Fall-Line editor Nicola Iseard ponders the role parents play in passing on the love of skiing
We had a few extra people on our annual Ski Test in Kühtai this year. One of them was David Cowan, the 72-year-old father-in-law of our backcountry editor Martin. Another was my 19-month-old son, Lupo. It was difficult to say who had the most fun. The beaming smile on David’s face after a knee-deep powder run on day three (photo evidence above) was easily matched by the toothy grin on Lupo’s after he slid 20 feet on the almost-flat.
While both of them are at different points on the ski journey spectrum (David has 37 years’ skiing and over 40 resorts under his belt; Lupo has two weeks’ sliding under his, er, nappy – much of which was spent shuffling his skis around on the carpet at home), both have one key thing in common: they caught the skiing bug from their parents.
David’s mother skied in Davos in her early twenties when recuperating from tuberculosis. She developed an enduring love for the mountains and when David, aged 17, was on a three-month exchange with a German family it was “as a result of her enthusiasm that I left England equipped with leather ski boots with little brass fittings at each corner”.
As for Lupo, he didn’t stand a chance. Chrigl and I ski every opportunity we can. And as soon as Lupo was old enough to know what skiing was he wanted to join in the fun.
There’s a certain inevitability about the skiing bug. It is infectious; pervasive. It bridges generations. It is too early to say, but the chances are that Lupo will devote inordinate amounts of his time to sliding on snow. And when he isn’t, he will, if he’s anything like his family and extended family, be thinking about skiing, whether dreaming while asleep, or day-dreaming during the day.
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Are we as his parents to blame? Should we feel responsible? My feelings towards my parents for introducing me to skiing are characterised by an immense sense of gratitude. I’m sure David’s children (“we skied together every year”), and grandchildren, feel the same.
I had an amusing conversation with someone in the industry recently, regarding introducing (or, ‘not’ introducing, as the case would have it) his daughter to skiing. He said: “I’ll let her choose for herself, it’s good for kids to figure out what they like themselves.” I was nodding along, when I thought, how the heck will she do that? Is she going to book flights to the Alps? Rent skis? She’s six!
Personally, I feel it is our duty as parents to introduce, educate, share. When we love something, we should not worry about whether we are ‘moulding our children’, we should trust our choices and share it with them as much as possible. Especially when it is something as fun as skiing. Fun-doctrination. That’s what we’ll call it.