Cross-country skiing may seem like a lot of work (for you and the kids, frankly). But those in the know say it all depends on how you approach it. The key to raising enthusiastic Nordic skiers is to keep the outings relatively short and play up the fun. Not all kids are ready to start communing with nature or enjoying the workout—but almost all of them get a kick out of fast hills, quick stops, funny stunts, high-speed chases, treasure hunts and I Spy.
Start with good equipment, which can be rented from a few places around Ottawa if you don’t want to buy it (remember, kids are easily turned off by any sport that hurts their feet). If you’re renting, try Trailhead. Trailhead also rents ski sleds for pulling kids, gear or both.
Don’t worry too much about technique. Instead, focus on jumps and bumps, picnics, snacks, and interesting destinations.
If you’re just getting started, you may want to try trails that are close to home (so it’s easy to bail if it all goes downhill). We recommend the trails at Mooney’s Bay Ski Centre on Riverside Drive for families just getting their feet wet. There are indoor change rooms and washrooms, five kilometres of groomed trails, and a tuck shop with hot chocolate for sale. Best of all, ski rentals are available on site! Lessons for both children and adults are offered.
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