Child Ski Safety- Teaching Your Child to Ride the Ski Lift Safely and With Confidence
Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Yay, you’ve finally dressed your child, put all the ski or snowboard equipment on, and you’re ready to hit the slopes! It’s so exciting, they’re stoked to get going, you’re exhausted, but excited to finally get on the mountain and then it hits you… the Ski Lift. How are you supposed to get your child onto the lift? Off the lift?! Welcome to the world of ski and snowboard parents. We’ve all been there, faced the anxiety and worry, battled the urge to stay on the magic carpet, and triumphed in the end! Here are the best tips (and even a video!) to help you prepare your kids for their adventure in riding the ski chair lift.
Safety is the number one priority when riding the ski lift, so it’s important to be prepared yourself and to make sure your child is ready and knows what is expected of them in order to make it a safe and enjoyable experience. I remember my first time skiing with my oldest daughter; she didn’t start scooting off the lift in time and almost fell off at the top as the chair was going back down. It was terrifying and definitely didn’t set us up for a great first run of the day! Thankfully, she got the hang of it and was loading and unloading like a pro in no time and we had a fantastic day. But a little more prep work on my part and it would have been a completely different experience.
The basics to riding the ski lift safely with your children can be broken into three parts- Loading, Riding, and Unloading.
Be ready while you’re in line. Make sure all straps and gear are secured and not hanging loose.
Stand at the “Wait Here” line until the chair in front of you passes, then move quickly to the “Load Here” line. If you or your kids are not ready when the chair passes, wait for the next chair. Be patient, it’s better to be safe and ready than to rush it. Especially when kids are involved.
Keep skis and snowboards straight at the “Load Here” line, hold poles in one hand, and look over your shoulder for the chair as it comes around. Turn towards the direction your child is on so that you can spot any issues right away and encourage them to be ready. Have your child in the position closest to the ski lift operator so they can offer assistance as needed.
Have them sit on the ski lift chair and immediately scoot all the way back- Back to Back, Seat to Seat is the safety motto to follow. Once they’re seated all the way back and everyone is ready, lower the safety bar.
Back to Back, Seat to Seat. During the entire ski lift ride, remind them to stay seated, facing forward, with their back against the back of the chair lift.
Teach your child the safe ski lift best practices. No rocking the lift, moving around, leaning forward, twisting in their seat to look behind them; if something drops, let it fall.
Enjoy the ride and view! This is the best time to talk about which runs you want to do next, talk about how great they’re doing and how much fun it is skiing/snowboarding with them.
If the lift stops while riding, keep them calm and remind them that it’s probably just stopping so the lift operators can help someone load or unload the ski lift safely. You’ll be on the move and at the top in no time.
Follow all posted signs! If you have young children that can’t read, tell them what each sign says and what the symbols mean.
Make sure everyone is ready before you approach the unloading area.
If you need the lift to slow down to help your kids get off safely, motion to the lift operator with a thumbs down motion and they’ll slow the lift for you. We’ve used this many times especially when skiing with multiple kiddos that are still learning.
Raise the bar and show your children how to lift their ski tips and boards up.
When you get to the unloading point have them scoot forward to the edge of the seat, tips up, then stand up and push straight forward off the ski lift chair, making sure to clear the unloading area before stopping. If they fall, help them to quickly get up and move out of the area for the next chair’s group to unload.
Practice and Be Prepared
One of the best ways to practice the proper way to load and unload is to, well, practice! Find a park bench, use the couch or kitchen chairs, whatever you have handy. Practice the basic motion of standing with feet straight, looking over your shoulder at the chair, sitting and scooting all the back. Reverse the process to practice unloading- scooch forward, lift toes up, push straight out from chair as you stand up, keep feet pointed straight forward, bend the knees and hold this position. It seems pretty simple, but having some basic familiarity with the process can take some of the nervousness away. There’s a great video below to have them watch that presents lift safety in a fun kid-friendly way.
When you are standing in line for the lift, talk about what’s going to happen. Have them watch the people ahead of you in line load. Point out how they quickly move to the load line, stand with feet facing forward, look behind them to watch for the chair and then quickly sit and scoot back. Just like you practiced at home!
Skiing and snowboarding can be an amazing experience to share with your kids. With just a little bit of prep work, you can safely ski and snowboard with your kids and make wonderful memories! Have fun and don’t forget the high fives after an awesome ski lift ride!