I had the great pleasure of visiting Vail recently for the 2019 Burton US Open, and one of the highlights (seriously!) was the reliability of the Vail Village tram. Daily, myself and our filmer Ryan Trautwein found ourselves packed into the tram that dutifully carted us from our hotel to the ski resort and back. On one occasion, a family sat across from us. And a little girl that couldn’t have been older than five sat smiling holding her tiny ski boots and skis. A woman standing on the tram holding onto a hand loop, bracing for the tram’s lurching turns looked down at her and said, “When did you start skiing?”
The girl cracked a grin and said, “When I was one-years old.”
What followed was a conversation in which the woman standing explained she was a ski instructor and is always amazed when parents bring their kids that are hardly a year or two old on the hill. A new father myself, I can’t help but wonder how fearless these kids will be if they shred well into their teens.
I mention all of this because Reddit user u/LincolnHawk87 posted the video above online recently with the caption, “‘4-year-olds can’t snowboard’ they told my son in Kindergarten. He can answer with this video. #RidersRide.”
u/LincolnHawk87 sheds little additional detail on how his kid got to be so good, but what’s even more interesting is the debate that followed as snowboard instructors weighed in on the comments section, saying that very young children often lack the physical capability to snowboard and that while the video above is the exception, parents shouldn’t use it as inspiration to stick their four-year-old in a lesson.
“Snowboard instructor here,” said u/sinosKai. “The answer to why most infants shouldn’t/can’t snowboard is because most of them don’t have the muscle mass required in the ankles to angulate the board to turn and stop. And a young child’s head grows larger than the rest of the kids body shifting there (sic) center of gravity which relates to more falls and hitting there (sic) head when they learn that young. That’s said (sic) as seen in the videos there are exceptions to that. Most kids between 2-4 won’t be as good as that kid though.”
Numerous other commenters claiming to be snowboard instructors weighed in agreeing with u/sinosKai, some also pointing out that no instructor should ever turn a child away, but that parents should be realistic about the hours needed for young children to excel in snowboarding. Others added that skiing as a child is a better alternative for young children to start with, and that when they’re a bit older they could switch to snowboarding.
“Snowboard instructor here as well. I usually ask how many lessons the parents have planned on buying. Young snowboarders need lots and lots of instruction and most parents aren’t willing to pony up for four or five times the lessons,” wrote u/Sparkes.
Another commenter, though, argued that while young kids haven’t fully developed physically to a level where they can be taught as in a normal lesson, that doesn’t mean they can’t take a lesson at a young age.
“Snowboard instructor as well,” wrote u/akraft96. “I’ve got my Children’s Specialist certification and we literally talk about how to teach kids that are as young as 2 or 3. You’re not wrong about the ankles and head, but that’s why you teach them differently. The movements you expect from a child are totally different, but still effective and they can still snowboard. My resort has a whole program for kids ages 3-6.”
The lesson to be learned is there’s definitely debate about how early you can (and should) start a child on a snowboard, so if you’re keen to turn little Timmy into a shredder do your homework. Oh, and this kid above rips.