What is the best age to teach my kids to ski?

Children develop at different rates – so it is impossible for us to say exactly what is right for you and your little skier.  With any new skier, the comfort and capability of the adult assisting them is also a factor.  What we do know is that with Slope Ropes, as soon as a child can stand comfortably and carry their own weight, they can technically hit the hills. Introducing kids to ski equipment and the sliding sensation early reduces anxiety, and we all know tumbles are a bigger deal the older you get.  Ski Tips for Kids is a great resource for adults introducing little skiers to the slopes.

Should I use Slope Ropes instead of putting my kids in ski lessons?

As a CSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor, I do believe that some lessons with a trained teacher are invaluable.  For many parents, Slope Ropes are a great way to ski with their child after lessons end – without undoing any of the learnings from the day. They are also a great tool as children move to steeper slopes for the first time, or for the first few skis at the start of a new season. Some adults who are more frequent and comfortable skiers do choose to use Slope Ropes as a substitute to lessons, but this is an individual decision best left up to the parents. 

How do Slope Ropes work?

Slope Ropes were designed to assist adults with young children learning to ski.  One handle sits at the hips of the child, encouraging the child to bend at the waist and get comfortable in a proper ski position (nose over knees over toes).  The adult holds the second handle, and are able to gently guide turns by twisting their handle from side to side.  Most adults are able to do this with one hand, if they wish (which allows us to get a lot of great footage from parents as they ski!).  As a child gets more comfortable on the hill, adults can twist with less pressure, which gently nudges the child in one direction but encourages the little skier to turn themselves as opposed to ‘being turned’.  Slope Ropes can also control speed, which provides a feeling of security for children who are slightly more anxious on the slopes, or, a feeling of security for adults with children who have no fear on the slopes!  The focus of Slope Ropes is to promote learning – with the child carrying their own weight and skiing for themselves.  Kids will have fun skiing, and adults will too! Click here for more technical Features & Benefits.

How do Slope Ropes attach to my child?

Slope Ropes don't attach to your child, and that's part of why kids (and their parents) like them so much. When the child is standing with bent knees, Slope Ropes sit naturally at their waist. This puts the little skier in the perfect position - hips back, nose over knees over toes. Because the child's hips are back, Slope Ropes don't slip down, or up. And because they aren't attached it makes it super easy (and way less stressful) at the bottom or top of the chairlift.  After you’ve negotiated long underwear, snowpants with straps, jacket, helmet, mitts, boots and skis – wouldn’t you rather avoid anything else to ‘put on’!?

Do I need fancy equipment to teach my kids to ski?  When I learned, my parents just put me between their legs or skied backwards.

When teaching my own daughter to ski, I started exactly that way – but after a couple of runs my legs were burning and my lower back ached.  Besides that, I found that my daughter wasn’t holding her own weight.  She was hanging from her armpits and her feet and skis were all over the place.  She wasn’t learning, and neither of us were enjoying the runs much. 

Skiing backwards (and even walking backwards) works great on the bunny hill, at slow speeds, allowing you to keep eye contact with your little one, giving them verbal and facial cues. But once your little skier has the 'need for speed' and wants to hit the green or blue runs, skiing backwards is less effective and quite dangerous.  In addition, it doesn’t allow for that joint skiing experience that makes those early days on the hills so special.

Slope Ropes are a simple tool that allows your little one to start learning to ski, with the comfort and control of an adult there with them – managing speed and guiding turns.

What about using a hula hoop?

Slope Ropes were inspired by the simplicity of a hula hoop, but the average hula hoop is only 3-feet in diameter, resulting in the adult’s ski tips riding on the tails of the child’s – and making it very difficult to turn comfortably or to ski outside of a snowplow.  Also, we’ve seen hula hoops bend and snap in the cold, which isn’t ideal when mid-way down a hill!

Why are Slope Ropes better than other products I’ve seen?

There are a lot of other devices out there – harness and leashes and clips.  We put a lot of thought into our product and the primary reasons that we suggest Slope Ropes over other products are:

  1. Slope Ropes were designed to actually teach proper ski posture.  They don’t pull on the back/shoulders or on the skis, but rather sit at the hips and encourage the nose/knees/toes posture that instructors teach.
  2. Children carry their own weight, and the handles can gentle guide/suggest turns.  Kids are actually skiing, as opposed to being ‘skied’ which happens with some of the competitive products (thought they do still control speed).
  3. The handle design and rope length allow adults to ski comfortably behind – controlling speed and guiding turns, even one-handed!
  4. Kids prefer them to anything that needs to be clasped or harness on.  Easy on, easy off.  And, the colors and design look more like a toy than a tool.

They look very simple - couldn't I just make a set out of old hockey sticks and yellow rope?

You sure could. That’s how I started.  But Slope Ropes are the result of many many prototypes and several seasons of test runs – optimizing rope length, handle diameter, rope thickness, etc.  And, probably more importantly for your little skier, Slope Ropes have been put through rigorous testing for safety and durability so that you can have confidence run after run.

What do I do with my Slope Ropes at the bottom of the hill?

First, flip the Slope Ropes over your little skier’s head and whisk them back to the lift.  Once at the lift, double twist and either toss the Slope Ropes over your shoulder like a messenger bag, or tuck them into a pocket.

I worry that the rope is too long/too short.

We went through dozens of prototypes and many seasons of testing to find the optimal rope length.  Slope Ropes have been designed to be long enough that you are able make full parallel turns behind your skier (and ski quite naturally while still controlling your child's speed), and short enough that you aren't too far away (no out of control skiers or snowboarders trying to pass between you and your child!). In addition, the rope is a manageable length for carrying – it takes just two folds of the rope to stash them into your jacket or a big cargo pocket for the ride up the lift.

I'm a snowboarder - can I still use Slope Ropes to teach my little one to ski?

Absolutely. With the ample length, adult snowboarders find that there is plenty of room to make turns behind, while their little one skis in front.

Can I use Slope Ropes to teach my little snowboarder?

While Slope Ropes were initially designed to teach little ones to ski, parents have used them for their little snowboarders as well. While they are effective in controlling your little grom's speed, Slope Ropes don't deliver the turning benefit for snowboarders like they do for little skiers. That being said, any snowboard-specific ski-aid on the market only delivers speed control. Parents do love the 'tow-mode' feature so that their little snowboarder doesn't have to unclip.

Where can I buy Slope Ropes?

Slope Ropes are currently available online on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and in select specialty ski shops across North America and Australia.  If you don’t see them in your local ski shop, please send us a note at sales@sloperopes.com and we’ll do our best to get them stocked!

I'm a retailer - how can I get Slope Ropes to sell in my ski shop?

Drop us an email to sales@sloperopes.com and we'll get you set up.