How to Teach a Kid to Snow Ski Using a Harness
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Teaching Kids to Ski on a Ski Harness
I've taught a three-year-old and a four-year-old to ski by starting on a harness.
There are several pros and cons to teaching a kid to ski on a harness.
- The harness allows the child to be controlled so they don't race out of control down the slope.
- The reins of the harness can be used to keep the child upright.
- If the child falls, the reins make it easy to pull the child up while on skis.
- The child gains confidence because of the security the harness offers.
- The child develops a dependency on the harness and won't ski without it.
- The harness creates a false sense of security, and once it's taken off the child races out of control.
- The child learns to ski straight, but doesn't learn how to turn and stop.
My recommendation is to use the harness for a few days before taking it off and having the child ski on their own.
Things You'll Need for the Child
The kid should have the following gear to learn to ski.
- Kid's ski helmet
- Kid's ski pants or bibs
- Kid's ski jacket
- Waterproof gloves or mittens
- Kid's skis that are the proper length
- Optional wedgie for keeping ski tips together
The instructor needs to have their own ski gear and a kids harness.
Day One on the Harness
The first day, start with the child in the ski harness, but don't let out the reins of the harness much. Just ski with them between your legs.
The two most important things on the first day are building the kid's confidence on skis and keeping them excited about skiing.
While on the harness introduce them to these two concepts:
- "Pizza": tips of skis together
- "Toothpicks": skis straight
It's a lot of work to ski with a child on a harness between your legs. As the instructor, you'll get as tired as the child. Take frequent breaks and make sure the child gets plenty to eat and drink. Three or four hours is about as long as a small child can hold up. Don't overdo it on the first day.
Hold the Kid Between Your Legs and Do Big Turns
Getting on and off the Lift With the Harness on the Child
Before kids are comfortable skiing on a harness, you'll need to carry them off the lift. Make sure to bundle up the reigns so they don't get caught on the skis or lift. Lift the child up and carry them off the lift facing forward between your legs.
Hold the Kid Getting off the Ski Lift
Day Two on the Harness
As the child gets more comfortable standing on the skis, have them work on doing big turns in a pizza position. Use the harness to slow them down when they get going too fast, but try to use the reins as little as possible. By the end of day two, a three and four-year-old can be standing and skiing with little assistance on very mellow green runs.
Two-Year-Old Skiing on Ski Harness
Day Three: Take the Harness off and Move to the Magic Carpet
After two days on the harness, take it off and move the child to the magic carpet. The magic carpet is a belt that pulls the kids up a very small slope. Have one person stand at the top of the magic carpet and another at the bottom. Let the child ski on their own from one person to the other. They will likely fall over several times.
Tip: Wear regular shoes so it's easy to walk with the child on the magic carpet slope.
Before going to the next step, the child should be able to ski down the magic carpet run and stop at the bottom.
Graduating to the Green Slope
Once the child can stop on the magic carpet slope, it's time to go to the beginner run. Go to the easiest beginner run as possible.
This time the child is going to ski behind the instructor. Doing large turns in the "pizza" snowplow, do one large turn at a time and have the child follow in the tracks right behind. Small children have low centers of gravity and learn to ski very quickly.
Spend several hours on the easy green slopes without the harness. It's important to not go back to the harness. If the child isn't ready for the green slopes have them go back to the magic carpet slope.
I've successfully taught my three and four-year-old daughters to ski with this technique and highly recommend it.