Archived Q&A and Reviews
Can anyone suggest a very good snowboarding school near Lake Tahoe for my six-year-old daughter? She's starting completely from scratch - no ski experience and no boarding experience. Hans
Diamond Peak, a small resort in Incline Village has a ski and snowboard school. I don't know how the lessons compare to those at other resorts, but in terms of convenience and economy Diamond Peak has some plusses. I haven't put my kids in lessons yet (too young) but when I took my 3-year-old for the first time on skis a couple weeks ago I observed the instructors and was impressed --- I picked up some teaching tips from them, too. They have a 20ft conveyer-belt lift for the the very, very beginner, and then two normal lifts for beginners. http://www.diamondpeak.com/SkiBoardSchool_school.html
Two other great things about Diamond Peak. 1) If you ignore the guys telling you where to park you can almost always get a parking spot very close to the ticket booth, ski school, and beginner lift. 2) If you want to ski with your child you can get a ticket that allows you to use just the two beginner lifts for only $15. They will even give it to you on an elastic band so that mom and dad can take turns.
Northstar will also give you at ticket that you can share with your spouse if you are trading childcare. I think they call it the parent predicament ticket. Susan
When our kids were 4 and 5, we took them to Minors Camp, the ski/snowboarding school for kids at Northstar. This was great for our twins because they had the option of learning skiing, snowboarding, or playing inside at the great childcare facility if they didn't feel like being out in the cold. Minors Camp has their own private little slope - no chance of a hot dog snowboarder plowing into the little ones, so we felt secure and they felt very comfortable. You have to call in advance (at least a few weeks) to get your kids into the camp - it books up quickly. You can either go ski while they're in their lessons or sit in the lodge by the fire watching them (the windows are reflective so you can see them but your kids can't see you). :) Now that our kids are 8, we've had a few private snowboarding lessons at Heavenly with a great instructor named Shea Evans. He was really good with kids who have a little experience. Ann
Our friend is a snowboard instructor at Alpine Meadows. She told us that at Alpine, children should be at least 7 for snowboarding lessons. Developmentally, the under 7 year old crowd is unable to pick up snowboarding. Skiing, they can do, however. But she said that it is obvious when parents sneak their under 7 year olds into her class, because the kids are just not able to pick up snowboarding yet.
My experience has been that ski resorts don't encourage kids to learn to snowboarding until they are 8 or 9 years old. My 6 yr old had skied for two years and was begging to snowboard. The instructor at Kirkwood said that something about a lack of certain leg muscle control doesn't work for snowboarding at the younger ages. She said skiing is easier for the younger kids to learn. In fact they did not take snow boarders under 8yrs old ( and they preferred 9 ) in their ski school programs. Most resorts also require kids to be 5yrs old to go to ski school. Some take four year olds but they're harder to find. I would go on-line or call the resorts you are interested in and see who would even give snow board lessons to a 6 yr old. You could always try the private lesson approach if you really wanted. Or you might just want to start with skiing first my kids had fun at early ages. Lynn
When I started snowboarding a couple of years ago, I asked the guy at the shop where I bought my board (Any Mountian) where the best place was to learn. He said Sugar Bowl. I never did take a lesson there but I really like the resort. Great runs and it's closer to the bay area since it's this side of the pass. I had a good lessons at Mt. Rose and Heavenly. I'm not a big fan of Heavenly though. It's not well laid out and not that family friendly. The family friendly places are Northstar, Alpine, Mt. Rose, Sugar Bowl, Sierra, Squaw Chris
My husband and son did the one at Soda Springs, and it was a good beginning program. The great thing about Soda is it is this side of the summit, so you can even stay in Auburn and drive in in the morning if you don't want to go all the way into Tahoe. The downside is the lodge is super yucky and crowded, not a great place to hang out. Maria