Things to Consider on That Ski Holiday
Skiing is a great activity all the family can enjoy, as I know from personal experience with my own children. Before long, they can be racing down red runs, leaving their more cautious parents behind! As a knee surgeon, I regularly see children (and adults) who have torn their ACL whilst skiing and need an operation to repair their knee, which I do using minimally invasive treatments I have helped to pioneer. However, these injuries are relatively rare, and luckily can be treated quickly and effectively to allow children to get back to their usual activities in a matter of months, and hopefully skiing in due course.
Preparation for a child’s first ski holiday
Whilst children don’t need to train before skiing in the same way as an adult, do make sure your child is in good physical condition. Skiing and snowboarding are strenuous sports that put heavy demands on muscles, tendons and ligaments in many parts of the body.
It is a really good idea to take them to a dry ski slope or indoor snow centre for a few lessons, so they get the feel of the boots and skis so know what to expect.
Make sure you enrol them in a good ski school, which is invaluable to help them gain confidence and progress on the snow. Instructors can educate beginners on the importance of a good warm-up and cool-down, properly fitted equipment, and safe skiing techniques.
Don’t be tempted to overdo things on the first few days. Injuries often occur when children are tired. Skiing uses different muscles to other sports and children’s bodies they need a chance to rest after ski school.
Once they have progressed from the nursery slopes and you start skiing as a family, make sure your children avoid terrain that is beyond their ability and have routine rest breaks with rehydration and snacks. It is also important to teach your children about the danger of going too fast on skis and about sticking to the pisted areas.
Make sure your child knows how to handle a fall. Skiing and snowboarding injuries commonly occur when you try to avoid a fall or brace yourself against a fall.
More experienced skiers
Always start the day with some stretching exercises and take a few warm-up runs on gentle terrain before moving to steeper slopes.
As children progress and, as I’ve found, overtake their parents in speed and ability, don’t be tempted to let them ski or snowboard alone. Do make sure they have a piste map and are familiar with the ski area and the terrain in case you get split up.
Make sure your children ski and snowboard only in areas matching their ability. Skiers and snowboarders get hurt when they are going too fast and lose control.
Ensure they drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food throughout the day and encourage them to take breaks and to stop when they get tired.