulated, breathable and waterproof. Ideally, dress your kid in layers and avoid cotton, or they will be drenched in sweat in no time.

Have a great season!

Check out Marie-Claude during her son's Maneige class

Tips : The junior alpine ski exchange program

The Junior Alpine Ski Exchange Program is applicable only to the Sports Experts® location where the equipment was purchased and upon presentation of the pamphlet and your invoice. Here is how the program works;

  • Buy junior alpine ski equipment (skis, bindings and/or boots) at Sports Experts®.
  • Use it for the whole season and bring it back in good condition by the following fall (within one year of purchase) and we will give you a credit of 50% of the total value of your equipment (excluding taxes and installation).
  • Use it for two seasons and bring it back in good condition by the next fall (within two years of purchase) and we will give you a credit of 25% of the total value of your equipment (excluding taxes and installation).
  • The credit is applicable on your next purchase of selected junior alpine ski equipment (skis, bindings and/or boots) at Sports Experts®.