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The 'all mountain intermediate' and prediction of a new trend.

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Just tossing this one out there, but I'm going to make a prediction. The past decade has brought amazing advances in ski technology that has created a new category of skier, the 'all mountain intermediate'... that guy or gal who gets after it all over the mountain with a fair amount of physical strength and just skill to negotiate terrain that would have been inaccessible in the straight ski days of yore. I'm not one to wax poetically about the old days, but I do feel there's a sense that a crux has been reached. I'm noticing more interest on the part of younger and or less experienced instructors in willingness to work on and ask questions about their skiing, and skiing in general. Even in the general public, it seems that there's a realization that a plateau has been reached, and there's really no way up and out without some effort at sorting out their skiing.

Interestingly, this coincides with more 'instructional' pages in ski publications, the rise in the skiing public's awareness of the Ted and Mikaela's of the world, and free ride pros like Ingrid Backstrom becoming more actively involved in coaching not only specialty camps, but bread and butter jr. free ride programs. There just seems to be more interest in doing more than just getting down the hill. In the end, in almost every case, the best skiers we see on a given mountain have been coached at some point in their lives, and coached enough to know how to self-assess and correct, and the humility to get a trusted set of eyes on their skiing when the corrections are less obvious.

So here's my prediction... a rise in interest in the quality of skiing, not simply quantity, to make the most of actual conditions we have most calendar days, and a commensurate rise in the opportunities for talent coaches / instructors to contribute to the sport. My 2¥. smile.gif
Edited by markojp - 1/14/15 at 9:38pm
post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 
No thoughts? This one a dog?
post #3 of 24

It's just the refining process.  With all the skiers dropping out or not starting all-in like in the old days, the ones that are left are what you describe.

post #4 of 24

Apologies for posting in the coaching forum. I thought it might be worth giving the perspective of someone who is an "all mountain intermediate".

 

I would consider myself to be a strong intermediate who has certainly gained access to trees, bumps and steeps through the advancement of technology. For me it's not really about quantity or quality, it's about variety and challenge. Skiers like me would not be driving an increase in instruction because our initial success came from equipment advances rather than lessons.

 

I know I am in the minority here, but I really am interested in just getting down the hill. Then I want to find a bigger hill, or steeper hill, or tree covered hill, and get down that. There are many like me who think this way. The biggest reason I won't seek instruction, I'm having too much fun to care.

post #5 of 24

Interesting thought. I could go either way on this.

 

The first is, that with the new technology in skis, an intermediate on suitably rockered/wide skis can get down a lot of things that were otherwise inaccessible to them in the days of straight skis, and for a great deal of people, being able to just get down the hill in a reasonably quick fashion is good enough for them. So they don't see a need to get better than they are and take lessons, especially when they might be limited to 10 days a year, the prospect of spending a few of those days taking lessons isn't obvious unless they really think about it. These are the people I see getting stuck in that "all mountain intermediate" category. 

 

On the other hand, the internet has really helped make people think more about getting better. I know a lot of people who have flopped their way down runs at whistler with all the grace of a dead trout, then seen a youtube video of whoever the latest free-skiing god is, and said "hey, I wan't to do that!" and gone off and seeked out professional training to achieve that goal. At the hill I work at, there's been lots of people who have shown up asking for lessons, to help them achieve their goal of being able to survive backcountry ski trips. Again, marketing provides that carrot that motivates people to take lessons to improve. Not to mention, for some people, getting better is fun! Zip those moguls faster. Make those turns sharper. Jump further. Grind those rails or whatever it is park rats do.

 

Speaking of instructors, I'd say around 10% of the instructors I work with are like the ones you described, who are interested in working on their skiing. The rest are either all too crippled to be able to ever improve, or just don't see the point in getting better when they don't plan on instructing for more than a few years. It's disappointing to see that they don't have that interest in getting better themselves, especially when they're tasked with helping others get better. But for some, the CSIA level 1 cert is the pinnacle of skiing greatness, and there's no need to advance beyond that.

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post

Apologies for posting in the coaching forum. I thought it might be worth giving the perspective of someone who is an "all mountain intermediate".

I would consider myself to be a strong intermediate who has certainly gained access to trees, bumps and steeps through the advancement of technology. For me it's not really about quantity or quality, it's about variety and challenge. Skiers like me would not be driving an increase in instruction because our initial success came from equipment advances rather than lessons.

I know I am in the minority here, but I really am interested in just getting down the hill. Then I want to find a bigger hill, or steeper hill, or tree covered hill, and get down that. There are many like me who think this way. The biggest reason I won't seek instruction, I'm having too much fun to care.

No, feel free to post! Appreciate the input, MGA. I was thinking about this because of the quality of the questions I've been asked on the hill lately by fellow staff and some privates I've been doing. It's amazing to see the lights go on with a skier who's in the all mountain intermediate catagory... One client was blown away by how much easier it can all be done all while gaining much better balance. Another part of the equation is squarely on the shoulders of the coach/instructor... The model the public sees has to be inspiring. Those who go down the teaching road have to 'aspire to' as well. We've had a nice change in our school that's brought more access to very high quality clinicing opportunities. Folks seem to be responding enthusiastically, and this is a very good thing. Getting better doesn't suck and the buzz is contagious. smile.gif
post #7 of 24

I hope you're right, marko.

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

So here's my prediction... a rise in interest in the quality of skiing, not simply quantity, to make the most of actual conditions we have most calendar days, and a commensurate rise in the opportunities for talent coaches / instructors to contribute to the sport. My 2¥. smile.gif

 

After they're done hucking cliffs between those five or six mediocre turns, assuming they survive, they will probably seek to learn to make better turns.  Also, if conditions continue to sick for BC skiing and we're all relegated to hardpack and cord people will either burn out or seek to improve the quality of what they can do on that surface.

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

 

After they're done hucking cliffs between those five or six mediocre turns, assuming they survive, they will probably seek to learn to make better turns.  Also, if conditions continue to sick for BC skiing and we're all relegated to hardpack and cord people will either burn out or seek to improve the quality of what they can do on that surface.

I have seen way too many kids out together egging each other on to high speed traverses across quality fall line turning slopes only to find a launch into another nice drain after which they traverse again to the last cliffs to launch and straightline out to the chair.

 

None of these kids can make a turn if their life depended on it, but they sure can huck it.  So far I have successfully suppressed the urge to yell at them to turn down the hill, but as I age the equivalent of "get off my lawn" sounds more and more appropriate.

 

In another thread asked why accomplished skiers stop, I see many previous generations of traversing hucksters who got their ya-yas out and now go to work instead of the hill.  I think if they learned how to actually ski they might still have the bug.

post #10 of 24

Interesting topic.  I have seen a lot of people that could care less about learning to ski better.  Once they are capable of getting down every trail on the mountain without killing themselves, they seem to be happy to continue to do so without improving.  As long as they can have fun, they don't want to be bothered with learning.  They fail to realize that the better your technique becomes, the more fun the sport can be.  These are usually the tail pushing intermediates that make about 3 turns on the way down.  I find it really frustrating.  I hate to see anyone settle for mediocrity, when the option is there to do better.    

 

I, on the other hand, am obsessed with improving my technique, and I'd rather slow down and feel every sensation and understand what is going on with every movement.  I don't get to take lessons very often, but I am constantly searching for more information.  I think that part of the phenomenon described above goes beyond new ski technology, but may have to do with the availability of information through sources like the internet.  There is an abundance of information out there.  This forum is a great example.  YouTube is also loaded with ski videos.  I think this may be why you are seeing students ask more knowledgeable questions during lessons.  They most likely have been trying to figure it out themselves, and have done some homework before coming to you.  

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post
 

  As long as they can have fun, they don't want to be bothered with learning.  They fail to realize that the better your technique becomes, the more fun the sport can be.

 

This is very pertinent to the OP's original theory. I do think that that folks like this understand that lessons could increase their skill and fun at the same time, but still resist the concept. Clearly the current image/format of instruction is not appeasing to them. So the question becomes how do you take this potential source of students and bring them into the fold ?

post #12 of 24

Mark, the level of sales of my Building Blocks Instructional DVDs program attest to your theory.  And it's not just here, but world wide.  A major obstacle to pursuing that learning journey is the cost of lessons.  That factor contributes to why they're flocking to my DVDs I suppose.  

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post
 

 

This is very pertinent to the OP's original theory. I do think that that folks like this understand that lessons could increase their skill and fun at the same time, but still resist the concept. Clearly the current image/format of instruction is not appeasing to them. So the question becomes how do you take this potential source of students and bring them into the fold ?

This makes me think back to about 15 years ago, when I tried snowboarding for a little while.  I picked it up really fast.  Third run was on black diamonds.  The reason I gave up snowboarding was because every time I would leave my skis at home and bring the board, I found myself saying, "This would be a perfect day to ski.".  So after a while, I just decided to go with the sure thing instead of having to work towards being good enough on a snowboard to get the most out of the conditions.  I think this is kind of similar to what we are talking about.  Its a sure thing that you will enjoy yourself if you go off and ski as you normally do.  Taking a lesson will almost certainly be less exciting, and dare I say it; boring (I don't find them boring, but I think a lot of people might).  Its that sense that you might be missing out if you work on something new instead of going with what seems to already work for you.  Its kind of like the old "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

post #14 of 24

K2 has made a living off of this skier. 

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post

This is very pertinent to the OP's original theory. I do think that that folks like this understand that lessons could increase their skill and fun at the same time, but still resist the concept. Clearly the current image/format of instruction is not appeasing to them. So the question becomes how do you take this potential source of students and bring them into the fold ?

By not telling them you can "make them ski better".

Tell them you can show them how to do what they are doing with only a fraction of the work involved. "I can make it easier", not "I can make you better".
post #16 of 24

I don't know about all over the mountain - depends on where you ski - but I agree with the premise that there are intermediates who can ski a great deal more of the mountain.  There are definitely zones where I have never, ever seen an intermediate because visually it's too intimidating for them to go near it (think steep and tight) or access the top in the first place.

 

But, I would agree that them even being able to get close to that type of terrain (or even just exploring off piste with a little confidence), and then seeing more challenging stuff and wanting to be able to access it, will cause more people to actually improve their skiing.  Technology has definitely flattened the learning curve, in a good way.

post #17 of 24
^^^^totally agree. I am in my 5th season and having gained some degree of off piste access I have a huge drive to get better.

The bigger question, I think, is what we mean by coaching and education. Education everywhere has failed to take advantage of efficiencies that leave it cost ineffective and over-generalized. I don't know how many people will seek out a personal coach. I sure would given the time and money opportunity, but that's not easy putting a family of six on the mountain 20 times a season. When my kids are grown? Absolutely, but we probably aren't hoping to address people in their 50's here.

The simple fact that people walk I to a ski school, get generalized equipment that probably doesn't suit fast learning, and then sign up to a generalized class where pop just dropped off sonny boy into the blacks class and he makes engine noises skiing down the hill needs serious refinement without some huge one-on-one pay model.

Skiing should, IMO, be looking at the flip model where you start with video and lecture type study before class (before the ski day), spending more time in advance and very limited time getting technique assessment. No different than in regular education where kids should be watching the material lecture online and then spending actual classroom time with some one on one focus addressing knowledge and understanding gaps.
post #18 of 24

Again, this is just a personal perspective, but I can't help but believe there are others who feel the same way.

 

I have been involved in three sports during my life which consumed my time and resources. First I played hockey through school and then went on to become a coach at club level. Later in life I got into martial arts, practiced competed, coached, examined and judged at a high level. All the time this was going on, I was working on my golf game and was able to get my handicap into the single digits.

 

Looking back, I was driven in all these sports to be successful by the measure of rank, instructor certification, competition, handicap, examiner status and instructor status. It was also important to have the best equipment, the right clothes, play the best courses and be known in the sports community.

 

Eventually I burnt out in all these sports. You drive so hard to get to the top, you seem to forget how to enjoy the sport itself. Everything else becomes so important and you forget the fun you had when you first started. I used to tell people I loved golf, and yet would walk of the course angry or frustrated over my score.

 

Skiing has become a sport I just want to enjoy and have fun with. I don't want it spoiled by the drive to move up a level, to get the next certification, to instruct, to examine. I want to keep it simple, and the first step is not to take a lesson, because that is where it all starts to get serious for me.  It sounds corny, but I just want to enjoy the snow and the mountain without judgement, from me or others. I want to be as happy as the proverbial pig in mud.

 

My thoughts really came from the thread about why some accomplished skiers quit the sport. It's the process of becoming accomplished that changes their perception of what got them on the mountain in the first place. Quite simply, they forget to have fun and have too much invested in the sport to go back to basics.

 

Sorry, it's Sunday and MLK has turned my resort into a zoo. Hence the ramble.

post #19 of 24
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post

....

Skiing has become a sport I just want to enjoy and have fun with. I don't want it spoiled by the drive to move up a level, to get the next certification, to instruct, to examine. I want to keep it simple, and the first step is not to take a lesson, because that is where it all starts to get serious for me.  It sounds corny, but I just want to enjoy the snow and the mountain without judgement, from me or others. I want to be as happy as the proverbial pig in mud.

 

My thoughts really came from the thread about why some accomplished skiers quit the sport. It's the process of becoming accomplished that changes their perception of what got them on the mountain in the first place. Quite simply, they forget to have fun and have too much invested in the sport to go back to basics.

....


This is very interesting, MrGolf.  I have a friend who may be in a similar place as you.  She is happiest when she is a beginner.  Being a beginner puts no pressure on her to perform, thus no judgment, no need to practice and do the blood-sweat-and-tears thing to get better.  When she takes up new activities, she chooses to stay in beginner classes.  If her instructor wants her to move up, she refuses. She does not want to get all tangled up in self-recriminations over not performing appropriately, nor all tangled up in practicing the new stuff and dealing with the difficulty of getting new things right.  The process of moving "up" is not a happy one for her.  She may be oddly similar to you in this way.

 

On the other hand, there's me, and folks like me.  Since I took up skiing I've been committed to "moving up" the skill ladder as fast as I can.  The "fun" I had as a beginner flying down the hill at the far limits of control, adrenalin blazing as I wondered, "is this safe?" is gone now.  What I have instead is triumphant feelings when I accomplish something new, then despair when I can't reproduce that new accomplishment on command, then teeth-gritting determination to figure out how to make it happen again and again until I forget about it because it finally happens unconsciously.  Is there fun in that process?  Yes, buried somewhere.  It bursts out every now and then.   It's a different type of fun though, and takes work to find.  "Skiing as work" takes up more time than "skiing as fun."  I sometimes wonder where the fun went, but stopping what I'm doing is unthinkable.  Something drives me.   I don't think it's "fun," but it's a close cousin.   

 

Maybe I've just described two character types that are at the extreme ends of the spectrum.  In that case the people who are not dissatisfied with their current skiing level, who do what they currently do as skiers unconsciously and without any particular effort, who may learn something new now and then by accident while investigating new terrain or conditions, or by following better skiers, who have fun as a result of staying mellow, and who find the PITA factor justified by that fun -- maybe those are the folks who take up the middle of the spectrum. 


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/18/15 at 4:12pm
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 


This is very interesting, MrGolf.  I have a friend who may be in a similar place as you.  She is happiest when she is a beginner.  Being a beginner puts no pressure on her to perform, thus no judgment, no need to practice and do the blood-sweat-and-tears thing to get better.  When she takes up new activities, she chooses to stay in beginner classes.  If her instructor wants her to move up, she refuses. She does not want to get all tangled up in self-recriminations over not performing appropriately, nor all tangled up in practicing the new stuff and dealing with the difficulty of getting new things right.  The process of moving "up" is not a happy one for her.  She may be oddly similar to you in this way.

 

On the other hand, there's me, and folks like me.  Since I took up skiing I've been committed to "moving up" the skill ladder as fast as I can.  The "fun" I had as a beginner flying down the hill at the far limits of control, adrenalin blazing as I wondered, "is this safe?" is gone now.  What I have instead is triumphant feelings when I accomplish something new, then despair when I can't reproduce that new accomplishment on command, then teeth-gritting determination to figure out how to make it happen again and again until I forget about it because it finally happens unconsciously.  Is there fun in that process?  Yes, buried somewhere.  It bursts out every now and then.   It's a different type of fun though, and takes work to find.  "Skiing as work" takes up more time than "skiing as fun."  I sometimes wonder where the fun went, but stopping what I'm doing is unthinkable.  Something drives me.   I don't think it's "fun," but it's a close cousin.   

 

Maybe I've just described two character types that are at the extreme ends of the spectrum.  In that case the people who are not dissatisfied with their current skiing level, who do what they currently do as skiers unconsciously and without any particular effort, who may learn something new now and then by accident while investigating new terrain or conditions, or by following better skiers, who have fun as a result of staying mellow, and who find the PITA factor justified by that fun -- maybe those are the folks who take up the middle of the spectrum. 

 

What is fun, really, as an adult. I think I have the most fun - unspoiled by deliberation and obsession - when I'm in that window of highly functioning drunk, 


Edited by Abox - 1/19/15 at 5:35am
post #21 of 24

I'm always trying to navigate that fine line between the enjoyment that comes from improvement, and an obsession with improvement that sucks out all the fun. My last day at my job of 9.5 years will be this coming Friday - speaking of something that used to be fun and isn't anymore - anyway, my plan is to ski for a month or two and then figure out what to do next. And I'm already finding myself setting up expectations about the number of days I have to ski to justify this choice, and how much I want to improve while I have this opportunity. Wait. Wasn't I supposed to be having fun and taking a break from stress?

 

Sometimes it's nice to be a novice in something you're already good at. Friends and I did some mellow backcountry yesterday. I'm built for gravity sports, not uphill slogs, so it was definitely a different sort of effort and sense of accomplishment. Then we found just enough untracked (blown in by the wind) for four perfect turns. Even then, higher up on the hill I'd been berating myself for not skiing smoothly, and skiing with too much side to side (this on variable condition snow with unknown traps underneath). Then I looked up and saw the turns I made. They were evidence that my skiing was way better than I'd given myself credit for.

 

So yeah. I get that pushing yourself can suck out all the joy. But I try to do both - to get better and also enjoy the moment. Some days I do better than others. A couple of weeks ago, struggling with a new boot configuration, I came home and told my husband what a miserable day I'd had, and how terribly I'd skied. "So wait - you skied five double blacks and a single black, and you're down about your skiing?"  "Yes."  "...."

post #22 of 24

I really hope the OP is right, for the sake of the safety of the all mountain intermediates out there. While skiing this past (holiday) weekend, my wife and I had a conversation that pretty closely mirrored this thread. It started because we were witnessing violent blowout yardsales left and right, on almost every lift ride, mostly by intermediates in areas they wouldn't have been skiing in the first place not long ago, and mostly because people were going too fast in a long traverse and couldn't figure out how to turn or slow down, new skis or no. Lots of toboggans shuttling around. 

 

So yes, new gear is opening up areas of the mountains to larger numbers of skiers, but at what cost? People will keep pushing it further and further, and at some point there's a line that the gear alone will not let you cross, and that's a dangerous line.

 

I'd be interested in seeing stats on the change in ski-related injuries, if any, over the past decade or so, and how this correlates with the adoption of new ski technology (has this been discussed here?). 


Edited by LiveJazz - 1/19/15 at 11:25am
post #23 of 24

Many years ago on a ski trip to Banff my parents suggested that IO take a several full day lesson package.  At that point I was already a very good skier and was kind of taken aback.  They insisted that I should as it was not so much about skills development, but being shown the mountains that we would be skiing, the fact that it included lessons was just a side benefit.

 

Truth be told, it was well worth the money, Lessons and correction for several days and taken into runs that I may not have considered or found in the short time I was there.

 

A 1 hour lesson is just that.  A multi-full day lesson package is guiding, touring and lesson all combined into one.  Done correctly it is a lifetime experience well worth the money.  This will attract the just the skiers that you desire.  It is not about just getting better, but about being lead around and having a really good time getting better.

post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldschoolskier View Post

 

A 1 hour lesson is just that.  A multi-full day lesson package is guiding, touring and lesson all combined into one.  Done correctly it is a lifetime experience well worth the money.  This will attract the just the skiers that you desire.  It is not about just getting better, but about being lead around and having a really good time getting better.

 

I have noticed that a lot of the newer marketing/ads for lessons focus on the "mountain touring" element. 

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