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Have teen skiers in the family? You’re in luck because teens are an absolute blast to ski with. While teens often get a bad rep for being hard to deal with, moody, and glued to their screens, skiing with teens is a totally different ballgame!
The great news is that skiing breaks down all those stereotypes and gives your teen a great chance to relax and just have fun. If you’re skiing with teens, embrace the moment, relax a bit, and prepare (mentally and physically) for some FUN!
While your teen might not be as thrilled about a day on the slopes at a ski resort with the whole family as little kids might be, if you change the way you talk about skiing, there are few teens that would pass up a day of playing on a big mountain playground where you get a constant adrenaline rush.
To make sure that our ideas weren’t just “mom ideas” I consulted my teenagers (14yo daughter and 16yo son, and my 11yo tween) and their friends to see what they wanted from parents on a whole family ski day too. Here are some tips to make that best ski day with teens a reality.
Let Your Teen Decide Where You Ski Together
Even if your teen chooses to ski in ski areas that you don’t like, be a good sport about it and embrace the time together. It is so incredibly rare for them to have you all day, every day at their disposal. Skiing together is a great time to be together in the mountains so enjoy your teen’s choices at the ski resort and take it in! If you’re trying to stretch your ski dollars, there are plenty of budget ski areas out there. Once you’re on the hill, let your teens take the reins and have some control over what runs you ski! They might even choose to go cross country skiing.
Have Your Teen Invite a Friend Skiing
It’s fun to invite a friend to come to a ski resort with you, or to meet up with other ski families on the slopes. This gives your teen a sense of responsibility to look out for their friend and can help keep them in check. It also makes for more fun on the hill when you are skiing with friends.
Set Technology Limits for Teen Ski Days in Advance
The ski chairlift is one of the best times to talk with your kids about just about anything. While some teens would be glad to blast their music and disconnect if you want to take the time at the ski resorts to build stronger relationships, set your technology limits before you ever leave home. If you set boundaries in advance, you’re less likely to have a fight about it on the hill. Use this as a time to respectfully discuss electronics use and remind your teen that if you’re paying for the ski day, having them respect your tech requests might be a small way for them to pay you back.
Have Them Capture Memories
When our teens get into a rut on the ski hill, we have them get out their phone or a GoPro. Making some cool movies, or trying to get some cool photos always adds some excitement to the ski day. Taking cool footage that they can chat about and share with their friends always makes the trip a little more exciting. We often have our teens take footage of their younger siblings and it works wonders for getting them to engage with the whole family.
Watch Ski Movies Together
The absolute best way that we’ve found to get teens excited about skiing is with a good ski movie…or three! Take them to a local showing for maximum hype or stream online for your own ski movie night. We’ve found that so many ski movies are really affordable to buy, so each season, our family buys a few so the kids can watch them on repeat (They’re perfect to watch the night before a big ski day!) Our kids are especially inspired by this movie featuring Kai Jones, a professional teen skier! Or check out our favorite skiing books!
Stop Telling Teens What They Can’t Do While Skiing
Watching our teens do scary and risky things is so hard as a parent and it’s tempting to tell them to just STOP all the time. Trust me, we’ve been there SO MANY TIMES!
Instead, talk about risk management on skis with your teen and model healthy risk assessment yourself. While it’s normal for teens to push their limits, teach them how to do it in a healthy way that reduces the risk of injury.
Can teens ski super fast, race down hills, go off jumps, or even drop a cliff or two? ABSOLUTELY!
In fact, they’ll probably try all of these things and more at some point. To reduce the risk of serious injury, make sure that your teens know how to do these things safely. If you can’t show them yourself, sign them up for a few classes where they can get the instruction they need to push their limits. It’s much better to have a pro teach them what to do than for them to try and figure things out with a bunch of their teenage friends!
Give Teens Some Adult-Free Time on the Ski Hill
While we don’t think that anyone should ever ski alone, teens crave the freedom that comes from adult free time, so give them some of that on the ski hill. Help them find a buddy, let them have a couple of hours to ski without you, and set a check-in point later.
We recommend always having a way to get in touch with them, so a cell phone (that actually gets service at the resort and doesn’t die in the cold) or a set of walkie-talkies (these are our favorite rechargeable walkie-talkies that are perfect for skiing).
Enroll Them in a Teen Ski Program
While few teens like the idea of ski school, most of them would embrace a program to learn some new skills, and it’s a great way to make new ski friends. Check with your local ski resorts to see what teen-focused programs they have to teach skills like terrain park tricks, backcountry skiing, mogul skiing, or whatever else your teen loves to ski.
For a shorter lesson, we’ve loved having group private lessons, like the Friends and Family Private lessons at Nordic Valley, where you can get a 2-hour private lesson for up to 4 people for only $399 (so perfect for a group of friends to learn together).
Last season my son and his friend took a class on skiing through the terrain park and loved it. He made some great friends, learned skills that I couldn’t teach him, and enjoyed the independence this class gave him. If you’re skiing in Utah or Colorado, we highly recommend Woodward for their teen programs (we’ve sent our kids to so many classes there and they’re outstanding) You could even take them cat skiing!
Tip: if the resort doesn’t have one, check with the local town after school programs since they often have great options.
Best Ski Resorts for Skiing With Teens
There are so many ski resorts out there, but not all of them cater to teens. When you’re looking at a teen-friendly ski resort, you need to look beyond the basic family-friendly ski hills. Look for resorts with special features, specific skills instruction, or unique terrain. Here are some of the best ski resorts to ski with teens:
Whistler, British Columbia: Whistler is hands down the best place to ski with tweens and teens. The variety of terrain is incredible and if you have a teen who loves extreme skiing, you won’t find many places more extreme than here. Best of all, they have spectacular ski instruction programs where kids can learn how to properly ski the gnarliest terrain with skill!
Snowbird, Utah: My teens are both obsessed with skiing Snowbird for its steep terrain and super long runs. Best of all, the tram scene on a powder day will get everyone hyped up. The kids will be constantly inspired as they ride up Little Cloud on a powder day and watch the rush as the gates open for Road To Provo and the powder flies as all the local pros start shredding right below them. It’s an awesome scene and they’ll be pumped to go join them!
Brighton, Utah: Lots of teens gravitate toward park and terrain features even if they don’t have the skills for extreme lines. Teens love skiing Brighton for its variety of terrain parks that appeal to everyone from beginners to advanced skiers and riders. Brighton also has some amazingly spaced trees, and it’s one of the best places to teach teens to tree ski!
Copper Mountain, Colorado: Copper Mountain is a dream for teens on so many different levels. Teens will love that there is good terrain with lots of variety, but the thing that will win them over is the free snowcat skiing. That’s right! Your expert teen skiers can live the dream and go snowcat skiing right at Copper Mountain. On a day off the hill, sign up for some classes at Woodward (at the base area) where kids can learn aerials and skills in a controlled environment that they can then take out onto the snow! Our kids have taken lots of Woodward classes and they never disappoint!
What are your best tips for skiing with teens? Join in the conversation and share them below!