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Some advice on introducing youngsters to fun on skis

So much has been said, written, shouted, and screamed about teaching children to ski, anyone in his right mind would foredoom taking it on in one ski tip. Which is a good enough reason for me to try.

The best overall advice probably is to turn the job over to a qualified ski school. Ski instruction for children has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. This season and last, for example, special clinics on teaching children have been held at Mt. Snow, Vt.

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Actually, many of the games of imagery that children's ski classes now use ("ski like a gorilla" or "ski like a cat," etc.) are finding their way into some adult ski learning programs.

Given the proper opportunity, children tend to learn skiing naturally. We adults can learn much ourselves from observing the way children learn. More often than not, it is by imitation, a natural talent that tends to come easily when fear is not in the way. Children often have no fear while their elders are wrestling with it.

If you are a competent skier and have a wee one, you may want to start him or her on short skis, holding the child up between your legs on a run down a gentle slope. That allows a taste of exhilaration to tide over some of the work of walking, climbing, and falling.

"Skiwee" is a new national ski school program that attempts to do for teaching kids what fast-food chains have done for making hamburgers -- standardize. That's nice but not necessary. Then there's a new book on the subject this season: "Kids on Skis" by I. William Berry (Charles Scribne r's Sons, New York, 231 pages. $10.95).

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