Last year, Loveland Ski Area opened for the season on October 17. That’s only about six weeks away, folks. While experienced skiers can usually get away with merely dusting off old boards and skis for their first day on the slopes (although, we’d recommend a bit of pre-season conditioning to prevent that dreaded calf burn after your first run), that’s not the case with kids. Frank Bulkley III, owner of Eskimo Ski & Board Shop in Centennial, gave us the lowdown on what parents should know before the snow starts falling.

5280: When should kids start skiing or snowboarding?
Frank Bulkley: The key is for kids to be 30 pounds. Ski bindings won’t release under 30 pounds, so we won’t rent until children hit that weight.

What about age?
That’s really a decision based on the child’s personality. Through talking to customers and dealing with my own kids, four seems to be a good age. For kids to enjoy getting out on the mountain, they need an attention span—and it has to be perfect conditions. You want it to be warm.

Is it important to get a specific brand of board or skis for kids?
For beginners and intermediate skiers, rental gear will cut it. The most important thing is to actually bring the child with you. Don’t guess on boot sizes because a fitted boot is the most important part.

Cold kids on the mountain can make for a long day. What’s important about the accessory gear?
Clothing is very important. There is a huge difference between ski gear and a winter coat; ski jackets need to be waterproof, have cuffs, and insulation. Secondly, buy a helmet that fits. If you get it too big, it won’t cover their ears and they’ll get cold. Also, I always suggest goggles over sunglasses to stay warmer.

The age-old question: gloves or mittens?
The warmest glove is called a mitten.

We all know children grow fast. What’s the best option for your dollar in terms of gear?
Eskimo has three options: You can rent gear for the season from $99. You can purchase gear each year through a trade-in program ($50 trade voucher each season to Eskimo), or you can rent for the day from $15. Your decisions should be based on the child’s age and ability levels. [Editor’s Note: These are fairly common deals that parents can find at ski and snowboard shops along the Front Range.]

What’s your one main piece of advice for a happy ski season?
Kids don’t like their parents to teach them. Stick them in ski school.

Follow assistant editor Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.