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Ask the Experts: December 2001

posted: 01/16/2002


Start-Up Stress

When should my children begin skiing?
Evan Brooke
Topeka, Kansas

Don't push your kids into the sport. Let them take to it naturally. Because we live in a ski town, my wife and I decided our own children could ski as soon as they asked. Our daughter showed interest when she was 2 1/2. We bought her skis and boots and she happily tromped around the living room carpet in them. When snow arrived, we bundled her up and she walked around the flat ski school area on skis, admiring the colorful toys, flags, banners and other kids.

But confronted with even the slightest slope, one that would require her to slide, she sat on her bum and refused to budge. We didn't insist, and she didn't ask to ski again for another 18 months. When she tried again, she took to it like a duck to water. Within days, she was following me all over the mountain.

Most kids are neither strong enough nor coordinated enough to ski before the age of 4. Very young children can start skiing earlier than they can begin snowboarding. Even at a young age they often can stand in an awkward, braced wedge. Kids' instructors, of course, understand all this.

Call the resort beforehand. Ski schools typically do not accept kids for class lessons (which I recommend) before they are 3 1/2-though there are exceptions. If you want to introduce your child to skiing before that you can arrange a private lesson. But for no more than an hour, max.

Don't buy skis or boots for young kids who will quickly outgrow them. There's a wealth of rental gear-including helmets-at any good ski school. Many ski shops now rent kids' gear for a whole season at a cheap rate, with free mid-season upgrades if they need something bigger. Buy older kids' gear at ski swaps-either until they are really serious or in their teens. That will save a bundle. -The Professor

Have a question for The Professor? Write Stu Campbell at


Hunger Strike

I eat breakfast, but I still bonk by about 10:30 a.m. on ski days. What's up? Theresa Steele
San Jose, Calif.

Your breakfast is only as good as the food you eat. So downing three chocolate doughnuts is a disaster. But even a breakfast of favorites such as pancakes, O.J., bananas, cereal, bagels or instant oatmeal can lead to a mid-morning crash. The difference between "bonk" and "non-bonk" foods isn't how nutritious the food is, but where it falls on the Glycemic Index (GI). High-glycemic foods cause a surge of glucose, but later send energy levels plummeting. Low-glycemic foods release glucose steadily, keeping energy levels stable. An ideal breakfast consists of low-glycemic carbohydrates-such as slow-cooked oatmeal, apples, grapefruit, or low-fat milk or yogurt-as well as protein, such as eggs or meat. But you shouldn't steer clear of high-glycemic foods, especially nutritious ones, such as bananas, raisins, fruit juices and whole-grain bread. After exercise, they can replenish glucose levels. The key is to consume small amounts, slowly. For more information, visit the Glycemic Research Institute at or -The Trainer Write The Trainer at


Don't Get Stiffed

Your Buyer's Guide advised the Lange Banshee 7 for intermediates. The shop guys picked the Banshee Pro for its "higher performance." Who's right?
Charles Kraft
Chicago, Ill.

Gear Dork has a heavy heart. There are two reasons why these guys would want to up-sell you. Either they've seen you ski and know you rip, or they want to rip you off. In the right hands, the Pro is a "higher-performance" boot, because it's stiffer. If you're strong, heavy and aggressive, you'll enjoy its power. If not? Picture those dummy-hucks during Carnival week, where thhey send human effigies strapped to skis over huge kickers. Notice how the dummy gets thrown back and forth with every bump? That's you in the Banshee Pro. If the boot has more oomph than you do, it'll slap you silly. So don't let this shop sell you more boot than you need. It won't make you ski better, and it will make you poorer. Stick with the Banshee 7, which has an appropriate flex for you. Put the savings toward custom footbeds. At some other shop. -The Gear Geek

Have a question for the Geek? Write Joe Cutts at

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