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how young to start snowboarding


jonah5
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Just wondering what's the youngest you would all suggest to start snowboarding? My son will be 4 1/2 by this winter and want to get him on the snow. I'd heard before that kids shouldn't start til they're 8 or so because of balance problems...it's easier to stay upright on skis. Naturally, I'd rather him on a board since I'm a boarder also (hard boots, of course). Any advice or personal experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!:) :)

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My suggestion would be to put him on a snowboard when HE wants to. I'm not sure it is good to force a young child to start snowboarding this young. Snowboarding, as much as I like it, is not natural (balance wise). If he has no interest for starting snowboarding, he's not necessarely going to like it and put any effort into it. Show him pictures or videos and wait for him to ask. Same goes for cycling in my opinion.

I started when I was 15 because I was interested. I never skied before. Same for cycling (I even learned myself without any one, never even had any training wheels), but not at the same age, much, much younger.

As for my girlfirend, she started skiing at 7 because she was seeing her sister do it and wanted to do the same.

Derf

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Guest thomas_m

Just answered this same question on the snowboarding newsgroup too.

We started the whole family (me included) last year. None of us had any background in snowsports at all. I did have a surf/skate background so was able to get up to speed reasonably fast. My wife had more trouble but mostly from fear of speed. My kids took to it immediately with their own respective styles.

Aika(girl, age 9) was a 'turner' from the start, first doing the falling leaf then the Norm(ish) back and forth.

Angus (age 6) wants to fly straight down the hill and then hockeystop, then repeat. He had more trouble with the upper thigh strength which I think might have influenced his wanting to go straight. Plus, he's just naturally a fearless, speed junkie. He's already talking about the terrain park this year since "I'm 7 now...".

Same as any other kid sport - if they're having fun, let 'em enjoy. Make sure they(and you) are wearing helmets. An intro lesson from a pro is a good idea too. They are probably less likely to get frustrated with a 'Teacher' than with Mom & Dad.

Here's my future carver Angus on his Salomon 105cm:

http://www.crowmountain.net/Temp/HoodTrip/004.html

Thomas

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Guest Vailrider
Originally posted by jonah5

Just wondering what's the youngest you would all suggest to start snowboarding? My son will be 4 1/2 by this winter and want to get him on the snow. I'd heard before that kids shouldn't start til they're 8 or so because of balance problems...it's easier to stay upright on skis. Naturally, I'd rather him on a board since I'm a boarder also (hard boots, of course). Any advice or personal experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!:) :)

The first time my daughter asked to try to snowboard was at age 4. Her birthday is in early November and I think it was March when we went out. We did a little sliding around in the flats and some small rollers. Now I should probably tell you her first day on skis was in March of the year she turned 1. She was 16 months. By age four she could ski all greens and some blues at Beaver Creek. But at age 4, on the board she just didn't have the strength needed to get on the edge. I'll never forget, she told me she liked skiing more because the boots were more comfortable. So winter 5 we just skied. Winter 6 she asked to snowboard again. So we tried again. This time she could sideslip the steeper parts in the beginner area and started making turns in the flats that afternoon. Last year was age 7. She is turning all the way down the chair 5 green runs on the top of BC. The way I got her to start her toe turns was by telling her the boy that she liked couldn't make turns on his toe edge.

So I would have to agree that going when asked is the time to go. Don't bite off too much to start. Being a boy he may last longer, but I think about an hour was all my daughter could handle at the beginning. I was lucky being that I work at Vail and could grab rental stuff for free. I would also encourage you to get him out skiing more and more of the mountain. It will only help him to be more comfortable with the mountain environment when he can start to get out on more of the hill on his board.

Good Luck

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Guest Randy S.

I tend to agree with most of the comments above. Both my kids started skiing first. Around age 2-3. They got to be decent skiers and both wanted to try snowbaording at age 6 or 7. Neither was able to do it, nor did they like it the first season they tried. I'd say 7 or 8 is a good age, depending on how strong they are. The combination of balance and strength are important for them to enjoy snowboarding. You don't need as much balance nor strength to ski comfortably. If they want to try, let them. Just don't do what I did the first time and run out and buy equipment the first year they "say" they want to snowboard. Rental gear is OK. My son is about to turn 10 and now he loves his Raichle Hard boots and little 135 carving board.

Oh, and at first, its OK to use ski boots and little Jr. Nidecker bindings (like Fin sells) on a snowboard. They're little ski boots are plenty flexy for them, and they'll like the fact that they are in hard boots like dad.

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my suggestion is this, start your kid on skis, and then get him into snowboarding. skiing is a way easier way to learn the basics on the snow, and you can start way younger because there isn't really that huge of a balance issue. so when you get him on a snowboard, he'll pick it up way faster. i'm kind of using myself as an example here, i started skiing when i was two and a half, and picked up snowboarding i think when i was around 10 years old, but it only took me a few days on the snow to learn the basics, and now i switch back and forth all the time because they are both fun sports and there are advantages of one or the other on certain occasions.

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I agree with Knoch. My son is just over three and we started him on the little plastic strap on skis when he was 15 months old. we put them on in the house and he loved walking around the hard-woods making lots of noise and the production of it all. there were no surprises when we went to the mountains. We were able to use the magic carpet and get him used to being on the snow. he now has some real skis that he likes alot. he wont even go near the magic carpet because the big boys go on the chair. we were in SV last spring and spent a few days on Dollar where he loved being on the chairlift. In fact, that is his main motivation on the hill, riding the chair. We use a harness to control his speed and turns and he is already making some controlled turns on his own. the down side to the harness for me is being on a board. My wife does most of the runs with him on the harness. I found it difficult (but by no means impossible) to help him on the chair (a slow double) but an alpine set-up made it easier.

The other side of the coin is my nephew, who is a very athletic 6 year old who started on a board when he was 4. A considerable amout of time was spent with him taking lessons and having a hard time gaining his balance. he has progressed very well but it is almost like he is not heavy enough to get a decent edge. I'm sure he will do better this year but my fear would be that he may become frustrated and give it up alltogether.

The main emphasis with my oldest son has always been for him to have fun. He was good for about an hour of skiing and after that it was for the birds and time to make snow forts. What that means for me is that I have no expectations of being on the hill for any length of time when he and I go to the mountain. We will get him in lessons when he is ready (41/2 sounds like a good time to start). When (if) he decides he wants to ride a board we will go from there.

Good luck. I'm curious to hear the results.

:D

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Guest AlpentalRider

this is all pretty interesting. My daughter who is 5 wants to go up with me this year and learn to snowboard. My 3 year old son also wants to do it because he sees dad's infatuation with boarding lol. And my wife has finally decided she is gonna learn this year as well.

I'm a little worried having my kids try it becuase I've also heard that kids aren't developed enough until around 8 years old to do it. Yet I have seen and heard of several kids who started between the ages of 2-4 who are really good riders now (they are now between 6-10).

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i personally disagree with the harness method, not because i think it doesn't work, but instead because i know it can be done without, and that method of teaching just seems cruel to me.

If your definition of cruel means that he loves it than I would say you are correct. Otherwise you might want to consider another choice of words before somebody takes offense and questions your parenting background.

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I started my daughter at 26 months, with a nidecker 90 cm (i think) and nidecker plate bindings. I rented ski boots at the hill since her feet were going to grow and I thought the hard boots would get her used to ski boots should she not like snowboarding, plus give her some leverage when turning. She was only really on the board for 1-2 hours and then she was done. In that period I put up little cones for her to go toward. Under each I put a piece of candy of some kind to motivate her to steer the board in that direction. It worked great in my experience. She's now 4 and was beginning to link turns at the end of last season and is talking already of snow and being able to board again. If any of you have other ideas for making it "fun" I'd definitely like more as my son is going to probably start in 2006. I got the idea for the cone/candy from a soccer coach and it really did work well.

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My son started snowboarding at the age of 6. He had been skiing since 3, but wanted to try boarding from about age 5 on. He started out on a freeride board, but made the switch to an Alpine set-up midway between his second season. This will be his second season on his Alpine gear and he's doing great. I started him out on a used Rossi Accellorator 136cm with Burton carrier bindings and a pair of his sisters old ski boots. This worked fine to get him use to the "hard boot" style of boarding. He now has a new Burton FP 135cm with F2 step-ins and Raichle 225's. He can turn both ways and actually laid some tiny little arcs in the snow this last season. IMHO you should try what ever you feel comfortable with. You know your childs abilities/limits and are the best judge at this point as to what they can/can't handle. I'm very proud of Zach and you can't slap the smile off of my face as I watch him gliding down the slopes cutting back and forth on his Alpine rig:D He was also a "straight down" type freeboarder with no fear what so ever. This was another reason I got him on an Alpine set-up as soon as I could. Either way be patient and remember how little they really are,

Good luck,

Paul

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HEy all,

I've been instructing for 13 years now and have had a lot of lessons with all types and ages. Most of the problems kids have do indeed stem form balance and strength issues. I child's head accounts for about 1/3 their body weight when they are really young(like 3 or 4) and adding a helmet makes it even heavier. this causes them to push their weight wherever their head is going. For instance, if they stare at the ground it moves their center of gravity infront and down. On skis this is not a really big deal as they can still turn and if in a wedge actually pressures the tips of the skis making it easier to stop as well. On a board it puts that weight right over the edge causing a slam, or a lot of work balancing on that edge. It is also much easier to balance on skis because it doesn't take as much strength to stand on skis and use 2 edges on the side as it does to balance or pressure the one long edge on a snowboard.

My son started on skis last winter at 23 months and loved it for about an hour at a time. This year we're going to work on turning and stopping and rules of the hill. When he asks me to try a board we will, but I don't expect him to do well on it until he's a little older. It all varies among kids, but in general I've noticed that 5-6 is about the age when they can start to balance on a board and actually learn how to do it.

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Guest thomas_m
Originally posted by P06781

Hey what size board would you get for 6yo girl ? Our Gart sports has lots new old boards for $59-79.... 115 or 121 or what ? My daughter is tall for her age.:D :D

JIM

We sized our kids the same as normal for softboots boards. Length somewhere around nose to chin high. For Angus(6yrs) that was a 105cm. My daughter who was 9 used a 124cm. This year she already has moved to a 135ish. Kind boards in a given length with have more flex and narrower widths for little bodies/feet.

We made sure to get unisex sorts of graphic so we do the hand me down between them.

The online shop "The House" has a ton of kids boards in all sizes for only a bit more than you note above.

Thomas

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I understand the unisex idea, but I have 2 girls and the hardest part has been finding something with that femine touch. Most of the boards Gart has are he-manish except a last years burton made for girls at $160. They also have a couple oxygen protons that are 134 and 149 in length.(priced very cheap at $55 and $39) I might just pick these up cause the price is so low ?

I think the House has 2 stores, one in Hood River and one in Minnepolis (used to live there) . I will have to check them out ...

Thanks, JIM

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thanks. Sorry if it was a little snippy but there was a little hard to convey tongue in cheek. He responds to it well I believe. He thinks the Harness is like a rescue harness and he thinks its cool. Now on the other hand, I do not believe in putting a kid in one of those containment harnesses that you see in public areas wher the parent has the kid on a string. Not cool IMO.

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My daughter started SB'ing around age 11, one boy at 10 and another at 9. Both of my boys preferred to ski when they were younger. But as they get older...they are all drawn to snowboarding.

A friend of mine started his boy and girl at age 5 and both of them rip on snowboards.

Hugh

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My oldest daughter started skiing at 3 and snowboarding at 6. My son started skiing last year at 2 and will try riding this year. Both Chris (at Donek) and I have 3 year olds that are going to be starting out this year. (:D Prototype testing for a future children's line :D) The difference though is that both (at least mine for sure) have been exposed to board sports since the beginning. First Christmas=First Skateboard at our house. Since there are skateboards, surfboards, and snowboards EVERYWHERE you can see why they wouldn't want to spend much time on skis (they're hidden in the closet). To get my son ready for winter I took an old POS skateboard and mounted bindings to it.

http://home.comcast.net/~doneknorthwest/index.htm

I'm also an instructor (on top of everything else) and I have to agree with Strider. Balance and strength issues are the biggest issues with kids along with attention issues. Starting out an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon is about all they can take. Back to the original question from Jonah I would start them on skis if they're under 7 especially if they don't do other board sports. If they start out skiing at least then they can develop strength, balance, edge skills, and most importantly a love for snow sports.

________

Subaru Tribeca Specifications

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to all your responses and suggestions! I went ahead and bought my son a pair of used ski boots (which I've got him used to wearing around the house), as well as a pair of snowblades (as suggested by a couple ski instructors I know) because they're lighter and more maneuverable. My goal is for him to have fun on the snow, whether or not he's on a board-I'm sure that will come in due time, since my wife also snowboards and he'll get the exposure...in the meantime, I'll have to keep my eyes out for smaller sized carving equipment!:) :)

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