Todays “Spotlight on Snowboard Mom” features Miya Howells, Burton’s Product Line Merchandiser for bags, luggage and travel. Miya has worked at Burton for 3.5 years and has been an avid snowboarder for 17 years. Mother of a two-year-old girl named Hana, Miya has developed great insight into what it’s like to be a snowboard parent. We asked her a few questions about her experience as she introduced her daughter Hana to the world of snowboarding.
What was your child’s first snowboarding experience like?
Hana took her first “run” at the mountain at fifteen months old. We tempered our expectations and had a goal of just getting her out on and exposed to her snowboard. We picked out a short, snowy pitch that was close to the lodge, but far enough away from groups of snowboarders and skiers to minimize hazards and distractions. We had to encourage her a bit to strap her feet in, but once the board started to move she was excited. At the end of the run she was happily clapping her hands and asking for more. Prior to her first on-snow experience, we kept her snowboard in the house so she could stand on it. We used the Burton Riglet reel to pull her around inside. We also used a Spooner board to help her develop her balance.
What are some of the tips you used to help your child learn to snowboard?
Timing is everything. Hana has to have a snack, a diaper change, and it can’t be too close to her nap time before we go. Knowing when to go is key. Checking the weekend weather ahead of time helps to pick the best family shred days.
Get a gear hauler for the mountain. As one of the designated sherpas, it’s always helpful to be able to bring all of the gear, snacks, change of clothes, entertainment that you need. The Burton Booter Bag has been awesome to help carry all of our gear, and even attaches one of our snowboards to it for a free hand to carry Hana.
Make sure to have proper layering and equipment to keep them warm. We always make sure that she’s comfortable. Even though she wears a helmet and goggles sometimes she doesn’t want to wear them, so we don’t push her and have alternatives like a hat and sunglasses with us. Oh! And always keep snacks stashed in Mom or Dad’s pockets.
Have two people there; one to “send” them down and the other to catch. We used this technique to get Hana’s attention and to remind her to look where she’s going. Gather your shred buddies too! Older, more experienced shred buddies are great to help encourage little ones and model how to ride. They help keep it fun. So does introducing new experiences. This year we introduced the magic carpet, which she loves riding on.
Provide them with goals and rewards (sometimes known as bribery.) After riding a bit, we reward Hana with some hot chocolate and marshmallows. Keep it a positive experience and be adaptive. For us that might mean we shorten the riding time or go for a walk before hand. We might take 2, 3 or 4 laps around the Over Easy Gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort before snowboarding. Sometimes we make up silly snowboard songs as we ride up the magic carpet.
How do you and your husband participate in snowboarding as parents?
We designate what kind of day it’s going to be prior to getting to the mountain. Some days one of us will go up solo and get to ride the whole time. Other days we’ll have our parents watch Hana and we’ll get to ride together. On days when it’s a family ride day we take turns. One of us rides when we first get there while the other one gets Hana dressed and over to the lodge for snacks, diaper change, etc. Then we meet up, take her out riding a bit before the other parent gets to go out. We definitely make the lodge into our “home base” and try to get a nap in either at the lodge or back in the car.
What additional advice would you give parents interested in starting their kids with snowboarding?
We’re still in the early stages of building her love for snowboarding. We talk to our friends with older kids and ask for advice too. Snowboarding also doesn’t have to happen at the mountain. The backyard or a nearby “hill” are great places to expose your kids to snowboarding and get them excited about riding. Regardless of how many “laps” she takes, on her snowboard each time were at the mountain, I count it as a win and as time well spent sharing our love of snowboarding with her.