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My Ski Morning with Weems

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yesterday, on an unusually cold and windy morning in Summit County, our own Weems Westfeldt was kind enough to come all the way out to Breckenridge to give me some help on my post ACL surgery "comeback." Once again, Weems was able to work the same magic I experienced when he was my coach at Epicski Academy.

His first step was to adjust my attitude about my skiing. I felt that I had reverted back to level III skiing skills. Also, two days prior to my meeting with Weems, Mike_M and Mark had observed that I was working mostly on a flat ski, not really engaging my edges.

Here's an important note for anyone who has ever experienced a "comeback" after ACL surgery. The skills will come back much faster than you think. So it is quite possible that two days before meeting Weems that I was in fact skidding. I took that feedback and worked with it on Sunday at keystone, where I had those nice 3 and 1/2 mile trails to practice on , as well as that last, god-awful narrow icy thing where I could practice not using my edges!

By Monday, my skiing had changed. Weems noticed that I was engaging my edges, but since I was going very slowly, I was not getting high up on edge. Then he gave my some surprising feedback: He felt that I was a level VI skiing with a level III mindset, and that my skills would improve when I started believing that.

Two physical cues made an extraordinary difference. he described my skiing as being "positioned." I was working with my legs in a consatntly flexed position. We added extension while simultaneously adding pressure to the big toe of the outside ski. Later, we added a pole tap on the extension. I am not going to try to analyze why this worked, but suddenly, my speed increased significantly, I felt myself going up on both edges, and I felt aggressive and confident.

Here's an interesting thing about "confidence." Last year, I got hurt when bot my skill level and confidence were at their highest. I have somehow developed this warped thinking pattern that issues a warning telling me that "confidence" is dangerous. The voice in my head tells me that pride comes before the fall, and the fall itself can be insidious.

Weems has some helpful feedback about this: "The past does not equal the future."

With this in mind, we worked on ways to build confidence. It turns out that my intuition was correct. Skiing extremely flat runs like Silverthorne was not helping my skills or my confidence. Instead, we looked for the "black parts of green terrain." For example, when leaving the cafeteria, you have a choice of drop off points. There is one point where there is about one inch of drop off that has the same pitch as a very advanced trail. he had me look for these types of opportunities, rather than jump right in to skiing entire trails of very challenging terrain.

Here's another thing of my own that I have used. We spent Thanksgiving with Bob Barnes and his lovely wife. He showed us the PSIA adaptive video he has been working on. Not only is it visually phenomenal, he uses this fantastic musical background. One the musical pieces was Ravel's Bolero. Humming this to myself as I ski has an amazing effect!

One final note, then I'll stop yammering! Because of the cold temps, Breck was empty on Monday, which can explain my confidence. My next step is to stay centered when the slopes once again turn into madhouses!
post #2 of 28
Lisamarie, nice report and congratulations on returning to the snow! It would appear that you are very fortunate to have access to some very knowledgable skiers who are interested in your further developement. Ah! that we all had these opportunities. Looking forward to ESA and this weekend, my first on the snow this season.Yipeee!
Mark
post #3 of 28
Glad to hear your out and about...especially with such good company!
envy
Keep up the big smile.
Ryel
post #4 of 28
Were you having fun??
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
Were you having fun??
Oh yeah, fun! Forgot to talk about that! In answer to your question, yes! It's amazing how much fun you can have when you stop evaluating yourself and allow yourself to enjoy it!

However, my ever-present tendency to critique everything I do will be the hardest habit to overcome. I harbor suspicions that this personality trait was partially responsible for my crashing and burning. When nothing you do is ever good enough for you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
post #6 of 28
Glad to hear it. Your aggressive approach to improving as a skier is admirable! But it is supposed to be fun. Its much more fun when you are just enjoying the ride, the mountain and the views. If you spend all your slope time thinking about how you would be graded on a test? You take the fun out of it.

I just spent 5 days @ Winter Park. I spent most of my time on tight bump runs. I was teaching myself how to be smooth in TIGHT BUMPS on 186CM fat / Stiff skis. At first it was fun. Then I started mentally picking it apart (Not Fun) in the end I just did it, over and over. I was definitely having fun!
post #7 of 28

sometimes one hates onomatopoeia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
Humming this to myself as I ski has an amazing effect!
Crescendo?
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
Glad to hear it. Your aggressive approach to improving as a skier is admirable! But it is supposed to be fun. Its much more fun when you are just enjoying the ride, the mountain and the views. If you spend all your slope time thinking about how you would be graded on a test? You take the fun out of it.
The beauty of what LM is doing is that she is learning to integrate the technical and the fun--what I refer to as holding polarity between touch and power--or if you wish, spirit and technique.

You're correct. The first thing I approached with her is her tendency to give herself grades based on technical issues and artificial levels. Once we broke up that logjam, she was able to move seamlessly back and forth. At that point she could take credit for her indomitable Will to continue (and begin to manage the anxiety around it) and she could also become clearer about her Purpose.

She is so much fun to work with because her enthusiasm on all fronts is boundless.
post #9 of 28
Weems, she is obviously in very capable hands. I really have no business posting in the ski instruction thread. I just wanted to get that (Have Fun) aspect into the conversation. Post padding.

I did make an interesting discovery while skiing this weekend while picking apart my skiing. I think I will start a new thread about it.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
Weems, she is obviously in very capable hands. I really have no business posting in the ski instruction thread. I just wanted to get that (Have Fun) aspect into the conversation. Post padding.

I did make an interesting discovery while skiing this weekend while picking apart my skiing. I think I will start a new thread about it.
Of course you have business posting here, and your post was right on. I'm a huge advocate of people adding in these kinds of statements. All I do is try to switch the emphasis to both/and and away from either/or.

And the very capable hands she is in are her own. That's why she's so much fun to work with.

Cool. Crank up the new thread
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
But it is supposed to be fun. Its much more fun when you are just enjoying the ride, the mountain and the views.
I have found my habit of pausing at the top of the mountains here to just gaze out at the amazing panoramas really makes a difference. I breathe deeper, experience more, and pleasure becomes joy.
post #12 of 28
BTW, I completely agree that weems is an exceptional coach. The two sentences following his humble question on my first day this season ("Would you mind a little coaching?") have generated significant breakthrough in my skiing. The ESA is bound to be amazing again this year by virtue of his involvement with it.
post #13 of 28
This is a good idea.

I used to do that.

But now when I breathe deep...I just tip over.
post #14 of 28
Don't close your eyes while you open your lungs.
post #15 of 28
Weems,

It seems like you focus as much on the mental aspects of performance as the physical. (If) that's in fact the case, I assume you see the value in visualization? What I'd like to know is, how much do you think visualization can help when attempting something for the first time?

I am a fervent believer in the power of "doing" something in my head before I actually attempt it. This past weekend, however, I repeatedly tried to slide several rails that had been setup on the upper mountain. Three, maybe as many as five times, I chickened out. : I have no problem sliding on boxes, trees, etc. (things that are wider than a few inches)., both from a "normal" approach or spinning 270/450 on. My balance is there, my confidence is there, and most importantly, fear is nowhere to be found. Looking at the exact same slide on a thin rail, however, gives me the heebie jeebies like I've never felt!

I know I should be able to do this. Problem is, I can't even see myself doing it in my head! I realize rail sliding/freestyle manuevers may not be your particular cup of tea anymore, but anyone with your background in the sport must have some mental zen-master trick to get me over this silly hump...I'd be very appreciative if you could share a nugget or two! (Or point me to the chapter & page of your book )
post #16 of 28
iski, what do you think is is that stops you from visualizing it? I think you're right on with this approach (and I'm not speaking for weems; I trust he'll jump in--it's just that I am a staunch believer in visualization). You can't visualize it because you haven't "worked through" the maneuver in your psyche, yet. If you spend time (even in your living room) working it up in "living color" (as clear and complete as you can make it in your imagination) and then replay it multiple times, you'll see that fear vanish.

One approach to this is to imagine something you've done well in the past (like one of those spinning approaches), how you've felt, what you've seen and heard, etc. Then, "flip it" in your imagination to be the end of a successful rail ride. Then, "back up the tape" and see yourself coming off the rail. Then riding it. And so on. Each time feeling the successful emotional response. Eventually, you'll be able to visualize it from inrun through dismount.
post #17 of 28
iski, I think visualization is huge. But this is an example of your not actually doing it, or at least, it's coming too hard. So, instead of beating yourself up trying to visualize, try something else: Use your will to just step on to a low one and go slowly supporting yourself with the poles. Or "just jump on it" and see what happens (wear pads). Or analyze the movements with a coach and see what techniques you need. The trick of the diamond is to move out of the place that's not working instead of trying to make it work.
post #18 of 28

Here's my own diamond story on rail riding.

Diamond Story—Rail Riding

In the southern winter of 2004, while skiing in New Zealand, I had had enough of watching all these magic kids in the terrain parks as they hopped onto the metal rails and slid sideways to the end, then landed in the snow and skied or rode away as if nothing very weird had just happened. It was clear that I had to try it myself.

It didn’t really look that hard, so I skied up to a very small rail on a gentle slope and hopped on. For some reason I hadn’t even imagined that this surface would be, like, about a hundred times as slick as snow. My skis accelerated sideways so fast that in an instant my feet were above my head and my body slammed ignominiously across the metal rail. I felt the pain in the way that only a 60-year-old can!

A new approach was in order. The Will to ride was not enough. The Will to learn, maybe, was a better idea.

After a few technical pointers from one of my sons about staying low and forward, with a wide stance, I began my practice.

First I stood on the rail sideways in the stance he advised, and then I released myself to slide to the end. Once off the end, I walked up again and repeated this—at least twenty-five times. The Purpose was to get adjusted to the sliding before I tried to leap onto the rail.

Next I stepped from the snow to the rail with one foot and slid. This was followed by a quicker, more aggressive hopping step that ensured the ski was in motion as it contacted the rail. The second ski hopped up behind. I did this another twenty-five or so times. Each time I tried to access my sense of Touch, feeling what the rails were “telling” my skis about how to move on them. Each time I became more sure of myself and available to use the Power pointers I had been given by my son.

Next I approached the rail in a slow wedge and smoothly (well, sort of smoothly) stepped up and slid. Another mass of repetition followed.

Each time in this progression I ended up having a different experience—sometimes balanced, sometimes not, but always comfortable and secure in the fact that I was making progress. The mistakes were good—interesting and useful. And as long as I kept to my Purpose—to slide, to grow slowly, to not fall—everything moved along fine. My sense for the rail increased, I figured out new techniques, and , of course, I destroyed the edges of the skis. (Rail riding is not about edge change; it’s about edge obliteration. No matter. I had already decided to sacrifice this old pair to the ravages of the rails.)

With the help of the Sports Diamond™ I was able to coach myself to a reasonable level without injury in a short amount of time. With the help of a wizard coach using the Sports Diamond™, I could have made three times the progress in the same time. Either way, it was a brilliant day. And the weather really sucked.

There were some very weird side effects. I noticed that the crotch on my pants lowered considerably, and they became baggier as I progressed. Girls with jewelry in their tongues started speaking to me. And now I wear goggles and a crocheted hat even while driving my car. Brilliant!
post #19 of 28
LM, glad you're back at it.

Lucky for you Weems wasn't after your locker ...you heard about Ric didn't ya?:

Seriously, I'm sure you had a "brilliant" day skiing with Weems ...who wouldn't! Keep working the Diamond Will you be at ESA?
post #20 of 28
Great story, Weems

Thank you for sharing!
post #21 of 28
iski,
many parks now have rails at snow level for learning and like weems eleuded to, do not try to edge or push or any other move that moves your skis from under you! The same goes for the box. They call it a grind. Think of grinding a knife on a rotating grinding stone. Your skis are the stone and the rail is the knife. So think upside down (easy if your austrailian) (joke). You are the stationary object and the rail is moving under you.

LM, glad you are making progress. Lucky you having weems helping in your comeback.

RW
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
iski, what do you think is is that stops you from visualizing it? I think you're right on with this approach (and I'm not speaking for weems; I trust he'll jump in--it's just that I am a staunch believer in visualization). You can't visualize it because you haven't "worked through" the maneuver in your psyche, yet. If you spend time (even in your living room) working it up in "living color" (as clear and complete as you can make it in your imagination) and then replay it multiple times, you'll see that fear vanish.
ssh,

When I was a teenager I was into rollerblading bigtime. I was pretty good at aerials, halfpipes, quarterpipes, etc., but I was never that comfortable on rails. Sure enough, one day I went down while attempting to slide a handrail outside the library (the irony!) and knocked out my two front teeth. It's that experience, without a doubt, that is mentally blocking me.

The most frustrating part of the whole thing is that I know how to ride a rail from a technical standpoint. I've even taught others how to do it, albeit without the demonstration :. It's a combination of my previous experience, the marked difference in speed & friction between a metal rail vs. a metal & plexiglass box, and an attitude that says, "I can do advanced stuff over there...so why should I kill myself over here?" Yet I want to be able to do even basic stuff "over here".

I know I'm not the first person to feel this way, but the mental wall I'm facing is so frustrating! I've always been a decent athlete; things usually come naturally to me. If they don't, there's generally a physical reason or a general lack of experience, which gets me thinking, "I'll get this eventually." Fear that prevents me from even trying something is something that I've never experienced on skis, and it's really bugging me.
post #23 of 28

Weems = The Man!

Weems,

Thanks for the advice & the story. I apologize profusely for doubting your experience and ability to adapt to new school freestyle manuevers! After your story, I mentally inserted you into the top 5 of my list of "coolest guys born before 1950"!

Until I hear a few more stories, however, Hef, Warren Miller, Keith Richards & B.B. King are still ahead of you...

Thanks again, Weems and SSH. I'll let you know whether or not I kick through this stupid mental block on Saturday. Even if someone else has to type for me! :
post #24 of 28
I was born before 1950? Damn. Why doesn't someone tell me these things! I thought all those memories were just weird flashbacks.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u
I'll let you know whether or not I kick through this stupid mental block on Saturday. Even if someone else has to type for me!
What I visualize is an excited, exuberant post from you describing how your breakthrough felt...
post #26 of 28
LM,
How's it going??

RW
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
On my way to Davos and St. Moritz, if NorthWorst ever gets us out of DIA!!! Will report soon!
post #28 of 28
LM, have a wonderful trip. I'm jealous. You're going to such beautiful places.
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