Snowboarding Toddlers: New technology makes learning to ride easier for kids of any age
By: Doug Fagel
October 21, 2009
For years, people have asked me, “At what age can I start my kid on a snowboard?” And my answer USED to be: Wait until they are around age 5 if they will get to practice fairly frequently, and 7 if they will only make it to the hill once or twice a season.
But with the new innovations in snowboarding gear for toddlers and youth riders available now, my recommendations have definitely changed. If your son or daughter is able to stand up, it is time to get them started snowboarding!
The reason I now believe in getting toddlers started shredding right away is the new technology incorporated into the tiniest of snowboards. I give credit to any company that is producing youth snowboarding products, as there are relatively few, but the award for best youth innovation for 2009 and 2010 has to go to Burton.
The new Burton snowboards for toddler and youth riders — the Chicklet for girls and Chopper for boys — are making the sport even more accessible with Burton’s “Easy Rider Tech.”
This technology gives the board a beveled base from edge to edge that allows the board to turn with almost no effort. A toe-side turn that used to take muscle development and sophisticated balance skills is now achieved by leaning slightly towards the toe edge of the board. The beveled base allows the board to tip and the edge to engage as the board naturally steers across the hill.
The beveled base also prevents catching an edge (and the subsequent full-body slam) that used to be a regular part of the snowboarding learning curve.
The Easy Rider Tech also takes a bit of skill for your rider to straight-line down the hill — meaning developing speed control comes naturally, and there is almost no chance of an out-of-control beginner flying down the hill until they hit an obstacle in their way.
I got a chance to play around with one of the 100 cm Choppers equipped with footpads. I was instantly able to shred around making turns and buttering out — it felt like I was riding a snow skate.
With the Chopper and Chicklet being made in sizes as small as 90 cm, Velcro Grom boots available as small as a child’s 11, and tiny bindings that have a performance fit, I say now is the time to get your kid on a snowboard!
As you look around at other parents on hill with skiing toddlers, you will see kids in an uncomfortable stance strapped to a leash. This might give their parents some peace of mind; however, the restrictive nature of the lease does not allow the child to learn proper balance or technique.
Burton’s answer to the problem of controlling your youngster while they are learning to ride is called the Riglet, and it’s essentially a retractable leash that attaches to the board, allowing you to either pull your mini shedder across the flats or to slow them down on a sketchy section of the hill. This option allows the little rider to correctly develop movements and balance while giving them a little break or boost.
The 90 cm and 100 cm Chopper and Chicklet boards are equipped with a mount location for the Burton Riglet, which can be purchased separately. These boards also come with footpads for the rider that is not quite ready to be strapped in to their board.
So what is the right age to start snowboarding? I say it’s the day someone learns to walk! Get their progression started early and never look back.