Originally Posted by whygimf
Ummm, to clarify - it's probably best to credit to Chip Woods and the Glacier Creek Academy with latter grooming of Moe/Gerety - They were already on the Team when Harald arrived in Girdwood. Granted, non household names like Bjorn-Roli, Woodland and Montalbo were part of ASC as juniors while HH was there -
The day after Tommy won Olympic Gold, Lolly Moss announced a party.
"Will it be a big party?"
"About 500 people!"
"Wow, who's invited?"
"Everyone who's ever said they coached Tommy........"
That sounds like Lolly (I did private race coaching with her for a year), and to a large degree like the Alyeska Ski Club. I still race and free-ski with Bjorn-Roli's dad and brother, who still is a big fan of Harald's. However, the relatively large percentage of US Teamers from such a small, off-the-circuit club during that era points to a incredible staff of coaches. I shouldn't have made it sound like a one-man show, and I got my dates and time-frames mixed up a little. I race and free-ski with Bjorn-Roli's dad and brother (both named Per), who are still big fans of Harald's.
A lot of infighting and the eventual demise of the Glacier Creek Academy (among other unpleasant events) happened a little later during his tenure (not all events to be completely attributed to him), but the club seems to be pretty healthy now. It looks like I'm headed to Mammoth in a couple weeks with a group of 30 Juniors from the club. Again, that might not sound like a lot by lower 48 standards, but imagine the logistics and expense of getting 30 kids down from Alaska and it points to a solid program.
Anyway, back on topic...
My errors aside, Harald does have top-level coaching experience and knows a thing or two about racing. That he doesn't jump at the chance to prove himself at every turn and take on every single challenge probably is a good idea, since sooner or later he's going to fail and all of his detractors are going to point at it as singular proof of the failure of PMTS as a whole. To a large degree he brought it on himself by the way he marketed PMTS and the way he deals with some people.
But let's look at this another way. Harald came from a world (racing) where the training is a little more regimented and progression oriented than PSIA. "Athletes", not "students", are your target audience, and you've come to expect a certain level of personal dedication, physical ability, and yes, financial investment from them to achieve a higher level of performance. Then put him in a large organization that caters to "students" of ALL abilities and motivation levels and has adapted its teaching style to serve them as best as possible. A guy like Harald (personality and experience) would go nuts. Surely, he reasons, if you show people that they CAN ski at the expert level, everyone will want to make all of the sacrifices neccessary to make it happen. He places the blame on the system (PSIA), not the consumer, for what the system teaches.
To his credit, he has created a program that makes this structured, drill/progression-oriented, race-style training more accessable to the average skier, which is something most PSIA schools don't offer. It suits a certain type of personality, and I believe structured programs are the quickest path to expert skiing if the student applies him/herself. The books are not the last word on PMTS, they just outline the foundation for what he believes is the core of expert skiing. I would be willing to bet anyone attending a PMTS clinic would be exposed to all sorts of drills to hammer home points until the student understood and could demonstrate the particular skill. Not a narrow progression at all. However, it's hard to do that in book form and get your point across to everyone. I think he did a pretty good job, all things considered. It didn't work for me in book form, but I probably would have thrived with regular, direct PMTS instruction.
I've had some very bad PSIA lessons. I didn't always know that until later, so getting my money back was not an option. Inefficient movement patterns, bad communication... all things I blame on the school and individual instructor, not PSIA as a whole. I've had some very good PSIA lessons, which I attribute to the school, instructor, and PSIA as a whole. For me, the crapshoot of finding a good instructor that could communicate with me effectively and would be around for more than one season was extremely frustrating (and extremely expensive). I ended up going to a race program, which was actually cheaper (!?!?!) and much more effective for me. Kinda hard to work on a skill progression when you bounce from instructor to instructor. PSIA doesn't have a semi-rigid roadmap of drills that each instructor can use to find where a student has left off.
That, Harald would probably say, is one of the weaknesses of PSIA. Given his small cadre of instructors, all certified (by him or his small staff) to teach from his progressions, he can keep quality control very high. While some PMTS instructors are undoubtably better than others, there's still that roadmap of drills and skills that they can use to make the best use of lesson time. It happens within PSIA at some resorts of course, but does it happen when you move from resort to resort? Given the size and organization of PSIA, I doubt it will ever be possible.
A lot of PSIA instructors have real trouble separating Harald, the man, from PMTS, the system. Harald attacked PSIA and the work several highly-respected instructors, and has marketed his system directly against PSIA. He burned a lot of bridges there. Probably not the best move on his part, but he does have his cult of the faithful that have made real progress under his system and will probably believe most things he says. If I had regular access to a PMTS instructor, I might have been right in there with them, selling flowers in the airport and skiing my ass off.
Is PMTS effective? I've seen several of Harb's students ski, and they all exhibit a well-balanced, graceful style in a variety of conditions, relative to the amount of instruction they received and the time they have been skiing. Some exhibit characteristics I don't particularly care for (personal opinion), but overall they glide down the hill in a graceful, efficient manner. Isn't that the point of ski instruction?