Learning to ski – Annie’s way

By on December 25, 2008

Do you want your children to learn how to ski or snowboard, so winter vacations are fun for the whole family?  Then look no further than Kiroro’s Annie Kids Ski Academy (AKSA), located in the world-class snowy mountains of Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island.

Named after French Olympic Alpine medalist Annie Famose, AKSA is the newest addition to one of Japan’s best ski resorts, the Kiroro Ski and Snow Resort located just over 1 hour from Sapporo.

Modeled after her school in Avoriaz, France, which has successfully taught tens of thousands of children the fundamentals of ski, Famose cut the ribbon on December 6th, officially opening her first international ski school.


Annie Famosa

Happy to be back in Japan after almost 30 years when she used to run ski workshops for both Rossignol and Salomon, she explains that children, especially younger ones, don’t really grasp basic ski-instruction because it’s just too technical.

“Teaching children as we teach adults is not the best way for them to learn how to ski, especially the very young ones,” the healthy, tanned Famose said.  “It all has to be natural, and there is nothing more natural for kids than to play.”

And play they do.

Catering to children aged 3-12 years,  AKSA makes learning the fundamentals of ski and snowboard both fun and easy (the way it should be!).

Through snow-games and the Magical Atelier’s obstacle courses that she developed in collaboration with her brother, a professor at the National Physical Education Research Laboratory of France, children indirectly learn about balance and movement – critical early-steps to becoming a good, long-term skier.

But Annie’s methodology is much more than just mere lessons. Her comprehensive experience, while primarily designed for both fun and learning, also put parents at ease, so they too can enjoy the slopes.

With its own dedicated facilities slope-side (village), parents can leave their children with Annie’s  licensed childcare specialists and multi-lingual and SIA (Ski Instructors Association of Japan) approved ski and snowboard instructors, secure in the knowledge that they will be very well taken care of.

For ¥6,800/day (not including equipment rental), children can be dropped of as early as 8:30 in the morning, where they will be checked in, grouped by age and skill level, entertained, fed, taught and continually supervised, until they are picked up later that day, either after the morning lessons are complete, or by 5:00, at day’s end. Your children can look forward to a variety of activities, including theme-days, play groups, costumes, games, books and toys, as well as fun and healthy foods including burgers, spaghetti, sausages and soups, as well as some more traditional Japanese meals, all in a friendly, colorful, safe environment.

But Famose does not want people to mistake this for day-care, explaining that the core of AKSA is first and foremost learning to ski or snowboard.  She says that on Thursdays and Sundays, children can take various medal test to see just how much they have improved (although there is no rush).

“It is important that each child learns at his or her own speed, (but) the key is that everyone is having fun,” she explains.

And just how much fun are they having?

The Pond family, expatriates in Japan, had the chance to experience both Annie’s and Kiroro’s ski facilities, and thought both worked hand in hand, making their family ski vacation fun all around.

“The concept is great! (Just) choose the program that works best for your family’s schedule.  For kids, it’s not just a full day.  It’s a day full of fun.  For parents, it’s a chance to enjoy the mountain with peace of mind,” extolls Mr. Pond, adding that “my (youngest) son was the only foreigner in his class, but he felt very comfortable.  In fact, when I picked him up later, he has had so much fun that he forgot he was actually taking lessons and referred to his instructor as his ‘tour guide’.  He wanted to stay another day for the medal competition.”

With a maximum capacity of 130 children per day, AKSA suggests pre-booking by 5 pm the day before, although walk-ins are accepted, space permitting.

So, if you and your family are snow-dogs, and you want your kids to learn to enjoy winter by schussing down Hokkaido’s powdery slopes, then why not introduce them to this beautiful sport the Annie Famose fun way!

As the Pond family agrees, “At Kiroro, there is fun to be had by all!”

For more information on AKSA please visit: http://kiroo.co.jp/english/academy/annie/
For information on Kiroro Ski and Snow esort, please visit: http://kioro.co.jp/english/

About TF Tribe