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Importance of hotness of the feet - Page 3

post #61 of 75
You raise some good points, (the)Rusty. Regarding the Devil's Crotch story, I should be clear that I don't necessarily condone the tactics used in that "lesson." It probably wasn't the safest lesson ever taught, although I don't want to second guess the instructor who taught it, 25 years later. He was a very highly experienced instructor, and I've got to think that there was some judgement involved, that he had assessed the student's ability enough to believe he would survive Devil's Crotch (there is some skiing inolved before you get to the trail). Who knows, though? I was just a rookie, and I don't know exactly what went through anyone's mind at the time. I do know that a bunch of us got a pretty good laugh, though!

On another note--the question of the student's ability to even recognize excellent skiing when they see it--I think that they rarely do. To me, that's actually the biggest argument why instructors SHOULD be able to "walk the talk." Students can recognize good teachers, good communicators, and they know when an instructor empathizes, cares, and "connects" with them. They are the best (and only) judges of whether they're having fun, and they can tell if they're learning something.

But students are often poorly equipped to determine the long-term value of WHAT they're learning. They don't know if the techniques they are being taught are contemporary, accurate, "standard," or even safe. And they can't usually judge the technical correctness of their instructor's skiing. Those things they must trust us for. It's a professional and ethical obligation to our students, in my opinion, for instructors to develop knowledge and skiing skills that portray accurate, correct, contemporary technique.

Again, that does not suggest that a high level of skill or athleticism is required. It doesn't take much of either to do a good, accurate wedge turn, for example. But there is no excuse for an instructor to teach or demonstrate "bad movements" at any level. Instructors who do are charlatans that are harmful to their students, the industry, and the profession of ski instruction!

In Colorado, at least, we interpret the National Level 3 (Full Certification) standard to require a reasonably high level of pizazz, athleticism, speed, and personal flair, in addition to very sound fundamental mechanics. We think that a Full Certified instructor skiing moguls under a lift should cause those on the lift to watch and to think "That's good skiing--I'd like to ski like that." It may or may not be zipperline, competitive-style bump skiing, but it should be clean, athletic, and fun--which anyone can see--and demonstrate sound technical fundamentals and tactics, whether anyone recognizes those or not.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #62 of 75

From the student's perspective

My best "lessons" have come from club and masters racers whom I was in clinics with, who were not a huge amount better than I am, but who could put things in terms that clicked with me (typically, passing along the formulation that helped them get it.) There, the fact that the "teacher" had only recently struggled, or was still struggling, with the same issue actually helped.

And I don't think an instructor has to be a brilliant skier in order to observe keenly and to diagnose well and to communicate clearly (and in a variety of ways if the student doesn't get it at the first go) and thus provide a great lesson.

BUT, to echo the "Devil's Crotch" story from the students perspective, where a student is stuck at a plateau because of a particular technique or flaw and the student doesn't see that as a flaw, it sure helps if the instructor is (1) a much better skier, and (2) can take the student to a place where the flaw manifests itself as a serious limitation. And, when the stubborn student is having trouble accepting a change in technique (or practicing a drill) then a high level of instructor skill may add credibility. (Somewhere out there, even now, someone's grumbling "I still think this 1000 steps thing is a crock, but instructor so-and-so is such a good skier, I'll give it another try...")

And it's a delight to ski right behind someone who does something exceptionally well, whether it's staying balanced with a great feel for the snow or making great knee angulation turns on slalom skis.

So, I don't think the instructor has to be a great skier to provide a great lesson, but it's a nice plus to the experience, and it's a definite help with those of us students who are stubborn and have to discover this thing ourselves.
post #63 of 75

Thanks for the clarification. I tried to put it delicately. I just have the nagging feeling that some version of the Devil's Crotch story happens at least once a year at most resorts. I know I'm guilty of it, although my worst offense was out of uniform (for the record the only thing broken was the schmucks goggles). In my heart I believe that all pros that do this do a safety check thing in their head (e.g. he's not going to die, right) before they lead the guest into a minimum of a bruised ego.

Regarding the recognition thing, I was thinking of mimics. If a beginner mimic was fortunate enough to get a demo teamer for an instructor, could it be possible for them to quickly luck into/lock into a high proficiency? Are there any such stories out there? Yes I realize that that example won't happen often, but I'm thinking there is enough value in this to pursue.

As I've worked with video analysis for exam candidates, I've seen subtle differences that I suspect could be significant over a season of teaching. For teaching purposes, I'd call their starting demos to be of high enough quality that I would not be critical of their teaching. But for exam purposes, I'd tell them that there were improvements to be made. When I monitor beginner lessons, I do see at least some of the students exactly mimicing some of our instructors subtle bad habits. Is it too preposterous to think better quality demos could make a 5% improvement in 5% of ones students? Hmm - I think I'll try to video some beginner classes this year and let Physicsman crunch some numbers.
post #64 of 75

Think About It

Originally Posted by nolo
So this topic's a slam dunk?

Why are PSIA examiners so obsessed with candidates' skiing then? Wait--that's a rhetorical question.

I'm not buying it. If you're teaching accounting, you should be a good accountant yourself. A good ski teacher must be two things at once: a good skier and a good teacher. They go together and nourish each other. One cannot compensate for the other. That's my opinion, anyway.
The best kicking coach in the NFL is in a wheelchair. Scary isn't it!
post #65 of 75
Originally Posted by John Cole
The best kicking coach in the NFL is in a wheelchair. Scary isn't it!
Sorry to pick on you're point John but this begs clarification. Did that coach in a wheechair at one time kick the football to a very high degree so that he has the physical experience?

There are instructors out there that were expert skiers and excellent teachers who, for some reason, can no longer demonstrate skiing to a very high level.

I will put them up against an instructor who is equally good at teaching but has never been able to demonstrate skiing to any higher degree than the first instructor currently can and I will bet you the former expert gets better results.
post #66 of 75
Originally Posted by Pierre
Sorry to pick on you're point John but this begs clarification. Did that coach in a wheechair at one time kick the football to a very high degree so that he has the physical experience?
I think "Joe fan" would be surprised by the number of professional coaches in both the NFL and MLB that never performed at or near the level of the athletes they now coach.
post #67 of 75
Thread Starter 
The NFL are elite athletes, so the case of the wheelchair-bound kicking coach falls nicely into the category of those working with athletes that don't need a live model but do need expert feedback.

What is sad is the number of junior race programs coached by people who know precious little about racing and do not model particularly good skiing. A lot of the kids in the race programs need to learn how to ski before they can ever hope to place.
post #68 of 75
Originally Posted by nolo
The NFL are elite athletes, so the case of the wheelchair-bound kicking coach falls nicely into the category of those working with athletes that don't need a live model but do need expert feedback.
nolo I think you hit the nail on the head.

I guess what I am getting at is that an instructor needs to rise to a certain level in their own skiing, certainly less than an elite athlete before they really understand good movements verses inefficient movements. I have seen many instructors who could pick out inefficient movements far above their own level but could neither offer really good fixes or demonstrate to a student what they see. Most of them chase symptoms rather than causes.

I think this comes out in skiing exams as well. I will bet that an examiner can pretty much tell who is going to pass and who is going to fail in the first three turns without a word said. The rest of the exam period is finding out who may be close enough in their understanding that a little bit of extra help will put their skiing over the top or having the exam candidates convince themselves that they are not ready.
post #69 of 75
Well said, Pierre! Fundamental movements aren't called that for nothing--they're the movement patterns that show up in almost every turn we make, revealing both personal skill biases and, to a large extent, understanding. We can't always tell the skill LEVEL, or the extent of the skier's "comfort zone," in those first few turns, but we can pretty well identify the foundation of their movements. It's like a fingerprint that identifies, even defines, a skier's technique. To the point of this thread, these fundamental movements have no bearing on "hotness of feet."

And Nolo--I couldn't agree more with your lament about many junior race "coaches." I am often astonished by some of the real misinformation that I often overhear when those race programs show up at various Colorado resorts like Arapahoe Basin and Loveland in the fall and spring. Unfortunately, it's a good thing many of those kids ignore their coaches!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #70 of 75

I think I understand your last remark about examiners "helping" those that are close, but others might take it too literally. It is my understanding that examiners are not allowed to "help" candidates (e.g. giving specific feedback during the exam). They are allowed and encouraged to let candidates "help themselves". This includes asking exam groups to perform tasks that might trigger a breakthrough in a specific candidate or allow a candidate to more easily show desired movements. But mostly the "help" comes in the forms of giving general vaguely worded feedback to the group and giving extra chances to demonstrate passing forms.
I've discussed the "I know in 3 turns" phenomena with a few examiners. It appears to be quite widespread. In their head, they split their groups into 3 categories (pass/fail/borderline). It bugs them because they know that they have to be fair. Every examiner I've ever talked with has said they would like nothing better than to pass every candidate. As much as they want to give everyone a fair chance, they know from experience that some candidates just have no chance. They also know that especially when they need to watch borderliners through the exam, they will occasionally get surprised from the sure pass and sure fail camps. In the past, there have been reports that there were too many examiners who were inconsistent and arbitrary in their pass/fail determination. From the PSIA-E region meetings I've attended, I've been most encouraged by their efforts to make exam grading objective and as consistent as possible across the examiner staff. From reports from recent exam candidates, it appears we are much better but still not perfect.
post #71 of 75
therusty what I mean by help is the examiners have one of the stronger candidates teach what another candidate may be borderline on. The will emphasis helping each other just before having the stronger candidate teach.

If they want to convince a cadidate that they are not ready they may have the cadidate try to teach what they suspect the candidate does not know.
post #72 of 75
Giving feedback in an exam situation is a very touchy issue! I'll often give feedback if I think that a slight change of focus--usually regarding tactics--will produce the needed performance, from skills the candidate probably already has. But if it's a skill issue, skills take time, practice, and much repetition with feedback before we own them. Feedback of that nature in an exam cannot help, and it's quite likely to hurt. If it causes the candidate to "think too much," or to lose confidence, it will only degrade the performance. And the candidate would be in the right to complain that the examiner's inappropriate feedback hurt his performance--an uncomfortable situation for all involved, to say the least!

In our Rocky Mountain Level 3 exam, as of last season, the skiing tasks are graded by multiple examiners in "stations," with little to no immediate feedback. But that day is preceded by a "coaching" day, in which an examiner takes the group through the tasks, in the actual locations of the stations if possible, with the pure intention of helping the candidates perform their best the next day. Even there, optimal feedback is never a simple issue. It's not like an early season clinic, where participants usually want clear feedback on everything they should work on and focus on through the season to prepare for the exam. With the "test" the next day, movements are pretty well established already, and there is little chance to make any significant change, much less any significant advance in skill. Tactics, though, can change quickly. On the principle that "intent dictates technique," a change of intent can easily bring out the needed skills, if they are in there. And a simple verbal, visual, or mental cue can sometimes trigger the whole package of movements needed for a given task. Those kinds of feedback are helpful, and usually appreciated.

Still, I think that each candidate must take personal responsibility for taking or rejecting any feedback they get, as well as for how they incorporate that feedback, for better or worse. In an exam, I'll usually tell people that if they want more feedback than I'm giving them, they need to ask. But as always, you must be careful what you ask for!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #73 of 75
I've been meaning to chime in here about a "cold feet" situation I had last year. My feet!

Every day last year, my group of students and I would ski past a mini terrain park on the way to the gondola. After a while, they all wanted to start going in there. We hit the table top and got some air, but after a while that was not enouigh. We needed to start hitting the fumbox, and then the rails...

I had never "skiied" on a rail before. Can you say "guided discovery". We started going in there for an hour or so at the end of each day, and while I won't say that any of us ever got to be any good at sliding the rails we did have a lot of fun (and got some pretty big bruises too). I plan to take a clinic called "halfpipe and Park for Kids" this year in order to warm up my feet a little, but hot feet or no, that actually came out pretty well, and nobody got hurt but me.
post #74 of 75


I would place the greater value on the ability to "see" and communicate. Demonstration is just one way to get a message across. First the teacher must have something to say. It would be difficult to make a good description if the sensations were never felt however.
Age and injury do not diminish experience and knowledge.


Those who know, but can not do... TEACH!

Instructors, like consultants of all types, readily tell you were to go, but can not, themselves drive.

Finally, Overheard in conversation a group of skiers
"There is only one thing I ask of a ski instructor"..... JUST KEEP UP!

post #75 of 75
Very funny, Cal--especially the last one!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
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