Teaching Kids to Ski- Ski Harnesses

Greetings from Sunriver, Oregon, where Ken, the kids and I are spending post-Christmas with my parents, brother, his wife, and their three kids.  Lots of family (and kid cousin time) which has been great, as always.  We have spent tons of time here both in the winter and summer, and regardless of when we come, it is an amazing escape and reminds me of home.


Ken and I have talked about prioritizing skiing for our kids, but the reality is that living in New York, it is easier said than done.  East Coast skiing is a long way from NYC, a huge time commitment, and not ideal weather (wind, ice = opposite of powder and dryness).  West Coast skiing is even further from New York, and super-expensive.  And frankly, if given the choice of where to vacation during the winter, I will take beach over mountain nine times out of ten.


This vacation with my family was the first good opportunity to really push skiing on Cruz, and so far, it has been a success.  Here are Ken (The Josie Guy’s) pointers after his first venture on mountain with Cruz.  Enjoy!




While we initially hoped Cruz would be gung-ho about ski school, he wasn’t.  All good. I didn’t ski a ton growing up and am definition intermediate/(old) with below average technique, but I was excited to give it a shot.  Kind of the blind leading the blind, but so be it.  If you are in a similar position (want your kids to ski, not an awesome skier yourself, trying to figure out how to tackle things), you may find this helpful.


Morning of Day 1

Morning of Day 1

We spent the morning of Day 1 doing this.  I took Cruz up the junior chairlift (free at Mt. Bachelor) and just kind of alternated between 1) letting him ski 10 yards directly into me where I caught/tackled him, 2) doing what you see in the above… skiing myself with my legs spread open/guiding him down the mountain.   While this seemed OK at the time, a) it was awkward/at times painful and, b) the kids don’t really learn anything (my own experience, and advice from a wise ski vet I met on the lift).  So essentially, (in my opinion), this is what NOT to do.


Afternoon of Day 1

Afternoon of Day 1


After seeing/talking to people on the mountain who had their kids in ski harnesses, I decided to buy one at lunch.  This was not an easy decision.  While I am not one to judge other parents (not totally true), I have always done a double take when I have seen kids on “leashes” at airports, on the street, or anywhere.  To each his/her own, but not for me.  But having seen that morning how kids were learning to ski on harnesses, I figured it was worth a shot.  It was a huge difference maker.  Cruz learned how to navigate on his own, and the harness allowed me to control him when necessary.  More importantly, it made skiing a lot more fun for him.  It couldn’t have been more helpful.


Harness selfie.  Woof.

Harness selfie. Woof.


He skied all afternoon of Day 1 on the harness, and all of Day 2.  We don’t have the most risk-taking kid in the world (and truth be told, these are made for younger kids), but having the harness made him feel both independent and safe.  I am a little worried he is getting too used to having me slow him down when he goes too fast, but regardless, it has been a huge help in terms of getting him excited about skiing.  The plan tomorrow is to take the harness off in the afternoon.  We will see what happens.


Happy ski bum

Happy ski bum


The harness Cruz has is here.  This model was the only choice they had on the mountain.  I was told that harnesses that attach around the pelvis are better (lower center of gravity, easier to pick the kid up onto chair lifts), but we were totally happy with the one we had.


Two other quick pieces of advice:


Swedish Fish

Swedish fish


1) Bribery is good.  It is possible my son is actually turning into a Swedish fish, but having something to motivate/reward him worked wonders.


"You can put your Swedish fish in it" (apologies to Saturday Night Live).

“You can put your Swedish fish in it” (apologies to Saturday Night Live).






2) Enjoy your post-ski beer.


And finally, here is a gratuitous father-son #LiftSelfie


Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 9.09.28 PM



Happy skiing!


UPDATE:  It worked!  Day 3 video below.



And thanks to Ken for the guest blog.  Do you have any other tips for teaching kids how to ski?  Please share!


Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

Blog Home Page

Josie Girl


  1. Love it! We are getting Nico baby skis to try to get him out this year. Vermont?!?! Not too far from NYC

  2. I was never gung-ho about ski school when I was younger either ha! I am sure my parents would have loved to use the ski harness on me. Cruz is an adorable little ski bum! Enjoy the rest of your holiday 🙂

  3. Love this – I too ended up with a ski-aid. The alternative just wasn’t fun for me or my little one. We opted for Slope Ropes which didn’t feel as ‘leash’ like. Also the pro shop recommended them to teach proper form. What is the saying? Noes-knees-toes? 😉 There is nothing more satisfying then a fun day on the hill with your daughter! (Or son, I’m sure!)

  4. Really good read – and so informative to parents out there getting their kid`s started.

    I find that getting your little ones really stoked about skiing before they even hit the slopes really helps too, putting them in a positive mind space and managing their expectations. Kid`s ski books and cartoons really help with this too and there are some great resources out there! Thanks for the good read!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.