Learning downhill skiing with kids

Our kids have been skiing for as long as I can remember, and learning how to race them was a great way to bring those two passions together. Our family went on a course to learn downhill racing last fall and our only lesson that day was to ski with a team to earn points. We skied the Schiller Trail out of Monomoy State Park in Maine and then sped down Ste. Anne’s Light Trail. From there, it’s a steep drop-off for one descent down to Land’s End. Even though I’m well-known for my skiing, it didn’t matter much. My kid dared to ski faster than me, even though my daughter and his brother were keeping him on the correct lines. My son kept right on hiking, sometimes sliding on the snow. The adults skied together, occasionally “crashing” into each other while we were trying to do what was best for the team.

The Schiller Trail series can be taken on by any young skier, age six and up, so our team was younger than usual. My son, 8, and his brother, 7, had been skiing every day, but this was the first day they skied alone. While they spent most of the session on the trails that take your car down to the town of Monomoy, they got a chance to drive a school bus and attend the hockey games in Hammond, where we lived. That night, they also met me for our short drive to Lake Nisbet which we ski each spring to add some fun to the winter season.

I was somewhat worried about the terrain and thought that it would be a good opportunity to watch my son struggling, but he pulled through. He crashed on the first hill and slid across the snow for a good few seconds. Thankfully he pulled himself up and recovered well to continue on. That’s the nature of skiing with a team—when everyone crashes, you laugh about it and bounce back.

My son and daughter were great competitors and we had a great time. The only time the slope became challenging for them was at a skinny 20mph mark. The rest of the time, they were racing back and forth on the way down, and stopping to relish what they had accomplished in the moment. These two kids keep reminding me just how much they have learned to ski, especially the navigation skills and patience.

Our plan was to do the five- to six-mile course one time and then all go our separate ways. We went down one second time and decided to do it all again next year. I love my kids skiing—it’s an amazing way to teach and teach your children to be independent and also to enjoy the company of other skiers and the freedom they feel being up on a mountain and exploring a new adventure.

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