Originally Posted by L&AirC
If you are in a wedge going down the fall line on easy terrain, and you want to initiate a turn to the left, you have a couple options:
Apply more pressure to your right ski.
Release the inside edge on your left ski.
One over powers by creating more resistance and the other embraces gravity and freedom from resistance.
If new skiers get this right, they don't have to re-learn how to turn when they get to more advanced skiing, especially carving.
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes
And contrary to what some may think, it is not so much technical as it a global "gestalt" black-and-white distinction that speaks more to a skier's intent than to his or her skill level. *** For most skiers, the shift from one to the other (from edgeset-pushoff to release-glide) is the key to "breaking out of the intermediate rut," and it involves a genuine paradigm shift (not just "more practice"). *** Grasping--"grokking"--this distinction is, for most recreational skiers, the greatest single thing you can do to further your technique in skiing, no matter your skill level. Experts do not just ski "better" than most skiers, they ski fundamentally differently. But the difference is available to any level of skier. To learn to ski like an expert, you must begin by thinking like one. It will transform your skiing instantly, globally, and profoundly.
Very interesting discussion. I had to read these posts a number of times, but I think I get it. For a non-instructor such as myself (and evidently for instructors too), the language used to explain these concepts to students is confusing. However, as someone who has made the leap over the past several years from an intermediate to the beginnings of an advanced skier, and as someone who watches with frustration my wife and others try to grasp the basic elements of getting down a bunny hill without killing herself or others, and as I watch my very cautious daughter staying with a push-off wedge, the discussion and distinction rings particularly true.
As Bob states, shifting from a defensive push-off to a more "offensive" (and scary and counterintuitive) release into and across the fall line, can be a game changer. It was not that long ago that I would be terrified when I ventured onto the steep black slopes. I would traverse in one direction, looking for a "good" place to turn, often ending up at the edge of the woods. Looking down a steep, often icy slope, where the consequences of falling would not be fun, is scary to say the least. It seems to me that the same fear applies to beginners wedging down a bunny slope, who do not have the skills or knowledge to control their speed or direction. In other words, the intimidation of an intermediate leaning into the hill on a black diamond dreading the next turn and a beginner accelerating down a green in a wedge are pretty similar.
Teaching the intermediate to overcome that fear and release is a no-brainer if that person wants to improve. That person already probably enjoys skiing and wants to get better. I also agree with what Ken said about the long-term benefits of teaching those fundamentals to a beginner, though I would think that, if not done well, has the potential turn some beginners off to skiing since it is so counter-intuitive and scary.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts and experiences on how to teach this to beginners--particularly beginner adults, who have more fears (and farther to fall) than children. Is it better to have a scared adult learner start with pushing off and being able to control direction (and begin to have fun), rather than asking a fearful adult to essentially "trust fall" to learn proper simultaneous mechanics? The feeling of a flat ski, turning into the fall line is quite unnerving, even in a wedge on a green slope. I'm guessing different strokes for different folks.
My "ah ha" moments came when I started to understand the various components of skiing and learned about releasing edges, flattening the skis, and "steering." Understanding the basic concepts isn't really that complicated, but the lingo and the way it is taught often is. It was only after starting to read about skiing, and taking some good lessons, that I was able to change the way I thought about turns and using both the edges and flat skis. Personally, I like learning from books and found the toolbox concepts in Mark Elling's All Mountain Skier to be helpful. I also started going to two-day Amateur Ski Instructors Association programs, which greatly helped. (I've also taken lessons with not-so-great instructors, who can't really translate what the purposes of doing certain drills are.) Many drills I've seen seem to try to get at similar concepts, but some work better for different people, and some times different things just click. At an ASIA program two years ago, my instructor (the truly excellent Don Boyce, ski school director at Belleayre) had us skiing a few runs trying to get us to make smeared, skiddy, flat ski turns. After a few runs, however, almost without realizing it, the whole group was skiing really dynamically and carving beautiful turns, principally because we were getting more comfortable with the release.
Anyway, I didn't mean to go on so long, but thanks for the opportunity to listen and learn. To sum up, I really have two questions: (1) How do you get a beginner, particularly a fearful adult, to grasp and execute this concept, and (2) How can these concepts be described and explained better to both beginners and intermediates (for example, I found the term "steering" to be very difficult to grasp, since it has a very specific use in skiing, but a more general meaning to the general population.