By Kari Svenneby
You might think I’m a cross-country skiing expert since I’m from Norway. Though it is true that cross-country skiing is the national sport of Norway, it’s not like everyone is skiing like they should be the next Bjørn Dæhlie
For most Norwegians it is more of a lifestyle and a way to get around to enjoy nature. If you ever get a chance to ski in Norway after a snowfall you will notice everyone is outside skiing; from the old to the young or the athletic to the handicapped. Some will even put on their skis for their commute to the office.
I think everyone can enjoy skiing and it is great to do as a family activity. We have enjoyed cross-country skiing as a family since my first-born kid was 2 years old both here in Canada and in Norway. Today my first born is 8 years old and skies almost better then me and I have a 3 year old that is starting to ski now.
Though we have yet to put our kids in any formal lessons Canada has a nation-wide cross-country skiing program for children. For children five years of age and younger there is the Bunny Rabbit Program. For children six to nine years of age there is the Jackrabbit Program.
How to start with preschoolers: 2-5 years old
* Start in you backyard or a local park if you are lucky to have snow.
* If you are going for a ski outing make sure you start with a small outing the first time or bring a pulk a sled so you kid can go a little bit on ski and then he can sit in the sled.
* As always, how you dress your kids are more important than the skis. We use the layering system that works especially well with cross-country skiing. Check out how to dress for winter.
* Start with having skies on and start walking; do not use ski poles to begin with.
* Follow the leader. Put your skis on and get your little one to follow. They will start to mimic you. Soon they will be demanding that you follow them.
* Use the end of pole or a harness and start pulling your child. This helps your child get his/her balance. Kids think this is really fun but you are also practicing their balance.
* Find some small hills to have fun it, start with putting your child between your legs and go down the hill together.
* For going up hills teach side-stepping first as it is easier than herringbone. With all techniques, there is a natural progression to things. As they master one thing they become ready to learn the next level of skill.
* When they have the sidestep down and have better control of their skis they are ready to learn the herringbone. We say we are walking like a bunny rabbit. Maybe even jump like a bunny rabbit.
*Make sure you have lots of hot chocolate for everyone and do not push the experience. Make it fun and make sure you bring their favorite snacks.
For 5-7 year olds
Continue with practicing herringbone and work on the glide, they will start to be able to go for longer stretches, but you may need to make a rig to be able to tow them every so often if you want to not stop to rest.
Make sure you have skies that fit your kids in height and weight.
Help your child getting up hills when out on touring, use your poll to pull them.
Make sure you do not go too far and have plenty of hot chocolate and snacks.
For touring as a family use a pulk or a sled to carry kids.
It is not safe to carry you small child while you are skiing. No matter how good you are you can fall and hurt your baby if you fall. According to Acorrding to xskiworld.com your baby should be no less than 6 months (or more) of age before starting to use a pulk.
Make sure your child is dress properly and has an insulated sleeping bag that fits your child so you can be sure your child is warm during the ride. If it is below -10 make sure you check your child often to make sure your baby is warm and comfortable. Use caution when skiing with kids in sleds and make sure the pulk does not slam to the ground. To many big bumps in the trail can hurt your kids back, neck and head.
We made our own pulk but this was a lot of work and you have to be handy. It might be better to buy it or rent it. Many ski resorts rent out pulks to families. Call ahead and book your pulk before you go.
You can cross country skiing everywhere if you have snow
There are many cross-country skiing resorts you can rent skies and take lessons. Search Cross-Country Skiing in your province /state
Here is some linke to other stories about cross-country skiing by parents for parents.
Winter in Backcountry Hut trip by Velo Mom