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1998-2013 Ski Pro time warp discussion

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Seeking comments/ thoughts from seasoned veteran ski instructors only here, discipline does not matter, PSIA, CSIA, Aussie, Kiwi, European whatever.....but seeking comments from folks whose experience goes back to the straight ski era only....and have continued to teach skiing.


Primarily concerned with thoughts regarding teaching new skiers up to open parallel skiing, Old ATS level 1-6. 


Describe how the art of teaching skiing has changed assuming a veteran pro and knowledgeable disciple of Centerline and ATS is returning to ski school....after a near 15 year layoff.


What is different, what tricks that worked 15 years ago no longer work etc. etc. What guarantees a positive guest experience in 2013?


Share random thoughts please?  No specific agenda, if you are a veteran of 15 + years I would like any thoughts you might have.


Thanks so much in advance for sharing.

post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 

......perhaps equally and most important, comments regarding what is the same are also welcome!


Thanks again!

post #3 of 23

Great topic, and good way to frame the question, hrstrat.  I'm looking forward to the conversation.  Hope enough people are around this summer to keep it lively.

post #4 of 23

Can you please describe centreline and ATS for those of us who aren't PSIA?

post #5 of 23

There is a graphic that they published in the 96 manual and it is a very basic representation of the relationship between outcomes and the skills blends that would produce those outcomes. Centerline is sort of the middle ground and IMO represents a specific skill blend. By establishing that standard we can contrast and compare different skiing styles. Since that graphic is owned by PSIA posting it here might not be doable without their permission. My suggestion would be to search amazon, or e bay for a 96 manual.

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Discipline doesn't matter, contrast and discuss teaching first day skier up to open parallel 15 yr ago vs today.

ATS is American Teaching System believe the manuals and videos debut in 1992.... Doesn't matter off topic only mentioned as a point of old school reference. I believe PSIA Centerline video dates to approx 1986....
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
not a PSIA discussion thread let's focus on making the student/ guest smile, now vs 15 yrs ago.......
post #8 of 23

hrstrat57, are you looking for technical differences in how to handle the skis, or pedagogical differences in how the lessons progressed, or how ski school practices differed, or people skills differences?  Or something else?

post #9 of 23
Contrasting every aspect would be very time consuming. Perhaps a teaching clinic would help more.
post #10 of 23
In many ways those years gave us a foundational framework. We skied on one ski a bit more on the top end of that range though. So some of the mechanics changed to accommodate the more two footed stances we teach now days.
post #11 of 23
Originally Posted by hrstrat57 View Post

Describe how the art of teaching skiing has changed assuming a veteran pro and knowledgeable disciple of Centerline and ATS is returning to ski school....after a near 15 year layoff.


What is different, what tricks that worked 15 years ago no longer work etc. etc. What guarantees a positive guest experience in 2013?


Share random thoughts please?  No specific agenda, if you are a veteran of 15 + years I would like any thoughts you might have.


Greetings HR,


Started teaching part time 20+ years ago shortly before shaped skis.


Nothing guarantees a positive guest experience. Any one thing can ruin a guest experience. Creating a positive guest experience is a team effort across the entire resort staff and Mother Nature. There are a hundred+ things instructors can do to help deliver a positive guest experience. One way to summarize those things is "Safety, Fun and Learning". In a simple perspective, nothing has changed here in the last 15 years. At the detailed level, we have gotten a lot better at communicating to new instructors what to do, why to do, how to do, where to do these things. In addition to teachers, we need to be entertainers, leaders, facilitators, psychologists, guides, etc. If our students are not injured, had fun and achieved a sense of accomplishment we've done our job. If we've either created or bolstered a life long love for the sport and a desire to come back again and again, we've really understood the phrase "positive guest experience". One big thing that PSIA has introduced is "Guest Centered Teaching". This is the idea that instruction should be tailored to the needs of the guests.


With regards to what worked 15 years ago that does not work any more, the short answer is nothing. The long answer is that it is more about the subtle adjustments and the options that shaped/fat/rockered skis have brought us. We don't teach "down - up - down" to do parallel turns any more. You could. But there are better options. The simple version of the difference in technique between shaped skis and modern skis is that we turn our feet less and edge our feet more. Some schools start students skip the wedge for first timers and start out directly with parallel turns. Some still start first timers with wedge turns. Some schools will mix approaches for different students. But we don't teach the "Snowplough" any more. The differences between a snowplow and a wedge can be subtle, but the main difference is that a snowplow is a braking maneuver and a wedge is a steering maneuver. At the higher end of the performance scale, we had people doing pure carved turns on straight skis. Mostly this was racers on closed courses. The speeds required to carve were not compatible with "crowded" resort skiing. With shaped skis, carving can be done at resort and crowd friendly speeds. We still need to teach skidding as an option, but now we can teach carving as a more efficient option. Teaching moguls has not changed much - there are dozens of different philosophies. Powder skiing has changed because fatter skis allow more float and the new rockered skis allow more skidding. 


It's hard to catch up 15 years via the Internet. I've greatly over simplified lots of stuff.

post #12 of 23
The big difference (my teaching experience commences with 1970) is the efforts required. Straight skis and lower, softer boots required more muscling of the equipment and more pronounced movements. Witherell's descriptions of how the racers ski still apply.
post #13 of 23

 I started teaching in '80. I'm not sure that I could pinpoint a whole lot of changes based on just the skis, particularly in beginner lessons. At least its easy for me to know when my groups went from mostly straights to mostly shapes. In '96 I moved from MN to a resort in VT where shapes were being aggressively marketed. The thing is, if you can get people to relax, stand up, and stay ahead of their feet they'll do well whatever sliding gear they're on (including snowboards and XC skis). 


As I have always taught at areas where beginner terrain has been too steep I mostly use a variations on a gliding wedge mini turn progression I've been using since '81. I've tried direct to parallel progressions periodically since the mid 80s. I can use the D2P more frequently (and successfully) since shapes became the norm, but that is as likely to be because I tend to teach smaller groups and more privates here in VT then I did in MN, as it is the skis.


For other levels my generalization of the change has been that straight skis steer then edge, shapes edge then steer. I can't off hand think of any new classes of exercises that I didn't at least use a variation of with straight skis, nor can I think of any that I've dropped from my bag of tricks. Some progressions have been realigned, but as often for strategic as tactical reasons. To me the most notable changes haven't been so much the movement patterns as the speeds at which you can do them. Rail road tracks for instance. I used to be introduce them on blue terrain at 20+ mph to feel what was going on, now it's a way to turn slow catwalks into teaching terrain. Some exercises I use earlier, some later in progressions but again some of that may be my growth as an instructor rather then changes in gear. Overall I think that people progress faster, with less (physical) effort on shapes but ultimately you still have to learn the skills to get the most out of your skis.


One of my favorite observations about shapes was from my SSD in MN who after watching about 50 instructors on Elan parabolics at an instructors demo event in '95 said "Funny thing, If you can't carve a turn on straight skis, you can't carve a turn on shaped skis either.".

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

Just thinking snow a bit today after a successful baseball season :yahoo: is over and tennis/golf season is winding down. Thinking quite seriously about going back this season and just checked in on this query thread.


Great comments so far. I had an extensive bag of tricks back in the day and was a fanatical student of the perfect demo. Good to hear general agreement that most of the 15 yr old tricks still work. I spent a lot of time studying technique in the interim years to dial in super shaped skis in my personal skiing with a fair amount of success so I am pretty clear on the personal skiing aspects of change more interested in differences between the modern guest experience vs. the experience my guest had with my instruction in 1998.  


Any other veteran instructors from 15+ years or more care to share any tricks, thoughts or comments?  Staying on task really only seeking comments from folks who began in the straight ski era....particularly interested in comments of anyone who took 15/20 years off and recently came back to the profession.


Even random snippets or stories are welcome!


Thanks so much to all who contributed thoughts so far.

post #15 of 23

Besides the edge and then steer commnet above the biggest thing to me would be the degree of counter in our stance and the use of counter rotation has really changed.  All that counter is now counter productive ( silly pun i know) with the current skis as it moves your weight to the heal of the inside ski getting you out of position for the new turn requiring a up and over balance adjustment at the start of the turn.  We used to use that counter force as a stored energy spring in the body to help us get the skis to turn more quickly.

post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks again so much to all who took the time to respond. Great thoughtful comments from all! By all means please keep them coming....


I did take JASP's  advice and I am shadowing the current ITC class at the local hill. Breaking it all down backwards is very helpful. I realized I haven't really done much up movement in my personal skiing for close to 10 years. As a result my demos need some work especially my level 3 wedge demos....level 4-6 demos remain pretty spot on. Conditions of course have been less than the best but that is actually good, challenging balance and stance constantly. 


Plenty of work to do, good news is once again I will slide nearly every night for free and I will take advantage of it to once again perfect my demos and commence personal skiing drills in earnest.


Looking forward to making skiers smile again!! 


and I still ride the rope tow like a true champ!! :)

post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 

Also, doing wedge turns on 170 Head i Supershapes does somehow seem a little sick and twisted. Those little doggies don't seem to like "em!!


My last wedge turns were probably on either 203 Volkl Sl's or 203 Rossignol 4sk's....


Like I said, gotta practice!!!


(I am already thinking about some twin tips tho just to dial back the performance of the ski a bit!! Have a pair of 1080's unmounted in the cellar, might need to get those hooked up, haven't done it yet as I had planned )

post #18 of 23

This is the story of my life and if its really as easy to explain as abductors vs. adductors I'm gonna be pissed.

Edited by Crud Buster - 12/3/13 at 8:34pm
post #19 of 23

As far as the clients go - they think they are having more fun, but they aren't.  I mean, was the last time you saw people dancing in ski boots?

post #20 of 23

I actually taught a lesson the other day when the never-ever adults were shouting out "wheeee!" at the end.  If they could have danced in those boots, they would have. They were having lots of fun, and laughing when they fell.  Guess what they learned to do in that hour and a half?


These three adult guys were able to sidestep up a small shallow rise in front of the lodge, turn around at the top, and ski straight down in a gliding wedge, coasting to a stop as the snow flattened out; their goal was to slide as far as possible before the snow stopped them.  Wheeeeeee!!! Actually, two of them could do it.  One still was having trouble not sliding fore or aft while sidestepping up.  We didn't get to turning or stopping.  Our focus was balance, plain and simple.


These guys got lots of command style teaching delivered with a laugh.  They started out with legs acting like wet noodles.  They didn't know where their feet were, nor were they aware there were muscles in their lower legs.  They had no ability to hold their skis parallel while stepping uphill or down, nor could they find the fall line.  But at the end they were very happy and wished there was time for more.  They showed up for the afternoon lesson, so time just ran out.  Command-style teaching can result in fun sometimes, especially with newbies. 


I did not mention adductors or abductors. 

post #21 of 23
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post


I did not mention adductors or abductors. 

That was really referring the fact that discussions I've had here the past week or so and this thread in particular has given me a revelation that I'm a little 'old school' and have been abductor focused instead of adductor focused.  My goal is to change that this year. 

Thanks for everyone's help!  (I've learned more here than in many of the clinics I've been to)

post #22 of 23

Oh, and it dumped a foot in town last night.  GAME ON! 

post #23 of 23


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