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A thought on Epic Academy II and "splits" for advanced students - Page 2

post #31 of 48
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Pierre:
At the level the instructors have achieved there are no glaring inefficiencies and anything you want is in their bag of tricks. [img]smile.gif[/img]
Perhaps this is one take but I can't agree. From the perspective of an advanced or expert skier I think there is quite a bit of variability between what they could get from different instructors. While skiing with the instructor group I had the pleasure of watching Nolo ski and at times following behind her. This woman has an unbelievably smooth transition between turns - so much so that there really is no transition! A few of the instructor group were similar to her in this regard but many were not even close. Seeing this I really wanted to work with her for a while to hear her take on how she feels she does this and the suggestions she might offer to me and others (I suspect she would have a number of approaches on tap) on how to achieve this level of performance.

In terms of the comments made about just skiing with the coaches during the Gathering you've lost me here. I thoroughly enjoy free skiing with great skiers but I could never feel comfortable asking for their assessments and advice unless they were really pretty close friends. This is what they do for a living and I assume that if I'm free skiing with them it is a time to just let em rip. Sometimes advanced and expert skiers want to focus and work on their skiing and I think they can be more than willing to pay for such opportunity.

I have interpreted the flow of this thread to suggest that since we know how to do what we did with the 1st Academy and it was so successful and enjoyed by all we don't need to or perhaps shouldn't explore other realms.

I proposed the term Academy for this Epic Ski event because I thought about the ongoing learning environment we already have here at Epic and the options for extending that to in-person, on-the-snow "curriculum." I don't think that over time it would be difficult for those interested in briefer sessions with some of our top coaches to form some groups of their own and spend a half day with a couple of coaches getting an assessment of their skiing and suggested approaches to improvement. This could be simply done by having a "Dean" of the Academy (like Bob Barnes was this past year) take over another instuctor's group (obviously coordinating with them in doing so) for a half day (something I think the group might really enjoy anyway) and freeing up another instructor to work with a "short-term" group over the last two days of the Academy. Obviously the Dean could make him- or herself available as well. Those interested in one or 2 half day sessions would then sign up to work with one of their preferred coaches during this time.

Speaking for myself I would pay to join one of those groups even without getting any individual assessemnt. Just skiing with and observing the assessement and guidance process for an expert skier is well worth the price of admission as far as I'm concerned. Of course any indivual attention I could get would be greatly appreciated and valued.
post #32 of 48
Thread Starter 
Stmbtres (let's just use Stumbles for short, eh? )

I think the point you are bringing up is a separate issue and not one that, at least I think, is of concern in this discusssion. Most advanced skiers recognize that some work is required in a variety of terrain to produce positive changes. However, a desire for an assessment of skills in specific terrain is certainly a part of the equation.

(Edited because I just can't seem to get stmbtres right!)

[ February 13, 2003, 07:56 AM: Message edited by: Si ]
post #33 of 48
I"ll respond and tie it all into the topic, how's that? [img]smile.gif[/img]
At the Okemo 3 day workshop, you have the option of taking an afternoon clinic in bumps, blades or racing. If need be, these can be broken down into different levels. The instructor will usually tell you what she thinks you should do, either stay in the group lesson, or take a specialty clinic. For example, last year when I was having trouble with new boots and footbeds, I was coerced into a snowblade clinic. Would have never chosen that for myself, and even though I found the experience to be freaky, I never again had foot or ankle pain.

The workshop always has a fear clinic for everyone. This year, I told my instructor I was tired of talking about fear, and I would have less fear if I got to spend more time on the slopes. She said, "cool, lets just ski, then".

If there were an optional bump clinic at the Academy, I probably would not have taken it. But since Bonni told Weems that we should do bumps since sh thought I'd like it [img]tongue.gif[/img] , I wasn't going to say no.
This may sound weird, but everything I say is weird, but skiing bumps improved my skiing on the groomed.

The answer to this dilemna may be to have a few afternoon options taught by different pros. That way you can still keep the group consistancy. You may even have the option of having people only enroll in the specialty clinics, if time prohibits them for attending the entire academy.
post #34 of 48
Originally posted by nolo:
I guess one can choose to take my comments negatively. I actually meant to be constructive (how do we make this suggestion work?) though I probably should have used emoticons to say, here I'm making a little joke, here I'm taking a small jab. It's all in fun, but you have to have a sense of humor about things.

Of course, humor usually leaks a bit about one's true feelings for which the humor is a mask. If my feelings are involved, it's because I have spent 22 years working in this profession and I have passed two exams conducted by the gurus at the time. I feel ineffably diminished by the suggestion that I should enter a ski-off to interest potential students in my mojo. Depressed, even. Maybe it's a sign of middle age that I find certain aspects of popular culture to be extraordinarily lacking in empathy. Why do human beings need rhino skins to protect themselves from other human beings with whom they share MOUNTAINS of common ground?

Carry on with your plans. Just be aware that there are humans (not cattle, not chattel) under those shiny gold pins, and the gold pins mean something pretty important to us, even if they mean nothing to you.

I apologize to anyone I may have insulted with this acknowledgment of my feelings. Surely a way can be found to satisfy the high-end members without denigrating the professionalism of our talent pool.

I, for one, certainly didn't mean for you to feel effing (er, ineffably ) diminished. I have to honestly wonder, however, why you would feel that way.

When I'm considering engaging a person (or organization) that provides a service, I try to do everything possible to assure myself that I'm in the best hands possible. That applies to legal advice, medical services, car repair, ski tuning shops, etc, etc. I ask for references and try to make sure beforehand that the service I receive will be of value to me.

People and businesses who purchase services from me do exactly the same thing. I have to prove my worth to every single new customer.

Why should selecting a ski instructor be any different?

I understand completely that you (and lots of other Level III's) have worked very hard, stayed current, and ski like banshees. You are consummate professionals. I know you've paid your dues and feel that "the pin" should stand for something. On *your* jacket, it does.

The plain fact, however, is that I know of a surprising number of Level III instructors who don't *ski* in a manner that I want to emulate. For me, spending my money - and my limited ski time - on a lesson that might not give me what I'm looking for just seems stupid. Why shouldn't I have an opportunity to evaluate the service before committing my time and money to the provider?

On a related note, I've worked in sales in the same industry for fifteen years. I've been pretty successful and my long-term customers seem to feel that I've given them value for what they're paying my company. I've paid a lot of dues. Still, I don't feel diminished at all when I meet for the first time with a new prospect and am asked to demonstrate to them why they should do business with me. I *expect* to have to prove myself over and over again. I'm used to that and can't imagine why a prospective customer would approach it any other way.

Why shouldn't that same attitude apply to ski instruction and instructors?

post #35 of 48
Si, I may be going out on a limb here, but I bet that any of the instructors here would be happy to answer a question or two about how they do something while freeskiing. Otherwise, they probably wouldn't be regular posters. At your level, I suspect that you would be able to integrate their "mojo" into your own skiing with nothing more than a very brief explanation and demo. Or even by just watching, you can get a sense of what is possible for you. Just make sure you can keep up with them.
post #36 of 48

I just want to follow up my last note and hope that my tone didn't come across as harsh. That wasn't my intent.

Let me use the medical services example to expand on what I was saying. We all know that medical doctors are highly trained and have worked extremely hard to earn their diploma and license. Even with all that training, however, there are important differences in the way each doctor practices. Some are far better at certain aspects of medical practice than others, despite the fact that both may have (to a lay person, anyway) similar credentials.

If I'm selecting a physician, I want different things for different situations. In a general practicioner, I might expect overall competence, a good knowledge of basic principles, and a thoughtful, caring demeanor. In a specialist, however, I want to find the highest level of skill possible in that specific field.

To me, what Altagirl suggested is highly analogous to general practicioners versus specialists. Surely in your experience in ski schools you've found that some instructors are *more* expert at certain phases of skiing - powder, bumps, junk, carving, racing, etc than others. The top instructors may do all aspects *very* well, but there's almost certainly something that they do "best". My opinion is that it's just natural for a student to want to take their specialty lessons from someone who specializes in that piece of the sport.

post #37 of 48
Regarding ski-offs...

Bob, who DOES ski better than 97% of the people on the hill, is among a relatively small group of skiers who, if they're considering a lesson, will be fine-tuning things that are already very fine-tuned. It seems reasonable - efficable, to get to the point - such a skier would want to see some evidence that hiring a lesson will, in fact, be worth the cost and time. I don't think this should be construed as disrespect for instruction, or any brand of instruction.

However, a skier of my level would be rightly laughed off for making such a request. I am going to get SOMEthing, probably quite a bit, from any instructor I end up with. And if I don't, it will be because of a teaching (or learning) "problem," not because the instructor wasn't a skilled enough skier.

[ February 13, 2003, 09:19 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #38 of 48
I don't think the "skioff" for instructors is that unreasonable yet it is a little odd. Usually such things are done by prior experience, but that is not possible here. (By the way Bob, nolo is way beyond LIII).

How would this really work though? (Let's say you've got a pool of 5 instructors who are interested in the advanced group. Now what if Si picks someone, Bob picks someone different, and Altagirl prefers a third person? The usual solution is to have the director, in this case Bob B, pick the group leader but that's not what you're talking about.

This is why nolo suggested the flow chart though I think we should hash out the discussion a little more first.

I think Stmbtres, (damn, want to buy a vowel?), makes a couple of good points here. The fact is that a lot of people who "want to learn bumps" need to learn to ski better on the groomed first. I think it is relevant to the discussion since the discussion has broadened out now to not just an advanced group roaming around taking clinics, but everyone. As he says:
So, I came to the Academy with the hope of really emphasizing bumps. It took about a hour of working with Arcmeister -- nah, more like 15 minutes -- to realize just how much I could benefit from working on skiing, rather than on a specific type of skiing. I wonder how much less I would have benefited if I'd found a situation where my instructor gave me what I initially though I wanted?
This discussion has broadened out to way more though than just the advanced group:

That's kind of why the rotating thing would work - The groups would be organized by ability level and that way if the bumps coach has four days of lessons with a different group each day, he or she would tailor the terrain and content of the lesson to the ability of the small group. -altagirl
With this suggestion, we're talking about changing the format of the entire Academy. I'm not sure I really get the point of it for bumps, whereas for gates I can see it since it's more specialized in tactics. Otoh, since some have very specific bump tactics to teach I could possibly see it.

If we do use something like this than the challenge is to integrate it into the 4 day group format so there is some continuity. One way you could do that would be to use the time off the hill to sum up and present what was learned in the "specialty clinic" that day.

The big challenge however, is to maintain the integrity of the 4 day format with one coach. Continuity is important here I think for learning. Perhaps with the very advanced group having 2 or three instructors over the 4 days might be o.k. but I think there should be one main one who ties it all together.

Perhaps lisamarie's suggestion would work:
The answer to this dilemna may be to have a few afternoon options taught by different pros. That way you can still keep the group consistancy. You may even have the option of having people only enroll in the specialty clinics, if time prohibits them for attending the entire academy.
post #39 of 48
Ok, a few more thoughts on this. Nolo had suggested that attendees go to Brighton on Sunday, during the coaches clinic, to "watch the talent". This may be a informal way to deal with what you guys are asking for, without putting these folks on the spot.

Truth be told, I always wanted to take a class with Weems based on a 5 minute TV segment I saw him teach. So we all use visuals, to some extent.

Other options. Can the coaches be available a few days before or after the academy for private or semi private lessons? This may satisfy some of the "kid in a candy store" dilemnas.
post #40 of 48
Well now we have two ideas floating here. One is to watch the instructors who would be interested ski and then choose their preferred style. So what happens if Si and TomB want different people and Stmbttres a third etc.? There's only so many groups one could form, no?

One of the Qs that pops in my head after reading your statement is,

what if a particular skier wants to ski like (i.e.) Bob Barnes, but does not have the aptitude or physique to accomplish that?

Everyone has an optimal "style" for his/her particular abilities and physique. In golf, it would be dangerous for a Craig Stadler to try to emulate the supple, big-arc swing of Fred Couples. Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer were top golfers in their day, and neither one had a swing that many would like to emulate. They simply found out what worked best for their abilities and physique.

Before we get into the idea of "watch the coaches ski and pick whom you'd like to emulate," we should have the coaches spend a morning watch the students ski (preferably both freeskiing and through some rudimentary balance/technique drills), discuss their respective observations with each other over a long lunch, and then spend the 2d half of the afternoon dividing up the students -- but giving the students alternatives on which coach they can work with.

From the coaches' perspective, this might be nigh unto unworkable, but in my mind it makes big sense.
post #41 of 48

I've had a little time to think and I've come to a conclusion.

I agree that the whole idea of targeted sub-skill sessions in the Academy really doesn't make any sense. It would be way too hard to coordinate and probably wouldn't lead to any improvement in the overall result. It's already well established that the Academy - as it was configured - was a smashing success.

Why mess with a proven formula?

Trying to provide all things to all people usually results in providing very little of value to anyone.

I'm still smitten by Altagirl's suggestion, though, so I'm going to start another thread to see if it gets any response.


Ryan - that's very nice of you to say. [img]redface.gif[/img] I just wish it were true.
post #42 of 48
You also seem to take objection to the idea of skiers being able to choose betwen instructors based on first hand observation - this surprises me a bit. Don't you think its a fair statement that skiers (especially advanced and expert skiers) can have certain things they are loooking to learn and emulate and would prefer someone who best demonstrates those attributes?
Si, in addition to my thoughts on Tog's statement, I'm thinking that your position here is illogical. What a coach skis like, and what a coach can teach a student to do, are two entirely different things. A good coach sees and then knows his/her student's capacity for certain learning. Some students have mental or physical obstacles that prevent certain movements.

In my experience with Yoda/JW, I don't work with him because I admire his technique (of course, I DO admire his technique), I do it because he's smart, intuitive, and a great teacher. I enjoy talking to him about EVERYthing -- not just skiing -- and because we have a sort of synchronicity in our personalities, I don't think about skiing like him. I want to ski the way that is best for ME, not for him. A good coach knows that difference.

I have no reason to think that nolo's skills are limited to heli-skiing, or skiing with women, or skiing with ranchers, etc. In fact, Yoda/JW and a few others have rated her very highly, and if I weren't skiing with Yoda/JW, I'd probably consider an arrangement skiing with nolo -- if she'd have me! That would give me the greatest reason in the world to get over and ski Bridger, too!

In short, I think we need to be VERY careful about endorsing an appearance-based estimation of a coach's abilities to teach good skiing.

post #43 of 48
Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful responses to my personal diminishment (though some might just say I'm diminutive) and for helping me get my head around this idea. Thanks to Si and others for their compliments on my skiing, in which I try to apply my aesthetic of "no wasted movements, no wasted forces."

I would be flattered to be asked for a tip or two on a free skiing day, but I would never offer it uninvited. Like many of the pros who frequent this site, I am happiest when giving away my knowledge and insights about skiing. I have never made much money from this sport, and yet I feel it has repaid my efforts every time I go.

Still, I am a professional and I like to be treated as one. I have no problem supplying credentials and references to potential clients, but I would find a ski-off to be demeaning.

Indeed, I think customer ski-offs are demeaning, and was the person who suggested we allow the students at the Academy to form their own groups sans ski-off.

I guess you hit my hot button, Si. I apologize if my response was sassy. That's just my personal style, and certainly not to everyone's liking.
post #44 of 48
Nolo, I'm jumping into this issue late. But, I agree totally. a ski-off of pros is very demeaning. If it were me in this type of situation (and it could be), what does it prove. Do I prove that I can teach during a ski-off? I think not! Some of us who have physical disabilities don't ski as well as others, but we can teach the pants off of a lot of the physically unchallenged.

Si, I have to disagree with you, totally. A ski-off of true professionals is unneeded, unwarrented and degrading.
post #45 of 48
I have to say, Bob, that these sub-skills of which you speak seem to have to do with terrain and conditions, which to me are not skills, but situations. The same skills apply to all situations in skiing, although one applies them with degrees of intensity and refinement as the situation warrants.

So, to answer stmbtres (I have always gotten your name, by the way, but I like to think it refers to the trees on Twilight), yes, I think in order to ski "stuff" one often has to practice movement suites on piste. The cool thing is that steeps and bumps and powder and crud all require the same movements en suite. Doing "slow noodle" carves on a low-angle groomed slope has an effect in the gnarly stuff in terms of feel, timing, and balance. It's a systems thing: improving key elements of the system improves the system overall.

To answer Bob, who I should have stayed to ski with, I would have a hard time categorizing myself as a terrain and or conditions specialist. I like to be an all-around player in the snow. To ask me to choose bumps, powder (okay, maybe I do love powder most of all), steeps, trees -- well, I like 'em all together the best! There was this run at Galena called Hanging Gardens that was like skiing the Big Rock Candy Mountain--it had snowy gumdrops, waterfalls, stumps, trees, sudden surprises everywhere under 2 feet of freshies.

Honestly, I'd like to meet all of you there for a few tips!
post #46 of 48
Thread Starter 
Nolo, I like both you and your skiing and wouldn't let a few comments on a thread get in the way of that.

Rick, whether you had anything to prove in a "ski-off" or not you certainly would demonstrate some important things for any interested students. If they could see the way you walk due to orthopedic issues and then see how well you ski they would realize that you must have personally discovered some very key issues for making those skis work for you and that you could offer quite a bit to the right students. I know from years of skiing with an arthritic hip and then going throught a couple of years of building it back up after hip replacement just how much joint problems can affect one's skiing. The way you ski is impressive given the joint issues you deal with.

Finally, when I brought up the idea of a "ski-off" the underlying concept was to give advanced or expert skiers a chance to observe the skiing of their potential coaches; not as some sort of competition between the coaches. At a tennis club players get to spend a lot of time watching a pro teach and often times watching them play competitively before having to decide if they want to hire them for a lesson or join a group they teach. I expect the same can be true in golf. All I was suggesting was to find some way of letting Epic skiers learn more about a coach's skiing style and abilities before working with them.

Over the longer term, the Epic Academy offers some very special potential in this regard. Perhaps this discussion (at least in regards to skiers being able to observe a coach's skiing before commiting) is only a temporary issue. After just one year I have first hand experience with how the coaches from this year ski and have little further personal need to observe in order to prioritize the coaches with whom I'd like to work with on various areas of skiing (if such opportunity were ever to become avaialable - the other half of the discussion in this thread). I just think that there are others who would also like such an opportunity. If the Academy can be developed into an ongoing entity perhaps this kind of familiarity can be bred so that most of the participants become familiar in a similar fashion with the coaches and each other (of course with some new blood adding into the mix every year).
post #47 of 48
Quite honestly, I'd be more interested in seeing how some of an instructor's students skied than how the instructor did.

-d, slinking back to the newbie bushes.... [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #48 of 48
Originally posted by delta888:
Quite honestly, I'd be more interested in seeing how some of an instructor's students skied than how the instructor did.

-d, slinking back to the newbie bushes.... [img]smile.gif[/img]
BRILLIANT words of wisdom from the mouth of a "newbie"!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
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