I think the problem is that when PARENTS see the kids in gates, they think they are getting what they are paying for. If they see the kids in the trees, they think the coach is playing and using the benefits of free skiing as an excuse to "not coach". There also MAY be the problem that some "program directors" are over the hill and can't personally ski with the kids off piste. And then there are those areas that NO ONE is allowed off the marked trails. Combine all that and you have a TON of places where all the kids do is gates. The first problem (parents) can be educated away by the coach at the beginning of the season...maybe. The other two problems? Not so easy.
Racing vs. Getting PSIA certified - which is a better way to take my skiing to the next level? - Page 3
- 2,517 Posts. Joined 12/2007
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Here's a thought....
Skiers with race experience are usually better skiers than those with teaching experience. You can debate what a good skier is, but from a semi independent view of ski patrolling, the racers are far more solid with a sled, a load of signs, on ungroomed mank checking lift towers, etc. The only department the instructors do better in is looking pretty on groomers. Put me in a toboggan and I want the ex-racer in the handles.
Now, take the same groups and give them a basic test of athletic ability---strength agility balance, and you'll find the racers are better athletes.
Are those racers better skiers because their instruction method was better, or simply because they are better athletes? Would a person of a defined athletic ability get more out of one type of instruction or the other? I don't know.
So, the ex-racers are better skiers and better athletes. I'll buy this as a general statement, but I don`t think it necessarily answers the OPs question (which is newfydog`s conclusion also).
My guess is that most of the ex-racers he is referring to skied a lot as kids with a lot of coaching (or participated in other sports as kids and then put in a lot of mileage in an adult masters program). Those with only teaching and no race experience most likely skied a lot less as kids overall and/or were not as good an athletes (skiing aside).
Things are somewhat different today, but for skiers 40+ yo, the only serious coaching as a kid in most places was race training. Lot`s of places, this is probably still true. Putting in serious miles with serious coaching at a young age is always going to make you better at any sport. There is also the drop out factor- those that are not good at racing will tend to drop out more than those that do well and some of the drop outs will give the sport up entirely. OTOH, you don`t have to be a great skier to have acceptable results as an instructor so there is not as much natural selection in regards to level of skiing.
Bob Barnes had an interesting suggestion about trying to do both- I think the OP said that it would not be possible in a single season, but he could do so in different years. If you were going to take this route, which would you do first?
I wonder if JD51 has been following this discussion- he is a Floridian who took up Masters Racing as an adult and has also done the Keystone adult lesson pass and some of the Harb clinics (as a student and then an instructor clinic).
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No offense taken.
I have never ski raced and feel like many who have ski better than I ever will. I see the kids in the race programs night skiing at Snow King and they are great on their edges. Sadly some of those kids are pretty one dimensional and don't do well off-piste. While I have to admit that involvement in PSIA has made me a far better skier than I was before, I still think that my lack of racing experience remains a huge hole in my skiing resume.
Speed does hide faults. Your argument that this doesn't apply to racing is false. It is true that there are no style points on a race course, but the movements that make for a fast time don't just come randomly. They are earned through discipline and in most cases this involves slowing things down before you can speed them up. A racer on course can only use what they already have, they won't find the "basic skills" in competition and as you say those who try this approach are more likely to "plateau rather than podium". Successful racers at the highest levels have to be able to precisely blend their skills at high speeds under pressure and do it instinctively. The faults that speed is hiding are slowing the less capable racers down!
Anyone who gets into ski instruction primarily to ski or to get better at skiing will likely be unhappy with the "job". That's because it is a job. The focus of all good instructors is on how to best serve their students. The training and the personal improvements that come with the job are side benefits, If you don't like working with the public and don't have a strong desire to teach don't get into it. You will be far happier buying a pass.
I work full time for a large SS at a destination resort and have regular access to high level training that most instructors don't. I have 6 examiner level people within easy conversational distance of my locker that I see and talk to every day. Double that number if I raise my voice a little or take a few steps in any direction. I think we have about 19 PSIA alpine examiners on staff. Most SS don't have these sorts of in-house resources. I have made a commitment to skiing and instruction that most in the industry can't or won't make and therefor I get more from it than most will. I don't have a "day job". Skiing is my only livelihood for 1/3 of the year and I have been maintaining these levels, <400 hrs instruction and <100 hrs training for the last 6 years. A nice beer league racing program is probably more manageable for most people. If you don't need the money I guess you could teach a little and clinic a lot, sadly I need the money and have to teach a lot of lessons to pay my overhead
IMO one of the main strengths of race programs is the long term nature of the training and the fact that participants work with the same coaches for an entire season. We have kids racing programs and kids free ride programs. Both programs turn out great skiers in the end, mostly because of these factors. I enjoy working with my Saturday Kids group for this reason. I can really get somewhere with my group in 10 weeks that I can't in the 6 hours that I see most of my students for. Even a repeat lesson or a camp isn't as effective as one session a week for a whole season. We also offer locals packages for adults where people can form their own groups and get the same instructor once a week for an entire season. These groups can pick their instructor and specify what they want to focus on. There are many ways to reach skiing goals. What all the best ways seem to have in common is disciplined skiing time and coaching feedback spread out over an entire season.
Actually reading your post you pretty much validate my comments for which I thank you!.
However i do take issue with you on one point where you say
"Speed does hide faults. Your argument that this doesn't apply to racing is false. It is true that there are no style points on a race course, but the movements that make for a fast time don't just come randomly. They are earned through discipline and in most cases this involves slowing things down before you can speed them up. A racer on course can only use what they already have, they won't find the "basic skills" in competition and as you say those who try this approach are more likely to "plateau rather than podium". Successful racers at the highest levels have to be able to precisely blend their skills at high speeds under pressure and do it instinctively. The faults that speed is hiding are slowing the less capable racers down!"
Reread my post. What i said was "When I see things like "speed hides faults". Sure, that can be true in free skiing BUT once you are in gates, it is simply not true. If you don't have the basic skills you can not hide it on the clock. Being forced to make turns highlights issues, much more so than any free skiing. Very often even skilled skiers will have to go back to basics and start rebuilding their technique/platform to start getting quicker in gates, much like a professional golfer in many ways. Otherwise you tend to plateau rather than podium. L&C air kind of highlighted this."
As you see I was also pointing out that the foundation needs to be right if you are going to be fast in the gates. I learnt this the hard way as my first 3 seasons of Masters racing I had no training opportunities and was making no progress
We have obviously touched a raw PSIA nerve somewhere here (not you personally TPJ but in general) given the way this thread seems to have degenerated into an either/or debate. And, despite my race orientation, I do have a great deal of respect for those who are dedicated to teaching or coaching and accept the multiple downsides to do it full-time. I sure could not do that as my primary job. A lot of posters seem to be under the impression that a race program is only about whacking gates. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every racer I know hits trees, powder etc as well as the course. And often doing it ion skinny race skis, increasing teh degree of difficulty
Anyway, I digress. I don't know what the PSIA recommends but I do know my USSA coaching manual emphasizes communication, listening to and understanding your coachees, their current state of development and making a plan to help them achieve their goals. It appears not too many people here bothered to go back and listen to the OPs goals!!! Maybe this is the difference between PSIA and USSA although I am sure PSIA urges a similar approach!
I will admit to having posted here to provide some balance (and also to stir things up a bit so people put a little more thought into things rather than simply repeating talking points! )
However, there was a very salient post for me
Coming from someone who's been trying all kinds of things for the last 10 years to improve my skiing and watching others do the same....
I'm a PSIA Instructor for 7 years. Have taken a number of clinics and have had a lot of training and coaching by both local and regional high end skiers and coaches. There's no question that it, and teaching skiing, has helped my skiing. But I'm disappointed in the results so far. Too piecemeal, too all-over-the-place in skills taught. Not focused.
However, watching the race coaches at my home mountain and the results they get from their students has me believing that they do a better job than we do at developing high end skiing skills. Of course they get students week after week, we get the one-off lesson. Consequentially I think they're more skilled at teaching dedicated repeat students on average than many ski instructors.
Of course it all comes down to the individual and their eye, and their ability to see one or two important gating factors that need to be addressed before spending time on details. A clinician may decide to focus on hand position, but if your fore/aft balance is off, or you have basic movement patterns wrong in your legs - the hands should just wait.
So to me the best way to get to the next level is finding that incredible coach that can look at you and work with you in a focused way - not a one size fits all way.
If you are fortunate enough to have an Examiner or close-to-it level PSIA coach work with you regularly you can take it to the next level. However the training you get in a typical ski school may not do it, and the once-in-a-while access to Examiners isn't enough.
If you can find a race coach who is willing to work with you regularly you may find that type of eye and focus more easily.
Above Level 7 skiing training can be very flavor-of-the-day - and 'check out this new progression I'm working with' oriented. To me that's not coaching.
To me this summmed it up very well, a very honest answer and I applaud SMJ for being honest enough to admit it.
Bottom line, there are multiple routes to improving your skiing. The biggest difference is in how quickly they can be effective.
Edited by ScotsSkier - 11/5/12 at 10:12am
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Can be, but I remember a run with a big load on solid ice, so icy that the chain brake would pop out on every mogul and just glide in front of the sled. I happened to be on a very sharp pair of racing skis that day and was elected to take it down.
You pwdrjunkies might not see that in Jackson so much.
Snow King is a different mountain than JHMR. I like to joke that SK is the best eastern skiing west of the Mississippi. SK is also has the steepest average pitch of any ski area in North America. One of our long time patrollers likes to joke that it gets "harder than the back of gods head". The pitch and the hardpack is what makes SK such a great race training hill.
When I started patrolling, I worked almost exclusively on telemark gear. The hard pack at SK made me a much better tele skier than I was before. We train with the sleds doing dynamic and static belays through the tight trees at the top where it is very steep. It gets technical, but not what I would call hard. The Ice can be a bitch and is a bit nerve wracking. The real pressure in my mind comes not from the difficulty, but from the responsibility for the patient. I think in a lot of ways the tail roping position is more challenging than being in the horns. A lot of tail-ropers don't seem to anticipate the needs of the sled runner. It's a training issue.
I was trained to get the patient down fast and we used big GS type turns and it was fairly easy and quick. When I did my senior S&T test the NSP trainer was all about "patient comfort" and going really slow making a lot of short turns and pivot slipping. This approach is a little harder on the ice. At one point I pulled my tail roper, who was a weak skier, off of his feet on one of the steep pitches. I looked over my shoulder and he was water skiing in a wedge with huge saucer eyes before he threw the rope away. Even though he and I had talked about "the plan" in front of the trainer, I could have legitimately failed the test for that. I adjusted and did nothing but pivot slips, falling leafs, and short turns at slow speeds for the rest of the day and everything was fine.
The only time I got hauled off the mountain on a sled at JHMR the two patrollers took me for a fast and wild ride through powder, crud, and mixed bumps. Snow was flying over the front and sometimes they lifted the sled off the snow and skied like that. It was smooth and I never doubted their ability for one second. I think that in most cases "faster" is better.
- 286 Posts. Joined 3/2007
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It all comes down to your goals. Neither is about free skiing. Racing is about generating and holding speed on a set course. To race well is to be able to apply the correct skills to get cleanly down the correct line. As far as pure skiing skills are concerned, teaching is about being able to model both what your student is doing, and an achievable modification in those skills to improve their outcomes.
I feel racing results in a clearer mental focus on the hill and a real understanding of using the ski as a tool. I feel teaching results in better situational skills and using your body as a tool to affect how the ski and snow interact.
For me the choice was easy, After a few years I noticed two big things
1. There is nothing like trying to teach something to find out if you truly understand it.
2. That by my fourth run through the gates I either have, or am about to, hurt myself.