Learn a Winter Sport (with Some Help from YouTube)

Soon, you and your kids can be skating, skiing, and snowboarding like Olympians.

By Jacqueline Emigh

If you live in one of the more northerly regions of the U.S., you have the privilege of routinely playing with your kids in the snow. But even if you're surrounded by palm trees or cactus, you might have been to an ice rink. Meanwhile, you've witnessed the Olympic winter sports spectaculars on TV.

So why not take a whirl (or a twirl or a swirl) at strengthening your athletic skills at skating, skiing, or snowboarding? Who knows what winter sports adventures might lie ahead for you and your children, just beyond the next corner of the rink or peak of the mountains?

After all, there's not much that does a better job of building family unity than successfully completing a ski run together, even if you wipe out a few times along the way.

You don't even need to leave home to learn basic skills. Winter sports enthusiasts, along with folks who teach these sports, have posted a slew of instructional videos online. We've rounded up some of the best video clips below. Keep in mind that instructional videos are only the tip of the iceberg (so to speak) for learning these sports.

If you're already an avid winter sportsperson, you can give hands-on instruction to your kids. Otherwise, invest in lessons. Group classes can be very helpful here, but private and semi-private lessons are even better at speeding progress in picking up sports know-how.

Figure Skating

We're starting out with skating here because it's a sport that's accessible practically anywhere. In this video, "Kate Skates" illustrates elementary figure skating moves like forward strokes, basic stops, swizzles, and backward skating.

Good tips: Kate advises that you should start by marching before moving into full glides. You should also keep your knees slightly bent while on the ice to maintain your balance.

Hockey Skating

The skills demanded by ice hockey are different than those practiced in figure skating. (You wear a different type of skates, too.)

This video guides us through the types of moves that kids need to learn before trying out for a hockey team, including athletic starts, forward strides, C-cuts, and backwards crossovers.

Cross-Country Skiing

Some people might find the rigors of downhill skiing to be a bit intimidating. Cross-country skiing, performed on more level terrain, is a safer and more leisurely way of communing with nature while moving about on the snow and ice.

In this video, Kyla from the Tuja Wellness Center learns how to put on skis and poles, balance on one foot at a time, and make an easy recovery from falling in the snow.

Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing is almost certainly one of the most exciting sports you can try. But you'll need a lot of practice before you can schuss down advanced trails, jump effortlessly over moguls, and weave between the gates in a Grand Slalom race.

In this beautiful video, instructors from the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School
present some of the skills you'll need to know at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels--ranging from easy snowplow and stem turns to the edging that experienced skiiers use in parallel skiing.

Snowboarding

Not only is snowboarding a challenging sport, it calls for a different skill set than downhill skiing.

Here, the Snowboard Pro Camp provides an overview of the techniques you or your kid should learn during the first few days on the slopes: skating with one foot, walking up a slope with a snowboard, "toe sliding" across the hill, and performing toe and heel turns.

Sledding

Let's face it: Sledding is a pretty intuitive sport. You lie or sit on the sled and use your hands, feet, and the steering cord (if there is one) to turn and stop. Some people prefer to kneel, but you shouldn't stand up on a moving sled.

All you need is a snowy slope and something that you and your kids can sled with -- which can be as simple as a trash bag or a cafeteria tray. If you want to buy an actual sled, you can pick up a good one for as little as $15.

In this video, a Wall Street Journal writer/videographer gives you a few examples of sleds you can purchase in various price ranges.

Whichever way you choose to move, have fun in the ice and snow!