The Jackrabbit Program is designed to introduce children aged 3 to 12 to the sport of cross-country skiing. It is structured in much the same way as Red Cross and YM/YWCA swim lessons are. Children become proficient in the sport by moving through a series of skill levels.
Parents and kids, please note: it is quite common for the kids to repeat levels – there is a lot to learn, and the season is short!
The emphasis of the Program is on fun, participation, skill development and safety. The objective of the Program is to provide the opportunity for children to learn to cross-country ski at their own pace, based on their personal abilities, skills and interests.
After your child has completed all levels of Jackrabbits, they may be interested in continuing in ENSC’s Track Attack program.
If your child has completed level 2 or 3 and would like to ski more than once per week, check out our new program: Jackrabbits Plus
If your child is between the ages of 9-13, a novice skier, and would like to ski with kids his/her age, try the Youth Learn to Ski group.
|Jackrabbits Level||Bunnyrabbits||Level One||Level Two||Level Three||Level Four|
|Age Group||Usually 3-5 years old||Usually 5-7 years old||Usually 6-8 years old||Usually 7-9 years old||Usually 8-10 years old|
|Skill Level||New skiers
No or limited ski experience
Limited ski experience
A year of ski experience
|Experienced skiers or has completed Level 2||Experienced Jackrabbits
Three years ski experience
Level 3 completed
|Required Skills||Emphasis is on having fun on skis!
||Skills begin to be taught:
||All Level 1 skills plus:
||All Level 2 skills plus:
||All Level 3 skills plus:
Parents and kids please note: It is quite common for kids to repeat levels – there is much to learn, and the season is short!
Equipment for Each Level
A child’s first ski equipment set would include a pair of no-wax skis with ‘classic’ length poles (with the pole tip in the snow, the pole height would reach the under arm). Initial on-snow play does not require long skis, and they should be approximately the same height as the skier. It is better for the child to outgrow their skis than to grow into them. Select a binding that is not difficult to operate, but is not prone to releasing either. If you select strap-type bindings used in conjunction with snow boots, ensure that all the straps are integrated into the binding construction. Loose straps have a way of getting lost. Snow boots can be nice and warm, but unless they are laced up firmly, there is a risk of little feet coming right out of the boot. The boot will be securely fastened to the ski – and the young skier will be left standing with sock feet in the snow. If a child is on their second pair of skis, they may be ready to graduate to waxable skis.
Levels 1 and 2
For learning the skills required at these levels it is preferable to have waxable skis, but waxless skis are fine. Skis can be dual purpose (classic skis that can also be used for skating), but poles must remain ‘classic’ length.
Skating technique is officially introduced to the skill development sessions at this point in the skill progressions. However, skate equipment (skis and poles) is not yet required.
The child can learn skating technique skills while using classic, dual purpose skis, but they now require both skating length poles and classic length poles. For skating technique sessions, skiers using the classic, dual purpose skis must have the grip wax removed from the kick zone and the entire length of the ski prepared with glide wax. For classic technique sessions, the kick zone must be in place again, and grip wax would be applied. It is also important that the skiers are using bindings that do not rub the track when the ski is on edge or when the skating technique is used.
Eventually, parents may wish to provide the child with two sets of equipment (both skating and classic) if their ski skills and future involvement in the sport appear to warrant the investment.
- Classic skis should reach just below the wrist of the skier’s outstretched arm, with the camber suitable for classic skiing
- Skating skis should be 3-4 cm above the head of the skier, with a camber suitable for skating.
- Dual purpose skis should be a length mid-way between the length for a classic ski and a skating ski, but the camber must be determined by what is suitable for classic skiing.
- If the skis are not the correct length and camber the skier will have difficulty mastering the technical skills necessary to become competent in the sport.
- Poles must have adjustable straps
- Classic poles should reach under the arm when the skier is standing on the floor
- Skating poles should be the same height as the chin
- If poles are too long or too short, the skier will have difficulty mastering the technical skills necessary to become competent in the sport. Whatever you do, don’t settle for poor quality just because the price is right, or it’s the only thing available. Keep looking until you get the equipment that will give your child good ski experiences.
- For skiers old enough to participate in the skill development sessions, select bindings that will not rub in the track when the ski is on edge or when skating technique is used.
- Salomon and NNN are the two commonly used, suitable boot/binding systems. Both are good and equally functional, however, the Salomon binding system offers more of a variety, and is available from more distributors.
- Boots must be comfortable. If boots are too large, they will be awkward to ski in and if they are too constrictive, feet will not stay warm.
Where to Purchase Equipment
Parents are encouraged to by suitable equipment for their children for two main reasons:
it is an investment in a positive, fun learning experience; and good equipment retains its re-sale value – someone will always buy it when you are finished with it.
Retailers in the Edmonton area that sell ski equipment include:
- Fast Trax
- Campers’ Village
- Mountain Equipment Co-op
- Pedalhead Bicycle Works
- Totem Outfitters (used equipment may be available)
- Track ‘n Trail
Several of these stores offer discounts to Edmonton Nordic members – be sure to ask!
Used equipment is sometimes available at the Edmonton Nordic Ski Swap, held each November; however, the selection is usually limited.
Jackrabbit Ski Rental Program
Rather than purchasing equipment, many families may decide that they would prefer to rent the skis, boots and poles that their kids will use for the year. ENSC has started a program in partnership with Fast Trax to allow Jackrabbits and Biathlon Bears to rent one of the packages below (we will only rent whole packages, not just boots or skis or poles):
2021 Ski Season Update: If your family is interested in season long rentals, ENSC Ski rentals will be available at date TBA. Rentals will be available for Jackrabbits, Learn to Ski, Track Attack and Biathlon Bears.
– Please be sure to bring along your Jackrabbit! This will allow for the perfect fit.
|Waxless Classic Package
(for Bunnies, Level 1 or Level 2)
|Waxless ski with NNN bindings (100cm -140cm)
Junior NNN Boot (sizes 12-5)
|$100 for the season,
+ $100 damage deposit
|Classic/Skate Combi ski package
(Levels 3 and 4)
|Waxable ski with NNN bindings (120cm – 160cm)
Junior NNN Boot (sizes 12-5)
Two pairs of poles (skate and classic length)
|$100 for the season,
+ $100 damage deposit
Pick Up and Drop Off Responsibility
Rental equipment will be distributed upon receipt of payment and availability of skiable snow You are required to take good care of the rental equipment as you will keep it until the last lesson of the season (Mid March).
Normal wear and tear is not unexpected, however, you will be charged for any breakage of equipment or more serious damage.
Equipment returned in good order will result in your damage deposit cheque being returned to you.
Edmonton Nordic Ski Club has a limited supply of rental equipment, and this will be allocated on a first come/first served basis. The sooner you contact us the better your chance of getting gear.
Please contact the co-ordinators if you have questions.
- Saturday Afternoon JR runs from 1:30 – 3:00 PM, at Gold Bar Park
- Sunday Afternoon JR runs from 1:30 – 3:00 PM, at Gold Bar Park
- Sunday Morning JR runs from 10:00 – 11:30 AM, at Gold Bar Park
- Registration for the 2021 Jackrabbit Program will open on our website on November 1st. The first day of lessons will be Jan 9 / Jan 10 and weather permitting, there will be 10 lessons in the season.
- COVID protocol information will be provided to families following registration
$85 for 2021 and requires a family membership to ENSC
The Edmonton Nordic Ski Club offers its Jackrabbit Program at the Gold Bar Park ski trails located just east of 50th Street along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River.
The parking lot, warm-up facility and trails are located within Gold Bar Park just east of the Gold Bar Waste Water Treatment Plant.
The Jackrabbit Program is a volunteer-run program and will not continue without parents’ contributions. All families are expected to help to make sure that the children in the program have the best experience that we can give them. Contact the Jackrabbit coordinators if you would like to volunteer or see what volunteer opportunities are available HERE