Looking for a ski school that will take a 4yr old on Flocon or equivalent, suggestions please!(14 Posts)
My 4year old has picked up skiing quite easily. She had 6lessons at MK SnoZone before we went on holiday. She was very nearly signed off as an independent skier in that brief time (just couldn't use the drag lift). So we put her (and her 6year old brother) in the Ourson class in ESF La Bresse. The first 3 days in the snow garden just appeared to be repracticing skills they had already been taught. On the 4th day she learnt to use the drag lift. By the end of the 5th day she was comfortably going down the green nursery slope with snowplough turns and bringing her skis parallel when going across the slope. The instructor gave her her Ourson badge and said technically, she's very good, she's fine to progress to Flocon, but she is too small.
We then took her out that afternoon, evening and the next day where she would happily snowplough down most things on a blue. She would only bring her skis parallel if 'this is the exercise we are doing now mummy' when she played being the teacher. So she can, but generally wouldn't. She is only 4 after all!
She says she doesn't want to go in the garden again, she wants to be on the proper slopes.
So, we want to go on holiday again at half term but I am struggling to find somewhere that will take her. Yes, I could just ski with her myself, but she doesn't want to take instruction from me, and it gives me and hubby a couple of hours to ski/board together (to make up for 6years of no skiing).
I have looked into the Portes du Soleil area, and I thought 360 in Les Gets would take her but by email they suggest Cristal for her and Cristal Bronze for the 6 year old, even though the 4 year old is technically better than the 6 year old (but not as fast or crazy). In Val Thorens the website suggests they take 4year olds on Flocon but they start in the garden again and the description seems a level down than everywhere else! So actually would I put them on 1st star? (also VT is too high).
Our other constraints are that we are in a campervan/motorhome so initially had been looking at PdS as it is a shorter drive, some resorts are low (and have aires) and we could avoid (expensive, class2) tolls by going via Strasbourg/Colmar and the East side of Lake Geneva. Also we had been trying to save money by going to places with local area lift passes as we can only guarantee to ski when the kids are in lessons (although we did double that by going skiing with them).
Please give me some suggestions! Surely I can't be the only person with this conundrum?! I guess, if needs be, we might have to try to find private tuition (during school holidays)! Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
In France Private lesson is probably your best chance. May not need to be every day tho, you might be able to book 3 x 2 hour lessons across the week.
Or- IN other countrys things may be different www.geilolia.no/en/Ski-center/Ski-school/Children-4-12-years/Smatroll-4-5-ar/.
OR - say to 4 year old, tough love, your in the same class as your sister for mornings, we will ski as a family in the afternoon.
You could look for a resort that doesn't have a "snow garden" but just has a beginners slope.
I guess most school don't take 4 year olds in the classes that are predominantly away from the snow garden/ beginner area 4 is still very young and small for dealing with chair lifts, busy lift top areas and a class full of 7/ 8 year olds( who may well be fast and crazy) .
Just had a great time there with ESF - tho I don't know what their rules are for 4 year olds.
I am pretty sure that in Les Gets, only club Piou Piou, ie the 3 & 4 year olds pre Ourson are in a snow garden and the older ones go up on a bubble to the high slope. They use the tapis rolant for the first few days so maybe your youngest won't feel like one of the babies. Possibly she could do ourson again, or Cristal with 360. I think it is pretty standard to keep them back if they are not an appropriate age/maturity for the next step. ESF advise ourson from 5 yrs in our resort. Les Gets also has a great wild west themed area with ramps etc especially for kids so she could have lots of fun, even with you ;)
I've had lessons as an adult with 360 and got on well - much friendlier than ESF and much more reasonably priced than BASS.
Can she manage a drag lift independently yet ? We had problems with ESF in Alpe d'Huez when dd was 5 because she was small and very light and they claimed she couldn't. Eventually they allowed her up the bubble and she was perfectly capable. Progression is often not linear, so you may find that next time she simply isn't as gungho and coordinated for the first few days.
UniS, the Smartroll lessons look perfect! But not in a motorhome with a limited time window
Branching out, Morzine was also on my list, the ESF website in 1 place suggests 4 yr olds can do Flocon, and on another page says you need to be 5! That's the same as the ESF school we've just been to in La Bresse who have said she can't do Flocon yet.
Usuallydormant, thanks for the resort specific info. A bubble up the hill sounds great. It sounds like Les Gets is great fun for skiing with kids! I've only read good reviews of 360!
Lizs, yes, she has been on 3 different drag lifts, but on the really steep beginning one she needs an attendant to give her a starting push. The one time she didn't get that the button literally lifted her in the air and threw her off backwards. (she is only 15kg, which I think is average/slightly below for 4) It took quite a lot to get her back on that lift without me, and only after she had been back on the others and up it twice with me. We have been on chairlifts together a handful of times and she sits very still- I think I over scared her and her brother before we went with a Youtube video of a child dangling from a chair! When in resort this Christmas every instructed child (in the higher groups) under 1.25m going on the lifts was 'given' to an adult going up, and the instructor ignored the snowboarders and younger adults so I was quite pleased with that system. I even had the opportunity to practice my French and an 8yr old boy insisted on practicing his English with me However, for the first few days I would probably try and time my runs so I ended up on the chair with her!
I had been seriously considering the private option, thinking of 3x2hrs for the 2 of them, but like your idea UniS of say Sun, Tues, Thur. I had been thinking 3days in a row as that is the convention for lessons. Having chatted to dh, and on another forum, maybe the Cristal class 360 are offering her is appropriate for her ability and, most importantly, age.
So thankyou everyone for your ideas. It seems such a shame that I am thinking of not getting her interim lessons at the SnoZone as the instruction there seems too good and I need her to feel she is learning something on holiday so she doesn't get bored! However Les Gets does seem the right location for us, now just to hope the Aire isn't full!
How about Oxyegene in Tignes/Val d'isere? They seem more flexible than other bigger outfits.
Apeak (ESI) in Montgenevre take four year olds and are excellent.
Our ds2 was 3.7 last year and got his piou piou and ours on from esf at les lindarets last year. We go with Family Ski Company and I don't think it's that unusual.
We're going back this year and he will follow on from there. As long as you take their book with the stamps in it showing their level there should be no problem.
I would second the private route; for roughly the same cost as 5 half days of school you could probably get them a 3x2.5 hour lessons. That way, my DCs did ourson at 4 and 5.5, flocon at 5.5/7, one star at 6/7.5 and are a couple of lessons from two star now at 6.5/8.
That said, pretty sure ESF where we go (sainte Foy) is very flexible.
I wouldn't get too hung up on the level of lessons - usually they will be put up or down during the week depending on availability. A 4 year old will probably be better in Piou Piou...my DS2 was 4 a couple of years ago...he had spent a lot of time on skis, and was happy on piste with me during the afternoon, but the time he spent in the Snow Garden was well worth it.
We went to Morzine last Jan and our 3.5 year old was in piou piou with ESF. They practiced in snow garden but by mid-week were going Jo then went up in bubble lift to nursery slope which has a magic carpet and were happily snow ploughing (pizza slices ) up there. We are off to mountgeneve on Sunday so will report back! ESF again with kids of various ages and skills x
They also went snow shoeing which they thought was fabulous! Agree with fed Jo, ESF were quite flexible depending on how the kids are doing. In our group, they shuffled them around quite a bit on a day to day basis.
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