Buying the right equipment for your children is a good investment for two reasons: equipment retains its resale value and it’s an investment in a positive, healthy, and fun family activity. And remember, never, never buy equipment your child can “grow into.” Equipment must fit properly (especially boots) NOW so your child can enjoy skiing.
For Viking BRs and beginner Viking JRs
Waxless or waxable?
Waxable: In the Laurentian, most BRs will do better with waxable skis, which give better grip and glide when properly waxed.
Waxless: These skis are durable, inexpensive and widely available and can be fine for many children. The pattern on the base helps on a climb but the resistance also means less speed and glide on the flat and downhill.
Viking JRs (levels 1 and 2) minimum requirements
• Combi skis (see below)
• Poles; classic length (see below)
• 3-pin or SNS/NNN boot/binding system
Viking JRs (levels 3 and 4) minimum requirements
Skating technique is officially introduced into the skill progressions.
• Combi skis (see below)
• Poles; one pair at classic length that can also be used for skating is okay, but it’s better to have a second pair at skating length.
• SNS/NNN boot/binding system. No 3-pin
Eventually parents may wish to buy two sets of equipment (skating and classic) if the child’s skills and future involvement in the sport warrant the investment.
Specific equipment advice
• For young BRs a binding/ski system lets them use their regular winter boots can be fine if the system is easy to use in the cold and not prone to involuntary release! Make sure the straps for this system are integrated into the binding construction as loose straps have a way of getting lost. Snow boots can be very warm, but if they’re not laced up firmly, little feet might come right out of the boots.
• Older BRs and young Viking JRs (levels 1 and 2) can use the simple 3-pin boot and binding system, although this is becoming less available. However, better quality, warmer and more durable boot/binding systems (Salomon or NNN) are available for children. Both systems are equally functional.
• For children who are participating in the Viking JR (or levels 3 up) and beyond, select a boot/binding system (not 3-pin) that will not rub in the track when the ski is on edge or when skating technique is used.
Poles are often the most neglected piece of equipment. Many youngsters arrive at their first class with poles that are too short and in poor shape. Children 8 years and older or in the L2 and up will start to benefit from poles (and although BRs don’t need them, they might want some just to fit in!). Remember, if poles are too long or too short, the skier will have a tough time mastering the skills.
For Classic: poles should reach under the arm when the skier is standing on the floor.
For Skating: poles should come to the skier’s chin.
- Straps must be adjustable and the material flexible (not plastic).
- Tips must be metal; plastic tips are useless.
Skis have a number of features to consider, including type, length, camber, and base. Below you will see some descriptions and suggestions.
- Classic Skis: skis used for the traditional cross country skiing motion on either track-set or non-tracked trails.
- Skating Skis: used for the motion of skating on skis, requiring shorter and stiffer skis.
- Combi Skis: have been designed to perform adequately for either skiing motion. This is the type of ski most commonly used by Viking JRs.
For new BRs (4-5 yrs.) and beginner Viking JRs (6-7 yrs.), skis should be as tall as the child. Once the child has developed some skill and is comfortable with skis on his/her feet, you can get him/her skis of the right length.
For older skiers the length depends on the ski type:
- Classic Skis: tip should reach just below the skier’s wrist when the arm is held straight above the head. The camber should be suitable for classic skiing.
- Skating Skis: should be about 5 cm above the head, with the camber suitable for skate skiing.
- Combi Skis: the length should be mid-way between the length for a classic ski and a skating ski, but the camber should be suitable for classic skiing.
Camber is the amount of flex a ski has along its length. Classic skis are much more flexible than skating skis.
Generally, children’s skis have a soft camber as kids don’t have enough strength, weight or skill to realize the benefits of a properly cambered ski. When they reach the age of about 11 or 12 and their technique is solid, you can get them skis of the proper camber.
Classic ski camber should be about 60% of the skier’s body weight. You can test for this by placing the skies parallel (about 8” apart) on a smooth, hard surface and have the skier stand on them at the approximate balance point. A letter-sized piece of paper should be able to move between the ski and floor at the balance point. Then have the skier stand on one leg (on the ball of the foot); now the paper should not move.
Skating ski camber should be close to 100% of the skier’s body weight. Many of the specialized ski shops in the Montreal region have a meter for testing camber.
Once you have selected a classic ski with the appropriate camber, you should have a store measure the wax pocket and mark its position on the sidewalls of the ski with a permanent marker. In general, if you take used skis – with clean bases – to a store, they will gladly measure the wax pocket to see if the ski is still right for the child. Make sure you mark the ski with the permanent marker at the time!