Ever pass a parent on the bunny hill and wonder, “What on earth is hooked to their child’s skis?!” Nowadays, there are nearly as many variations of teaching a kid to ski as there are ski resorts in North America. And the same goes for gadgets that will help your kids grasp ski basics.
Years of working with different kids in various stages of learning has shown me one thing—what works for one might not work for another. As parents we need to be creative and flexible in assessing the needs of our kids.
Below is the breakdown of four popular ski “gadgets” that can help teach your kids to ski this season:
1. Edgie Wedgie
The Edgie Wedgie is basically a rubber tube with clips at either end. The device is used to clip the tips of your child’s skis together.
Why: The Edgie Wedgie is an invaluable device when it comes to helping a kid learn to wedge and stop. It can be difficult to explain to a child the mechanics and position needed for ski control. Rather, it is helpful to have them feel the sensation and that is where the Edgie Wedgie comes in.
Simply instruct the kid to “make wide feet” and the Edgie helps them form a wedge.
Why not: As soon as your child is wedging and stopping on their own, remove the device. The Edgie Wedge makes it difficult to shuffle the skis, side step, or get up after a fall. Remove as soon as possible.
2. Ski Harness
There are many ski harnesses such as the Lucky Bums Ski Trainer or the Lil’ Ripper Gripper Harness. I’ve seen many parents use a full body harnesses designed for rock climbing as well.
Why: The Ski harness can help control a child’s speed and may also aid in teaching a child to turn. While I do not promote the widespread use of a ski harness, it can be useful in some situations. Our youngest child used one and we found it very helpful as we attempted to manage three kids on the bunny hill.
Many harnesses come with a handle that sits between the child’s shoulder blades, making picking up the child and helping them get on the chair lift MUCH easier.
Why not: Can I say, “Clothesline effect?!”
Also, the child will often learn to rely on the harness to control their speed and this could slow the learning process in regards to wedging and stopping, the bread and butter of learning to ski.
Ski harnesses also apply a backward pull on the child, inevitable placing the kid in the “backseat,” a habit that it is best to avoid.
3. Hula Hoop
A simple hula hoop (child toy) is placed between the adult and the child.
Why: The hula hoop can be used as a stabilizing device, either side-by-side or front-to-back. Like a ski harness it can be used to control speed by placing the child in the inside of the hoop while the parent holds on to the back.
Why not: Carrying and managing a hula hoop, especially when riding a chair lift, can be a handful.
4. Bamboo post or ski pole
A bamboo post or ski pole can be used in a variety of ways, but the side-by-side “old school” way to teaching a kid to ski is perhaps my favorite.
Why: Provides stability. Helps a child get the feel of turning while controlling a child’s speed. Using the poles while side-by-side with the child helps them get in a correct ski stance: hands forward, knees bent and weight forward.
This is a great way to teach a child to shift their weight between feet and eventually turn.
Using your ski pole has the added benefit of not requiring the parent to carry gear they would not otherwise bring.
Why not: Some children struggle not to hang off the pole or drape themselves over it. In this instance, I’d remove the poles if verbal reminders aren’t working.
We hope this helps you get out with your kids this winter. See you on the slopes!