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How to Be the Cool Dad When Skiing
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How to Be the Cool Dad When Skiing

How to Be the Cool Dad When Skiing

12 Steps to Becoming the Coolest Ski Dad on the Slopes

Helping your kids learn to ski is hard — there’s no getting around that. But some guys make it look really easy. While your first instinct may be to hate those guys, take pause, because being the cool dad who effortlessly shuttles children around on the slopes without tears is a lot easier than you might think.

Related: Ski and Snowboard Attire That’ll Have You Shredding in Style

From making the littles carry their own gear to creatively keeping those ravenous bellies fed throughout the day (look, kids, chairlift snacks!), here are key ways you can keep your kiddos happy on the mountain, and in turn, earn the coveted title of Super Cool Ski Dad. (Not an official thing, but it should be.)

Fresh Powder - Dad ski

Let’s get one thing straight: This is not your time to live your dreams of downhill stardom. This isn't riding with your buddies, reliving the days when skiing meant jumping off high things and narrowly missing trees in the backcountry. You have kids now, and this experience is all about them.

You’ll spend most of your first season on the bunny hill (sorry, get used to it) and you’ll soon learn that it's sooo worth it. Be patient, your kids will get the hang of skiing or snowboarding eventually, and when they're competing in the X Games a million years from now, you can always say that it was YOU who sent them on their way — and that’s gonna be RAD.

Keep kids comfortable - dad ski

Yup, they’re gonna hate those gloves and that jacket zipped all the way up to their chin and they'll want to kick them off or unzip at the first opportunity, but DON’T let them because it’s all downhill from there (pardon the pun). Repeat: There is no recovery from cold wet fingers or snow inside the jacket. They'll never get those gloves back on and the zipper WILL pinch their chin on the way back up! They'll abandon their gear and be back in the lodge asking you when it’s time to go before you know it. Resist ... resiiiiiist!

Have them carry their gear - dad ski

You are not the sad sack who gets roped into carrying the skis and poles belonging to four different people. Nobody should be that guy. If your family is going to ski, they’re going to carry their own crap — tell them that before you even get in the car.

You may fork out the money for their rentals (you’re the adult with the job, after all), but they will carry all the things needed to get down the slope. It builds character. If you can help them put a good portion of their gear on at home, even better. Arriving at the hill with a coat, pants, gloves, helmet, and boots on is half the battle, so save yourself the struggle of dressing in a parking lot.

Enroll them in lessons - dad ski

Your kids render you invisible when you tell them to clean their rooms, so do you really think they’re going to take your tips regarding their french fry (parallel turns) and pizza (snow plow)? The answer is no. Best to completely avoid parent-child frustration altogether by getting a pro to show them the basics, because nobody wants to bring bad family memories home from this experience.

A certified ski instructor who is a complete stranger to them will definitely command their attention more, especially if you ask around and find out who the “great-with-kids” instructors are (that’s definitely recommended). Besides, it gives you an hour or so to breathe and to get some black diamonds in until you’re once again confined to the bunny hill when their lesson is over.

Related: How to Nail Being a Modern Working Dad

Keep them fed - dad ski

A flattened granola bar in your inside jacket pocket is your best friend. It can buy a guy a valuable tantrum delay and will at least give the kids the boost they need to get down the difficult bit of the slope. If there’s a decent amount of time on the chair lift, surprise them with a snack and you’ll be a hero.

Think of snacks in your pocket as a lifesaving EpiPen, but for tantrums and unpredictable drama. (“Dad, my toe is FROZEN!”) And for God’s sake, take breaks for food if needed. No one gets a medal for most time spent on the mountain. If they’re tired AND hungry, things can snowball really fast and your day might end with tears from them, and you screaming that you’re done. Nobody wants that to be their last memory of skiing.

Be crafty extend time between breaks - dad ski

When they’re on their butt sampling a few bites of snow, sneakily build their tolerance to where they can spend a few hours on the hill without a break. This is key because when you and the kids do eventually make it to the high speed gondolas and the backcountry of Mont Blanc, they won’t be able to retreat to the lodge when they're bored because the lodge is far, far away!

So start by taking it bit by bit and adding an extra 10 minutes a week to their tolerance at the local hill. This will help maximize awesomeness.

Don't book expensive holiday - dad ski

Assuming you’ve taken your kids to a local ski resort so they can learn the initial ropes of the sport, don’t think that one day of tooling around on skis is all they’re going to need before you whisk them off to the Swiss Alps. Save the fancy trips for when they can make it down a blue/intermediate hill. Stay at your local hill until they've mastered turning and different terrain types.

Don't buy expensive equipment - dad ski

Don’t buy those crazy expensive skis just yet, especially if your kid is under age 12. Those knuckleheads you call your children don’t know the difference! To a young beginner, it’s all about survival. Save the money on the expensive boots and go to your local ski swap — where families with children swap gear with other families — before the season starts to get them outfitted, or go the rental route. DO invest in a helmet and killer goggles for them, though, since that creates seamless forehead coverage from the elements. Remember, a cold, uncomfortable kid, is an unhappy kid.

Get to know staff and locals - dad ski

Calling people by their name makes you look like a badass and, as you get to know the regulars on the mountain, you’ll see that riding with other kids and other families is THE BEST. Why? Because of the camaraderie you’ll feel being in this learning phase together and the laughs that will ensue after any of you take a tumble. Everything becomes a little less scary when you’re all in the same boat, and there will be a little less pressure for the kids to make those turns when they recognize the friendly faces around them.

Don't rush - dad ski

Ski lift lines can be stressful, especially if your nearest hill is a giant ski resort. Try not to think about the lift ticket dollars you’re burning as you stand around waiting for Grandma to get off the ski lift. This is about hanging out and enjoying quality time with your kids.

Remember that you're outdoors and the sun is shining, so drink it all in! Show them how AWESOME it all is that they’re here, and they’ll really want to do it again and again. If you can, take a day off of work, pull the kids out of school, and try and go to the mountain on a weekday. It’ll be quiet and the kids will be grateful there are fewer people to negotiate. (You’ll likely get bonus points from the kiddos for helping them play hooky, too!)

Fall over - dad ski

A lot. And be sure to show the rugrats that A) falling over doesn’t hurt, and B) EVERYONE falls down! It’s all part of skiing, and falling on your face can actually be super hysterical. If you’re a natural at physical comedy, do your best Jim Carrey impression. The best thing about falling is laughing about it on the way home.

Call it a day - dad ski

This may be the hardest thing for any guy, knowing when to wrap. We get it: Thinking about how much money you’ve spent on this outing and how rarely you get to do this will always be in the back of your head, and you want to savor every moment. But the reality is, they want to get home to watch the Disney Channel and make s’mores. Listen to them. Remember you aren't out there to have one amazing day, you're out there to grow as skiers who fall in love with being outdoors and the thrill of whizzing down a mountain with their friends ... for life. You're in this for the long haul, so sacrifice that last run. You'll be glad you did in the long run.

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