The Snow Gauge

Running the rule over the ski & snowboard industry since 1995

How young is too young to ride?

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 in Australia | 2 comments

Indy

How young is too young when it comes to skiing or snowboarding?

It is a question I’ve been mulling over on and off for a while.

Then I saw this 14-month old on social media on the weekend and it really made me think.

Indy is just 14 months old and rocking it at Mt Buller like a champ! The next @scottyjames31 perhaps? Vid: @blondeandboisterous

Posted by thesnowgauge.net on Sunday, June 11, 2017

The few seconds of footage looked harmless enough.

Little Indy, getting his slide on at Mt Buller and he looks happy. But the gnawing questions …

Is 14 months-old too young to ride? Can a child that age possibly communicate in any meaningful way about what they want? Is this kind of stuff just to stroke the ego of the parents? And, as several people noted – where is the helmet?

Before being a keyboard warrior and making all kinds of assertions based on a few seconds of footage, I thought I’d contact Indy’s mum Sam to get the background info and ask her those kind of questions first.

The first thing Sam told me was that they weren’t even planning to take Indy snowboarding, rather that it just happened organically when he got on snow with brother Ollie.

“Indy, being Indy, he just wanted to go,” she said.

“We definitely didn’t say ‘you are going snowboarding'”.

“He cried and kicked me out of the way when I went to get on the board!”

It wasn’t a marked run and little Indy was tailed all the way on the (short) ride of his life.

“I don’t think he was too young at all. I’m all for kids having a crack,” Sam said. “A couple of people were saying ‘this is dangerous’ but he could probably do just as much damage hitting his head going for a walk”.

My thoughts?

While it appeared by the footage to be a quite controlled environment – as I written about previously I would have to say a helmet wouldn’t have hurt. It only takes a brief distraction for a fall but I wonder whether in an environment like that you can be completely confident of making a save. (Sam countered this by saying that her husband was right by his side the whole time and that they’d struggle to get a helmet to fit anyway).

But I think in this instance the motives were good and for Indy’s enjoyment – not a big set up for his parents to get some social media notoriety.

I do however question others I have seen.

Go on to YouTube and you’ll find plenty of these style of perfectly filmed clips where it appears the main interest is for parents to get some bragging rights and to use their kids for Internet fame.

Generally speaking, resorts have a minimum age of three years old for ski school. It’s impractical to have them younger.

If you are going to have your kids ride younger all I’d say is ask yourself why. If it’s for a seemingly curious and athletic kid like in Indy to have a bit of fun in a managed way, great. If it’s primarily so you can film and cut some slick package for YouTube, it may be time to think again.

 

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2 Comments

  1. While not disagreeing with the rest of your story I have to say a helmet would have been more dangerous. At that age the neck muscles and bones are way too underdeveloped to cope with the added weight & pressure of a helmet – the added inertia of even a light one could cause significant neck damage.
    Infants fall and hit their heads all the time with far less
    chance of skull & brain damage as their bones are spongier & less brittle and absorb & spread impact pressure much better than older harder more brittle skulls because they flex more.

  2. Well said. If it’s a joy ride, that’s one thing. If a parent wants their child to perform in any way, I say get off the slopes!

    I’ve worked with children as an Occupational Therapist for 42 years and as a Ski Instructor for 21. I’d love to see research defining when it really makes a difference. Waiting a year gives that child that much more time to learn balance, to grow, to be more attentive and emotionally stronger. They can do that playing in the snow (my opinion). At what point does it really matter? That’s the question. I’ve taught 3 year olds. I suggest to my friends they wait until 4.

    One thing I can’t stand is a parent yelling at a kid b/c the child doesn’t do something “right” or they don’t want to be there.

    It should be fun! ♡

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