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Focus on thinking how to ski

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

If my primary focus was on learning how to ski I would not be as good a skier as Iam today. Long ago I realized there are so many differnt snow conditions, terrain, turn shapes etc that I could not learn & memorize how to ski them all. Instead of focusing on learning how to ski my focus is on thinking of how to ski. Many are confused on how to proceed with their skiing so they look to what the majority is doing & the crowd is often dumber then the dumbest person in it.

 

 Focusing on learning how to ski can get expensive & it would not surprise me if the ski industry trys to make it that way i.e., constantly changing the best way to ski so the masses have to keep coming back for lessons for the new & improved which was new & improved x time ago. Each time they think they found the holy grail.

 

 In my experience the best skiers are independent thinkers. Many have used a mentor for a short cut for finding out what they should do to improve thier skiing as well as what not to do. I always like to look to someone that is doing something differnt then the majority because it shows that they have been thinking & not just repeating with no understanding. Of course it is my job to think & judge if it is a rational approach to improve my skiing.

 

 

 Skiing can be a fun game when one has confidence & skills to be able to control turn shape, size, type of turn, speed control, (single beat, double beat & even triplel beat turns to music)  in differnt types of conditions & terrain. One can spiral turns larger & smaller based on fib ratios or make shell shaped holes, eliptical tracks, S tracks etc if all skills are learned. I think the thrill of the pencile line is over rated. For me I would have to rate the release of the compresion @ the end of the turn & turning to the beat of the I tunes as the ultimate high.

post #2 of 11

Quite an introductory post, Powder Jet--welcome to EpicSki!

 

I pretty much agree with everything you've said, with the likely exception of the second paragraph. Ski technique does evolve with equipment and understanding changes and, to at least some extent, current fashion and taste (witness the freestyle phenomenon in the US these days). But fundamentally, very little changes. It's still about a mountain, gravity, snow, athleticism, skill, personal flair, and the basic laws of physics, even as the tools we have change and (mostly) improve. As a long-time teaching pro, I can assure you that there is no organized attempt to reinvent the wheel of technique simply to generate business, at least not among the genuine pros out there. Yes, there may be a few on the fringe who try to differentiate themselves by claiming some proprietary technique or methodology that will revolutionize the sport. But good skiing is hardly proprietary. And as you suggest, it is hardly "a technique." Indeed, most of the world's instructor and instructor training and certifying organizations view skiing these days as broad-based collections of skills and versatility with diverse functional movement patterns tied to intent, rather than as a specific technique that is an end in itself--and that will be "yesterday's technique" tomorrow.

 

You might be (surely would be, from the content of your post!) interested in the book Brilliant Skiing, Every Day, written by one of EpicSki's most prominent and respected members, EpicSki Academy coach and Aspen instructor Weems Westfeldt (available here, or by clicking on the ad that appears often on the upper right side of your screen on most EpicSki pages). Weems eloquently describes his concept of the "Sports Diamond," which recognizes technique as only one of four critical components of great skiing. Check it out!

 

Back to your point about "thinking too much," I fondly recall skiing many years ago at Keystone with the great Tomaz Cerkovnik, pro racer and World Cup slalom ace from Yugoslavia. Several of us skied with Tomaz for a full day, working on this, thinking about that, exploring a variety of technical and tactical focuses in a range of terrain, and generally having a great time. On our final run, we paused at the top of the steepest pitch of Last Hoot--the black diamond mogul run that plunges into Keystone's Mountain House base area--to wrap up the day. Someone in the group said, "So Tomaz, what do you think about when you're standing in that start house listening to the countdown before a big race?" Without pausing, Tomas's eyes got big as dinner plates and he exclaimed, "TINK?? NEVER TINK!! You TINK, you go SLOW."

 

'Bout sums it up, I think!

 

Best regards,

Bob Barnes

post #3 of 11

Powder Jet.

 

Well fair enough, and if you read here, it doesnt surpise me you think that.

 

But the truth is good modern ski instruction focuses on skill development not teaching how to make this turn or that turn.  Depending on which system you follow the number of skills varies...but typically it is between 4-8.  The CSIA has 5.

 

You are taught those 5 skills.  That is it.  Tactics is how you apply, or put another way, how you blend those skills to the infinite variety of terrain that is out there.

 

For interest the 5 skills are:

 

Stance and Balance

Pivoting

Edging

Pressure control

Timing and Co-ordination

 

The reason we teach the skills the way we do...is for example: sure there is lots of ways to pivot or twist a ski...but really only 1 way to do it without negativley impacting on the other 5 skills...hence why we view some ways as more effective then others.

 

All modern systems use somthing similiar. 

 

So no I dont agree with your premise at all.  Look at any good skier, whether racer, or big mountain skier, bumper, you name it.  The core skills are the same, the variance is the tactical way they apply them. 

 

Tactics change all the time, in bumps, or trees is likley different every turn.  But skills are constant.  The 5 skills I spoke of above have been the core of the CSIA technique since I started teaching in 1986.  But undoublty before that.

 

Anything beyond basic tactics is hard to teach because there is just so much variety out there.  Hence tactics is the part comes from a persons creativity, balls, strength, natural athletisim etc.  But all those things, without core skills wont get you far....so I agree we develop tactics from "just doing"...but technique comes from training.  The better our technique, and athletisim, balls, etc the more tactical options we have.


Edited by Skidude72 - 3/15/11 at 12:09am
post #4 of 11

I would say that the joy of skiing well involve NOT having to think about it.

post #5 of 11

You can think your way through an internal visualization of skiing maneuvers, but you cannot think your way through performance of skiing maneuvers.  There ain't enough time.

post #6 of 11

Skiing with someone better or more experienced than you (friend, guide, ski instructor) can help you visualize or set a good example before you drop into the half-pipe, backcountry line or whatever it is that jives with your itunes. 

 

Don't think, move.

post #7 of 11

Well said, but I disagree--with the semantics, at least.

 

In college I was taught a lot of things, but the most important lesson was how to think.  As a musician I was taught how to hear.  When I went to law school, I memorized tons of material for exams, but what I learned was how to think like a lawyer.  My practice requires that I learn lots of things about my cases, and I no longer have to think about how I think--I just do it.  And my mentors often straighten me out when I'm thinking more like a normal person and need to drill down to my skills again.

 

My ideal instructor wouldn't teach me magic tricks or tips; she'd teach me how to learn to ski.  Right now I'm learning a ton--I mean a ton--all by my lonesome by studying a few lucid books, reading the same paragraphs over and over, standing barefoot in my bedroom or on skis at the top of a slope, visualizing what I'm going to do, and then going inside myself on my skis and letting my body do it, then do it again, then do it somewhere else, on steeper slopes, bumpy ones, different snow, solid ice, in a crowd, in a whiteout, until I've forgotten how not to do it.  But when I get stuck and can't feel my way out of it, you can bet I'll be pounding on the ski school door.

post #8 of 11

I hear what you are saying, but sorry to inform you, your learning progression never really ends.  Instructors go to clinics too.  In fact, if you go to too many clinics with many different leaders and outlooks you can think or learn too much.  Have you not heard of paralysis from analysis?  That's what I'm referring to.  When I had this same problem my friend/instructors informed me to put my tunes on and go rip it up without thinking. So, we are both right that there is a time to step away and a time to study. 

 

Here is my main point though.  Moving.  It is amazing how much our bodies can do without thinking.  We don't like to fall.  What is the hardest turn to make (usually) for the beginning skier looking down  their first blue run?  Typically, the first turn.  Why?  Because they are standing there thinking about it.  An object set in motion is likely to stay in motion (or something like that) even if the form is bad.  An object standing there thinking is, well, standing there.  You get the point. 

post #9 of 11

Powder jet, I wish skiing could be learned simply through trial and error. Unfortunately, trial and error produces lots of dead end technique. For example, the novice skier might figure they can get really good turns by rotating their shoulders--and the harder they rotate, the quicker the turn. Without understanding biomechanics and having a technical base from which to develop, I can't imagine more than a fraction of self-taught skiers actually improving to the point where they can ski the whole mountain (and by ski, I mean link turns consistently--not just sideslip or wedge). And every rotated, poorly balanced turn reinforces bad habits. 

 

One of my friends has become interested in assessment and development - because he has kids of his own that he wants to teach soon. It's interesting to contrast his A&D to an instructor's A&D. He'll often notice something that doesn't "look right", like rubber-arm pole planting or a strange posture. However, because his understanding of biomechanics and his technical base are still developing, he has challenges separating the "that's odd but inconsequential" observations from actual issues affecting the skier. I've been focusing him on assessing specifically for stance&balance, turning with the lower body, and edging (the three skills primarily assessed by entry-level instructors) - and he's getting a lot better at isolating issues. 

 

And I think this applies to one's own skiing as well. It took me five years and several instructor training courses to be able to start assessing my own skiing, with the goal of hopefully being able to improve my performance. Trying to improve your skiing without understanding biomechanics and the technical base strikes me as throwing darts while blindfolded. There's a tiny chance you could hit the target, but you're far more likely to miss the board altogether.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrudBuster View Post

 

Here is my main point though.  Moving.  It is amazing how much our bodies can do without thinking.  We don't like to fall.  What is the hardest turn to make (usually) for the beginning skier looking down  their first blue run?  Typically, the first turn.  Why?  Because they are standing there thinking about it.  An object set in motion is likely to stay in motion (or something like that) even if the form is bad.  An object standing there thinking is, well, standing there.  You get the point. 


Moving. I don't think about how i'm skiing, i think about where i want to go and i go there. I remember my first time at the top of the men's downhill at snowbasin, two years ago. Moving, down the cattrack from the tram to the start, i didn't really want to think about it, I just wanted to get "down there". So JohnL is with me, i'm all froze up at the top, the slope is all bumped up, I asked John where my first turn should start he said don't worry about that you won't come within 3 feet of the spot anyway.

 

post #11 of 11


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post




Moving. I don't think about how i'm skiing, i think about where i want to go and i go there. I remember my first time at the top of the men's downhill at snowbasin, two years ago. Moving, down the cattrack from the tram to the start, i didn't really want to think about it, I just wanted to get "down there". So JohnL is with me, i'm all froze up at the top, the slope is all bumped up, I asked John where my first turn should start he said don't worry about that you won't come within 3 feet of the spot anyway.

 



My palms are sweating. 

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