Why kids ski better than you do

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The family that skis together stays together. Is there any better shared leisure sport than skiing and snowboarding in the great outdoors of Australia and New Zealand? Simply strap on skis and snowboards to your family's feet and create a future of active holiday memories.

Lucky for Australians that the ski fields of Australasia offer ski and snowboard opportunities to keep all members of the family happy from terrain parks, half pipes, groomed runs, off-piste powder, tree skiing, backcountry skiing and even heli skiing to snow tubing, snow shoeing and tobogganing.

But be warned once your kids take up the snow bug they will be skiing and boarding better than you do within moments. There's a reason for that. Actually there are a few.

"Kids ski better than their parents for two main reasons," explains Graeme Thomas, NZ Ski ski instructor at Coronet Peak in New Zealand. "In most cases children have no fear, unlike mum and dad. Kids have a natural 'go for it' attitude and parents book lessons for their children but not themselves.

"Plus it's easier to learn as a child than as an adult because of the lack of fear, because of not worrying about who is watching you or 'what if I fall over?' Kids don't care who is watching them."

Perisher ski school director, Tina Burford, agrees.

"Kids are mostly unaware of consequences and do not draw on past experiences, therefore they are committed to learning without fear which makes learning quicker," says Burford.

"Kids learn by doing and observing, adults on the other hand think about the tasks and consequences before they are able and willing to perform."

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It is not just the mental advantage that today's young skiers and boarders have on their side. Technology has played a big part in getting them on the slopes earlier.

"The biggest positive change in kids' skiing has come from improved equipment," says Klaus Mair Director of Treble Cone Snowsports School.

"Boots that fit and actually flex, skis that have some side cut and let the kids discover the edge and carving early. Clothes that help them be more comfortable and actually allow them to enjoy it has all made it easier."

Like most sports, parents can play a big role in helping or hindering a child's skiing and snowboarding progress. You may think you're creating the next Lindsey Vonn, Torah Bright or Steve Lee but you may be doing anything but.

"Parents that try to save dollars and buy ski boots too big so they last for their kids are only making it harder for them to learn to ski when rental boots are top notch now and new every year," explains Mair.

"Technically the biggest key at the beginning for kids is to find a natural balance on the skis. If they are on a leash or hang on to parents between their legs then this does not happen.

"Kids just learnt how to walk so learning how to balance on skis is a piece of cake. But not if we take them on slopes that are too steep. And that's what many of these devices lead to."

Sending your child down a blue run before they are ready can throw your child into the back seat and create a lifetime of bad technique that has to be rectified later. Bad technique that instructors like Mark McDonald from Falls Creek Snowsports School has to deal with.

"Keep them on long flat runs for as long as possible," says McDonald to pushy parents wanting to boast of their child's progress. "Kids just love to go, they do not need steep hills as this will set on bad habits that can take a long long time to break."

Family skiing should be about fun and snow play not about goal setting and improvement come what may. As Burford says "enjoy the experience as a family but leave the teaching to the professional instructors, you do that every day in school so why not skiing. The most important rule is that it has to be fun from the first experience and the kid's level of enthusiasm is important."

"Skiing within a group of other similar level children such as in a Snowsports School is perfect as they will feed off each other's energy, help each other, be a little competitive perhaps and the fun button is easily pressed," explains Thomas.

So how do you know when to start little mister and miss on the slopes?

McDonald says that "kids should start skiing when they are ready. The easiest way is take them up to have a look at the snow. If they are three years old and start to point at skiers going by it's time."

This article brought to you by SkiMax. For an unbeatable snow experience, let the snowboarding and snow skiing specialists at Skimax help you find the package which best suits your needs. As one of Australia's leading skiing holiday specialists, you'll find a great range of information at skimax.com.au or call 1300 136 997 and one of the team will assist you in planning the perfect adventure.

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