Harnesses, hula hoops, and Edgie-Wedgies. When we were helping our young sons learn how to ski, these were the tools at our disposal.
Today, parents have many more choices, with products coming out each season.
Here are reviews of three new tools (plus an enduring shout-out to the Edgie-Wedgie), along with a giveaway from SkiRing™.
If you’re currently helping a little one navigate the basics of turning and gliding, or you’re anticipating going down that road soon, read on.
Even if you don’t have little kids, but you’re interested in a new product suitable for all ages that will help with downhill focus and stance, read on.
(Just a bit of follow-up: After the giveaway was complete, I received this email from one of the winners.
Not only were we lucky enough to win one of the giveaway ski rings, we had the absolute great fortune of living only an hour away from Monica. She offered to show us how to use the Ski Ring in person and spent well over 3 hours working with me and my 5-year-old. It was amazing, and we both learned so much!
The Ski Ring is an awesome learning tool and Monica a fantastic instructor. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity today. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing Rachel!)
Let’s start with our giveaway product, the SkiRing™. Designed by Monica Schwanitz and marketed by her company Lost Mitten, LLC, the SkiRing™ is a large plastic “steering wheel” that beginner skiers hold in front of them.
Monica is a PSIA instructor with over 20 years of experience. Used in place of ski poles (or by children who are not yet ready for poles), it reinforces proper hand position and balance and lets beginners focus on turning.
The SkiRing™ has been tested by Monica’s PSIA colleagues and beginner youth racing programs over the past five years. As of January 2017, the SkiRing™ is being used by instructors at 26 ski schools including Vail, Jackson Hole and Deer Valley.
I’m not one to argue with ski instructors, but I did want to get the SkiRing™ out on snow, so I passed it on to our friend Norah (who just turned five), our friend Nicholas (who is a 20-year old beginner) and Kevin Jordan, the father of a young skier and the Children’s Coordinator for the Aspen Snowmass Ski and Snowboard Schools. I also gave it a go.
Here’s some of the feedback.
“Norah loves the SkiRing™! It helps keep her hands forward and she likes to pretend she’s driving down the hill. It gets a lot of attention and people, including ski instructors, want to know where we got it.” — Norah’s parents.
“The SkiRing™ can be used as a “buffer” by an instructor skiing backwards with a child skiing forward. Unlike a hula hoop, the instructor can’t ski behind the child. More independent skiers can use it effectively as a steering wheel.” — Kevin Jordan
“This helped me keep my hands in front of me. But since I was already using polls, I felt like I lost some control. Still, I think it helps.” — Nick, age 20.
“I thought it was very useful as an exercise in keeping my hands still and my shoulders square with the bottom of the hill. It focused my concentration on my lower body and turning. And as Norah’s parents mentioned, everyone wants to know where we got it.” — Brave Ski Mom
These comments tell me that the SkiRing™ accomplishes exactly what Monica hoped it would.
For independent skiers, who don’t need a parent hanging on to them via a hoop or harness, it’s a fun way to reinforce a still upper body with forward hands.
We really like it! I think you and your kids will, too. You can buy the Ski Ring here.
Slope Ropes are a new take on the hula hoop. Suitable for young children learning to ski, Slope Ropes are made of a loop of 60” rope with two 12” plastic handles set across from each other.
One set of handles is for the parent or instructor, who skis outside the loop. The other handle is for the child, who skis inside the loop with the handle at his or her waist. This reinforces a forward stance, because if the child leans backward, the ropes will fall.
Slope Ropes expand the circle provided by a hula hoop, while giving parents some control over their child’s speed and direction. The rope is also helpful for pulling kids across flats.
I asked Kevin Jordan to review this product with his young son. His feedback was largely positive. He liked the construction, the colors and the design. A benefit he saw was that the hands-free handle for the child allows more independence. The only con? If the child is holding onto the handle and drops it, or leans back and the rope falls, it could be a tripping hazard.
Still, he proclaimed it “a decent product for $30.00.” And he and his son have also found a new use: laying the rope on the ground and hopping over it!
A safety product, rather than a learn-to ski product, the Lift Lyne is essentially a climbing harness that kids wear and parents attach to the chairlift bar to lessen the risk of falling.
While I’ve been heard to say that the chances of falling off a chairlift are about the same as falling out of a chair at a restaurant, I’ve been proven wrong this winter, with some high profile incidents (note to all: skiing with backpacks can be a very bad idea).
While the Lift Lyne looks complicated to put on, it comes with very detailed and lengthy instructions. Once it’s on, it stays on and your child skis in it. This adds some weight and you’ll want to make sure it’s not impacting your child’s posture or balance.
My biggest concern with the Lift Lyne is that I’d either forget to clip it to the bar or I’d forget to unclip it.
For responsible parents who can remember to do such things, and who are concerned about chairlift falls, it could be appropriate.
This is another product that I passed onto Kevin Jordan to test. While he hasn’t used it yet with his son, he likes that the harness has leg loops and secures the torso of the child, rather than just the waist and shoulders.
To facilitate this post, I received 3 SkiRings™, a set of Slope Ropes and a Lift Lyne harness. I passed each of these items onto families with children for testing and use. As always, all opinions are my own and are exactly what I would tell my family and friends.
More Learn to Ski Tools and Tips
- Ready? Set. Ski! Five Tips for Beginner Skiers and Snowboarders, January 9, 2017.
- Season Rentals May Make Sense for You, August 29, 2016.
- Keep Family Skiing Fun, February 22, 2016.
- More Than Gadgets: Learn to Ski Aids for Young Children, December 3, 2012.
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