Get on the slopes early and be adventurous, says Teresa Wood, a former instructor and a mum of ski-mad teenage boys
1. Mix it up on the slopes
Teenagers love skiing fast! It’s exhilarating and fun as long as they stay in control. If you can stay ahead of them, take the lead and keep in the habit of skiing in a line, even if you are spread out. Wait for each other before junctions and at the bottom of each run. Overtaking can be avoided by going in roughly the order of fastest first.
Teenagers love doing jumps! Do them in the afternoons when the landings are softer. It is helpful to watch other people’s efforts – notice how far up they start and do the smaller ramps first. Doing a mid-air ‘tuck’ helps bring the weight forward for landing and adds height for photos.
Teenagers love going off-piste! You don’t have to go far to find moguls, powder or tree runs on non-threatening terrain. Watching other people is an easy way to judge conditions and find good routes – but if you don’t have the experience to judge what is safe, always take an instructor or guide along.
Teenagers love going backwards! Find an empty blue run and try out some tricks. You could even teach them the important art of the kick-turn.
2. Get going pronto
Heading to the slopes in good time is worth the effort, even if it is quite an effort. Getting ready is quicker with older children and they can prepare their own rucksacks with water, snack, sunglasses and hat for the terrace. Breakfasts can be quicker if you are self-catering as you can all get your ski gear ready at the same time.
The freshly-pisted, empty runs and a mid-morning hot chocoalate are useful temptations. If there is a bad weather day sometime during the week you could plan a slightly later start.
3. Enjoy a taste of après-ski
Now could be the time to get a taste of après-ski. The Austrians have mastered the 4pm Live Musik up on the mountain followed by an evening ski home. Squeezing onto communal tables and ‘dancing’ on benches/tables to oompah/’80s rock music has become a surprisingly popular and firm fixture with our 16 and 14 year-olds.
Many Austrian and Swiss resorts also offer fondue evenings in mountain restaurants with an evening telecabine trip. An hour of ice skating goes down well and the novelty of swimming in a heated outdoor pool surrounded by snow hasn’t worn off in our family. Night skiing under floodlights is another great experience so check if it is available.
4. Embrace the right apps
The sight of families having lunch with their phones is never pleasing, but technology can have its uses. Our oldest likes the apps that show how far/fast he has been, as well as altitude and descent statistics. He also takes lots of photos and sometimes treats us to his latest music choices if we have a telecabine to ourselves. Our youngest leaves his phone at the flat/hotel.
Earphones are never taken up and skiing ‘to music’ can cause accidents. GoPros and other cameras should be used on a ski pole or harness, not on helmets. Remember that phone batteries run out quickly in the cold so don’t rely on mobiles as a way of finding each other on the slopes.
Dos and Don’ts
Do use chairlift and gondola rides for chit-chat and planning
Do teach your kids to use hello, please and thank you in the local language
Do hire an instructor or a mountain guide if you aren’t able or experienced enough to take them off-piste yourself
Do sign them up for lessons in the park if you aren’t confident supervising their jumps
Do consider giving them a go at snowboarding, twin-tips, ski touring or telemarking
Don’t leave them unaccompanied on the mountain at the end of the day to do one last run – this is the most important time to stick together
Don’t (or do?) be afraid to entertain/embarrass them with Austrian-style après-ski dad (and mum) dancing
Don’t forget to look after them – they’re still children!