New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Teaching the elderly skier

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I may be heading back to Ontario next year due to lack of work in my field. frown.gif Presumably I'd be rejoining my old ski club as an instructor. The typical age of a skier in the club is 50-70, with some people above 70 and at least one fellow over 80. 

 

In the CSIA, we talk a lot about two groups: the average person and children. The CSCF, by the nature of its competitive focus, trains us to work with athletes. However, I've never really learned about teaching psychomotor skills to seniors. Fortunately, here on epicski there's tons of experience to draw on.

 

While still being aware that every learner is different and that there are probably at least a few 65+ year-olds who could outski most instructors... 

 

  • What are some of the considerations that affect you when teaching seniors?
  • What physiological and psychological changes are relevant or not relevant?
  • How are  expectations different for you as a coach/instructor and for the individual participant over both the short-term (one lesson) and long-term (development over the season) as compared to when coaching a younger skier?
  • What adaptations do you make to your teaching style, pacing, and terrain choice?
  • Does ski technique change? (e.g. are we still aiming to produce an expert parallel turn along with all the variations in-between?)
  • Are you particularly wary of any terrain or situations with these skiers (bumps, powder)?
  • How do you create achievable challenges without putting the skier at risk of breaking their hip?
  • Is there a point at which a skier is simply attempting to maintain his/her skill?
post #2 of 13

Would you like to hear from older skiers or instructors only?

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I think it's especially helpful to hear from some more senior skiers about what did work and what really didn't work in lessons. 

post #4 of 13

 

May 5, 2011

 

Hi Metaphor_:

 

I think that I'm finally in a position to repay your past considerations for the kind responses to questions which I have raised on this forum.  Being in the age group of your interest, I will offer the following personal insights.  Please note, most of what I say is about me, so please do not draw any broad sweeping conclusions from a sample of size 1.

 

Avid skiers ages 60:75 are PROBABLY relatively healthy (mentally, physically) compared with the the average "geezer" of the same age group.  The reason being that since we want to ski, we probably invest more time and effort keeping in shape during and after ski season.  For myself, I usually run 25-30 miles a week and on the days I don't run, I'll do 100 crunches and some stretching exercises.

 

With this said, the generally accepted number of 1% loss of muscle mass starting at age 40 means that skiers in this group, even with the extensive exercises that we hopefully should be doing, have lost probably 15% of our muscle mass and maybe even 30% depending on age and amount of physical activity (which can retard the rate of muscle loss).  However, I think this shows up in "endurance" i.e. the length of time spent skiing.  Instead of being able to ski opening bell to closing bell (8:00 am to 4:00 pm), most seniors probably only ski in the morning (8:00 to 12:00).  Two reasons.  (a) loss of endurance (b) better snow conditions.  But during these skiing hours, I don't think a lot is lost in performance.  Well, at least for myself (sample of size 1).  

 

So, I would treat them as "regular" skiers (at least in the mornings if it is a whole day class).  I would take umbrage if you treated me too much as an "elder" and backed off too much. Note the "too".  A little is fine but not too.  So this is a delicate point, because even in this age group of highly active people, there is a spread of fitness, with some skiers very fit and some not so.  Also, this is dependent on what you are teaching.  I was in a senior group the past season, and so many of the seniors wanted to avoid moguls (for one reason or other), that I would have to with-draw from the class (usually when I felt that the class was close to ending), so that I can go ski the moguls.  I had determined, come rain or shine (soft or hard icy bumps), to do at least two bump runs each time I went out skiing.  This paid off handsomely in my ability to handle bumps when I went north for my final 10 day ski trip of the season.

 

Also, you WILL hear grumbling about the snow, if it is not perfect "corduroy".  The worst the snow condition, the more grumbling.  Again, I look on bad snow conditions as "snow that's good for you" as Bob Barnes would say.  So, for bad snow days, you might want to develop skills especially for those kind of conditions.  Strangely, here in the banana belt on the east coast (south central PA), the "grumbling" meter also goes up with the depth of soft snow.  But powder doesn't happen frequently here, so for the most part it is not a problem.  You probably have figured out the pattern, any kind of condition which is not well groomed conditions is likely to be a problem with your group.  Well, it was with my group.  I had the opportunity to spend a few days with a senior group at another mountain and they seemed to require less "hand holding".  But since this group was 3000 miles from my home, I could not join them instead.  Had a blast with you Senior Falconsski.gif

 

Finally, back to the "endurance" question.  Your group is only going to be as strong as the least fit skier.  So, identify the person who is the least fit.  Obviously, if that person is too much off the group, you would want to recommend that he/she go to the next group down (usually, there are three senior groups.  Beginner, intermediate and advanced).  If the least fit person can hang with the group, you still might want to make sure that all the activity difficulty levels and length of activity are more or less geared to this person.  Slow down and stop to rest when he/she is flagging.  This can be achieved by frequent stops while skiing either by more talking/coaching(icon13.gif), or an unscheduled pit stop with a chocolate break thrown in (oh yes.  pit stops are important for as the group ages, the ability to hold it in decreases roflmao.gif).  You don't want to run the class to his/her breaking point.  As long as you don't get to that point and let him/her recover with a short rest it will be fine.  But if a person reaches his/her collapse point, then all hell breaks lose and maybe the whole class has to wait until the person is escorted down to the lodge, either by yourself or by ski patrol.  One example, which I remember vividly in one of my senior class of this year.  It was our last run of the day down a beginners bump run.  The person completed the last bump and then we saw him taking a flying leap into the air of about 10 feet and landed 15 feet from where he took off.  We all thought that he had killed himself.  He blacked out and when he came to, he didn't remember what had happened.  Maybe a "slight" concussion?  We all waited around until the ski patrol came and transported him down the mountain.  It took a good 10-15 minutes just for him to wake up.  He didn't show up for the rest of the season.

 

Two more things you want to note is that as we age we (a) lose flexibility (b) lose quick reflexes.  Loss of flexibility is the reason why seniors fall down and can't get up.  Loss of reflexes is why we can not do real quick turns in succession.  Loss of endurance is why we fall a lot because we tire more easy.

 

Hope this helps with your senior group.  

 

Think snow,

 

CP

 

Ps:  I seem to remember a few month back, a 50+ year women appeared on this forum and exhausted all the colors for her postings smile.gifbiggrin.gif.  Her husband/significant other name is PJ and use to be on the PSIA demo team a few years back.  He is now a senior skier and has developed a senior specific program for PSIA-Rocky mountian north(?), anyway the division for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  He has a manual and other teaching aids for training senior skiers.   I don't know how you can contact him, but if I recall, I think that this women and maybe even PJ is known to Nolo  (sorry Nolo to bring you into this discussionsmile.gif).  Oh yes, the woman's name is Cookie Bewley Hale.  I don't recall if she had left an e-mail so that you could PM her.


Edited by CharlieP - 5/5/11 at 12:15pm
post #5 of 13

 

  • What are some of the considerations that affect you when teaching seniors?

They won't always tell you about physical issues that you should be aware of (e.g. My student who, while stopped in the middle of a mogul run, informed me that her doctor said that if she fell while skiing she would break her hip and bleed to death on the spot).

You need to be extra careful about exposure to collision risks.

They will get the "old" references in my old jokes.

I need to do a shape ski check. Have they figured out "how to ski 'em" yet?

 

  • What physiological and psychological changes are relevant or not relevant?

Muscle strength diminishes with age.

Vision may impact performance.

Habits may be very hard to change.

I forget, what we were talking about?

 

  • How are  expectations different for you as a coach/instructor and for the individual participant over both the short-term (one lesson) and long-term (development over the season) as compared to when coaching a younger skier?

I try not to have expectations. That interferes with the listening process. I've seen a senior "never ever - well ok once 10 years ago" student transform from an absolute klutz to an elegant skier in one run.

 

  • What adaptations do you make to your teaching style, pacing, and terrain choice?

None. 

 

  • Does ski technique change? (e.g. are we still aiming to produce an expert parallel turn along with all the variations in-between?)

No.

 

  • Are you particularly wary of any terrain or situations with these skiers (bumps, powder)?

I try to be much more aware and cautious about high traffic areas and high frequency of collision areas.

 

  • How do you create achievable challenges without putting the skier at risk of breaking their hip?

If I told you, I'd have to break your hip!

 

  • Is there a point at which a skier is simply attempting to maintain his/her skill?

Sure, sort of. They are not really maintaining - they are just skiing.

post #6 of 13

Both west coast divisions of PSIA have programs leading to a senior specialist accreditation.  I think NW's is more developed than West's.  NW may have its senior specialist handbook on its website.  I have about a four-year-old version somewhere at my house in Michigan, where I'll be in a couple weeks, if you can't find it.  I think if you contact them, they'll be happy to supply their senior specialist information.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for the great ideas. 

 

Rusty, I was waiting for your bleed-to-death skier to make her appearance! She's immortalized in epicski. Terrible situation to have to deal with; falls happen to almost everyone at some point while skiing... 

 

Charlie, appreciate the personal perspective. You'll be happy to know that seniors don't have exclusive rights on grumbling about snow conditions. Also, at 100 crunches on your non-running days, I'd say you're in better shape than me. 

 

Kneale, thanks for the heads-up on the manual and program. I found the manual on the NW site - lots of good material there. Maybe I'll investigate taking the actual course next year (if it's possible for a CSIA to take a PSIA course without jumping through too many hoops or paying buckets of money in associate fees). 

 

It's a lot to think about! Thanks guys. 

post #8 of 13

You already got some really good advice, I'll pitch in with a couple of points:

1. Find out exactly what they want to get out of the lesson - don't assume anything after watching them ski.  They could be aiming to join NASTAR or ski with their grandkids.

2. Teach clean technique - speed and momentum can hide technical defects.  Slowing things down requires very precise movements - if you do it, you'll force yourself to work on your technique, and you'll challenge yourself.

 

Anecdotally, I recently had a guy pushing 70 in a semiprivate. He was quite athletic, making beginner wedge turns.  Got him to make advanced wedge christies, and we both had a lot of fun in the lesson.  Definitely one of the more memorable lessons of the season.

 

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieP View Post

 PJ and use to be on the PSIA demo team a few years back.  He is now a senior skier and has developed a senior specific program for PSIA-Rocky mountian north(?), anyway the division for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  He has a manual and other teaching aids for training senior skiers.   I don't know how you can contact him, but if I recall, I think that this women and maybe even PJ is known to Nolo  (sorry Nolo to bring you into this discussionsmile.gif).  Oh yes, the woman's name is Cookie Bewley Hale.  I don't recall if she had left an e-mail so that you could PM her.


The PSIA division is PSIA Intermountain.


I am sure you could contact PJ through the Jackson Hole Ski School late fall / early winter when I expect he will return to the resort. It might be worth a look at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort website to see if the mountain is doing senior clinics there.  The have one heck of a series of camps / programs at the mountain that are VERY effective and well run. 

 

 

(me..........uh.......despite being in the ....cough....uh / um.....sputter.....age group,  just went and skied with Bob Peters.........another who is also in the ......cough....uh....um.....sputter.....age group.)

 

 

PSIA Intermountain may also have the info on senior teaching (if it's in print) so a phone call to them to purchase a manual may be an option.

post #10 of 13

Cookie and PJ are instructors at JHMR.  However, their situation seems a little unique from my perspective.  They seem to teach and run clinics across several divisions and not be limited to the Intermountain.  There where a few senior PSIA clinics in the Intermountain this year, but none of them where at JHMR.  I know, because I would really like to take their clinic, but don't want to travel.  I got the chance to free ski a few runs with PJ & Cookie near the end of the season and had a great time.  They are low status in the JHMR MSS, which means that they aren't around too much and are only "required" to teach a lower amount of lesson hours than a higher status instructor like myself.  This low status allows them to do other things at other areas and in other divisions.  I think you can get in these kinds of positions when you have the reputation and depth of experience that PJ does.  I was really pleased early this season when I was teaching a level 1 on the rope tow and PJ was there with his student, PJ paid me a great compliment.  Both PJ & Cookie are super nice in person and I would really like to do some training with them.

 

Louie...  Am I the "other" that you are referring to?  Maybe I do need that grecian formulaeek.gif.  I'm not quite a senior, but will be 50 soon.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post




The PSIA division is PSIA Intermountain.


I am sure you could contact PJ through the Jackson Hole Ski School late fall / early winter when I expect he will return to the resort. It might be worth a look at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort website to see if the mountain is doing senior clinics there.  The have one heck of a series of camps / programs at the mountain that are VERY effective and well run. 

 

 

(me..........uh.......despite being in the ....cough....uh / um.....sputter.....age group,  just went and skied with Bob Peters.........another who is also in the ......cough....uh....um.....sputter.....age group.)

 

 

PSIA Intermountain may also have the info on senior teaching (if it's in print) so a phone call to them to purchase a manual may be an option.



 

post #11 of 13


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

 

Louie...  Am I the "other" that you are referring to?  Maybe I do need that grecian formulaeek.gif.  I'm not quite a senior, but will be 50 soon.
 



 

Naw.....that real estate guy......under 50 don't count in this thread !
 

 

post #12 of 13

OK...  I read it as Bob Peters and another old guybiggrin.gif.  I've been boating and fishing with some younger guys lately, they say stuff all the time like so & so can't (fill in the blank) so well because he's in his 50s.  I just look at them and say excuse me?  Then they are like....  Oh we didn't mean you!

post #13 of 13

UL's terminology was to describe BP as "another" in the category.

 

Met, when I was looking into a seniors accreditation for the Central Division of PSIA, the folks in both the western divisions said they welcomed participants from other divisions.  Only question would be whether the other divisions would give you credit for the participation.  If I remember correctly (I REALLY am one of the old folks), both divisions conduct their senior accreditation programs as part of their annual spring rally type of events.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching