does your 3 year old ski?

i love to ski.  my husband loves to snowboard.

we’ve got two boys and i’ve been chompin’ at the bit to get them on the slopes.

last year, when i was pregnant with Big A, it snowed 20′ in mammoth. you read that right. 20 FEET!

unfortunately, my two swollen feet and I were laid up…eating bon bons….cursing the epic 20′.

so this was our season to get Lil G on the slopes…and did we ever!!!  we headed to Mammoth Mountain…the eastern California Sierras.  we arrived the day after it snowed 4.5′.

fine, not 20, but still a pretty good dump!

Here’s Lil G…so happy in the snow.  He loves the mountains and snow…definitely my boy!

Lil G took 4 days of ski school....and loved it.

The toddler class caters to 3-4 year olds.  They meet in the lodge, get all their gear on…which is a feat in and of itself….

Boots, pants, jacket, helmet, goggles, gloves….and then ‘I’ve gotta go potty!’

And that’s just you!  🙂

The first day of lessons is really just trying to get your kid used to the snow and all the gear.  The helmet basically makes them a real life bobble head.  Talk about top heavy.

the magic carpet moves the kids up the tiny slope...

By the end of the first day, they’ve learned how to wobble around on a single ski, and then on two skis.  Then they learn how to get onto a magic carpet, which is like a giant moving sidewalk, moving them up the ever-so-slightly inclined slope.

the kids line up like little ducks...skiing one at a time down the very mild slope

They learn to step off the magic carpet and hobble onto a piece of astro turf.  Then they wait turns to ‘ski’ down the slope.

Here was Lil G’s favorite instructor…Miss Nikki from Newport Beach.  She was gentle, patient, fun, and nurturing.  He learned the most the day she taught him….and believe me, she earned every single penny.  Talk about herding cats!

The kids all fall…and pretty much they stay in this position until someone fetches them.

And by day 3, they’re much more comfortable in their gear, can walk confidently to and from the lodge, and are starting to demonstrate some semblance of skill!  Check this out!!!

The 3 hour lesson is broken up with a 30-45 minute snack break.  Here are the kiddos walking comfortably in their boots and gear to get goldfish and cookies.

i'd say this guy looks pretty happy!

A few tips we learned on our first Mammoth trip:

  • Canyon Lodge and Eagle Lodge seem to be the most kid-friendly.  There isn’t as much mayhem and the kids don’t have to walk too far to get from the lodge to the lesson.
  • Eagle Lodge is directly next door to Juniper Springs lodge and is a 100 yard walk to the lodge.  Easy.
  • Mid week lessons are a must.  We were lucky with class sizes no larger than 4 kids.
  • Book online and register for a ‘My Mammoth’ account.  You’ll get discounts and access to free wifi in the lodges.
  • Arrive early the first day to pick up your gear…skis, boots, helmet.  Rentals do NOT include pants, jackets, gloves, or goggles, so pick those up before you arrive if possible.  I made the mistake of assuming ‘gear’ included the clothes…and ended up scrambling to buy it the morning of our first class.  Shhh…don’t tell my husband!
  • Drop off the kids as if it’s the first day of preschool.  Drop and go.  Don’t linger around, don’t let them see you, don’t helicopter.  It’s distracting to the instructor, the kids, and you end up wasting your money.  Hug, kiss, walk away, and hide behind a tree if you want…but don’t be up in their grill taking pictures the whole time.  Arrive 15 minutes before the end of class to take pix…the kids are adjusted and feeling comfortable by then.
  • Ski and try to enjoy yourself while you pine away for your kid.
  • Book everything through and get FREE flights into MMH airport from LAX, SNA, or San Diego.  Mammoth’s new expanded airport is a 5 minute drive from the mountain.  This is a no-brainer.  If you stay in Mammoth lodging, you don’t need a car.  A shuttle picks you up from the airport, brings you to the resort, you either walk or shuttle to the lifts, and it’s easy as that.

We had a GREAT first time ski school experience at Mammoth, but here’s one thing they should consider:

  • Now with the RFID (radio frequency ID) tickets, you put the plastic card in a pant pocket, and the gates auto-detect the card, open a gate, and let you on to the lift.  No longer do you need to wait for someone to scan your ticket.  FAST!  With this new technology, the mountain is totally able to offer 1/2 day morning passes, but they don’t.  They should.  I want to ski while my kids are in ski school…but have to take them home for naps afterward.  Why’m I paying a full day ticket price?  C’mon!

Get ready Big A…you’re next!

About meesh

Meesh has a passion for people, creative projects, and technology. She enjoys painting furniture back to life, gardening, playing with her kids, and connecting people.


  1. So cute!! My husband and I both snowboard and can’t wait to get our twins out to ride. They are 19 months now so probably not until next year. They’ll be 2 1/2 then so I’m hoping that will be old enough.

    • Yes! Watching the little guys teetering in their boots is precious. 2.5 may be a little young as the schools seem strict about the minimum age, but it’s worth a shot if they seem ready!!

  2. Anonymous says

    You go Meesh! My two started at 6 and 4 and my oldest is burning up the black diamonds at 11. I started at 4 myself and it makes all the difference to start young. I’d add that sledding at the end of the day after the runs closes is also a big crowd pleaser…

    • great idea about the sledding. we actually celebrated by taking the gondola for round trips and up and down the mountain. the one at main lodge is very cool overseeing the entire valley and going right over the huge half pipes and mackin’ freestyle jumps. fun!

  3. Fun Fun Fun!!! Maybe we’ll meet you out there in a couple of years!

  4. I have two boys (2 and 4 currently) I started my 4 year old when he was 2 and my 2 year old has been up one time this season.

    For a 3 year old it is best to get them in a class so they get the idea of what is going on, then get a private lesson so they can work on stopping and turning out on the longer slopes instead of being couped up in the magic carpet area.

    I found that in the class my son didn’t follow directions well enough for the instructors to want to take him out on the actual slopes even though he had been out on the green runs with me already. Thus the need to just get him a private lesson so a single instructor could focus on him and his skill building.

    After that you should be able to take your child out yourself to tear up the bunny slopes without the fear of them zooming off uncontrolled.

  5. yes, private lessons may be in the future…but the price tag is OUCH! painful.

    hopefully by next year, he’ll be a bit taller so that we don’t have to lift him too much to get onto and off of the lift! 🙂

  6. Get a harness for him that has a handle. With harnesses I can pick up both of my sons (one in each hand) and pop them up on the lift. My 4 year old is under control now so I can just set him down as we get off the lift and then keep hold of my 2 year old.

    The handles make me feel a ton more comfortable once we are up in the air too since they are much more secure than trying to hold onto clothes when one of the kids starts squirming around on the lift.