When to get your kids out on the slopes

A bit much? Maybe, but our doctor at the time was a skier and understood our fanatic behavior. The two older boys switched to snowboarding a few years ago and Anthony will go to the "dark side" as soon as we let him. Having done some ski instructing in the past, I felt comfortable getting all three started on skis. When it came to snowboarding however, I felt it best to hire a professional, which I think paid off in the long run.

Beartown and Pisgah are fun, affordable and friendly places to introduce youngsters to either sport. Titus was wise to install a gentle chairlift on their beginner hill and Whiteface has dedicated a whole campus to kids. If you choose to teach them yourself, there are some useful tools to help. The tip connector is basically a small bungee cord that clips on to both tips to encourage the wedge turn. This is handy, although, some modern teaching techniques do not encourage the "snowplow" anymore.

Another handy tool is a small backpack or fanny pack worn by the child with straps attached. This allows the parent to follow behind, holding the reins, while controlling speed and direction. It saves your back and it is one of the few applications where leashing your child or driving them like livestock is acceptable, even celebrated.

Get them out there at an early age. You won't regret it and someday, if you are patient, they'll thank you for it.

John Bernardi is an avid lifelong skier and freelance writer. He resides in Saranac with his wife, Karen, and their three sons. He may be contacted via e-mail at john @slopesider.net or through his Web site, www.slopesider.net.

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