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A Little Book about Skiing Better: Review

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

littlebook.tiff

At 109 pages this book is little, but don't let its size fool you, it has plenty of good information and advice that is easy to understand. It's intended for "passionate and dedicated skiers who simply want to learn to ski better." I would maybe change the order of that sentence to read "skiers who want to learn simply how to ski better." 

 

The authors, Jim Vigani and Joan Heaton, are two experienced ski instructors from Windham. Joan Heaton's work may be familiar to EpicSki regulars and ski pros who have read her excellent articles in our Premium Article Collection in the Supporter Lounge (The Many Faces of Feedback and Experiential WHAT?). A professor, now retired, of Physical Education at the City College of New York, Joan was responsible for introducing Teaching Styles to PSIA and has been a catalyst of PSIA-Eastern division's outstanding teaching curriculum.

 

"Balance on your skis, choose your path, and let your movements evolve." Joan teaches us that there are two kinds of motor skills, those which are closed, such as a golf swing, and those which are open, such as skiing. Learning the golf swing requires many repetitions of a movement chain (years even) to be successful. Skiing requires us to think with our feet, so to speak, to respond in the moment, in the now, to new and different challenges in every turn. It's not a sport with a checklist, but one that relies on sensory awareness and distinctions between different sensations that are communicated through the sense of touch.

 

"Why does learning to ski better take so long?" The answer to this question is what inspired the book, because it led the authors to the work of David A. Kolb, a noted educational theorist in the field of experiential learning. His Experiential Learning Model provides the methodological framework Heaton and Vigani had sought to "supercharge" learning. They discovered that Kolb's learning model plus a simplified model of skiing mechanics yielded amazingly fast results.

 

The authors believe that "at its core, skiing is basically simple." Some purists may quibble with their simplified model of skiing mechanics, but it does address the most pervasive skiing errors of stance and balance, namely sitting back and the inability to balance on the outside ski. For that reason, fore-aft and lateral balance is the predominant concern. Their first principle is: If you're not in balance, nothing else matters." Furthermore, being in balance is a feeling, not a position. Their second principle is: "Learn to balance on the outside ski first." The third principle is: "Move to engage the tips." The fourth and final principle is: "Everything else is a detail." In other words, pole usage is irrelevant if you're out of balance. 

 

"There is no secret handshake." The "What Am I Doing Wrong" approach to learning skiing is seductive because it presumes there's an expert out there who can give us the secret handshake. However, the way to good skiing for YOU is going to depend on your character, motivation, physical fitness, natural gifts, economics, etc.

 

"[W]hile there are basic fundamentals to good skiing, everybody needs to find what works for them." A teacher can help diagnose deficiencies and prescribe skill-strengthening drills, but the learner has to cycle through feeling, watching, thinking and doing to "get it." As an example, a typical learning event would begin with a Concrete Experience, say, for a lot of EpicSkiers, making a turn from a dead stop where the tails are not displaced laterally. In the second phase you'd compare what happened and what you intended to happen. In the third phase you'd decide what you need to change to get the desired result. A teacher can help a lot in phases 2-3, but phases 1 (feeling what you are doing in the moment) and 4 (testing the new skill in harder terrain and conditions) are self-directed and require self-awareness and buy-in from the student to do the work.

 

"Your coach's job is to guide you through the experience, while letting you figure out what needs to be done." The idea of leaving How to the learner may strike many as a sort of blasphemy, but if you think about it, that is the reality, especially with adults. After all, we decide whether learning something new is worth the effort or not, and know-how is what we want to take away.

 

If you are a self-directed learner in the market for a quick read on skiing better and learning faster minus the details, I highly recommend this one by two of the professional ski teaching community's finest. If you are a ski instructor interested in bringing principles of experiential learning into your teaching practice, this book will give you a great start. 

 

Visit http://littleskibook.com/ to learn more and order the book. 

post #2 of 41
Thread Starter 

Please feel free to comment on this review and the book as well. Authors Joan Heaton and Jim Vigani would love to read them. (David Kolb too!) If you ask questions, I expect they may join in. 

 

We haven't had a conversation about Experiential Learning in a while... One of my favorite topics! 

post #3 of 41

Ordered it!  Will comment once I've gotten through it.  Can't wait.

Thanks for the recommendation.

post #4 of 41

What level of skier is this 'most' directed towards.  From your description I'd guess advanced-beginner to low intermediate?  How progressive is the book-by that, I mean, does it work a learner up to a particular level?

 

I like the idea of balance as the fundamental essence of skiing and ski learning and building off of that.  If the above photo is from the cover of the book, well, I might have chosen a slightly more dynamic image to help sell it...just saying.

post #5 of 41

 

It is designed to set a foundation for recreational skiers to help them ski at advanced levels.  It will also be useful to ski instructors as it provides a road map for understanding a student's problems and directing solutions. 
 
post #6 of 41

Er.. what's up with the cover image?

post #7 of 41

Got the little book in the mail yesterday and read it cover to cover last night. Highly recommend it. Every ski instructor should have a copy in his/her backpack. I emailed the link to my SSD and Training director. Good stuff.

post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan Heaton View Post

 

It is designed to set a foundation for recreational skiers to help them ski at advanced levels.  It will also be useful to ski instructors as it provides a road map for understanding a student's problems and directing solutions. 
 


Joan is selling her own book a little short here.  The simplified skiing model will be helpful mostly to recreational skiers, but the Kolb learning model, and the approach of analyzing complex skills to understand the simple fundamentals, should be of interest to anyone who teaches, or who wants to be a self-directed learner in any field.  In that way it's a little like Tim Galwey's books (Inner Tennis, Inner Skiing), without the extraneous religious pretensions.

 

BK 

 

post #9 of 41

Joan sent me a copy shortly before it was released and asked me for my thoughts on it. 

 

She later called me (because I read really slow) and was eager to know my thoughts.  She and I had a good laugh at my first comment which was "I think it's funny that two thinkers (both authors are thinkers) have written a book telling you to "throw away the checklist" and in effect try to become a feeler."  For what it's worth though,  that's a great message.

 

There are two distinct groups that this book will really help. 

*   If you are a thinker (Learning styles are loosely labeled, thinker / feeler / watcher / doer ) this book may transform your way of  typical thinking and get you past your "skiing roadblock".

*   If you are an instructor (at any level) grab this book and memorize chapters 4 - 7.

 

Of particular interest is The Kolb Model.   This model starts with a "concrete experience" then explains how to teach your way through the learning styles.  It is a complete cycle of learning so no matter how someone learns they are taught with a learning style that is their primary learning style along with the other learning styles for a complete experience.  As an instructor if you learn to teach this way you can achieve an upward spiral of continuous learning, for both you and your students.  Joan's conversations with many top instructors (all the way to the d-team) has shown that these folks have always taught this way, but had no idea it was an actual concept someplace.  Now it's in print and relative to ski teaching.

 

This is not a "what to do" book.  If you are looking for something with a lot of drills to make you a better skier,  this isn't the book you are after.  It's more a "how to (think about it) book."  This book deals with the mental outlook on skiing.  It's an easy read with clearly thought out concepts and explanations.

 

The only thing written on page two is the following,  "For all the passionate and dedicated skiers who simply want to learn to ski better."  Right up our alley here on Epic isn't it ?

 

UL

 

post #10 of 41
Jim is a fine skier and a great teacher, but Tony is faster. wink.gif
post #11 of 41

I wonder if they have considered an e-book version. I know it's hard to keep control over intellectual property in electronic forms but like the i pod revolutionized music distribution, the kindle and I pad are taking over the book selling market.

 

 

post #12 of 41

 

Thanks, Uncle Louie, I was wondering when you would ‘jump in’.  What you said and Nolo’s review was ‘spot on’, at least from where we are sitting.   And, we do welcome feedback- the successes and challenges that happen when using The Learning Triad.  As we have stated in the book, it’s working for us!  In any case, it was fun sharing our journey.

post #13 of 41

This has been hinted at in a few of the posts.  I'm sure all parties involved are excellent teachers and excellent skiers...but the cover photo ought to do more to send that message.  I know, don't judge a book by the cover....but the reason we put pictures on the cover of books is to judge the content of the book (and sell it, right?).  

 

Maybe something just a little more dynamic and compelling for the 2nd edition?  

 

I'm sorry, but without the recommendations on this thread (which have piqued my interest in this book)-if I saw that book just sitting on a shelf in Barnes and Noble I wouldn't pick it up.

 

Packaging Matters.

 

Liam

 

 

post #14 of 41

Just ordered it. Look forward to reading.

post #15 of 41

Joan, gave you a product page for reviews and a wiki if you want to put this in.  Link to A Little Book About Skiing Better.

post #16 of 41

THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

post #17 of 41

Have just finished reading this book.  I took copious notes, and skied differently yesterday as I worked on bumping up my skills.

Thank you Jim and Joan!   

post #18 of 41

Nolo, thanks for the tip on this book.  This may impact me as much as your last one did - the Going South DVD.

Jim and Joan, thanks for the book!

I, too just finished reading it but have to wait for next season to begin applying it.

I really like the Kolb model but will have to work on getting it into my thinking and teaching.

The task is the teacher seems pretty powerful, again, I'll have to develop it for me.

 

Liked the ride a bike for round turns.  I will definately use that for sure.

 

Little book, big thoughts!

post #19 of 41
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Liked the ride a bike for round turns.  I will definately use that for sure.

If I have one quibble with the authors, it's the way that analogy is presented. 

 

The way I heard it, from (the legendary) Jim Weiss, was: "If we could take the entire parking lot at Safeway and tilt it up about 40 degrees, and you were at the top of that slope, barefoot, on a bike with no brakes, how would you get down safely?" Ya gotta be barefoot to get the full benefit of the analogy. 

post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

If I have one quibble with the authors, it's the way that analogy is presented. 

 

The way I heard it, from (the legendary) Jim Weiss, was: "If we could take the entire parking lot at Safeway and tilt it up about 40 degrees, and you were at the top of that slope, barefoot, on a bike with no brakes, how would you get down safely?" Ya gotta be barefoot to get the full benefit of the analogy. 



 I would get off the bike and walk down :)

post #21 of 41

Barefoot so you won't put your feet down to slow down???  Reinforces that the line you take is the only way to control speed (unless of course, you do the Jamt thing).

post #22 of 41

Sounds good -- I just ordered one!

post #23 of 41

Cover looks great.  Not some 18 year old with crazy hip on the snow angles.  Good shot of the turn entry.  The hill that it was shot on is about a 30 degree pitch.

post #24 of 41

I read it in on evening.  Bookd applies for all level of skiers because the generic tips work from world cup done.  Good read

post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayer View Post

Cover looks great.  Not some 18 year old with crazy hip on the snow angles.  Good shot of the turn entry.  The hill that it was shot on is about a 30 degree pitch.

Entry???
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayer View Post

Cover looks great.  Not some 18 year old with crazy hip on the snow angles.  Good shot of the turn entry.  The hill that it was shot on is about a 30 degree pitch.



I've seen a few book covers with old guys getting crazy hip angles, too.   Is that Wyndham he's skiing at in the photo?  Would it look different if the slope was 20 or 40 degrees?  It looks like solid intermediate skiing on an intermediate groomer.  

 

And, like I said, I believe everyone here when they say the book is great, and he is  a great skier-but, the book cover doesn't convey that.   Just saying, after you sell a copy to all your close friends and industry buds, you might want to catch the eye of the non-connected ski learner looking for a book to help them.  

 

You know, that whole 1000 words value of a picture and all. 

post #27 of 41

Liam, theres the other old saying "You can't judge a book by its cover."

 

It also may be that the "non-connected ski learner" may look at a more aggressive cover and say "this is way too advanced for me".

 

 

post #28 of 41

Yeah, maybe.  Well, it's cool that the book is getting good press here on Epic and I hope it does well.  

 

 

post #29 of 41

Ive finished the book.

 

I think im still at too low a level of skiing to have gotten much out of the book.. Hopefully, next season, i can read it again and get more out of it. The concepts seem great, and i really see how it could benefit an instructor or taking lessons from an instructor who used this model. It talks alot about feel, but i don't think im doing anything that feels right so i dont know what im trying to feel. I wish i could get back on the snow again this year and work on things. 

 

I need more lessons for sure. And ill be sure and read again, probably multiple times.


Edited by WC68 - 4/4/11 at 4:10pm
post #30 of 41

Is this a book that with practice could take a skier from any level a notch or so higher or is it geared more towards instructing?

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