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How to Raise a Nordic Skier

10 kid-tested tips and tricks from parents and Nordic pro to help your kids fall in love with your favorite winter sport.

Tips & Ideas Friday, March 24, 2023

Teaching your kids to love Nordic skiing is a bit of a delicate dance—often, our own enthusiasm can be a little overwhelming. What’s fun for us (climbs, varied terrain, long routes, all-day ski-a-thons with only a break for lunch) can really turn little people off.

Luckily, they’re also pretty easy to switch back on. We talked to ski families and Nordic pros to find out the best advice to help your child find the fun in your favorite sport:

Get gear that fits

Don’t be tempted to take the neighbor’s hand-me-downs or size up so they can grow into a gear package. Skis that are too long or stiff won’t help them grip and kick so they can glide, and loose boots make for extra wobbles and instability that will make a young skier lose their balance—and their patience. Not sure where to start? Ask a Nordic shop pro for a fitting. 

Hit the lumps, bumps, and jumps

Adults may love the chill vibe of endless kilometers in the woods, but little people like a little excitement. Let them play tag on their skis in the backyard, or have fun building jumps or mini-trails. When on a trail system, it’s okay to find the hilly bits or hop off some tiny jumps to get their hearts racing. 

Keep your pockets full

Clementines, gummy worms, trail mix, Hershey’s kisses—all keep spirits and energy up. One Nordic mom used to bring gold coin chocolates and scatter them along the trail when her kids were lagging behind to keep them motivated—best on uncrowded days, so someone else doesn’t pocket your booty. 

Leave them with an expert

Nordic clubs, teams, clinics, and group lessons are all awesome options for getting your kiddo in front of an adult that isn’t you—a.k.a. someone they might be more likely to listen to. And honestly, you want to make sure they get good technique from the get-go. 

You don’t need an xc ski resort all the time

Not every ski outing has to be groomed to perfection; a good Denver blizzard makes a perfect just-for-fun reason to strap on skis and ski down the street or hit a local golf course for an hour. Just ski. 

Keep your gear all together and ready to go

Get yourself and your kids their own ski bag and show them how to keep things together; stuff it with extra layers, dry socks, some spray wax, and their skis, boots, and poles, so they’re easy to sling in the car at the last minute when the snow flies.

Ski on weekend football days

Bowl games, rivalries? Ideal afternoons to plan for a quiet mellow ski, when crowds bail early to head to the nearest TV.

Teach them to be ambassadors

As your kids get comfortable on skis, help them do the same for others—offer a hand when someone takes a fall, chat with folks they pass, ask about their day or favorite trails, and above all, be gracious and safe. 

Let your child lead

Sports are so painfully structured these days. It’s great when kids can opt for a program that fits who they are—whether that’s a regular family ski day, a high-school team or a just-for-fun club. And let them lead on the mountain, too, showing you what they’ve learned, their favorite runs or new tricks and terrain.

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