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Canada Ski Schools - 3.5 year olds

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Fest_mkiv, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    Hi Ski.com forums, it's been a long time.

    I'm finally planning my first trip to Canada and I'm interested if anyone has any feedback on ski school for kids aged 3-4? It looks like it's only really available at Banff Sunshine (late drop off), Whistler or Big White - of those three I'm leaning towards Big White.
    Has anyone had kids that age attend ski school in Canada? How good is the program and what are are the prices like? Looks like they haven't been finalised for 2020 yet.
    I don't want to wait another year for my youngest to be 4.5... but I don't want him having a shit time either!
     
  2. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us

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    Had a four year old at big white, (along with her 5 and 6 year old brothers)- ski school was fantastic. Long enough lessons to maintain concentration, broken by runs through trees, ‘bumpy alleys’ etc for fun. All age appropriate. Frequent stops into the centre for hot chocolate and a good break at lunch.
    That was five years back and we have not been back to BW since (going there this new year) so I can’t speak for now but it was the best little kid instruction we’ve had and we’ve been to SP twice and Snowmass since then. From what I’ve seen, the ski school still wins awards so I don’t think that it has changed much.
     
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  3. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    That's good info, thanks for sharing it!
     
  4. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Longish exposure to skiing like an all day program that can offer frequent outdoor forays is the best approach for little ones. I taught full time for many years and did my share of lessons with small kids. My rule of thumb is almost 100% of 5 year old first timers will figure it out and be skiing independently on the first day. That figure drops to about 50% for 4 year olds and maybe 20% for 3 year olds.

    The biggest factor for success is not physical but emotional: independence and determination; ie, the few 3 yr olds who are tough and can handle a knock or two and keep trying after initial failure are the ones who will be braking and turning by the end of the first day. Five year olds almost all have that capability because of experience and better language skills.

    Adding to that human factor is the learning environment. Being able to take the really young kids back inside for warm up and play can help overcome their frustration over initial lack of success. This is where all day care/play/ski programs can help a lot, plus taking.parents out of the equation is usually a boost for success - it reinforces the emotional independence needed for the kids to ski by themselves.

    I've been back in this world this season actually, my grandkids are hitting that age. I waited until the oldest one was 5 because I could see he was too immature at 4. Worked out well, he was braking solidly the first day and skiing 5 km green run by day 3. But his little brother, different story. He will be 4 next January but I'm confident he will get going easily, much more resilient plus very motivated to do whatever big brother does. We didn't go the day care route but since my son and I only live 30 minutes from Apex we can spend as much or as little time at the mountain as we want. If the weather and/or mood isnt conducive to success, we can go back home and try another day. Not quite as convenient as the daycare system but nonetheless being willing and able to change gears is critical with kids. What you dont want to be is the parent pleading with and pressuring a crying kid, "Mummy and Daddy have spent a lot of money to be here, won't you please just try it another time for us?"
     
  5. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us

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    Good points all.
    The good thing about BW was that they understood that and had as many or as little breaks as required to keep the kids happy. Instructors all "got" little kids and knew how to play their motivations- i.e food, fun and free time while still subtly giving them good basics.
    I see this year they have tracking devices for all kids so you can see where they are on the mountain. I did briefly suggest to my wife that we implant these in the kids while they are sleeping (all are on the cusp of teenage and the attitude is showing) but she put the kybosh on that idea. She muttered some rubbish about independence and trust.
     
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  6. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie One of Us

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    This completely matches our experience of putting our youngest into ski school at 3 and 4 - It didn't click for him. We skipped last year but back again this year now he is 6. Hoping this will be the breakthrough year.

     
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  7. Snowfi

    Snowfi One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Many years ago our kids first skiing experience was at Big White. Our youngest was 4 and did ski school mornings and a nap in daycare centre in the afternoon. Fully coordinated and parents not encouraged to check in at lunch. This wasn't a compulsory arrangement but the option we choose to suit her. Daycare was fully registered with paperwork incl vacinations required prior to arrival. Very likely to have changed since then but wherever you go, ask about options to suit you and your kids.

    We went back every second year until the oldest was too old for ski school. It just got better and better with bar coded kids and equipment, gps tracking, evening activities. It was all about fun.

    Oh, and they learnt to ski.
     
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  8. ralf_plough

    ralf_plough One of Us

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    We had a 3yo at SP in 2017. I was pretty disappointed. The first few days were always with a different instructor despite assurances it would not be, we had to get a bit antsy to ensure there was some continuity.

    Ever since Canada has been cracking down on seasonal work visa’s the skis schools have gone a bit down the toilet.

    SP used to have the same instructors year after year and they were mostly excellent. Also the people running the ski schools were always the same and always good.

    Nowadays we get a hodge off of first years from Northern Europe (predominately) with a few aussies and kiwis and very few Canadians.

    The ski school organisation can best be described as shithouse. They find basic instructions hard to follow. For example this year we asked for our now 5 year old to have a five days of 2hr lesson and the rest day care. We wondered why she hadn’t been up the chair yet, as she was skiing ok. After the fourth day we found they had stuffed up and were giving her a one hour only lesson. We cracked it and they gave her a couple of 2 hours for free but when you are only there for ten days it’s really annoying.

    This is a massive contrast to how it was in 2012/13/14/15/16. It was excellent then. I hope BW is still as good as it used to be.

    Sorry that is a bit of a downer, but yeah I would be very fussy about what I was paying for with a 3.5 year old. Be clear when you book it and triple check it.
     
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  9. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    We've had our kids in all the major resorts with ski school. From your list BW was exceptional.

    We did use Sun Peaks several years but were also bitterly disappointed on a couple of occasions.... one year master broke his leg. Don't blame the instructor for the break although do hold her accountable for incompetence, she was told that if he spits it and wants to just hang inside during the afternoon session he was NOT to be pushed out the door. Well he was pushed out the door so I don't think she got the message strong enough or thought she knew best......shame she didn't realize we knew our kid best !!!!
     
  10. garbanzo

    garbanzo First Runs

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    We spent a couple of months in Whistler Blackcomb over Dec 2018 and Jan 2019 and our boys (3.5yo and 5yo) ended up in the Whistler Blackcomb ski school for 25 full day lessons. Initially we booked 2 x 5 day "adventure camps" for the boys as beginners but WB also offered a 15 day lesson package which ended up being cheaper on a per day basis than the cost of (non-subsidised) day care here in Canberra so it was a no brainer. We couldn't fault the WB ski school, both kids absolutely loved it and over that time we got a feel for the ski school operations/routine (especially for the 3-4yo Minis) and the staff. The boys' first day of ski school was at -12C up at the Roundhouse because lack of snow meant the ski school at mid-mountain was not operational (mandatory downloads on W and BC closed til 15 Dec) so we held our breath to see if they would want to go back!! And they did - thankfully!

    Friends of ours (from a past season) were instructors in the WB ski school and recommended putting the kids into the ski school and we're very glad we did. The boys still miss ski school and can't wait to return. As mentioned by previous posters, it really depends on each child - our 3.5yo is strong and determined and wants to do everything big brother does! That said, they take great care of the kids, and especially the 3-4yos.

    What we really appreciated was that they wouldn't hold back our 3.5yo so when he was at level 3 (and maybe had one other classmate if at all for lack of kids at the same age and ability) he would essentially have a private lesson. The instructors seemed genuinely excited to teach the kids and were very warm and welcoming. I think it would be hard to fake that over the number of days we saw them.

    I've heard great things about the Big White ski school too but can't speak from experience. Would recommend buying a couple of pairs of mittens as they seem to get drenched during the day and a dry pair is good to have on the way home. That and smarties/marshmallows as they are pooped by the end of the day!!
     
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  11. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    Thanks very much for the replies, I appreciate the feedback here.
    I'm confident that my youngest is emotionally mature enough to do ski school, and he is definitely physically able to do it (he can swim on his own at 2.5). So long as they will take him back inside if he cracks it, I'm happy - and from what you've described it sounds like they have that sort of facility.

    It looks like the fallback option (Japan) is off the cards as he will be too young for the ski schools there!
     
  12. silva

    silva One of Us

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    Myoko Snowsports in Japan would be a option to consider if Canada does not work out for some reason. They take kids from 3 and their program and set up has been enjoyed by many on this forum and gets rave reviews - hence is very popular so I would say book in early.
    I have been told that they have indoor crack it options as well. I have generally found that the snowsports schools in Japan are not the seamless easy experience of north American and Canadian resorts but from all reports Myoko is the exception.
    https://myokosnowsports.com/akakura/snowsports-school/mini-mountaineers/

    Just to give you a good news story: My son was determined that he was NOT a skier - he was going to snowboard school. So not only did we have a child that was of "hit and miss" age for skiing we also had one who wanted to take the "not recommended til 7 or 8" option. Despite being told by all and sundry that he was too young we sent him off to snowboard school with his little 80cm snowboard with instructions to call us if he had a problem and to let him change to skiing (like all the other little kids) if he wanted. He absolutely loved it and had no issues at all. All kids are different and he was ready to learn and strong enough to do so. He picked it up quickly and was linking turns all over the resort green and blue runs, hitting little jumps and generally having a fantastic time after what I would call a normal learning period. Why? He really wanted to snowboard, had great balance, strong little legs, good resilience and day care/independence skills. Try bike riding (balance bike to start) to build their balance and leg strength.
     
  13. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    Well shit - I've just been informed by my local suppliers that Big White don't do a full day program for 3-4 year olds. Our only option is 2 x half time lessons necessitating a lunch time pickup (no point really!).
    I've emailed Big White directly for clarification... thanks for that Myoko option that may prove useful!
     
  14. silva

    silva One of Us

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    The Big White website states:
    "Drop off is from 8:30am-9:30am for morning and full day lessons" on the 3-4 year olds lessons page so hopefully they do have a full day option for you. It also says that the lunch break is from 11:45 til 1:15 and talks about dietary options.
    Otherwise there is always the Myoko option.
     
  15. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    Indeed - I'd done my research on what resorts offer ski school that young, but my supplier says this is just for private lessons, as evidenced by the options given just above...
    Anyway - I've contacted Big White directly we'll see what they say!
     
  16. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    At BW for little ones you can book them in all day and they have lunch with their instructors in the ski school.
     
  17. JB27

    JB27 First Runs

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    I have skied at BW for the last 2 years with young children after switching from WB where they also did 5 day ski camps. Definitely have full day option for 3-4 year old's called Ski Cubs. We switched because BW was easier with young kids and ski school at BW has been great. BW significantly cheaper, 1 hour drop off window v WB being 8.30am sharp = less rushed if running late, ski-in-ski out makes getting to lessons easier and unlike WB a not strict about 5 consecutive days starting on a Monday only.
     
  18. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    I hope that we can make it happen! I don't relish the idea of pushing this trip back a year...
     
  19. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    ^^ you will make it happen if you really want to.
     
  20. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us

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    I’m sure your four year old looks like a solid five..;). they breed ‘em bug in australia...
    A little liquid paper on the birth certificate goes a long way...
     
  21. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us

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    Make that big....
     
  22. Fest_mkiv

    Fest_mkiv First Runs

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    Hello Ski comrades, I have an update on this from Big White.
    They DO full day ski programs for the younger kids, but you need to come back and check with them at lunch to make sure they're ok. You speak to the instructor and if the child is happy you pay for the upgrade to the full day lesson and they can stay.
    Once that happens on the first day you can upgrade in the morning moving forward.

    So - looks like we're going to Big White! Thanks very much for the advice and assistance.
     
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  23. silva

    silva One of Us

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    Great outcome. Have a fantastic trip.
     
  24. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us

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    Good work. :thumbs:
    We are there from 2nd to 16 th Jan 2020- the kids were keen to get back to BW after the last couple of trips to SP. I guess that speaks volumes for the ski school...Maybe catch up with you and any other forumites keen to brave the whiteouts?
     
  25. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    ^^ whiteouts .... just head to Black forest. No issues :)
     
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  26. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us

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    I suggested to the family that we hit silver star or sunpeaks to avoid the whiteouts. That one didn’t fly and they all came back with the Black Forest option as well.
    Worth a try though...
     
  27. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    :) Black Forest is perfect for those days...just continuous laps all day :)
     
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