Expert in all things frozen, Graham Bell started skiing from age five in Scotland, and introduced his own children to the snow very early, at just two years old.
“Ski schools in France are offered to children from five years old, and ski schools in Austria are from four years old.” says Graham. “Luxury all-inclusive holiday company Club Med offers the opportunity for children to start skiing from three years old.”
“I would encourage children to get on the slopes at a young age. This very much depends on the child though when leaving them in a ski school, if the child doesn’t mind being left alone and they tend to get on with other children then I recommend leaving them.”
Skiing as a family for the first time
Skiing as a family and taking the little ones for the first time can be a daunting experience as there are so many things to consider. I’ve pulled together some top tips to help you decide on a resort that works for all the family. Younger children only tend to ski in the morning much of the time and want to do something different in the evening. That’s why choosing a resort that offers activities for children to do is really important.
1: Choose a family-friendly resort that has a good selection of nursery slopes available – some resorts don’t have these, and you don’t really want to be teaching your kids to ski for the first time on a busy run with other skiers whizzing by.
2: Consider your kids ability and what size of resort is suitable for their level. You don’t want them heading across the mountain and ending up in another country – which is possible in a number of resorts!
3: Ensure that the hotel / resort you are staying in is easily accessible to the slopes. If not, you’ll have to carry all the family’s equipment to and from the hotel and the pistes. Lugging your own skis and poles, as well as the children’s kit onto, and then off, a local bus is not fun. Many of the Club Med resorts are ski in and ski out, so families won’t have this problem.
4: It’s very difficult to teach your own children to ski – even if you are a very capable skier. Kids tend to be more receptive to someone else teaching them so put them in a reputable ski school. Club Med has exclusive partnerships with national ski schools (Italy National Ski School, French National Ski School and Swiss National Ski School) which means your children can keep progressing to even greater thrills in complete safety.
5: Make sure the resort is somewhere that as a nice progression from the nursery slopes to gentle green runs.
6: I have a saying – ‘There’s no shame in the download’ which means that you shouldn’t be afraid of getting the last lift to your hotel, instead of skiing down at the end of the day – when everyone is tired and the snow is getting slushy. This is the time when most falls and injuries occur.
7: Don’t give young kids ski poles. They don’t need them, they’ll probably lose them and when learning, the poles will just be a distraction to learning technique with the skis.
Graham Bell is a Club Med ambassador