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22 Mar, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

Introducing kids to downhill skiing

Skiing or snowboarding are great family activities but many parents may not know what is the best age for their kids to learn these sports. So here is a little primer on what, when and how!

What age should my kids start?

This, truly, is a matter of opinion.

Doug Roy, director of Rod Roy Snow School in Pierrefonds, says that while children can start skiing as early as 3, he recommends they be at least 4 – and even then it may be too young. “Some kids that age still have spaghetti legs that just collapse on the skis,” he said.

Roy, whose school starts teaching children at age 6, cautions parents that starting too young or too intensely could turn them off. “It has to be in short doses and parents have to make it a very positive experience,” he said. “It really does depend on the individual child.”

The Canadian Pediatric Society doesn’t offer any age guidelines on when children can start to ski but does caution that among young skiers, almost half of the injuries reported occur among beginners, and this can often happen on the first day of skiing.

Parents can choose to take the kids out themselves – in the beginning, it’s really just about balancing on the skis and having fun in the snow. But if you’re not keen on getting bundled up, or have never skied yourself, most ski hills offer lessons, or you can sign your children up at a school like Rod Roy.

Rod Roy offers a March break program from March 6-9, 2023 for 8-to 15-year-olds.

For more information, visit www.rodroy.com

Should I buy or rent ski equipment?

Roy says that depends on the size of the family. “If you have a few kids, maybe (it’s) better to buy so you can pass down the equipment from one child to the next.”

But there are places that rent out equipment, which may be easier if you have only one child or you have one boy and one girl (your son may not want or appreciate pink hand-me-down skis!)

To get started, kids need skis or a snowboard, boots, bindings, goggles, warm mitts, snow pants and a warm jacket. Helmets, while not mandatory, are highly recommended. “There are specific helmets just for skiing,” Roy says. “It is different than a bike helmet, providing important insulation from the cold.” Bindings should also be checked and properly adjusted. Beginners do not need ski poles.

For snowboarding, the highest reported injuries are wrist fractures and sprains, so the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends wrist guards.

Renting equipment for the season at ski hills will cost about $110 to $160 or there are several stores around the city that will fit the kids and rent out equipment.

Poubelle du ski: 8278 St. Laurent Blvd.,  Montreal, 514-384-1315

Austrian Ski Shop: 5706 Monkland Ave, Montreal, 514-483-3666

Le Ski Shop Laval: 1316 Cure Labelle Blvd., Laval, 450-978-5641

Ski Shop Rive Sud: 4275 Chambly Rd., St. Hubert 450-445-4916

While some stores rent helmets, Paul Brodeur of the Austrian Ski Shop in N.D.G., does not. He says that you never know what has happened to a rented helmet, and once it’s been hit three times, it isn’t safe anymore and should be replaced. A new helmet can cost from $60 to $200.

What hills are good for beginners?

Here are some hills outside of the city that cater to young kids.

Mont Rigaud

This small hill is popular with young families because it is so close to Montreal, especially the West Island. The ski school starts teaching children at 3 years old. Private and group lessons are available. Children also have access to the hill’s “magic carpet”, which takes them just a short distance up the hill. There will also be a March break camp for children 4 and older. Visit ski.montrigaud.com.

Mont Saint Bruno

This South Shore mountain is another favourite of parents of young children because of its location; it is only about a 35-minute drive from Montreal. Private lessons are available as well as group lessons for kids 4 to 12. Visit skisaintbruno.ca.

Les Sommets

Located in the Laurentians, Les Sommets ski hills offer private lessons and group lessons. Visit www.lessommets.com.

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