When our twins started skiing, we put them on tiny K2’s with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle graphics. Our kids were thrilled, as were we, since these hand-me-downs from older cousins saved us an investment in ski equipment. My husband and I would valiantly ski with one twin between our legs trying to teach them the intricate skills known simply as “French fries” and “pizza pie.” After two hours our quads would be burning and we would gratefully hand-off our tired toddlers to their grandparents before we hit the mountain for some real skiing. If you’re a parent with small children new to the sport of skiing, you can relate.
Lucky for us, kids grow and soon master the basics of how to link together turns and stop on a dime. When that happens it’s time to make the move from little kid skis, which are essentially just two planks of wood that slide down the mountain, to a pair of skis with some shape to them. But how do you know which skis are the best for your son or daughter?
The Right Size Skis for Your Child
First off, it’s important to understand that kids’ skis are only designed for youngsters up to adolescent age. Skis for teenagers are a whole different animal since older kids will ski on either tweener skis or even adult skis, depending on their height, weight and ability level.
As parents, remember that bigger is not necessarily better when buying skis for your child. There is some concern about kids skiing on skis that are too wide. It can cause hip displacement since the hips are working overtime on wider width skis. In general, skis that measure 90 millimeters wide and above are just too wide for kids, due to the fact that hips are still developing until children reach their late teens.
When it comes to determining the best length skis for your child, it’s a question of if you are trying to get one or two years out of them. If your goal is for your child to ski on the sticks for just one year before handing them down to a younger sibling, then the ski length should be somewhere between your child’s chin and the nose. For a longer life of two years, measure from the nose to the forehead. Anything longer isn’t safe for the child to ski and the fact of the matter is that kids typically outgrow skis in one to two years anyway.
Best Skis for Kids
By the time kids are ready for their second pair of skis, the offerings are much more varied. There is more shape to the skis and even a little bit of rocker that helps initiate the turn. And of course, there is always a girl’s version and a boy’s version of each. Below are some noteworthy kids’ skis that our Experts recommend.
Best First Time Ski – Head Souphead:
This ski is ideal for kids who are first time skiers and want twin tips like their big brother or big sister. This kids' twin tip comes in a width as narrow as 67 centimeters and is designed for beginner skiers who plan to stick to groomed runs and maybe experiment a little in terrain parks. The twin tip design allows for easy exit from turns to help new skiers begin to transfer weight from edge to edge.
Best All Mountain Ski for Kids – Atomic Punx & Atomic Century Girl:
Both the boy’s version (Punx) and the girl’s version (Century Girl) of these kids’ all mountain skis are in the 120-150 centimeter length range where skis really start to take shape. These skis are great to ski all over the mountain, even in the terrain park, thanks to the twin tip design. The Punx comes with graphics that boys will love and features the flex, sidecut and camber that allow the ski to arc so that kids can actually start carving turns. Plus, size-specific dimensions on the Punx ensure the optimal turning radius, depending on the height and weight of your child.
The Atomic Century Girl ski is designed as a transition between kids’ and adult skis with a short radius and traditional camber in a lighter weight ski with forgiving flex. And since this ski boasts a partial twin tail, girls will feel comfortable hitting the park as well. Best of all, the flat mount on the Century Girl allows it to accept either adult or junior bindings, depending on your daughter’s boot size.
Best System Ski for Kids – Fischer Stunner and KOA Jr Girl:
The Fischer Stunner for boys and the Fischer KOA Jr for girls are sharp looking kids’ skis with bindings to match the cosmetics of the top sheet. But don’t let their looks fool you. These all mountain skis are lightweight and maneuverable enough to make park and pipe fun too. And Fischer’s Rail system bindings provide an added advantage to moms and dads since the toe and heel of these kids’ bindings are movable. This allows the binding to “grow” with the ski boot size while making sure that the boot sole remains in the center of the ski for the best performance.
Trade-In, Trade-Up Program
By now you’ve probably figured out that buying new skis for your child every few years can get pretty expensive. Which is why Jans created our Trade-In, Trade-Up program. All you need to do to enter the program is to purchase a full kids’ ski package that includes skis, boots and bindings. First, we’ll give you 30% off the suggested retail price. Then, when your child outgrows some of that gear up to one year later, you can trade it in and get a 40% credit towards the purchase of new skis, boots or both. Again, any new kids’ equipment that you purchase will be sold at 30% off retail. The only thing we don’t trade back as part of this program is ski poles.
So come into Jans and see one of our Experts to make sure your child’s equipment is just the right size for them. And don’t forget to ask about the Trade-In, Trade-Up program to make buying kids’ skis more affordable.
Liz Yokubison, Editor, jans.com and whitepinetouring.com