I wanted to reply to your original message but hadn't the time. I've been
grappling with my headspace about getting my own kids skiing. Over the last
5 years of going to as many Jackrabbit sessions as I can, I still make
mistakes, but have learned a lot of tips, some of which may help you.
(I apologize for the overly aggressive "know it all" tone here - I just
don't have a lot of time at the moment to word this correctly. As well,
after re-reading this, it's obvious that much of this you have already found
out. But I still want to post it as I somehow need to get it 'down on
First, the headspace. Parents just cannot ski like we did BK. If the kid
is small, we might get an odd 30 km in with the kid in a good PULK (or a
bike carrier mounted on skis). But once the kid is 4 or 5, he or she won't
be too patient or will want to ski herself. The PULK is then a support
vehicle for emergencies.
(For the group, DO NOT use a SNUGGLY or chest mounted baby carrier. You
WILL fall and crush the kid. I have serious doubts about kid backpacks as
they raise the parent's center of gravity and have the terrible risk of
flinging the kid out during a fall. Buy or make a PULK.)
Second, find a Jackrabbits or Bill Koch group and become a super active
parent or leader yourself. The word, in every country world wide, and for
any kid sport, is FUN, FUN, FUN.
Often I find that a Jackrabbit kid who says he or she is cold is really
saying that I'm a poor leader - and I know at the time it's true. If the
program lags, or the kids are not ready for a 'tour', then their first
complaint is often "I'm cold". Once that happens, (assuming the kid is
dressed well) the leader has one or two chaces to up the ante by getting
into a fun game or activity right away. But if it doesn't work, it's
quitting time - tears will follow quickly.
Games, relays, songs, exercises, goofing around - whatever. Parents can
create this atmosphere with their family - but chances are better for fun
when there's a group of kids.
Third, can the gloves ( as "7.... of skis" said) - period. Gloves inside
mitts have never worked up here in Winnipeg (read -20 to -30 C). Leather
work mitts over top of liner thick fleece or wool mitts work. Fleece lined
nylon mitts (ie. REI) are not bad, but my kids still find them inadequate
for the really cold days.
Fourth, can the HOT SHOTS or chemical warmer packages. They don't even work
Fifth, can the POLES. Kids like poles because they see their parents using
them. SO GET RID OF YOUR POLES, TOO. Or at least start with them and get
rid of them 5 minutes later.
One of our best local skiers, Swedish decent I believe, did not have poles
until age 13!
Sixth, forget the big trips - one hour drive max. Take off mitts and boots
in the car as they get wet with condensation. Significant experiences with
your kids can and will occur on the local golf course or school yard - as
long as the kids have FUN. After several (ie a whole season) of these
outings, then go a little farther afield.
Seventh, time on snow with skis is max one hour for 4 and under. Maybe 75
minutes if the 5 year old bonds with the Jackrabbit leader. Even so, we had
to work up to one hour over at least one season.
Eighth, a fun, warm up chalet is a must. A car alone just doesn't cut it
with kids, or with parents as the kids go wild - they need somewhere else to
go and eat and play (usually while the parents trade off for a 30 to 45
minute boot around the trails.)
Ninth, can the long skis - up to the kids head at max, probably to her nose
is better. This means buy PELTONEN SNOW PARTY or KAHRU TRAC. (There's a
decent thread with sites mentioned on this two or three weeks ago - "KAHRU &
KIDS" - do a power search a deja.com). The kids may only use these skis for
half a season - but it's worth it. After picking up numerous kids (even
after the regular session opener of fall down/get up the kids get tired and
start being floppy) I'm convinced that the downhill rule - "Shorter is
better" - should apply to cross country kids.
If you must use 75mm, then always cover the ski boots with old wool socks
with a hole in the toe (For leaders, my kids loved seeing me, one super
cold night, take off my street boots, put talc on my feet, take out old wool
socks, cut holes in the toes and put them OVER the ski boots. At -20, 1800
chill, this made a great 'inside program').
The ski saying here is "if your feet are cold, put on a toque". A thicker
or dry toque may be needed (with ear flaps). That may apply to hands too.
Tenth, watch the humidity. In this freaky winter, we made the mistake of
not putting our 5 year old in his "puffy suit" and just using fleece with
nylon overpants. The humidity and wind made him cold although the
temperature reading was quite high.
Finally, we've all seen or been in the worst case scenarios - being far from
the club house, with some obstacles or hills in the way, and the kid crying
his or her eyes out.
The stupid thing to do here is to say "Don't be a wuss" to the kid, or some
other ridiculous, egotistical statement. (Yes, I've too often heard this on
the trails, which makes me wonder whether skiing is becoming more like
hockey every year).
The smart thing to do here is to whip out some food, solve the cold problem,
provide calm, encouraging words, and head for home (even by walking for
awhile - also this is where the PULK can be a life saver!)
I used to laugh at a friend who was showing me the ropes when I first
started Jackrabbits leading. He carried a leather bum bag bigger than my gym
bag. In it, he had spare toques, neck warmers, mitts, granola bars, etc.
And the stuff got used nearly every session. What a hero he was to the
kids! What a dolt I was when my kids were bonking, eating snow, and I had
no food nor water for them (again, fortunately we were close to home and had
Anyhow, thanks for listening, and good luck.
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 14:07:56 -0700
Subject: Re: cold thumb and a hard first outing
>A number of things to do/try.
>First, make sure she has had a good meal, including some longer burning
>proteins before going out.
I had them eat as many PB crackers as they could about 30 minutes before we
started out, but that was already late in the morning, and they didn't eat
as many I was hoping. Next time I'll make it pepperoni--she loves the
>You mentioned she was cold at the start - that is hard to overcome,
>particularly, as you noted, she was not doing a lot of work learing and
>was not going to generate heat or not much heat after the start.
I think this is what really did us in. Can't remember if I mentioned that
through either e***ment or nervousness she got out of the car without her
mittens on, so we really started out at a disadvantage. At least she has
some basis for having fun in cold weather before this. We took them to a
10,000 ft. pass for sledding a few weeks earlier and they had a great
time. And weren't cold! Plus they're always outside whenever it snows
down here (Fort Collins, CO).
>I would ditch any "glove" liners and use only another mitten for a
>liner. I have been a mitten advocate for many years. Having each
>finger in close proximity to others helps share the heat. Actually,
>after a chilling lunch stop, I may actually shift my thumb out of the
>mitten thumb pocket and kind of wrap my warmer fingers around it - makes
>for awkward poling for a while (and probably harder for small
>fingers/hands) but generally helps the thumb warm.
Will keep this one in mind.
>Then there are windmills - place the arms at the side and then start
>rotating up over the head and then back down by rotating the arms.
>Don't throw out the shoulders though. Rapid windmills can drive ***
>to the hands and fingers.
This is one of my favorite quick hand warm ups. She tried some with
limited success, but probably not fast enough, as they made her lose her
>And then there is the old - hands in the arm pits which are generally
Ha ha! Another standby of my family. I can remember my mom holding my
sister's frozen feet under her arms after one XC trip when she (sister) was
about 5-6 years old. And that's exactly what I did with my daugher's hands
when we got to the warming hut for lunch. Warmed her up in less than 5
minutes, but by that point she'd had enough skiing for one day.
>All kinds of tricks.
>I hope it all works out - great activity to learn young. Wish my
>parents had take me skiing WAY BACK WHEN! (G) But I guess I have seen
>some miserable children and parents out there NOT enjoying it at all -
>too much pressure.
Yeah, as much as I wanted to go out and do some more that day, I figured my
chances of taking her out many more times in the future would be greater if
we said "We'll try again another day." So on the next weekend with temps
at least in the high 20's, you know where we'll be!
Thanks again for all of your pointers.
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