As we adjust to cooler temps and look ahead to another ski season, the annual scramble to get the kids geared up has commenced. There's no doubt that the small humans get bigger each year, but does that mean they are ready to level up their gear every season? A lot goes into sizing kids appropriately, and it's essential to understand when they are ready to level up their ski and snowboard gear according to their ability.
I connected with Katie Farrell at Level Nine Sports to break down what to consider and look for to know when our kids are ready to make the jump to bigger-sized equipment.
The universal sign that a kid is ready for longer skis is if the skis are shorter than chest height. Despite the kid's skiing ability, if the skis are too short, it can negatively affect their stability on the hill, especially at higher speeds. Skis that are too short also won't float well in powder on those deeper days.
What is the recommended length of skis for kids?
The skis should fall between the chest and chin when measured against the child's height. As we mentioned, skis that are too short are not ideal. But much taller than chin level will make skiing more difficult as they will be harder to control.
We know kids grow fast, so if you want to be able to use the skis for a couple of years, consider getting a pair that reaches your child's chin to start. Unless they have a crazy growth spurt over the summer, that set should still fall within the chest-to-chin range for the following season and save you from a big spend for a season, maybe two.
Does terrain matter?
This is where some nuance comes into play and depends on your child's age and ski level. Kids' skis are basic and have fewer variations than adult skis. Since kids don't weigh much, most kids' skis have a similar soft flex and side cuts that make turning easy and fun. You won't find a lot of technical differences or advantages from model to model.
If a kid loves to ski in the trees or hit moguls, a shorter ski might suit them better. A longer ski would be more effective your kid wants to try ski racing.
Are there required milestones for leveling up?
When deciding whether or not it's time for your child to start leveling up, the first thing to look for is their ability to look ahead to their next turn and connect their turns. This means looking down the mountain and not at the tips of their skis. Once they reach this milestone, it's a good time to start introducing them to poles to progress even more.
Leveling up before a new skier is ready can make the whole process more challenging. Giving a child too many things to focus on and learn at once can overwhelm the learning process. It's important to master one skill at a time so that it comes naturally to them before tackling the next skill.
The excitement on the mountain can make parents and children eager to take on more than they can handle, both on the mountain and with new equipment. Remember to focus on the chest-to-chin range, the type of terrain they like to ski, and whether they are comfortably looking ahead and connecting their turns before deciding on leveling up their equipment.
For more information and to shop at Level9, visit levelninesports.com.
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