A Ski Dad’s Angst

One dad's thoughts about teaching his daughter how to love skiing

I’m a dad, so I worry a lot. I worry about whether my 2-year-old daughter is developing properly, whether she eats enough and sleeps enough. I worry about kids teasing her when they see the large birthmark on her left leg. I worry about her getting into college. I worry about her dealing with the world she’s going to inherit. I also, admittedly, worry about whether she’ll love skiing.

Skiing is a big part of my life, and I want to share that with her. I want her to feel as jittery as I do on our first ski day of the year. I want her to love sitting in the car for hours on our way to Colorado in search of skiing when New Mexico doesn’t have any snow. I want her to love chasing first chair on a powder day. And eventually, I want her to love all the hard work it takes to ski carefully in the backcountry.

Part of this is about my own ego, of course. I want a kid who skis because that helps me feel good about my own life choices. But it’s also about spending time together. Skiing takes me away from home a lot, and instead of running off constantly, I want Lulu to come along. I want skiing to be our thing.

I tried not to take it personally, but our first ski outings didn’t go so well. I carried her on my back for our first day at the local hill and she only put up with it if I constantly fed her Goldfish. We lasted two runs and she was done.

Later in the year, we put her on skis at Telluride, but she was too distracted and overwhelmed by the gear. Her ankles bent in her snowboots (we just had plastic skis with snowshoe-like bindings) and she insisted on carrying Goldfish in one bare hand and milk in the other, so the cold got to her right away.

I tried not to take it personally, but our first ski outings didn’t go so well. I carried her on my back for our first day at the local hill and she only put up with it if I constantly fed her Goldfish.

There were a couple “wheeees” when I had her between my knees and we picked up speed. But mostly I heard “all done,” which is her way of saying, “I’m over it.”

Lulu is a firecracker, so there was no negotiating after a certain point. Since day one she’s been loud and fierce. I love this about her, and if you know me or my wife, you wouldn’t find it surprising. We’re both opinionated people, so it’s only fitting that our little girl is strong willed. All done means ALL DONE.

Of course there’s still lots of time. She’s only 2. But from what I can tell, it’s best to start them young. I’ve seen those videos of little kids ripping around at 2 (or even younger), so I know it’s possible. I’ve also watched as pro skiers like Stian Hagen or Eric Pollard or Chris Davenport raise young kids that rip.

Whenever I’m around another dad with a kid that skis, I ask for advice. Most of the time they say it just happens organically. You introduce them slowly and they grow to love it. And when they don’t love it, they tell me, it’s time to get off the hill and drink hot chocolate. Lulu wanted ice cream when we called it a day.

I think we’ll be fine over time. Since she was born, Lulu has loved movement. When she was an infant I had to vigorously rock her to sleep by squatting with her in my arms. I would count several hundred squats before she started to doze off. She attacked the playground when we first started going, and I had to stop her from going head first down the fast slide. We play rough every day and she screams with joy when she gets tossed around. I’m guessing that she’ll have to come to skiing on her own terms.

If Lulu decides she hates skiing, that’s fine too. Really. If she’d rather play chess, or do spelling bee, or be on the swim team, I’ll support her. As any parent knows, you just want your kid to be happy. You can’t push too hard. You have to let them make their own decisions. You learn that right away. And maybe it’ll actually go the other way. Maybe Lulu will bring me into what she loves and I’ll learn something new. I’m not very good at chess, spelling, or swimming, so she can teach me and we’ll share those things instead.

More rad ski dads:

How to adjust when your parents slow down.
A daughter’s first Tuckerman’s descent, thanks to dad.