It is now becoming more common to see children on snowboards, but how does it work when you have children who ski and snowboard in one family? Are there differences in how you cope and how you work as a family? As a snowboarder it would be great if my daughter shared my passion for one plank, but do I encourage her to snowboard or just be content that she likes time on the snow? My cousin, Annick, lives in Canada and has two boys, Ethan aged ten and Koen aged eight. Ethan skis and Koen snowboards, so what are her experiences and what advice does she have for parents?
Where do you take your family skiing and snowboarding and what made you choose this destination?
We take our family to Silver Star Mountain every year. Silver Star is just 30 minutes from Vernon in British Columbia and is about a six hour drive east over the Rocky mountains from Vancouver. We choose Silver Star because of the type of snow, the family atmosphere and the variety of runs. There is something for everyone from beginner to expert level. It is a great place for families and has a small town feel with beautiful, colourful chalets. Other amenities such as a Tube Town, which is like toboganning with inner tubes, is included with your ski pass. There is an outdoor ice rink for skating and playing ice hockey which is always very popular in Canada. You can also snowshoe and cross-country ski. For more information on Silver Star Mountain checkout their website. www.skisilverstar.com.
How did your youngest child start to snowboard?
Koen started snowboarding last winter when he turned eight years old. He started as a skier when he was four and was getting bored. He had his first snowboarding lesson when the mountain was quiet, so he received one on one instruction. The first day was on the ‘bunny’ hill with the magic carpet. The second day, he went on the ski lifts; every time he bailed at the top and had to have the lift stop so he could get safely out of the way.
What are the challenges of being a parent of a snowboarding child?
The challenges would be the same for that as a skier, but I am not able to help him learn how to snowboard as I ski. Also, getting off the ski lifts, you really have to be mindful of which side you are on, so you give the snowboarder more room to unload. Needless to say, my first ride up the lift with Koen, I ended up tangled in his snowboard and fell backwards and got stuck: Koen just rolled over with his board and was fine! Another challenge is that we are limited to the runs we can take, so my husband and I take turns staying with Koen on the smaller runs so he can practice.
Are they different from those of a child who skis?
I don’t think child snowboarders are too much different from a child who skis except that if a snowboarder gets stuck on a flat stretch of snow, they have to take their board off and walk or usually get a skier to pull them with their poles.
What are the best things about having both a skiing and snowboarding child in the family?
Diversity and personality! I think it is wonderful to have differences in a family so when Koen decided to snowboard, outside of our skiing family, we supported him wholeheartedly in his decision. I love to see Ethan and Koen’s personality come through their skiing and snowboarding.
“What advice do you have for parents who have a child who wants to snowboard?”
Do your research first. Every child learns differently. It is not easy for a child to re-learn another sport, but if a child is determined and willing and has the patience then, as a parent, you commit yourself 100% for whatever comes your way. For Koen, I had to ask him and remind him that if you want to learn to snowboard, you will have to be patient with yourself. As a parent, you also have to be patient with the emotional side of learning a new sport. You can tell if they pick up the sport very quickly: for Koen, he already knew how to ski and has a skateboard and scooter at home and is quite good at those sports. As a parent, I knew that Koen was up for the challenge to learn to snowboard. Even after the first day of falling most of the time Koen, with an exhausted smile, was still eager to learn the next day. That told me right there that his mind was already made up.
A huge thank you Annick for your insight into having both a skiing and snowboarding child: a special mummysnowboarder t-shirt will be winging its way across the Pond to you as soon as the manufacturing process is complete! For myself, as a parent of a skiing child who has shown some interest in snowboarding, I think I had better be happy that she shares the slopes with me. At the moment she does not have that burning desire that Koen has shown. However, if that spark of interest burns more brightly I shall be there waiting to help and guide her reminding myself of the patience which is needed by parent and child.