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How does an intermediate adult skier in the flatlands get to the next level? [A Beginner Zone thread] - Page 7

post #181 of 204
Thread Starter 

Thread Starter and Moderator reminders about this thread:

 

*  This thread is in the Beginner Zone, which is moderated more closely to keep threads from going too far off-topic

 

*  Goal is to help intermediates who live in the flatlands (e.g., Mid-Atlantic, midwest, Ontario; not the northeast; southeast)

 

*  Assumption is that there are intermediates would like to improve but for assorted reasons are not going to ski more than about 20 days in the near future, but intend to keep skiing for a decade or two or three

 

*  Ski areas that are local (< 5 hr drive) to the target audience have less than 1200 ft vertical (5 min or less top to bottom), short seasons (2.5 months), and relatively little ungroomed terrain

 

P.S. Thread Starter and OP is the same thing when OP means Opening Poster.  OP can also mean Opening Post, meaning Post #1.

post #182 of 204

I just joined the forum to make a post in this thread ... I feel like I have very recently gotten over the plateau after 20 years of skiing (wow!).

 

I live in Texas, so the opportunity to ski locally is pretty limited :-)

 

I started skiing about age 14 on some family trips.  I was the only one of my siblings to really like skiing, so our trips were pretty limited.  About 3 days of skiing per year for the first 5 years or so.  I took lessons and progressed to green/easy blues in the first 2-3 seasons with trips being mostly half day morning lessons with afternoon free ski.  To become a solid intermediate (i.e. any blue), it took a season of more days than usual to really get there.  I found that you need a certain number of 'miles' to become confident in the equipment before you can become a true intermediate.  I also needed more than 1 trip in the season to really become competent at skiing blues.  I had a season of three trips, and by the end of that season, I felt very comfortable on any blue and could get down double blue/blue black terrain without too much trouble.  I had to put it more time to progress.

 

Over the next 10 years up to my late 20s, I managed about 3 days a season on average.  Sometimes I missed a season.  Sometimes I made two trips.  I was in the intermediate plateau for sure.  I skied with other skiers in the same plateau.  I could do bumps, but it was for the challenge of it. I could manage 2-3 black runs a day, but more than that and I wouldn't have the energy to ski the rest of the day on groomers.  I rented all gear.  It didn't seem worth it to own anything other than a helmet.  I worked out in the gym to keep fitness up, but not with a trainer.  Part of my exercise motivation was skiing and getting better at it.  Running and weights, little stretching, little core work.

 

I took a smattering of lessons over the years as an intermediate.  I did a bit of bump work, but progress was slow.  I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't become good at bumps without spending a lot of time working on them.  I practiced them whenever conditions were good, but felt stymied and accepted where I was.  It was hard to make progress when the first day or two each season was spent getting back to where I was the last season.

 

Starting at age 29 (6 years ago), I started getting bored with my usual exercise and started doing group exercise classes.  It was interval weight training format and it really pushed me in areas of core strength, flexibility, and balance.  The next time I went skiing, it was incredible.  I was in much better shape than I had ever been in before, and the exercise had paid off hugely in skiing.  I could do more bump runs, but my technique wasn't really any better.  Improved balance did help some.  I was still only managing about 3 days per year, but the days were so much easier.  I was making progress in bumps only in the sense that I was very familiar by this point with their shaping, layout, what a 'good' bump looks like vs. bad.  I was developing terrain reading skills but not really getting down them any better.  I was brute forcing it, and I could because my body could take the punishment for 3 days.  I was not absorbing bumps well.

 

This past season I finally made a breakthrough. This is what I did-

-continued exercise classes emphasizing core strength, flexibility, balance, cardio

-3 day ski clinic in December 2015 focusing on edging/carving

-purchased my own boots (using some tips on this website)

-2 day ski trip free-skiing to really practice the 3 day lesson techniques (Feb 2016)

-6 day ski trip with a ski club with 1/2 day lesson (Feb 2016)

-reading more about ski technique for bumps

 

What it took to break out of the plateau was some instruction early in the season, good physical conditioning with balance skills, and a lot of ski time to play with earlier good instruction as well as things I have read. The boots have made a big difference in the amount of control I have now and it is very noticeable in the bumps.  I couldn't tip my skis down over bumps before like I can now.

 

I had to develop trust that the skis will be there to progress to dynamic carved turns (required for advancing).  This is really hard to do with limited ski days and I assume it depends on personality as well - some are more fearful.  I think people get stuck in the plateau because they never develop trust in the ski to be there and/or cannot get over the fear factor.  Working on balance outside the ski season has also greatly helped me feel solid on my skis.  In addition, my own boots have definitely improved control and the sensation I feel skiing is familiar each trip instead of alien the first day.

 

If you already have your own boots, good balance, taken a bunch of lessons and are still stuck, I recommend picking a season and make it a priority to ski a lot more than normal that season.  There is a lot nuance in advanced skiing that I don't think you can develop without really putting in a lot of time with multiple trips/days.  Some quality instruction is good, but you need multiple days to practice it and reinforce it.  You also need multiple days so you can relax a bit more skiing and not be as concerned about maximizing runs skied, and instead focus on improving.

 

I hope this helps others who are stuck...

post #183 of 204
Welcome @TexSkier! That's a great first post and happy to hear the site has helped you too.
post #184 of 204
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexSkier View Post
 

I just joined the forum to make a post in this thread ... I feel like I have very recently gotten over the plateau after 20 years of skiing (wow!).

 

I live in Texas, so the opportunity to ski locally is pretty limited :-)

 

[snip, see Post #182 for details

   I started skiing about age 14 on some family trips.  . . . About 3 days of skiing per year for the first 5 years or so. 

   Starting at age 29 (6 years ago), . . .

   I was still only managing about 3 days per year, . . .]

 

This past season I finally made a breakthrough. This is what I did-

-continued exercise classes emphasizing core strength, flexibility, balance, cardio

-3 day ski clinic in December 2015 focusing on edging/carving

-purchased my own boots (using some tips on this website)

-2 day ski trip free-skiing to really practice the 3 day lesson techniques (Feb 2016)

-6 day ski trip with a ski club with 1/2 day lesson (Feb 2016)

-reading more about ski technique for bumps

 

What it took to break out of the plateau was some instruction early in the season, good physical conditioning with balance skills, and a lot of ski time to play with earlier good instruction as well as things I have read. The boots have made a big difference in the amount of control I have now and it is very noticeable in the bumps.  I couldn't tip my skis down over bumps before like I can now.

 

I had to develop trust that the skis will be there to progress to dynamic carved turns (required for advancing).  This is really hard to do with limited ski days and I assume it depends on personality as well - some are more fearful.  I think people get stuck in the plateau because they never develop trust in the ski to be there and/or cannot get over the fear factor.  Working on balance outside the ski season has also greatly helped me feel solid on my skis.  In addition, my own boots have definitely improved control and the sensation I feel skiing is familiar each trip instead of alien the first day.

 

If you already have your own boots, good balance, taken a bunch of lessons and are still stuck, I recommend picking a season and make it a priority to ski a lot more than normal that season.  There is a lot nuance in advanced skiing that I don't think you can develop without really putting in a lot of time with multiple trips/days.  Some quality instruction is good, but you need multiple days to practice it and reinforce it.  You also need multiple days so you can relax a bit more skiing and not be as concerned about maximizing runs skied, and instead focus on improving.

 

I hope this helps others who are stuck...

Thanks for sharing your experience!

 

Was the 6-day clinic at Taos?  A friend who lives in DC did a ski club trip to Taos that included half-day lessons (9:30-12:30).  Since a Taos Ski Week is available to anyone that includes 2 hours every morning for 6 days for a very reasonable price, that is worth considering for any intermediate flatlander who is thinking about a trip out west and wants to improve their technique.

 

In general, joining a ski club in order to take a full week ski trip to a big ski resort is a good way for a solo traveler who is an aspiring intermediate to expand their horizons.  Can be a good way to find a ski buddy for future ski trips, with or without the ski club.  Attending an EpicSki Gathering is another way to meet up with other skiers.

post #185 of 204

The three day ski clinic in December was this one at Deer Valley:

http://www.mahretrainingcenter.com/

 

The lessons were full day with very little time for free skiing.  I hear the five day version has more time for just skiing, whereas the three day class has a lot of time spent on drills.

 

The six day trip I mentioned with 1/2 day lesson was really 6 days of free skiing (no lessons) with a single 1/2 day group lesson thrown in the afternoon of Day 4.  It wasn't 6 days of half day lessons.  Sorry, I guess what I wrote was confusing.  I have heard of Taos ski week, but have never done it.

 

I'm actually going to get to go skiing again this season !! which I am really excited about.  I'm going to Whistler/Blackcomb April 1-3.  Not sure if I will do another lesson there or not.

 

I guess my main concern now is that I will lose my progress by the next time I ski and go back to the plateau.  I don't think I will get time for a ski trip next season, possibly the next two :-(.  Hopefully I am wrong about that.

post #186 of 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexSkier View Post
 

I had to develop trust that the skis will be there to progress to dynamic carved turns (required for advancing).  This is really hard to do with limited ski days and I assume it depends on personality as well - some are more fearful.  I think people get stuck in the plateau because they never develop trust in the ski to be there and/or cannot get over the fear factor.  Working on balance outside the ski season has also greatly helped me feel solid on my skis.  In addition, my own boots have definitely improved control and the sensation I feel skiing is familiar each trip instead of alien the first day.

 

    

Thanks for posting your thoughts.  I found your statements on trust very interesting. 

 

I don't want to put words in your mouth but I think what you are saying is that one needs to commit their mass down the hill and I can understand the fear that might conjure up if that is how you view the creation of a carved turn.

 

The truth however, is that carving requires commitment of your mass to the inside edge of your outside ski.  The ski, by virtue of its shape and flex design is a circular travel tool.  Traveling in a circle produces centripetal force.  As the intensity of the circular travel increases, the centripetal force overcomes the gravitational force that here-to-fore was the force you were using not only to align with the ski but to keep from falling down!

 

Most skiers can't feel the change between the two forces but it is critical to understand because gravity is a constant pulling force and centripetal is a pushing inward force (coming up from the ski) that you, the skier is generating through edging and pressure skills. Without focus in these skills there will be no circular travel, only a mish-mash of skidding. 

 

So to my point.... Don't focus on committing your mass down the hill and the fear that comes with it.  Instead, commit your focus to balancing AGAINST the inside edge of your outside ski and understand that the force that allows you to balance in the beginning (gravity) will change to a force (centripetal) that requires you to dynamically align with the edge and bending patterns of the ski. When you accomplish this, you will see that is in not you turning the ski, it is the ski that is turning you.  Just a different frame of reference. 

 

Understand that the initiation of a carved turn does not mean you leave your skis behind.  I am sure I am in the minority of thought but when I decide to create a carved turn, I think of myself and my skis as a centripetal generator and I use feedback from that force as my gauge for success.

 

Finally, learn to use active shortening of your inside leg to increase edge angle as the turn deepens. You will be amazed at how effective that is.

 

Good luck!

post #187 of 204
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexSkier View Post
 

The three day ski clinic in December was this one at Deer Valley:

http://www.mahretrainingcenter.com/

 

The lessons were full day with very little time for free skiing.  I hear the five day version has more time for just skiing, whereas the three day class has a lot of time spent on drills.

 

The six day trip I mentioned with 1/2 day lesson was really 6 days of free skiing (no lessons) with a single 1/2 day group lesson thrown in the afternoon of Day 4.  It wasn't 6 days of half day lessons.  Sorry, I guess what I wrote was confusing.  I have heard of Taos ski week, but have never done it.

 

I'm actually going to get to go skiing again this season !! which I am really excited about.  I'm going to Whistler/Blackcomb April 1-3.  Not sure if I will do another lesson there or not.

 

I guess my main concern now is that I will lose my progress by the next time I ski and go back to the plateau.  I don't think I will get time for a ski trip next season, possibly the next two :-(.  Hopefully I am wrong about that.


Ah, I see what you meant about the 6 day trip now.  It definitely is important to have time for free skiing, as well as taking lessons every so often.  Mileage does matter when working to get beyond being an intermediate only comfortable on groomers.  Note that mileage on groomers when using correct technique is also useful when starting to explore ungroomed terrain.  For instance, until I could do short turns on groomers, I wasn't really able to be fully comfortable on steeper terrain where there wasn't room for medium to wide turns.  That's only happened in the last few years with the help of experienced instructors.  Some of my practice was at my small home mountain (<100 acres) where I also work with a Level 3 instructor.

 

W/B has a very good ski school.  Are you skiing on April 1?  Since that's a weekday, doing a group lesson of some sort might be well worth the time and money.  Can also be a good way to get well informed advice about where to go during the rest of your trip.  W/B is a huge place.

 

What can help for next season is to learn more about ski-related exercises and fitness options.  For example, many people find mountain biking or inline skating is both fun and good for their skiing.  For dynamic balance, Tai Chi is useful if it appeals to you.  Whenever you get back on the slopes, start with a lesson or two.  That will help make sure you don't revert to bad habits.

post #188 of 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexSkier View Post
 

The three day ski clinic in December was this one at Deer Valley:

http://www.mahretrainingcenter.com/

 

The lessons were full day with very little time for free skiing.  I hear the five day version has more time for just skiing, whereas the three day class has a lot of time spent on drills.

 

The six day trip I mentioned with 1/2 day lesson was really 6 days of free skiing (no lessons) with a single 1/2 day group lesson thrown in the afternoon of Day 4.  It wasn't 6 days of half day lessons.  Sorry, I guess what I wrote was confusing.  I have heard of Taos ski week, but have never done it.

 

I'm actually going to get to go skiing again this season !! which I am really excited about.  I'm going to Whistler/Blackcomb April 1-3.  Not sure if I will do another lesson there or not.

 

I guess my main concern now is that I will lose my progress by the next time I ski and go back to the plateau.  I don't think I will get time for a ski trip next season, possibly the next two :-(.  Hopefully I am wrong about that.


WB adult ski school has a "Max 4" adult program: max 4 adults per lesson, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Alternatively, there is a half day lesson either from 10-12 noon or 1-3 p.m.  When I took the group lesson at WB, some of my classmates signed up for their special promo: 2 full day lessons get 3rd day for free.  But I believe you have to sign up that in advance (i.e. when you book your package), you can't do it on the day of. 

 

I took 2 days lesson at WB.  On my 2nd lesson, in the afternoon, we ran into this dense fog with poor visibility in mid mountain, I was quite scared.  We had to ski close to the tree lines to see the terrains better.  Luckily, our instructor knew the terrain well and he was able to take us to the gondola station and returned back to the village. It would be bad if I were by myself and don't know the trials well.    

post #189 of 204
To answer the OP: I believe technique is far more important than poor practice. Practicing the wrong thing when you are nervous or scared is useless. Over facing yourself accomplishes nothing and in fact it probably sets you back. Advanced skiing is overcoming your inner fears and leaning to balance perfectly over your ski's at all times.
IMO you definitely need a knowledgeable friend or a coach, (video really helps) then perfect your technique on easy green slopes. This means you carve perfect turns every time on beginner slopes, your tracks look like railroad tracks, you have mastered short turns, and javelin turns and dolphin turns, and angular ion, you can ski backwards, you can ski on one ski in both directions, you pole plants perfectly every time. You are very aware of your weight shift and and your free foot and are able to pull it back. (This has lots of benefits) You can go straight down the hill and hit maximum ski speed without any panic. Do all of this on green slopes and then move up to slightly steeper slopes and repeat and then move up again. (Skiing backwards might just be a 360 on blue slopes) The better you ski at your current level the less fear you will have at the next level.
You will advance very quickly with this program if you stay with it. There are no shortcuts, skip anyone one of the above and you are kidding yourself that it is not important.

I would add that being physically fit really helps and so does all exercise that improve your ability to balance.
post #190 of 204
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroSR View Post

To answer the OP: I believe technique is far more important than poor practice. Practicing the wrong thing when you are nervous or scared is useless. Over facing yourself accomplishes nothing and in fact it probably sets you back. Advanced skiing is overcoming your inner fears and leaning to balance perfectly over your ski's at all times.
IMO you definitely need a knowledgeable friend or a coach, (video really helps) then perfect your technique on easy green slopes. This means you carve perfect turns every time on beginner slopes, your tracks look like railroad tracks, you have mastered short turns, and javelin turns and dolphin turns, and angular ion, you can ski backwards, you can ski on one ski in both directions, you pole plants perfectly every time. You are very aware of your weight shift and and your free foot and are able to pull it back. (This has lots of benefits) You can go straight down the hill and hit maximum ski speed without any panic. Do all of this on green slopes and then move up to slightly steeper slopes and repeat and then move up again. (Skiing backwards might just be a 360 on blue slopes) The better you ski at your current level the less fear you will have at the next level.
You will advance very quickly with this program if you stay with it. There are no shortcuts, skip anyone one of the above and you are kidding yourself that it is not important.

I would add that being physically fit really helps and so does all exercise that improve your ability to balance.


While the general advice about starting on greens and moving to harder slopes after mastering a skill is useful, the point of this Beginner Zone thread was to help people who live in the flatlands and are very limited in the number of days they can get on any slope.

 

As has been mentioned elsewhere in the thread, improving balance, core strength, and flexibility is well worth the effort.  Especially since that can be done at any time, not just on ski days.

post #191 of 204


      I guess you missed the point, let me try again:

 

The quickest most efficient way to become an advanced/expert skier , no matter where you live is to master the skills I described on moderate slope green trails. All advanced expert skiers can do everything I described. You cannot skip these steps, there is no one tip or piece of advice so that is going to rapidly propel you to the next level.

post #192 of 204
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroSR View Post
 


      I guess you missed the point, let me try again:

 

The quickest most efficient way to become an advanced/expert skier , no matter where you live is to master the skills I described on moderate slope green trails. All advanced expert skiers can do everything I described. You cannot skip these steps, there is no one tip or piece of advice so that is going to rapidly propel you to the next level.


I understand your point and do not disagree.  I had the luxury of 40+ days on snow in the last few years and have become a solid Level 8 (of 9) skier.  I posed the question in Post #1 not for myself, but for intermediates in the situation I described because I remember wondering if I would ever get beyond the intermediate stage.

 

Given that most of people I expect to read threads in the Beginner Zone are not well versed in ski instruction terminology, my point is that your description of the skills needed is probably fairly intimidating.  Personally, had I read the following 10 years ago when I started skiing more regularly, I would've been quite discouraged reading the following.  Certainly would have had no idea what javelin turns and dolphin turns might be.

 

Quote:
"This means you carve perfect turns every time on beginner slopes, your tracks look like railroad tracks, you have mastered short turns, and javelin turns and dolphin turns, and angular ion, you can ski backwards, you can ski on one ski in both directions, you pole plants perfectly every time."

 

I've been through the process.  I've skied with friends who have been through the process.  Obviously it takes time and commitment.

 

You are a new member.  Please respect that the Beginner Zone serves a specific purpose and is therefore moderated differently.  If you do not change your tone, you will be locked out of this thread.  The goal is to support the efforts of people who love to ski but are not lucky enough to have easy access to the slopes.

post #193 of 204
I apologize for my tone, I did not mean to offend anyone. The first thing I said was that you need an expert friend or instructor to help you learn the skills I described. And by the way you can find all of the skills and exercises on You Tube.
I help beginners and terminal intermediates all the time with excellent results. I usually can fairly quickly get them skiing much much better. Everyone is different and everyone learns differently so it is always hard to generalize. But I allways make the most progress by taking them back to basics and having fun on their ski's. So often you see people who are afraid to spin around on there ski's but it is a great exercise to learn edge control and balance.
Basic carving is not hard on today's ski's and you can teach it fairly quickly on moderate slopes with adequate snow cover. Once an individual gets the feel they can progress very quickly. The goal is to eliminate z shaped turns as quickly as possible. Carving opens up a world of possibilities the sooner you learn it the better you will ski. Simple things like feeling the entire edge of the ski, or feeling your weight shift in the new direction, or de weighting the ski's thru the transistion are very important. I find all of these are best leaned on moderate slopes. The other skills I mentioned take more time but skiers derive great benefit from them. I was truly trying to be helpful.
I truly appreciate the warm welcome.
Thank you
post #194 of 204
Thread Starter 

Thinking back, in some ways the lessons I had at my tiny home mountain were perhaps more useful in terms of learning how to practice skills than the lessons I had out west at destination resorts.  At Massanutten, there is no such thing as a "moderate green."  At least not in the same sense as at a destination resorts such as Stowe or Park City or Alta or Northstar.  The black trails at Mnut take 3-4 min to finish and are less steep than many blues in the Rockies or northeast.  Working with a very experienced (PSIA Level 3, instructor trainer) meant that I not only learned which drills were most relevant to me, I also learned where and how to practice them on the limited terrain available.  I know that practicing absorption on the seeded bumps on the edge of Paradice or on the short ungroomed section of MakAttack was very helpful for my ski trips out west.  The same could be done at Roundtop or Whitetail in PA, or at any small ski area in the flatlands that has a bump section somewhere on the mountain.

 

@PedroSR :  how many lessons would you recommend for someone who skis <20 days a season during a ski trip out west that includes 5 days of skiing?  Let's assume that the skier also takes 1-2 lessons at in their home region before the trip and that they are Level 6 (of 9).  Meaning that turns are pretty good on groomers but not on steeper ungroomed terrain because of lack of mileage.

 

Note that I am not an instructor.  I started taking private and semi-private lessons with Level 3 instructors at Massanutten, Alta, and other places out west in 2013 after knee rehab (not a skiing injury).  I am an older skier who was a terminal intermediate as a working adult who started skiing a lot more after retirement and getting my daughter on skis (age 4) ten years ago.

post #195 of 204

@fosphenytoin Good point on lessons at WB.  I have been there before and remember doing a Max 4 lesson in some foggy/whiteout conditions.  There was a point where we were following each others' tail lights.

 

@PedroSR What you describe drilling is essentially exactly what the 3 day camp at Deer Valley was like.  The other big thing mentioned by the instructors was never waste a moment on the slopes.  On flat green cat tracks, do railroad turns.  If skiing with others on easy stuff, keep practicing drills.  Ski on one foot.  There is a way to turn a green into a black (one legged and/or backward skiing) and a black into a green (take off your skis :-) ).  Never just point your skis straight down the hill on an easy run - you are wasting an opportunity to improve your skiing.

post #196 of 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


I understand your point and do not disagree.  I had the luxury of 40+ days on snow in the last few years and have become a solid Level 8 (of 9) skier.  I posed the question in Post #1 not for myself, but for intermediates in the situation I described because I remember wondering if I would ever get beyond the intermediate stage.

 

Given that most of people I expect to read threads in the Beginner Zone are not well versed in ski instruction terminology, my point is that your description of the skills needed is probably fairly intimidating.  Personally, had I read the following 10 years ago when I started skiing more regularly, I would've been quite discouraged reading the following.  Certainly would have had no idea what javelin turns and dolphin turns might be.

 

 

I've been through the process.  I've skied with friends who have been through the process.  Obviously it takes time and commitment.

 

You are a new member.  Please respect that the Beginner Zone serves a specific purpose and is therefore moderated differently.  If you do not change your tone, you will be locked out of this thread.  The goal is to support the efforts of people who love to ski but are not lucky enough to have easy access to the slopes.


I agree with Marznc.  Many of us newbies are not well versed on the ski instruction terminology at all.  

I myself have posted few questions in the Beginner Zone, while many experienced skiers offered valuable inputs (and I appreciated very much), I found some of the terminologies are bit difficult  / foreign to understand. Not until I joined this forum last year, I've heard terms such as fall line, inside ski, outside ski, downhill ski, uphill ski, etc.  When I encountered such new terminologies, instead of asking on this forum, I would ask the questions to ski instructors at my ski lessons (I signed up a multi week program).  Then they would explain to me with some visual demo, that helped a lot.  

post #197 of 204
Marznc to answer your questions of how many lessons: I believe that a reasonably fit and flexible person who ski's 20 days a year should be able to be very proficient on piste (groomed trails of all levels) in a short period of time. Off piste and moguls take more time depending on each individuals goals. With that said I don't believe it truly relates to the number of lessons you take what is more important is the quality of instruction and an individuals capability of learning. The challenge for coaches and students is that most people can only learn one maybe two things at a time, they then need to permanently assimilate them into there skiing before moving on to the next step. You are better off with a short lesson followed up with practice time then you are with 3-5 days of continuous lessons. Yes you can pick up a lot in 5 days but you will be extremely challenged to incorporate all of it. Generally when you take a lesson your goal should be to learn one thing solidly and walk away with one thing to work on. When both of those are solid, sign up for your next lesson.
I also believe that the reason most people cannot ski steeper slopes is because fear creeps in. Lots of mileage can over come this. However that takes a tremendous amount of time and their anxiety may never be overcome. To shorten the process I go back to my original point that you need to be able ski perfectly on moderate slopes before attempting steeper slopes. When a person is skiing afraid they go into survival mode and it is almost impossible for them to learn. For example you cannot stay balanced over your skis if you are afraid to lean down the hill. However if you give them lots of tools (short turns and absorption for instance) to control speed it will reduce their anxiety levels. The other thing that can work is having them ski at top speed on moderate slopes straight down the fall line. Let them get used to the speed and the feeling of G forces in a safer environment. Let them practice carving at top speed with angulation on moderate slopes and get used to the feeling and then move up to the next level.
All of this is just my opinion but it seems to work.
post #198 of 204
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroSR View Post

Marznc to answer your questions of how many lessons: I believe that a reasonably fit and flexible person who ski's 20 days a year should be able to be very proficient on piste (groomed trails of all levels) in a short period of time. Off piste and moguls take more time depending on each individuals goals. With that said I don't believe it truly relates to the number of lessons you take what is more important is the quality of instruction and an individuals capability of learning. The challenge for coaches and students is that most people can only learn one maybe two things at a time, they then need to permanently assimilate them into there skiing before moving on to the next step. You are better off with a short lesson followed up with practice time then you are with 3-5 days of continuous lessons. Yes you can pick up a lot in 5 days but you will be extremely challenged to incorporate all of it. Generally when you take a lesson your goal should be to learn one thing solidly and walk away with one thing to work on. When both of those are solid, sign up for your next lesson.
I also believe that the reason most people cannot ski steeper slopes is because fear creeps in. Lots of mileage can over come this. However that takes a tremendous amount of time and their anxiety may never be overcome. To shorten the process I go back to my original point that you need to be able ski perfectly on moderate slopes before attempting steeper slopes. When a person is skiing afraid they go into survival mode and it is almost impossible for them to learn. For example you cannot stay balanced over your skis if you are afraid to lean down the hill. However if you give them lots of tools (short turns and absorption for instance) to control speed it will reduce their anxiety levels. The other thing that can work is having them ski at top speed on moderate slopes straight down the fall line. Let them get used to the speed and the feeling of G forces in a safer environment. Let them practice carving at top speed with angulation on moderate slopes and get used to the feeling and then move up to the next level.

All of this is just my opinion but it seems to work.

Makes sense to me.  

 

Thinking back, I missed a lot during the first multi-day clinic I took.  When I knew I planned to ski more out west (taking advantage of being retired), I did a trip to north Tahoe in 2010 that included a 3-day clinic with lessons just in the morning.  Hadn't had a lesson as a working adult when I skied perhaps 4-5 days every 2-3 years on blue groomers.  I skied with a friend for a couple days before the clinic, every afternoon during the clinic, and a couple days after the clinic.  The instructors were all very experienced.  I was the least experienced skier in a group of 4 advanced skiers.  The second and third day was mostly off-piste.  Fear is not an issue for me, partially due to personality and partially because I learned side slipping and basic skills on straight skis long ago.  I learned a fair amount in that clinic, but there was a lot to absorb and I didn't really come away with an idea of what and how to practice.

 

What I prefer to do is have a lesson at the beginning of a trip out west, usually on Day 2, and then just free ski the rest of the week.  How to find a good instructor is probably a topic for another thread.

 

Based on what I've learned in the last five years about improving technique and working with an instructor, I think an intermediate who takes a lesson or two during early season and then 1-2 lessons during a ski week would start to see the benefits of working with an instructor pretty quickly.  Early season group lessons for an intermediate at small ski areas in the flatlands can often end up a solo or semi-private lesson with only one other student.  Most destination resorts have pretty experienced instructors teaching group lessons for "blue" skiers.  So doesn't necessarily have to be private lessons to make progress.  In the situation of interest, <20 days per season, going from intermediate to advanced is going to take more than a season or two.

 

Here are a couple examples of intermediate/advanced lessons at a big mountain.  Alta has 2-hour lessons for $70.  There are three levels: Intro to Blue, Ski the Upper Mountain, and Beyond the Blues.  I have a friend who is a low advanced (Level 7 of 9) who took the Beyond the Blues midweek and had a solo lesson with one of the most experienced instructors in Alta Ski School.  The Aspen ski school offers full day (10-3) lessons for adults for $165 at all ability levels.

post #199 of 204
Some general observations about my season, with respect to a lot of the great advice in this thread :

1) I had 2 lessons this season, after two last season. I think I've improved a lot and I'm pretty happy with my progress, though I think I'm about the same numerical level. I'm just stronger at that level.

2) All the skills @PedroSR mentioned sound great. But I feel like spending enough time to learn them would take many days of just doing drills for me, and there's no chance I'm going to spend that much time training on easy slopes, rather than skiing and having fun. (Not that I don't spend any time on drills, just not whole days.)

3) I love the point though about spending what time I DO have on very easy terrain, trying to get better. I've been doing that this season a lot I think, particularly trying to maintain good form and carve at lower angles/speeds, as well as some "getting forward" exercises.

4) As far as getting over-terrained, I definitely do it sometimes because it's fun, even if I can't maintain form. For me it's not really a fear thing (I fall fairly often), as much as a feel and balance thing. I think if someone understands that, it can help point out what needs to be worked on... i.e. I know what I'm doing wrong,even if I can't do it right on that slope.
post #200 of 204

So I did go to Whistler recently and have a few comments to add as a flatlander with limited ski days...

 

I skied this past season:

3 days in early December @ Deer Valley

2 days in early February @ Breckenridge

6 days in mid February @ Canyons, Deer Valley

3 days in early April @ Whistler

 

I took a Max 4 morning lesson at Whistler that turned into a private due to lack of people at my level.  It took the entire lesson plus a couple hours for me to feel as competent as I did at the end of the last trip.  The primary factors in this were: 1) gap between trips (being rusty) and 2) snow type.  The snow at Whistler feels very 'wet' and is sticky.  I was used to dry powder and hard pack from my prior trips, not slushy sticky snow and ice in the mornings.  So it took a while for me to adjust to the higher friction in the snow.

 

Some of the issue I have seen in lessons early in a trip is that a few things happen:

 

1) You get placed in a skill level and judged in the first 1 hour lower than your ability because you are acclimating to the mountain and are rusty

2) Worse still, you get a less qualified instructor because your free skiing audition looks bad and get a poor lesson

3) Instructor interprets 'rapid' progress as 'wow this drill is really working and I am helping - lets do more of this thing'

4) Instructor works on a problem that disappears naturally anyway and the lesson is a bust

5) In a group, the class gets boring quickly as you regain your ability and surpass everyone else in the group who are frequent skiers or skied multiple days on this trip already

 

So how as an infrequent skier do you time lessons in a three day trip (which day and morning or afternoon)?

How do you educate an instructor about these phenomena? 

Are instructors trained to handle this kind of thing?

 

How as a student, do I help the instructor structure the lesson to dust off the cobwebs quickly and then work on the real problems? Are there good cobweb removing drills out there to speed the process?

 

I think to break the intermediate rut with limited ski days, you really have to maximize the impact of a lesson.  A bad lesson in a short trip really sucks and makes you not want to take future lessons...

post #201 of 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroSR View Post

I also believe that the reason most people cannot ski steeper slopes is because fear creeps in. Lots of mileage can over come this. However that takes a tremendous amount of time and their anxiety may never be overcome. To shorten the process I go back to my original point that you need to be able ski perfectly on moderate slopes before attempting steeper slopes. When a person is skiing afraid they go into survival mode and it is almost impossible for them to learn. For example you cannot stay balanced over your skis if you are afraid to lean down the hill. However if you give them lots of tools (short turns and absorption for instance) to control speed it will reduce their anxiety levels. The other thing that can work is having them ski at top speed on moderate slopes straight down the fall line. Let them get used to the speed and the feeling of G forces in a safer environment. Let them practice carving at top speed with angulation on moderate slopes and get used to the feeling and then move up to the next level.
All of this is just my opinion but it seems to work.

 

Another way that will work is learn to shape the turn properly to develop the line and allow the line to control your speed.

If the turn is shaped properly, a skier can come to a stop at the end of every turn if desired thus removing the threat of imminent death. 

I have seen that worked for lots of skiers. 

post #202 of 204
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexSkier View Post
 

So I did go to Whistler recently and have a few comments to add as a flatlander with limited ski days...

 

I skied this past season:

3 days in early December @ Deer Valley

2 days in early February @ Breckenridge

6 days in mid February @ Canyons, Deer Valley

3 days in early April @ Whistler

 

I took a Max 4 morning lesson at Whistler that turned into a private due to lack of people at my level.  It took the entire lesson plus a couple hours for me to feel as competent as I did at the end of the last trip.  The primary factors in this were: 1) gap between trips (being rusty) and 2) snow type.  The snow at Whistler feels very 'wet' and is sticky.  I was used to dry powder and hard pack from my prior trips, not slushy sticky snow and ice in the mornings.  So it took a while for me to adjust to the higher friction in the snow.

 

Some of the issue I have seen in lessons early in a trip is that a few things happen:

 

1) You get placed in a skill level and judged in the first 1 hour lower than your ability because you are acclimating to the mountain and are rusty

2) Worse still, you get a less qualified instructor because your free skiing audition looks bad and get a poor lesson

3) Instructor interprets 'rapid' progress as 'wow this drill is really working and I am helping - lets do more of this thing'

4) Instructor works on a problem that disappears naturally anyway and the lesson is a bust

5) In a group, the class gets boring quickly as you regain your ability and surpass everyone else in the group who are frequent skiers or skied multiple days on this trip already

 

So how as an infrequent skier do you time lessons in a three day trip (which day and morning or afternoon)?

How do you educate an instructor about these phenomena? 

Are instructors trained to handle this kind of thing?

 

How as a student, do I help the instructor structure the lesson to dust off the cobwebs quickly and then work on the real problems? Are there good cobweb removing drills out there to speed the process?

 

I think to break the intermediate rut with limited ski days, you really have to maximize the impact of a lesson.  A bad lesson in a short trip really sucks and makes you not want to take future lessons...

To clarify, did you take the lesson the morning of Day 1 of 3 at Whistler?  That's definitely a tough time to get the most out of lesson for a flatlander, regardless of how well someone adjusts to high altitude.  Especially a skier who skis infrequently.  For a trip with 3 days of skiing, I'd probably consider having a lesson on the morning of Day 2.  If at a new ski resort that offers a free mountain tour, might do that on Day 1, even if the tour is in the morning.  That can make the afternoon of Day 1 more fun, as well as for the rest of the trip.

 

I learned as a parent how to give a quick introduction about my daughter's ski experience and learning style to a new instructor. She was petite and looked younger than most kids her age.  Since she started at age 4, she was better than most kids her age by age 6 since we live in the southeast.  Sometimes I would get skeptical looks, but most of the time it helped the instructor not judge based on first impressions.

 

The more you communicate with an instructor, the better.  If you feel that the instructor is ignoring your comments and questions and you are the only student, it may well be worth asking to head back to ski school to talk to a supervisor.  While it should be rare at a major destination resort, sometimes a student and instructor simply don't connect well.  Instructors have different teaching styles and personalities, just as students have different learning styles and personalities.

 

Agree that a bad lesson during a ski trip that involves flying can really mess things up.  I had one out west that put me off private lessons for quite a while.  I didn't know then that I probably should have gone to discuss what happened with ski school immediately afterwards.

 

Have you figured out if you learn best visually?  With lots of technical explanation?

 

When you mention working on "real problems," that makes me think of lessons I've had with intermediates where the student had a very different impression of what was important to work on than the instructor.  In the situations I'm thinking about, the instructor is very experienced (20+ years) and I had worked with him before.  I had become an advanced skier a few years before starting to work with him after an injury.  The other students were older intermediates who hadn't had a lesson for years.

post #203 of 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 

 

Another way that will work is learn to shape the turn properly to develop the line and allow the line to control your speed.

If the turn is shaped properly, a skier can come to a stop at the end of every turn if desired thus removing the threat of imminent death. 

I have seen that worked for lots of skiers. 

 

Thinking back to my first long weekend's introduction to skiing some thirty years ago, the most memorable thing my instructor told us was: "If you stay with the current turn long enough, you will come to a stop". This truth, not instinctively understood, immediately and completely removed my fear of pointing the skis, however briefly, into the fall line. That one pointer is perhaps the most valuable I have ever gleaned from the many lessons over my skiing career. A close second lesson was the 15-20 minutes an early instructor spent with me drilling side slips and "falling leafs" (Google that if it's an unfamiliar term: It's an invaluable skill to grasp early on). Those two pointers/skills have served me very well over the years, and I revisit them almost every day I'm on skis.

post #204 of 204
Quote:
To clarify, did you take the lesson the morning of Day 1 of 3 at Whistler?

I did a lesson the morning of Day 1.  And actually another one on Day 3.  We were meeting friends to ski with, but they were late arrivals on Day 1.  I skied with them Day 1 afternoon and all of Day 2.  They left Day 3 morning and I needed someone to ski with, so I did another Max 4.  I had a discount card from the Day 1 lesson, so it was something like $120 US for a full day group lesson.  Given a choice, I think a half day on Day 2 would have been ideal.  But it wasn't possible.  The Day 3 lesson turned out great however.

 

Quote:

The more you communicate with an instructor, the better.

I agree totally and have been trying to be very specific about what I want out of the lesson and talking about what I was doing in the lesson just prior.  It does help...most of the time.  I would say I understand instructors about 60% of the time.  So I have to think back to other things I have heard from instructors in the past to figure out what the instructor is really trying to do.  Or I ask the other guys in the lesson to interpret the instructor speak.

 

Quote:

 When you mention working on "real problems,"

What I mean is, work on issues that I cannot fix myself.  So if I am rusty and my balance is off and I am trying to understand the snow, I don't need a lesson for that.  I just need some miles in the current conditions.  But unfortunately, that is just how things work out sometimes when you have limited days and cannot do the 'ideal' thing.

 

Quote:
  I didn't know then that I probably should have gone to discuss what happened with ski school immediately afterwards.

 

I have had a handful of so-so lessons.  But when this happens, I usually don't bother to complain because of the time involved.  I'm on vacation and I don't want to spend even more time not skiing or having fun.  The last thing I want is a freebie lesson from the same school that botched the first lesson, wasting even more of my time - how can I know the next lesson is actually going to be good?

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