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Influence of terrain on skier development - Page 2

post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58
As for hard areas "growing" better skiers, it seems likely that harder areas attract better skiers and may hold better skiers once grown, but it is not clear to me whether they actually create better skiers (absent better instruction). It may be a matter of natural selection with the weaker skiers being "weeded out" sooner (except of course in Kansas where its all by design)...
Very good points. In the case of the area where I ski, there isn't (currently)another ski area within 90 miles (there used to be a small very beginner level area nearby, but it closed), and it certainly isn't a destination resort. I think it is an example of a place where the local skiing populace, being exposed to a small area, with a high proportion of difficult terrain, acclimates to the environment.

Also, the place is satisfying enough due to the terrain and proximity to town, that higher level skiers tend to choose to be there. I don't think that the weaker skiers get weeded out that much though, as there is enough intermediate terrain to accomodate that level of ability.

In areas without difficult terrain the challenge which create high levels of ability is from within, and great athletes have to possess this sort of drive regardless of their enviroment. However I really do believe that adaptation to challenges of the external environment can bring out abilities that otherwise might remain latent in those with less acheivement oriented outlooks.
post #32 of 48
Thread Starter 
Mom, you and I agree on a lot of things. Thanks for mentioning that it takes a few times to get past the general situational anxiety. I find the best antidote to brain freeze or downshifting is to focus on the "one most important thing" to the exclusion of everything else. (This could be two things--such as finishing turns across the hill and releasing the downhill ski for steeps.)
post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
This thread is an offshoot of the one in the General Skiing forum about the percentage of experts at a given ski area. It made me wonder about the influence of terrain on a skier's development. Can a skier become an expert if they don't have lots of exposure to expert terrain?


A second question has to do with pushing students to ski terrain that's tougher than they thought possible for themselves. I know there's a school of thought that believes skiing terrain that's a level above your comfort zone can reinforce defensive movements and stunt the development of offensive (go-there) movements. I'd like to hear from you folks as well as those who believe that says challenging your technique in tougher terrain is a form of lateral learning that strengthens technique (having to apply all that stuff you learned on comfortable terrain) and confidence (having never believed you could do that). I suspect that we will decide that the two schools of thought can be blended, but how do we know when tougher terrain is going to make a skier regress or progress?
Yes a skier can ski "expert" successfully, IF they have the opportunity to ski "technical terrain" where they learn to plan and map their skiing such as a nice blue/black bump run or trees etc. No, they will not be an expert without expert miles.

Lisamarie makes mention of Weems and his technique; actually that is good teaching hopefully followed by all upper end instructors at the least.

That being said moving students on to terrain that is beyond their comfort zone is accomplished strictly by building faith and trust with the student; if that trust is lost by the instructor in the slightest way, unless the instructor is really quick on their feet, it will never be re built.

I move students to more difficult terrain when I believe a) they are far enough along that once they start the run they begin thinking more about skiing than the terrain and b) I believe they have enough trust in me to accept my decision to ski the run and c) they agree this is the next nervous stage of their development.

There are various ways to make this move from skiing in from the side to take away the visual fear of “looking over” to finding a run where the student can move on to and off the terrain at will such as skiing “bimps” to bumps etc. There is no “comfortable terrain for the students next challenge but when I think the students total thought of terrain over comes the students thought of skiing i.e. the student after a few turns won’t find some type of skiing rhythm, we are not ready for the next step.
post #34 of 48
I see this differently for two types of terrain, steeps or smooth. Bumps,ice, deep powder snow or what ever on terrain that is not too steep can certainly add an element of challenge and, so long as you don't go into the frustration zone, the learner benefits.

With steep terrain, it really depends heavily on the skiers. If the skiers are afraid to get hurt, they will have a harder time learning. Too much stress impairs learning. The only thing I can think of one might be able to learn on a scary-steep hill is not to be afraid (and hopefully not learn that the fear is all too-well justified). If the skier is fearless then that's another story. Just don't encourage them to get themselves killed on your watch. NO FEAR!
post #35 of 48
I like the signs on some of the dd slopes by me.
STOP, If you are not an expert skier do not go beyond this sign.
Skiing this trail could cause severe injury or death!

Good place to take your class? Only if they are ready IMO.

RW
post #36 of 48
I skied a spot like that when I was at snowbird a long time ago. I think it dumped me under the Gadzoom lift... however they weren't kidding... its a %$@!ing cliff. That does not develop a skier... unless suvival skills are of interest.

My most recent dealing with that type of sign which I was more prepared for was under the summit express at Vail. That one was marked like that but wasn't too bad at all. Hollywood cliff?

Later

GREG
post #37 of 48
Quote:
That being said moving students on to terrain that is beyond their comfort zone is accomplished strictly by building faith and trust with the student; if that trust is lost by the instructor in the slightest way, unless the instructor is really quick on their feet, it will never be re built.
In some cases, they might not lose trust in their instructor, but they can either lose faith in their selves or the lesson taking process. Although I used to take an enormous amount of lessons, after what happened last season, I am now hesitant. In a practical sense, since I'm still paying off bills from surgery and having to pay studio rent while being unable to teach, it's financially unfeasible.

On a deeper level, I do not trust myself to resist peer pressure, and although it's considered heresy to say this, I actually enjoy cruisers.
post #38 of 48
I am fond of "over train" the terrain. It may take some convincing, but if you can create and develop excellent movement and stance and flow It can be applied to more difficult conditions and or terrain more fully. I don't mean to say bore your client, but mix it up and make sure your "never ever" is just a comfy linking falling turns on the rope or Poma surface lifts as they are linking switch turns there as well. Then take them up the hill. And if you do go beyond their comfort level, make it the adventure/sight seeing part of the day, not the technical lesson part...

Like most of us I stole this concept from friends at Jackson...
Greg
post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
In some cases, they might not lose trust in their instructor, but they can either lose faith in their selves or the lesson taking process. Although I used to take an enormous amount of lessons, after what happened last season, I am now hesitant. In a practical sense, since I'm still paying off bills from surgery and having to pay studio rent while being unable to teach, it's financially unfeasible.

On a deeper level, I do not trust myself to resist peer pressure, and although it's considered heresy to say this, I actually enjoy cruisers.
Lisamarie I agree whole heartedly and I am sorry to hear you had such a frightful accident. Unfortunately one in one thousand skiers will have an accident; tell yourself it is a horse and you need to get back on that horse with a trainer you trust!

One of my responsibilities as an instructor is to build my students inner faith “You can do this”. If I don’t, where are they when I am gone? I had a student a couple of years ago swear I was sitting on her shoulder talking to her when she took a long ski weekend with her husband and things just didn’t work out on the slopes the way she had hoped. However, her skiing did grow that weekend and during our next lesson she was able to move to the next level which for this person was quite a leap.

Personally, I never move a student out of their comfort zone unless there is real buy-in from the student. Yes, students do need to move forward and out of their comfort zone. It can be very difficult to tell when the glorious moment is available with some students, it is fleeting but it must be real and that is why they pay me the big bucks; to know when to go or to know when to stop and to know when peer pressure is taking a student where they should not go. At that point “special attention” is warranted with the student.

Best of wishes on your recovery; I am sure you will find that trainer and get back on your horse!
post #40 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
This thread is an offshoot of the one in the General Skiing forum about the percentage of experts at a given ski area. It made me wonder about the influence of terrain on a skier's development. Can a skier become an expert if they don't have lots of exposure to expert terrain?
Yes, he can. I have a group of cousins who are native Vermonters and excellent skiers, all. The youngest told me about some guys he knew who were from Mass. but were excellent skiers. He was amazed by this. (He definitely didn't think I was in the same class as he mainly due to the fact that I skied faster than he on easy trails.) Like one of my old Budds, if you have a rich Uncle or your parents own a ski house in Stowe, you can become an expert skier at an eary age. In addition, ski areas like the Dartmouth Skiway and the Middlebury Snowbowl don't have much in the way of expert terrain. However, both schools produce excellent skiers. Good instruction and peer group pressures at an early age will make for expert skiers.

A second question has to do with pushing students to ski terrain that's tougher than they thought possible for themselves. I know there's a school of thought that believes skiing terrain that's a level above your comfort zone can reinforce defensive movements and stunt the development of offensive (go-there) movements. I'd like to hear from you folks as well as those who believe that says challenging your technique in tougher terrain is a form of lateral learning that strengthens technique (having to apply all that stuff you learned on comfortable terrain) and confidence (having never believed you could do that). I suspect that we will decide that the two schools of thought can be blended, but how do we know when tougher terrain is going to make a skier regress or progress?[/quote]
post #41 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58
It may be a matter of natural selection with the weaker skiers being "weeded out" sooner (except of course in Kansas where its all by design)...
I had to throw the smiley in for this excellent bit of humour.

This is a very interesting thread, thanks nolo. I've seen my fair share of both the born and raised tough skiers from gnarly hills and the practised athletes from flatland that show up and eat face the first time they encounter fluff, but quickly become skilled all around skiers.

One interesting note about the quality of instruction: Taos is reputed to have a world class ski school, but my short experience is that median skiing public at Taos is less skilled than the public at many other mountains I've frequented, gnarly or mediocre. There's of course the group of very skilled people, but that group appears to be the minority rather than the majority as is the case at some of the gnarly hills. I think its very important to separate the experiences of committed individuals from the group as a whole, which may vary in skill based more on commitment than factors like terrain or quality of instruction.

Why did I just use an s in practice and a u in humor? I'm an uhmurican, I swear.
post #42 of 48
Thread Starter 
skiingman, I've skied Taos, and as I recall, there were a lot of Cadillacs with longhorns as hood ornaments in the parking lot. That could explain the low median there.

I'm biased because I started my so-called career at an intermediate's paradise and moved to an expert's paradise, and can personally attest to the power of the terrain variable. The best motivator in the world is the desire to ski tougher terrain, in my opinion, which may be biased because of where I ski.
post #43 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White
I like the signs on some of the dd slopes by me.
STOP, If you are not an expert skier do not go beyond this sign.
Skiing this trail could cause severe injury or death!
<minor rant>
If I'm thinking about the same sign you are thinking about, its at the top of a straight down the fall-line standard run with a reasonably steep headwall to the left but a escape to the right that never goes beyond 40 degrees, and probably averages 30 for the length of the run. And its at Gore.

Oddly, Gore has a couple other runs that are more challenging in many ways but don't carry such strong disclaimers...usually they are just closed. I think the marketing folk wrote that famous sign. This is why tough guys from the East see similar signs in Ootah and think nothing of it shortly before their death from obvious avalanche hazard.

And nolo, I think the terrain variable is very strong, and very alluring to those of us who love to ski. I eagerly await the switch back from soft humpy mountains to jagged pointy mountains this season.
post #44 of 48
A friend and I took a private lesson with a french instructor/ski-school that seemed to place great emphasis on terrain. It seemed to work for us but I'd be interested in the pros views because it seemed unusual.

As context I'd say that we are strong advanced skiers. We don't take many lessons and we took this one to freshen up our skiing and give us a few things to think about.

First sign that the ski school thought terrain was important was that the scale that they used for declaring your skiing ability was based on the sort of terrain you liked to ski! I guess they do this mainly because it's easier for a client to be objective about this than to accurately assess their technical proficiency. I guess it is of some use in planning the lesson too.

The top level was something like "ski anywhere on the mountain on and off-piste" which is us. Although this is accurate it still felt a little uncomfortable placing ourselves in their highest category. The instructor looked at us a little sceptically but we'd had 6 inches of fresh overnight so I guess he was happy to go with it!

Anyway he asked us if we happy to ski a closed long winding black run to start "it's OK I skied it yesterday with a client - there will be a few rocks and bushes but the new snow will help". Fine.

The lesson started with him have us ski short turns down a bump run - 6 inches of fresh over crudy moguls. After he'd had a chance to assess us and give us some things to work on he had us build up our speed and ski fast, large turns over similar terrain. Towards the end of the run (it's 800m of vertical) it got kind of interesting - plenty of exposed bushes and a memorable stream bed.

On the lift he said "you ski to a good standard but you should be aiming to be expert and to do that you need to push yourselves. Skiing faster in difficult conditions forces you to be better balanced, to be more adaptable, to adjust your technique to the terrain".

I guess he would have said that expert terrain is pretty important in developing expert skiers. That said I guess racing is a fantastic substitute for expert terrain - you turn up the speed, make it icy, add some gates as obstacles and you've pretty much got expert terrain!
post #45 of 48
"Quote:
I wonder if there's a difference for men and women. "

"The answer is yes, and many. More specifically about the topic, women are instinctivally more cautious when it comes to situations of personal harm than men.
As a result, women are less likley to take the same risks than men find "a challange".

RW"

Just a note - I doubt that this applies to (women when they are) children at all.

At the end of last season, Jane was seeking out more 'challenging' things to do. Copper has these little trails through the trees marked with kid-friendly signs so they can spot the entrances. There was some very difficult sections in there and I was surprised last Sunday to hear the first thing out of her mouth on our way to the kid's area - 'let's go find the witch - THAT was cool'.

That 'caution' will be learned, but don't think for a moment that it is part of the programming to start. (I honestly wish it was and am trying to finesse as much in there as possible without destroying her willingness to try new, somewhat scary, things).
post #46 of 48
Ummm - I think you will find it is more hormonal than learnt.....

I know females that insist they reacted quite differently as young girls..... somewhere along the way they become less agressive....

To compare similar watch what happens as men age....

Or worse still if you castrate them :
post #47 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski
Ummm - I think you will find it is more hormonal than learnt.....

I know females that insist they reacted quite differently as young girls..... somewhere along the way they become less agressive....

To compare similar watch what happens as men age....

Or worse still if you castrate them :
disski, somewhere along the way could be after a women gives birth, I noticed this in my wife after our 1st was born and I have talked with others about this both women and men whose wives had children and that seems to start the change of aggressiveness in thier skiing. I sure hope that doesn't happen to me as I age but your probably right. I do think that to ski double black type terrain one needs to be moderately aggressive/offensive you can't have a mind set of thinking about falling/defensive skiing.
post #48 of 48
My favourite patients are old men....
Mostly they lose all the hormonal chest beating stuff & are often really fun to chat to & kinda sweet....
.... or really miserable & pretty sad & lonely....

old women are a more mixed bag... but generally I don't find them so interesting to talk to...
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