Pop Quiz - What's the average age of a skier today?
Thirty-eight isn't old, but it isn't exactly young, either. We often think of skiers as being a bunch of teenagers and kids, but the reality is most of the people on the slopes have 401(k)s and are more worried about retirement security and health insurance than getting back to school before final exams.
I ran across this post last week, which argued that skiing is expensive, and there's a "bubble of wealth" that's getting older while subsequent generations haven't seen increasing prosperity. There may be some truth to that, but not every ski area is Deer Valley, and you can be a skier without a platinum credit card.
More than money, there's an issue of demographics. There just aren't enough kids and teenagers going out and learning how to ski. Without young blood, skiing will age, and eventually die as a sport. This is a great problem for ski areas, and thus, all skiers.
Pictured to the left is my son, twelve years ago. Today he's a ski instructor. Introducing children to skiing provides a lifetime of fun in the snow. I learned to ski at thirteen, and have spent close to a thousand days of my life skiing. The impact we can make on a child's life is enormous.
When I first became a ski instructor, I was trained on teaching beginners. Once I mastered that, I learned to teach children, then eventually intermediate skiers, and finally advanced skiers. Training new instructors last weekend, I started with how to teach children. Something had changed, and that change was a recognition that teaching children to love the sport was perhaps the most important thing we do.
Whether you're a new instructor, or a parent, please take the time to consider the importance of not just teaching children how to ski, but teaching them to enjoy and love it. You're not only helping them have a happy lifetime, but you could very well be saving the sport.
It's early season yet. I promise to have some tips and tricks about actually improving skiing soon.