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Best way to jump start the season

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
OK, I'm just a bit tired on my end of having high hopes of going from being the very so, so intermediate that I am, taking a few lessons during the season and with the expectation that I will someday magically morph from good to great. I have to face the hard truth that it has simply not happened for the past 3-4 seasons and may never if I don't do something drastic to change things...definition of insanity??

I'm an OK skier, but not expert and now willing to do whatever it takes to advance my level and looking for input on how get to a jump on the season in doing so.

In my view, I have two options: a) attend a clinic of sorts early enough in the season to really make a difference or b) push myself to take more lessons throughout the season, although many times I feel as if the lessons, even when I take them from very good instructors feel more like a bandaid approach to the problem. Perhaps it's a combination of the two (?)

I'm in southern Vermont but willing to travel to wherever to attain my goal of making dramatic improvements...any thoughts on how best to proceed?
post #2 of 17

I'm sure there will be others giving you advice and there are some contributors on here who I'm sure will help you better than I can but I'll make a start.

 

First thought is to ask you a couple of things. Firstly how much skiing do you do in the season. Secondly is your impatience a realistic negativity. Remember that as you acheive higher levels, progress is generally slower and major breakthroughs less frequent.

 

There are some preparatory things you can maybe try before you start the season to optimise your chances of making the progress you want. You can get yourself as fit as you can, including strength, flexibility, balance, agility and endurance elements. You can also look at your equipment and consider whether you're getting the best out of it. Are you properly aligned with  your boot to ski inerface? Do the boots fit correctly? Are your skis tuned properly. I apologise if all these things are in good standing for you but I obviously don't know you.

 

Have a look at instructional DVDs and read lots of the great books out there if that's a way you like to learn. I learn effectively this way but not everyone does. This doesn't replace proper instruction but can help develop your understanding of what you are trying to acheive. Knowledge makes a big difference and I will guarantee there will be things you never even considered.

 

Set some personal goals for your season. Make sure they're realistic and acheivable. To do this make sure you know where you are now. If you have some footage of yourself skiing put it on here and I'm sure there will be a few contributors willing to give you some help from this. Communicate your goals to your instructor and engage them in how you can best acheive them. I'm sure you will find them very happy to help.

 

I'm curious about the statement you make about your instruction being a 'bandaid approach.' I wonder could you elaborate on this a little more.

 

You are obviously motivated to improve and the good news is you can and you will. Get your plan in place. Find that relationship with an instructor who'll work with you and monitor your progress. Ask questions at every stage and most of all work hard.

post #3 of 17

Swisstrader, you are in the predicament of knowing what you want but not knowing how to get it.  I'm afraid there is no "type" of instruction that is guaranteed to help you out of the intermediate blues.  Neither early season improvement camps, nor group seasonal lessons, nor private or group lessons during the season will be guaranteed to do the trick of helping you to ramp up your skills to any measurable degree.    

 

I assume from your original post that you are willing to do drills, to analyze your movement patterns, to continue doing drills after the lesson is over, and to not throw in the towel when the body refuses to behave and the drills continue to offer you a challenge.  If I am correct in that, then what will do it for you is the right instructor/coach.  That coach/instructor might be found in any of those venues I just mentioned.  It's not the structure that matters, but the interaction between you and your teacher.  You need someone who watches you ski, analyzes what you need, then who can work with you to help you shed bad habits and gain the next level of skills in baby steps.  You need someone who gives great feedback, who likes teaching you, who wants to do all that can be done to help you.  The chemistry needs to be good.  

 

So how do people find these good instructors, the people with whom they might "click?"  The best way I've found is asking for  recommendations from people who recognize good teaching.  Not everyone can do that.  Lacking good recommendations from someone whom you trust, there's always trail and error.  That might look like talking with your local hill's ski school director personally, describing your skiing style and frustrations, and asking for the very best teacher on staff who helps skiers move beyond that intermediate skill level.

 

Best of luck on your quest.  Don't give up until you get what you want.  

post #4 of 17

swisstrader: How many days on snow did you get the last few seasons?  Were you skiing alone or with friends?  Not that it makes that much difference, but did you learn as an adult over 30?  When you took lessons, were they group lessons or privates?

 

Hope you don't mind all the questions.  Since you've obviously been working hard, I assume you want advice that gives you new ideas, as opposed to more of whatever you've been doing.

post #5 of 17

Find a season long training program.  Such as racing programs.  That is usually your best bet.  Constant training all year is better then intense training for a day here or there, and nothing inbetween.  Also they are usually substantially cheaper on a per hour of coaching basis.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

swisstrader: How many days on snow did you get the last few seasons?  Were you skiing alone or with friends?  Not that it makes that much difference, but did you learn as an adult over 30?  When you took lessons, were they group lessons or privates?

Hope you don't mind all the questions.  Since you've obviously been working hard, I assume you want advice that gives you new ideas, as opposed to more of whatever you've been doing.

I ski just about every weekend in the wintertime and just about every winter holiday, so I have no excuse like "not enough time on the mountain". I ski a bit on my own but also with friends and yes, started after age 30 which I'm sure has an effect.

All the advice thus far has been rock solid. I may be dreaming, but what I was hoping for was a program or school that can get me to go from the classic intermediate rut to actually skiing like I know that I'm doing. Not sure if that exists or where.
post #7 of 17

Swisstrader (love the name), some specifics may help others give you specific recommendations.

 

1. How would you describe your current skiing?  Include the good, the bad, and the ugly.    

2. How do you want to ski?  What are your dreams for your skiing?  

3. What kinds of terrain and snow do you excel on, and what gives you trouble?

4. You say you ski with friends.  How do they ski?  Do they have an influence on your skiing?

5. Where are you located?  Are you willing to travel?

post #8 of 17
Getting yourself in good skiing shape physically would be a great jump-start.

Doing balance and body-awareness (yoga, bosu ball, wobble board, etc) would help you get more out of lessons, because you'd have a better feel for what's going on.

Making sure your boots fit nice and snug (like a firm handshake, generally speaking) will help you get more out of your skiing.

Generally there's no magic bullet that takes people from intermediate to a higher level. A good coach/instructor will see some of the habits you've developed that may be stumbling blocks, and improving your habits (and eliminating the ones that are counter-productive/inefficient) may feel like a magic bullet.

Recap: (1) good physical condition; (2) good body awareness; (3) good boot fit; (4) good mentor/coach/instructor.
post #9 of 17

Okay, let me just preface this by saying, "take everything I say with a grain of salt, because I kinda suck at skiing". I can do parallel turns, and I know how to carve, but my form is ugly, and I still need to give myself a pep-talk just to get down the steeps.

 

Anyways, I used to ski a bit when I was little, but stopped for about six years, and only started again when I was about twelve or thirteen. Of course, I knew a bit about parallel turns and the sort, but, in my absence from the slope, some tiny little bit of sanity grew inside of me. It kinda liked the warm, cozy, mostly flat lodge, and it was my worst enemy when it came to tackling tougher trails. It would tell me, "No, you idiot! Don't strap planks to your feet and fly down that hill!". And for the most part, I was able to drown it out on the nice, gentle cruisers. But when it came to tackling my first blue, I was helpless and hopeless. It seemed like nothing could get me skiing blues. That year, I learned my first lesson from skiing: my family are a bunch of lunatics and sadists. Time and time again, they'd send me down these icy, steep monstrocities, only for me to go full panic-mode, chills running up my spine before every turn. However, after dozens of tries and the help of a ski instructor named Smitty, I was finally on my way toward my first tentative runs down the steeper and deeper, no fear, no nothing. It seemed as though that whole sanity thing was finally pacified. At least until the double-blues and blacks, that is...

 

So, despite still gaining my skiing legs, I was starting to get used to the idea of the blue square. It was a challenge for me, but nevertheless I got down them at my own pace. It had been a few years now, since I started skiing again, and I was starting to get a bit better. This year I was going, along with my mom and brother, to Jackson Hole to go skiing with my aunt, who was one of the many psychopaths that had been prodding me down the blues. We started off easily enough, mostly sticking to Apres Vous, challenging myself or so I thought. Then, we took a ride up the gondola. My being an east coast skier, I was excited at the prospect of this strange new marvel. At the top, I was greeted by an easy-enough cruiser, a fairly-tame blue that winded itself down skier's right. However, this nice little groomer was inevitable cut short, as we boarded the Thunder lift. I would later notice, much to my own chagrin, that it was emblazened with a notice, "now servicing: Dbl. Blue, black". My family and I regrouped at the top of the lift, and my aunt told us that we were going to be taking the easy way down. What started as a sigh of relief quickly turned into a feeling of dread, as I realized that the "easy route" equated to an impossibly steep bowl, sprinkled with a generous helping of moguls and terror. Simply put, it put many of the blacks out east to shame. The feelings from my first blue surged back to me with a vengeance. my knees were knocking -- almost audibly -- as I took my first miserable turns. However, with a steady supply of motivation and time, I eventually overcame it.

 

Strangely enough, after overcoming that monster of a trail, I found that the blues that had previously given me grief to be cakewalks. By the end of the vacation, I had even tackled a black diamond (although it was basically a repeat of the double blue, to be honest). Of course, it would be a while before I was able to tentatively link my turns together down that black, but after doing it twice before, it was a lesson I had already mastered. 

 

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it isn't about being ready, or safe, or talented (I certainly am not). The one thing that you need is a bunch of crazy, sadistic friends to keep you out of your comfort zone. If you like skiing blues, struggle your way down a black or two. All of a sudden, all of the form that you've been working at on the cruisers will simply snap into place. So long as you can find something to keep you on your toes, you'll have no problem improving, week after week. As long as you keep out of your comfort zone, and don't get complacent, you'll improve, or maim yourself trying.

 

So, good luck this year, and happy skiing. beercheer.gif

 

 

Also, I still maintain that my family are lunatics. They got far too much enjoyment out of watching me struggle.''

post #10 of 17

Atrain:  Welcome to EpicSki!  Glad you see you enjoy being with the ski nuts around here.  smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrain View Post

Okay, let me just preface this by saying, "take everything I say with a grain of salt, because I kinda suck at skiing". I can do parallel turns, and I know how to carve, but my form is ugly, and I still need to give myself a pep-talk just to get down the steeps.

 

. . .

So, good luck this year, and happy skiing. beercheer.gif

 

 

Also, I still maintain that my family are lunatics. They got far too much enjoyment out of watching me struggle.''

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrain View Post

and don't get complacent, you'll improve, or maim yourself trying.

 

 

Yo Atrain.

 

TrainWreck1.gif

One day I was teaching a lesson when I heard a car crash sound. A family had taken their young daughter (who had completed a first time skier lesson earlier in the day) to our advanced beginner slope. She started down the trail, panicked and "11"ed into a lift tower. Broken femur and a helicopter ride to the hospital.

 

That's the reason why I teach new pros how to cut off and stop runaway skiers who can not stop on their own. There are times when the fastest way for a skier to improve is to get on a slope that is over their head. But that is not safe. It's a lot safer with professional assistance, but it is still not safe. Most people who ski on a trail out of their comfort zone get away with no worse than bumps and bruises, but enough people get seriously hurt that advising people to ski with sadistic friends on trails way over their heads is probably not a good recommendation.

post #12 of 17

  I suggest you try something utterly new and foreign to you swisstrader...Masters ski racing. DON'T be intimidated, there are many skiers in these programs that started with a story very similar to yours and worked their way to becoming very good skiers!! Plus, the beauty is, if you don't actually want to race, you don't have to (you can just participate in the training programs--all of which have excellent coachingsmile.gif) The cool thing about most of these programs is that they meet regularly, often times 3 or more times a week, every week, all season long...go to www.ussa.org  and click on the Masters link for details and contact info for programs in your area (ya have to click on "alpine" at the top of the page first)

 

  This WILL improve your skiing... you obviously have the desire & they have the knowledgewink.gif

post #13 of 17

Try ASIA's Okemo Early Bird weekend program.  I've done some of ASIA's weekend programs at Belleayre and have really benefited.  It's not a seasonal program or private coaching, but a really good intense weekend of solid instruction at a reasonable price. (I just noticed that the sign-up deadline is tomorrow for the Okemo program.)

http://www.asiaski.com/okemo.htm

 

If you have the patience and ability to learn from a book, I really liked Mark Elling's The All-Mountain Skier.  I found the way he broke down skills into discrete tools that you blend into different types of sking helpful to conceptualize my weaknesses.  He also gives tons of drills to try to reinforce those skills. 

 

My experience sounds similar to yours.  I was a decent intermediate skier for a while, but over the last several years feel I have progressed to where I feel comfortable tackling most terrain safely. 

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post


I ski just about every weekend in the wintertime and just about every winter holiday, so I have no excuse like "not enough time on the mountain". I ski a bit on my own but also with friends and yes, started after age 30 which I'm sure has an effect.
All the advice thus far has been rock solid. I may be dreaming, but what I was hoping for was a program or school that can get me to go from the classic intermediate rut to actually skiing like I know that I'm doing. Not sure if that exists or where.

One option to consider might be to get a set of multi-hour/half-day (or even full day if cost is less of a concern) for the season at your resort with an instructor that comes highly recommended.  You could jointly plot your goals for the season and spread the lesson package so that you get time to practice what you are learning in between the lessons.  If you are getting 15+ days on snow in the season you should definitely see improvements.  Trick would be to find the right instructor.  Continuity with the same instructor (assuming you click with them) should also help with your progress.  Reading here at Epic and reading other literature (online/offline, instructional DVDs) would help (if that is your thing).

 

For instance, here is one set of instructional DVDs (I'm sure there are tons of others out there as well, I'm not particularly recommending any one but you can poke around to get a flavor)  

http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiCoach/Your_Ski_Coach_Home.html

 

My skiing was stuck when I was doing 5-10 days a year.  Last three years I have been getting 35+ days each season and that has helped tremendously.  The path isn't easy but if you are determined and fortunate enough to get adequate time on the snow you will definitely see big improvements. 

post #15 of 17

Do everything here in moderation including the moderation part.  Challenge yourself, but don't scare the crap out of yourself; terror is an inhibitor to most of us.  This is free advice so take it all with some healthy skepticism.

 

Skiing is a set of skills combined to take you where you want to go.  Practice the skills with drills (this web sight is full of them and videos of them).  If you play tennis or golf you probably warm up before you begin to play in earnest, do the same with your skiing.  Don't burn your whole day doing drills, but do some each day you ski; personally try to start my first run with what is called a "Pivot Slip" because it includes a lot of the skills.

 

Don't always ski the best snow on a run.  Look for the area of the trail that has: mixed conditions, a little ice, flat light, larger bumps, partially groomed, a spine or ridge, anything most people shy away from.  The more comfortable you can get here, the easier everything else will ski. 

 

Look for skiers who you would like to be able to ski like, somebody you consider a little better than you.  Shadow them ski behind them a few turns and follow their line (stay far enough back so you can maintain control).  Ask them first, (or it can be considered stalking) most people love to have their egos stroked and it is nice to know what that sound behind you is.  You may find yourself some new ski buddies this way too.  

 

Lessons are better than on your own, clinics and programs are even better still.  Smile as much as possible, it will confuse everybody else.  ENJOY!

post #16 of 17

These two videos are by the guy pointed to in post #14 above. I find them interesting/enlightening - perhaps you will too.

 

 

post #17 of 17

Get video taken on a green slope.

Upload video to youtube.

Post link to video on forum and ask for movement analysis.

Practice suggested drills.

Repeat.

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