A Parent’s Guide to Cross Country Ski Equipment for Children
“Poor equipment, equipment that doesn’t fit, or skis that are poorly prepared for the snow conditions may lead to a negative ski experience that can have a lasting impression on a child.” – BCR Ski Leader Manual
Up to Level 2 Age Group (Jackrabbit program)
This level is directed at children five to seven years of age. A child’s first ski equipment set would include a pair of no-wax classic skis. The poles are best introduced at Level 2 but if desired, the poles should be a ‘classic’ length (with the pole tip in the snow, the pole height would reach the under arm). Initial on-snow play does not require long skis, and they should be approximately the same height as the skier. It is better for the child to outgrow their skis than to grow into them.
Select a binding that is not difficult to operate, but is not prone to releasing either.
Skiers at Level 3 (Track Attack program)
The age group for this badge level is usually eight to nine years. They will still practice on classic skis during sessions. Skating technique is officially introduced to the skill development sessions at this point in the skill progressions. The child can learn skating technique skills while using classic skis. Spud Valley Nordics does have a selection of skate skis and poles that are lent out for the duration of the lesson where skate skiing is being practiced.
Skiers at Level 4
The age group for this badge level is usually 9 to 10 years. The equipment requirements at this skill level are the same as for Level 3. Eventually, parents may wish to provide the child with two sets of equipment (both skating and classic) if their ski skills and future involvement in the sport appear to warrant the investment.
- Classic skis should reach just below the wrist of the skier’s outstretched arm, with the camber suitable for classic skiing.
- If the skis are not the correct length the skier will have difficulty mastering the technical skills necessary to become competent in the sport.
- Poles must have adjustable straps.
- Classic poles should reach under the arm when the skier is standing on the floor.
- If poles are too long or too short, the skier will have difficulty mastering the technical skills necessary to become competent in the sport.
- Salomon and NNN are the two commonly used, suitable boot/binding systems. Both are good and equally functional.
- Boots must be comfortable. If boots are too large, they will be awkward to ski in and if they are too constrictive, feet will not stay warm. Make sure the boots AND binding have same system or they won’t fit!
SKI SHOPS & SKI SWAPS
Parents are encouraged to buy suitable equipment for their children for two main reasons: it is an investment in a positive, fun learning experience; and good equipment retains its re-sale value – someone will always buy it when you are finished with it.
Acquiring equipment from ski swaps or other families involved in cross country skiing is a good method of keeping equipment costs in control. Second hand equipment is only a bargain if it is suitable for the needs of the skier, and it fits comfortably. Ski shops can be approached with the prospect of trade-ins. Some already have trade-in programs in place. This method of shopping can also help to keep the costs down, keep children in proper equipment as they grow and progress, and encourage shops to carry only good equipment. (It is harder to recycle poor quality!)
Parents may wish to network with the other parents in the formation of an equipment pool. Before the end of each ski season, have a look at what other children are using. When the following ski season approaches (and the children have done some growing), use the network to locate the equipment that is most suitable for your youngster.
Reprinted from the 1996-97 edition of Ski Cross Country Magazine – Cross Country BC
Where to get equipment?
Spud Valley Nordics holds SKI SWAP in end of November (check this website for date) but you can also check out local retailers listed on our Link.