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Skiing with goals

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
'Allo all. It's that time of year again!

I was recently involved in some excellent dialogue about skiing and how to identify "good" skiing. Or what we look at to identify "good" skiing. We used a lot of WC/Championship skiing vids, both men and women. Our coach mentioned often that:

"racers have a goal when skiing; to get down as fast as possible. Everything they do is to get down faster. We (instructors) don't have that goal..."

What goal(s) do instructors ski for?
post #2 of 47
I break down my goals into teaching and personal skiing.

My teaching goal is the same as always. Find the magic combination of words and demos to convey my newest understanding of good movement patterns to a wide variety of students. I am also looking for the best ways to get students into the proper frame of reference for their best learning.

My personal goal for this year is to find the magic bullet that will easily allow me to compensate for the fact that on telemark I cannot pressure the fronts of the boots to quickly change turns size and shape in parallel mode. The easiest compensation is to put in a little bit of upper body rotation. A better method is to be more dynamic so I can set myself up in the second half of the turn for the ability to use a more subtle combination of patience, tipping and counter in the top half of the next turn.
post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thanks Pierre, do you, though, have general goals for each run when you ski...

If a WC racer's goal for a given run is to go as fast as possible, what is your's when you push off and head down the hill?

As a freeskier?

As an instructor?

Are they different?
post #4 of 47
Roto as a free skier my goal is serenity. As and instructor it is not to fall down.
post #5 of 47
In all honesty one of my goals as an instructor is to find folks I enjoy skiing with and establish a long term relationship. It's great to have a whole winter to work on a project.

In terms of my personal skiing, I am always trying to make a better turn in bumps and to be as comfortable in marginal conditions (crud, windslab, cut-up powder) as I am on groomers.

We have often attempted to define expert. As I type it occurs to me the skiers that I enjoy watching look just about the same in any conditions. If that is my definition....I'm not sure I'll ever achieve the goal!
post #6 of 47
Good topic, Roto.

My goal is to introduce my students to the concept of brilliance this season, so they never have to suffer through another day of self-loathing and disgust but instead celebrate the closer approximation, appreciate the aha! moments, and "get" the feedback from the skis and the medium. In other words, delight in the learning and let the performance take care of itself.

For myself? Let me paraphrase E.M. Forster: To connect! Only to connect!
post #7 of 47

Warning: waxing "poetic", not for speed!

Amen, Nolo!

I'm not very literary but the subject of "connection" is huge for me and your mention of Forster somehow made my mind flash back to that Yeats poem "Among School Children" - an inviting title for ski students/instructors if there ever was one! I love the last line:

"O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?"

To me this conjures that exquisite sensation of being in the "flow state", that comes with a good few turns, really satisfying work, or a feeling of connection with another person. Maybe a little "drama queeny", but what can I say?

Had to look it up the lines to see if I remembered correctly. If yer interested, here's text for the whole poem.

I didn't find it terribly "easy reading" so I cheated and went to another site for some interpretative help.
post #8 of 47
post #9 of 47
Skiing with goals? Is that more like hockey or soccer?

post #10 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thanks again Pierre.
Now, do serenity and not falling down result in any differences or changes in what you do while skiing?

Rusty. How do you know when you make a better turn in bumps?

DM- Flow State sounds like it might be a goal that you try to ski to, is this accurate?

nolo, do you ever ski for yourself?

Originally Posted by Roto
If a WC racer's goal for a given run is to go as fast as possible, what is your's when you push off and head down the hill?

As a freeskier skiing down the hill?

As an instructor skiing down the hill?

Are they different?
post #11 of 47
Roto, What I mean by connection is myself with the Earth, the natural forces, and good Lord who made us all. My goal is to be a well-grounded skier.
post #12 of 47
My goal is to keep my feet pointing down and my head pointing up.
post #13 of 47
Originally Posted by Roto
Thanks again Pierre.
Now, do serenity and not falling down result in any differences or changes in what you do while skiing?
The differences are in the tactics and frame of mind. While an instructor, my skiing and mind is all geared to what my student wants and needs to see.

Free skiing is all about fun for me. In free skiing my tactics are all about selecting the nastiest lines and the nastiest snow conditions that I can find to ski on.
post #14 of 47
With skiing, we can do all. The great thing about teaching skiing is that you will eventually Race, ski off piste after a cool hike, and session the park and pipe. So why do I as an instructor ski. Sometimes it is to get down the fastest, sometimes to find a fresh line, and sometimes to scare myself. It is my hope that we, as instructors can embrace all aspects of sliding and get evolved.
post #15 of 47
Thread Starter 

So this isn't going quite like I thought it might. How do you do it nolo; create posts that bring about such in depth and detailed responses from people?

I guess I'll get more detailed about this.

In the title post on this thread I mentioned a coach reviewing WC video, and speaking to the specific goal racers have while racing. He continually referred to that goal as the purpose for whatever movements or decisions the racers make while racing.

He never (intentionally, I believe) referred to ANY goals we have as we ski, simply stated that going faster, or fastest is not generally our goal.

a number of us started thinking, and talking about what goals we do have.

we had no problem with free skiing goals when we spoke of off piste, or very challenging terrain, but otherwise, skiing groomers, doing demos, etc. etc. some of us were stumped.

what I came up with (for myself) was this:

in my 'instructor pants' I often ski with the goal of making the proper body movements in the right sequence.

I was fairly quick to realize the pointlessness of this. Proper body movements are a means, NOT an end. without an end there are no body movements
needed. I was also quick to realize how different this 'instructor oriented' skiing is than free-skiing (for me). Whether it's making a certain hit, line, speed, move or what. I always have very specific goals when free skiing, much like the racers seek to go as fast as possible. In these scenarios, my body movements simply stream from my pool of knowledge and experience...sometimes with greater or lesser success... but I always know where I lie in relation to this success... which again is very different from instructor oriented skiing, where I sometimes feel stilted, non-fluid and unsure of what I'm really trying to do. I would like to point out that the above comments about "instructor oriented skiing" do not include training runs in which body movements are focused toward specific outcomes.

the phrase INTENT DICTATES TECHNIQUE rang out (thanks Bob!delayed outcome!!) in my brain. Given the training and curriculum-oriented context in which we were working I couldn't help but think about this in relation to a lot of the confusion people have about exam tasks, tryouts and other such instructor oriented skiing. We are often in situations when we are skiing to goals other than our own, whether it be for students, examiners or selectors. Somewhere in that realization I found an inkling of hope for a narrowing of 'the gap' between instructor education and cert. programs (I hate it when I get that inkling).

It lent credence to some fairly recent (within the last 4 seasons) teaching/coaching directions I have taken... such as:

"I need more information about what you want to learn, the skier you want to be. Without it all I can do is try to create you as a skier in my own image and that's not what I'm here for. If you want to get the most out of me use my abilites and expertise to get you somehwere you actually want to go."


"To get a better perspective on the tasks and performances we ask of instructors, look to the foundations of ATS (the American Teaching System). One of these foundations is that ATS is student-centered. Our performances during demonstrations must be readily visible and accurate. If we say watch for 'this' movement/performance, we need to make it the most visible thing, otherwise the students will pick up on the most visually apparent thing(s) we do even if they don't match what we say. This is why the "hottest, fastest skiing often doesn't cut it for exam and tryout demos. We may have the discipline to make some of the kooky things we do when we are near the edge of our envelope work, while a lot of our students won't. They will generally just copy the most visible component of our skiing no matter what we say (intentional redundancy). If you keep that in mind when you are doing exam tasks, or training for them it can release you from the negativity of thinking you are doing it to please some arbitrary or secret standard, because we are really doing it for our, and your students!"

or some such drivel...

What I really started thinking about at this juncture was... do most instructors know why they do what they do..? How many ski around trying to make movement patterns for the sake of movement patterns? Do they know if they have any goals? Are their goals really goals or just means without ends? Could "intent awareness" develop into an important facet of training......... ?
Am I just another overly-analytical jargon spouting instructor grinding the fun out of skiing??
post #16 of 47
Oh, okay. My goal while skiing is to make a clean edge change (a.k.a. smooth transition or whatever we're calling it du jour). That's what keeps me hungry.
post #17 of 47
Interesting Nolo,

In following you a couple years ago at Brighton down a straightforward groomed run I would say that this was an aspect of your skiing that stood out to me the most, by far and away. In fact, I have commented on this to a few Epic folks who have never had the chance to see you ski in person.
post #18 of 47

Many goals

Ah Roto,

So many goals, so little time.

How about the same goals as when I teach? Safety, fun and learning. Sometimes the only goal on a run is to not kill myself. On a good powder day, the only goal is to have fun. Sometimes I will take runs to scope out terrain for teaching. My current technical focus is to improve my skiing to Level 3 certification standard. When I'm in learning mode, I may be focusing on one or more of dozens of things. Two things I'm currently working on are a taller centered stance and getting my shoulders to match the pitch of the slope better.

However, the thing I think you're looking for is "efficiency". This is evidenced by skiing that appears to be very "smooth". Terry Barbour talks about "harmony", where all the body parts work together.
post #19 of 47
ok Roto, I am going to try...

when teaching my desired outcome is to either
- demonstrate correct technique
- mirror the participant's movements

when free-skiing my desired outcome is
- to have fun
- to skillfully ski where I want to ski

when I am taking a clinic/being taught, my desired outcome is
- to try to do precisely what is being asked of me (physically)
- to incorporate the skill into my everyday skiing

does this help?
post #20 of 47
Thread Starter 

Intent awareness Intent awareness!

Ok so GOAL was the WRONG word to name this thread

nolo...clean edge changes [DA]what do you accomplish while making a run, day, or week of clean edge changes?[/DA]

Rusty, if you had a coach which 'goal' would be most imnportant for you to share. The one about you not killing yourself, or the one about skiing taller and more centered?

What is a level 3 skiing standard and how do you ski to it?

kk - of course it helps! unfortunately right now I have to get to bed. I'm far too tired to finish my reply!
post #21 of 47

Racers want to ski "ahead" - Teachers want to ski "with"?

Roto, to answer your specific question to me, "flow state" isn't really a goal, as much as a pleasant accident that makes me want to keep at this crazy sport and life in general for that matter.

"Goal setting" has not been one of my strong suits in life and I'm not so proud of that. I was kind of just riffing off what Nolo wrote, when I posted about "flow". I would however, very much like to share some of my thoughts on personal goal setting and fitting into the PSIA organization.

A couple years ago I had a pretty bad L3 exam experience. A few weeks later, in talking to someone about how to set goals in one's skiing, he told me that what works for him is to, "try to ski like himself."

When he said that, I was shocked to realize I didn't even have a visualization of what that might/should look/feel like. I was so obsessed with wanting to ski like this person or that person, I was somehow negating my own "presence." For me personally, low self-esteem and fear of failure made me want to be anything, anyone but...myself!

As a result, I have put my certification goals aside, because I feel that I first must (re)develop an authentic joyfulness (as in, flow state) rooted in my own body and spirit. And hopefully the build the resilience of spirit that will allow me to fail another exam without so many negative side effects - or perhaps pass one when the time is right.

Now, having said that, I think the goal for me personally as an instructor right now is to find the balance between skiing "like myself" and doing it in a way(s) consistent with the "Standards" of ATS/PSIA, my ski school or whatever system I'm a part of at the moment.

Part of what makes a great instructor is to communicate the fire and love for the sport - the energy, if you will, through your demos. What I'm trying to say is that you can only display that when you are truly "present" in your skiing. You can only be present in your skiing when your are present in your own body and spirit.

I think that for individuals who have felt tormented by the exam experience (e.g., me), our self-esteem may not have been as stong as it should have when we undertook certification. They may already be alienated from their joy in skiing (and possibly not even know it) and failing an exam certainly doesn't help fix that. Is it PSIA's job to fix that? Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to acknowlege the vulnerability that folks taking exams feel and the role emotions play in general, IMHO.

I think genuine concern for the student (and the examinee as student?) and love for the learning process may be the key (the real goal in skiing for an instructor!?) here. As you wrote:

"If you keep that in mind when you are doing exam tasks, or training for them it can release you from the negativity of thinking you are doing it to please some arbitrary or secret standard, because we are really doing it for our, and your students!"

I don't think that's "drivel", as you said! I think it's great and am going to share it with my L3 study group on Sunday, if you don't mind.

As I've been writing, I've had one more thought about the distinction between the racer and the teacher. The racer by definition strives to leave other skiers behind (to "separate", if you will), while the teacher strives to be with, or as Nolo said, "connect" with other skiers. So I guess that's my roundabout answer to your question: My goal (intent) in skiing as an instructor is to use my skiing to connect with the student.

A question for you: To what extent does PSIA "intend" to connect with the rank and file instructor? It seems to me that certification by definition must leave some folks behind and in that regard it really is not so different from the race experience. For PSIA as an organization to maintain "connection" with those who feel "left behind" is a great challenge. But because folks like you are asking questions about it, I feel hopeful that perhaps improvements can be made in the process. Or at least greater understanding can be achieved about why it can become problematic...
post #22 of 47
I am struggling to follow where you are trying to lead. What I accomplish is purely sensational, and receiving that sensation is the critical reinforcement I get from skiing. I'm looking for it in every turn. As someone here once said, it's like sliding down a little waterfall.

(Thanks for validating my experience, Si!)
post #23 of 47
Thread Starter 
nolo, I don't think I'm trying to lead anywhere. I'm trying to gather more information...trying to learn something. So I'm not sure where I'm trying to lead, maybe to let go of current cycles of Q&A exchange (point-counterpoint) so I can learn more about other people's persectives, take a more open look at the information and learn something from looking at it. That's what the questions are all about. I want to learn what the point is before trying to make it. Does that make sense?

DM. Thanks for the perspective and questions. I am not ignoring your reponse here, but pondering some of your questions and sifting through the info.
post #24 of 47
This is simple to say but sometimes hard to do. When I am demoing for students, I try to make "honest" moves. For example, if I am doing something on a flat ski for never-evers I try to do with the move's they would have in their repertoire; no advance finessing that they might not notice but would make my move prettier.

The exception being when I say,"ok watch me, this is where we are going with this
move, this is how it looks at the next level (next lesson or after practice, whatever.)
post #25 of 47
Originally Posted by Downwardly Mobile

For PSIA as an organization to maintain "connection" with those who feel "left behind" is a great challenge. But because folks like you are asking questions about it, I feel hopeful that perhaps improvements can be made in the process. Or at least greater understanding can be achieved about why it can become problematic...
I think you raise a very interesting question.

I know of several interesting cases. The individuals lurk here quite a bit. Whenever I post something they don't like it gets printed and posted in our locker room.

This individual passed their level II in 1984. Nineteen years later, the individual was asked why they hadn't taken the level III and the answer....."I'm not ready". In the ensuing two years the person trained and failed the level III exam twice. The person has said their done, they don't need their level III to validate (their words) their skiing, and they seem fairly bitter about PSIA.

Wait, make that real bitter.

I know of a second individual who flunked the level III three times and none of it was their fault. The rational for the failure ranges from;
  • Age discrimination
  • I would not sleep with the examiner
  • The designated bump run was changed at the last minute.
I know of a third individual who has failed twice. This person is a level III Nordic cert. I actually took my exam with this person and was sure I failed while this person had passed. Great bump skier. I am certain a gold pin is in the works for this person this year simply due to their determination, patience, and poise. This individual is a great guy and great teacher. Interestingly a twenty year airline captain with United. I'm sure a cool character in the cockpit and certainly more determined than ever to pass at this point.

Lastly, my step brother has taught at Vail for over twenty years. He failed five times before passing.

What differentiates these folks? What kept some connected and others disenfranchised?

I would suggest the answer lies in the manner different folks handle failure. How they pick themselves up after being knocked down a notch. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned self esteem and or sense of self worth.

I'm going to try and obtain my advanced free style accred, freestyle trainer accred, and alpine trainer accred this season. I have no business in the park! The chances are slim that I will obtain ANY of the three. I'm fifty years old, however, I ski like I'm seventy! I know going into the project I stand a high chance of failure. For some odd reason that is the allure. I enjoy the process and the possibility of failing really gets my juices flowing.

Great topic and one that hit home as I filled out my clinic schedule this morning.

P.S. JP get the copier fired up for the season and by all means don't offer any rebuttle here:
post #26 of 47

I think you nailed what it takes to get a good thread cooking:
so I can learn more about other people's persectives, take a more open look at the information and learn something from looking at it. That's what the questions are all about. I want to learn what the point is before trying to make it.
Just a thought to throw in the mix: I find that thinking and doing are mutually exclusive. It's like my musty old hero J-P Sartre said, "To live or to write? One must choose." If you're thinking you're not really skiing, because real skiing is pure doing.
post #27 of 47
Nolo, I agree with you and JP, but a little voice in my head prompted me to google up the phrase,

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

The first result that came up was actually a site named - are you ready for this? - "Thinkexist.com". http://en.thinkexist.com/quotation/T...ng/218946.html

And if you, Nolo, aren't a devotee of Socrates, I don't know who is!

Has anyone on this site tried to adapt this quote for skiing? Something like:

"The unexamined turn is not worth making." Seems that might be a good tag line for this forum. Apologies if this old territory...
post #28 of 47
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by nolo
I am struggling to follow where you are trying to lead.
in pondering this question again...

I am trying to get answers about skiing intent. Not about teaching or technique goals

Take your "clean edge change" answer for example. A fine answer, not wrong in any way. What is likely "wrong" is the question which got the answer because it doesn't elicit the info I am looking for.

If "intent dictates technique," what is the intent behind making clean edge changes?

(I'm not trying to answer this FOR you, but give some exanple answers so you might see what I'm trying to get and possibly help with the questions.)

"I'm trying to get from point a to point b without getting tired. Clean edge changes do that for me."

"When I ski fast I often feel out of control, clean edge changes help me ski faster with more control."

"I like to be able to change direction at any moment. When I make clean edge changes I find I can do this."

If intent dictates technique, knowing intent, whether our own or someone else's, gives us much more valuable info for how to accomlish it, for we/they MAY be working on the 'wrong' technique for the intent.

Technique for the sake of technique seems pointless.

Which is where a lot of instructors are with their skiing and their teaching careers. Trying to do things without really knowing why. or what they are trying to do.
post #29 of 47
Thread Starter 

Thanks again!

I don't know to what extent PSIA intends to connect with the rank and file instructor. But I think I know that connection, like education is not part of Cert Program goals As a member of the NW Tech Team I know leadership in our division has been working hard communicating with our Training Directors, modifying our schedules and curriculae based on feedback from them as a step toward connecting with the membership at large and improving education results across the board. Connection is often a topic in the front of our minds and on our tongues as we prepare for events and design products.

I have begun to have more involvement with other divisions and connections across the nation, and it seems to me the message and movement is to be more effective with educational programs.

Which may be where the snag is. Ed and Cert programs are wholly different in intent. Another facet is that each division is rather autonomous with what programs are like. Exam and ed. Processes and programs vary greatly from div. to div.

When I read your cert. story and the ones Rusty Guy posted what stands out to me is the intent. This seems consistent scross the divisions (to me). No matter the process, very similar issues crop up for examiners and candidates alike. These stories, like many others, seem to be about personal validation. People are not being tested or evaluated. A professional skill set is what is being measured. That is all. There are standards that represent that skill set.

I believe it is possible that intent figures in importantly here as well, for if that intent is focused elsewhere it can prevent instructors from really learning what the standards are and understanding where their own skills and performances lie in relation to that. As a result, examiners and some candidates are out there on the snow together, but for entirely different purposes. Is it unfair? I think not. Is it unfortunate? Yes.

This is one reason I have begun to wonder about intent awareness as a vialble topic for training. Intent awareness for skiiing, for teaching for all of what we do.

Apologies if this isn't very specific to some of the above. Though I am very into what we are doing here, I am finding little time to put in on the board right now.

DM thanks for the PM I will answer in time.
post #30 of 47
My intent is to control my rate of descent (momentum) by linking complete turns for the purpose of safety. The link between turns is the edge change. Focusing on edge change keeps my mind on what experience has taught me is the crux of controlling rate of descent. It's an old saw that a turn that starts well has a better chance of finishing well than any other alternative. It's like tossing and catching a ball. A good toss promotes a good catch. A good toss has a good release. The release won't be good if you don't have a good hold on the ball when you catch it.

A favorite coach of mine (and Gonzo's) borrowed a saying from horse trainer Tom Dorrance: "When you go, you go together, mind, body, and spirit." There can be no hold back, hanging on, retreating, or otherwise sending mixed messages to your skis. "Go-stop!" The word GO gets a lot of use around here, for good reason, and I feel the edge change is the defining moment of GO.

Technique without purpose is indeed pointless. Good thread, Roto.
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