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Ep. 95 Learning to Ski with Coach Nelly

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Janelle Thomas, better known as Coach Nelly, has more than 20 years of experience coaching under her belt. In 2018, she birthed Raising Little Rippers, where she has created an educational resource for adventurous mamas, raising the next generation of big mountain skiiers. She’s a treat to learn from!

Janelle Thomas started working as a Ski Instructor her senior year in college. She knew teaching littles to ski was right up her alley. Armed with a Degree in Psychology with a strong focus on Adventure Therapy, she had no idea that she would spend the next several years working in the ski industry. From Certified Ski Instructor, to Children’s Program Supervisor, to Ski School Clinician, her specialty has always been working with children. As she started a family of her own, her biggest joy became raising her own three (not so little anymore) rippers, and she continued working as a part-time ski instructor season after season.

Skiing can be challenging financially and physically.  

Risks and How to Mitigate Them: 

  • Start in young years teaching simple things like moving to side of hill when you stop (pull over like a car), and being aware of environment
  • As they grow in skills and age, share nuggets of risk management along the way. Those become habits!
  • Teach how to merge on trail and how to give right of way
  • Take them out into environment and use actual moments as teachable moments

Raising Little Rippers: 

  • Virtual coaching, but also meet ups with other mamas
  • Asks individually what mamas need for tips and tricks
  • Session also includes a movement analysis via videos sent – so you know where to go next
  • Shares drill and game videos to help them progress through next steps

When to Start Skiing: 

  • Can start kids as young as 15-months, but will take longer to progress – so set expectations. Keep it fun! Introducing them to snow, weather, flat ground work
  • Kids 5 to 6-years-old will progress faster. Also depends on particular kid
  • Young age – start at home!! Grow interest, curiosity, and comfort. Be willing to go in and outside. Then work on teaching them to slide (can use edgy wedge or harness). Learn wedge downhill – think “pizza” shape, then learn turns to control speed

Learning as a Family: 

  • Learn alongside kids. Can do family private lessons at some ski skills
  • Or adults can take lessons and then put the children in the child-specific lessons. After, come together and teach each other what you learned
  • Raising Little Rippers will help parents progress as well

How to Ski on a Budget [stay tuned in two weeks for another episode on this]: 

  • Get to know local area – thrift and secondhand stores
  • Check during off-season for sales
  • Watch for ski swaps – usually right before season starts (October/November)
  • Handmedowns are wonderful! 

Some Gear Tips: 

  • Don’t skimp on helmet; you don’t want any gap between ski goggles and helmet
  • Young kids don’t need ski poles
  • Use quality gear that is breathable, warm, dry (especially mittens or gloves)


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Thank you to Keen Footwear for sponsoring today’s podcast! Check out

Today’s Host: @adriannaadventures & @laurenrodycheberle from @kidswhoexplore
Production: @kpmediaproductions. Music: @michaelferraro_music