How to get your kids to love cross-country skiing

Did you know 19 of our parks have cross-country trails, about half of them groomed?

Cross-country skiing is a great way for families to get outdoors and enjoy the winter together! It’s less expensive and safer than alpine skiing, it helps keep kids fit, and it’s a skill they’ll have their entire life.

Here are our top seven tips for getting kids hooked on cross-country skiing:

1Start them young

two girls skiing

Avid cross country skiers get their kids into the culture before they can even walk by pulling them in a chariot, a child carrier on skis. But if you can’t introduce your kids to the sport when they’re young – 3-4 years old – any age is a good one to get them out skiing!

2. Rent equipment to start

skis

It’s cheaper to rent. Once you’re got an eager little skier on your hands, you can buy equipment from a ski swap/sale. These are usually held early in the season. And they’re a good way to go, because you want to get the best gear you can at a price you can afford.

At Ontario Parks, rentals are available at Arrowhead, Pinery, and Wasaga Beach.

3. Dress for the cold

child skiing

What you wear can make all the difference between having an amazing winter adventure or a disappointing – even dangerous — one. Layering is important because your kids will warm up quickly once they get moving. Don’t forget warm hats, socks and gloves!

4. Use groomed trails

trackset trail

It’s easier for kids to learn on a trail where the tracks have been set because they can control their skis better. To prepare them for the trail, make a loop in your backyard and let them practice.

5. Don’t overdo it

boy skiing

Cross-country skiing is physically demanding, so don’t tire your kids by staying out too long. Go when the snow conditions are good – not too icy – and pick a trail that’s appropriate to their skill level. That way, they’ll be eager to go on another ski trip.

6. Let them bring their friends

families of skiers

Activities are always more fun when you’re with friends, and cross-country skiing is no exception. If you find a hill off the trail, let the kids go up and down a few times on their own. And don’t worry if they fall. It’s a necessary part of learning!

7. Bring lots of tasty snacks

father and son around campfire

Even if you’re out for a short time, cross-country skiing builds up an appetite, so be sure to pack lots of snacks like Rosebuds, nuts, cheese sticks and granola bars. Don’t forget a thermos of hot chocolate!

The next step

If your little skiers show real interest in the sport, you might want to get them involved in Cross Country Ontario’s progressive skills program. It focuses on developing technical skills, together with an awareness and appreciation of nature.

Now that the snow has finally arrived, get out and enjoy it as a family

Find a park near you, check the Ski Report, and head out on the trail!