We’ve all had trouble taking the lift, whether we learned to ski or snowboard as adults or children. I personally took out my fair share of people who were unfortunate to stand on my left side when I was learning to snowboard. Occasionally you even hear the odd story about someone falling right off the chairlift (and who can forget the horror show in Georgia last year when the chairlift started going backwards?). While it’s one thing for adults to struggle, it’s even more difficult to board the lift with beginner snowboarders who are still children and who might lack the understanding or the physical dexterity to safely board the lift the first few times. In this article we’ll discuss some tips on averting disaster as your kids board the chairlift.
Before just plonking your child down on the chairlift, explain to them how it works and what to expect. Try to anticipate whether they have a fear of heights, and definitely make sure they have the level to get off the lift and come to a stop when the lift reaches the top. If you’ve enrolled your children in ski lessons, inform the instructor whether they already know how to ride the lift or not.
Never let your young child board the lift alone (why are you even letting your small child ski alone?), especially when they haven’t got the hang of it yet. Whether you or a ski instructor, they need an adult who can help them load and unload the lift, close the safety bar and maybe even hold them around the waist if they start to slip out of the seat.
It’ll make it way easier for your child to board the lift if they don’t have to worry about holding their poles at the same time. As an added bonus, they’re less likely to drop their poles into the ravine below the lift if you’re holding them!
Explain to your child that they must go quickly to the boarding spot as soon as the ski lift gate opens. You can give them a hand by gently pushing them forward and helping them stop. If necessary, lift attendants can usually slow down the lift if you inform them that it’s your child’s first time.
Make sure your child is sitting all the way back in their seat so as to minimise the chances of falling out of the lift. Remember, lifts are made for adults, and your child may be able to slip under the bar of some lifts. Keep an arm free in case you need to quickly grab your child.
Some kids will be full of beans and not scared at all. They might twist and turn to look at the view, yell back to friends in the lift behind, try to access the candy in their jacket pocket, etc. etc. You know how kids are! But we don’t advise letting them move too much in the lift. Safety first – you can always do those things once you reach the top.
Don’t raise the safety bar until the very last moment. When unloading the lift, make sure your child keeps the tips of their skis up. You should have already explained how to unload the lift safely, and agreed on whether you’re going left or right at the top of the lift. Feel free to give them a little push in the right direction, but don’t push so hard you make them fall over!
The chairlift can be intimidating but physically, it’s not really that hard. If your child can already make turns and stop, then they should have no trouble boarding the lift. Give them a clear explanation of how it all works, and have faith in them! The lift staff and the ski instructors, if applicable, will do a great job of helping you with any little snags. Remind your child that at least they don't have to ride the button tow!
Chairlifts have become much more child-friendly in recent years, adding an extra safety bar between the legs or automatically raising and lowering the safety bar. Some chairlifts even adjust their height to the shortest occupant – no more clambering up onto impossibly high seats! Perhaps the ultimate in chairlift safety is chairlifts with magnets. Children are assigned a magnetic vest during their ski lessons, and when they board the chairlift they are automatically “glued” to the backrest thanks to the magnet. Crazy!
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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