Taught yesterday on very limited beginner terrain. This was an adult student, cautious/concerned guy, skiing wobbly. He was very capable in his professional life, but not on snow (how awful must that feel???). His skiing exhibited determined concentration, stem entries followed by wobbly matching, a little upper body rotation to enhance the stems, skiing square, edges catching, especially the tail of new inside ski, rigid beginner bent-over-deeply-crouched stance, and fear, the whole familiar package. He was creating turns consistently left and right but also consistently wobbling. His quads and lower back were going to burn afterwards. His stance was immovably rigid beyond these determined movements.
He was not having fun, but had to learn to ski (family obligations!) What he was doing was not going to get him to a more confident state, nor to a higher level of skiing. It was especially not going to net him any fun. He was in a dead-end, and firmly stuck there.
There had been many previous lessons. He had been told to transfer his weight to his new outside ski to start a turn. So he was trying to "weight" it by mostly pushing on it, resulting on a heel-push-stem entry, after which he moved his inside ski over to match. He had also been told to lean forward to get his weight on the fronts of his skis, thus the big bend at the waist to accommodate the sitting down stance. I presume he started in a wedge, so someone had successfully gotten him out of it. His upper body rotation was minimal, so I'm also thinking someone must have worked with him to keep his hands out front. He was good with that.
We worked on initiations on the beginner terrain for half the lesson, but it was difficult getting him to loosen the hold he had on his new inside ski. He was too wobbly on that hard icy surface and insecure. I wondered if he'd have more success on the softer snow on our easiest green, so we went there.
Once there I focused on stance issues. My goal was to get him out of the back seat and help him be less rigid and immovable and less downright uncomfortable. I had him doing thumper traverses (inside ski tail thumping). He got better at that with repetitions and could sometimes thump that new inside tail through the initiation - so he had some good initiations starting with the new inside ski! In these initiations his stem disappeared.
Then I got him to raise up his hips so his thigh angle was steeper. Good; less quad burn! But I could not get him to upright his torso. He felt too unsure of his balance and wanted to get low for security's sake.
Now that I think of it, I wish I had put him back in a wedge and worked on stance and balance exclusively. The wedge would have given him more stability so he might have been able to loosen up and feel alive on snow. Maybe he even could have learned to loosen that death hold on the old outside ski (aka new inside ski) for good initiations. I think I may try that the next time I have someone like this.
The things they learn in the first lessons are very sticky; first impressions are difficult to dislodge. But that's my job, so any seasoned pros out there have suggestions?
note: this was a 1 1/2 hour lesson in the northeast on man-made snow.
Edited by LiquidFeet - 12/3/13 at 3:34pm