Wow, a couple negative comments and everyone flips out. Anyway, here's the point:
I decided a long time ago, as a teenager, that I didn't want to be an instructor, a ski patroller, or a serious racer. Why? Well, it was because it seemed like a large majority of the people involved in these groups, were A: not skiing very well, and/or B: not having very much fun.
Serious racers are the worst off, because they generally are good skiers and talented athletes, however, they never learn how to have fun on a pair of skis. I rarely see racers freeskiing, and it's pretty easy to spot them...always skiing race technique on the groomed, etc. I know several very talented racers who quit skiing and took up snowboarding. Racing is going to make you a good racer, but that get's old eventually.
Ski patrollers are rarely talented skiers, in fact, I can't even think of any ski patrollers that I have known who are above average skiers...but certainly some pretty decent ones. I can, however, think of several that were overwhelmingly bad skiers...but thought they were hot stuff and talked like experts. This not to slam patrollers, they are generally pretty cool people, especially if the mountain has a good attitude in general. End of the day though, being on ski patrol might be somewhat fun sometimes (its alot of hard work!), but it's probably not going to make you a better skier.
That leaves instructing. Yes, most instructors are pretty decent skiers, and I'm guessing they enjoy what they are doing. Personally, I think they're nuts. Last thing I want to do on the mountain is shepard a bunch of kids around or suck up to some rich wankers. It sounds like the instructors in this thread do get to freeski, but it's pretty rarely. Is instructing going to make you a great skier? Maybe, but doubtful. You get to learn all the nuances of technique...but that isn't going make you a better better skier or make skiing more fun. In fact, focusing strongly on technique makes skiing less fun. Spending too much time teaching so you're too tired ski isn't going to make you a better, happier freeskier.
So, that's the question....what is going to make you a better skier and help you have more fun on the slopes? I find that on epicski here, there is an unwarranted focus on instruction and techniques analysis, and way too much credit given to instuctors. This is not the route to enjoyable skiing, and true ability.
So what is? Here is what I suggest:
- Go out and ski fast. Skiing fast is fun. Learn when it is safe to ski fast so you don't kill anybody. Ski fast on difficult snow, on difficult terrrain. Do you see any expert skiers that don't ski fast? No?
- Do different things. Go and carve on ice. Ski bumps all day. Ski the park all day, go build a kicker and hit it. SKi powder, ski trees, etc. Own a few different pairs of skis, and change up your style.
- Ski difficult terrain. Find the hardest thing you can find and ski it. Then ski again, faster. Then ski it again and to something cool on it, like an air or a crzy line.
- Learn how to find and read terrain. Know the mountain and where to find the goods, get off the beaten path. Look for crazy terrain features that you can ski or jump off.
- Ski crappy snow. Find the nastiest crappy snow you can and ski it. Sheet ice on a 35 degree trail? Do it. Super slow melting fresh? Muck?
- Learn how to jump. Go in the park and hit tables. Look for terrain features and air off them. Build jumps. Spot a feature, charge it, and throw a 3 off it, without setting up.
- Ski with people signifigantly better than you.
- Join a program part time. Race program, moguls, etc. This is not the same thing as taking lessons, and coaches are not the same as instructors. If you want to learn how to really carve, you need to run gates on ice. If you want ski bumps well, you need to ski with a pack of bumpers.
I've put in my time doing all these things, and so have most experts I know that love to ski. Have you? I fact, I could probably stand to do more of some of them myslef.