I just noticed this post (after all this time) and as “skier 5” would like to add some comments and hopefully some insight about those I skied with, the conditions, and my own skiing. First, I think it was really a great observation of Lonnie’s to recognize that there are many ways to get down the mountain in some form of efficient style no matter the training or lack of. I don’t check the “Skiing Technique and Instruction Forum” often because I frankly find most of the comments over analytical and many times silly (here’s my payback... what follows will be over analytical). Still, I recently posted a video of my own skiing, partly to here the comments but mainly to get a few tips that I could work on to improve things. I really could care less about PSIA, PMTS, race or whatever training as I know many with no training whatsoever that can kick many peoples butts that carry pretty high credentials (the old Harpo posts come to mind).
As for my fellow skiers that day, they all were excellent and without a doubt low and solid level 9s. The photos tend to not do them justice and to over scrutinize any still or even a short video segment is not logical. These are the people who I like to ski with while out west and look to learn from and improve my own skiing. I could informally tell early on, mostly through conversation and past experience, what the skiers backgrounds were. The one who I was not aware of yet stood out was Laure. After skiing with her in the morning I asked her if she had a lot of race training. It was just very apparent to me that she had. She is a fantastic skier. Someone that day who did not get into this little photo contest was Bob Peters. I really do not have a “ski hero” but if there is one skier who I truly would like to emulate skiing off-piste it would be him. It’ll never happen, but the knowledge, skill, and courtesy that he posses are something for me to strive for.
The conditions that day were tough. Not the worst off-piste conditions I’ve been in, but for my second day of the year, not-so-fat 70 mm skis, and being out of ski-shape, it was a struggle at times in the heavy 12 inch or more cut-up and crud. I was by far the weakest of the group but believe I managed to keep up with the pros. What I tried to do that day was be as balanced and patient with my turns as possible. I have always tried to use high edge angles and, if not, at least match both of my skis in most situations. Mostly, I was trying to keep my weight about 60-40 but found myself favoring the downhill ski, lifting the inside ski, and getting in the back seat many times. With fatter skis I probably would have fared a little better. With more days on the snow, the K2 Axis X would have been just fine. Like my old screen name, I was feeling a bit “rusty” that day. (I like the canting tip about my right ski as this alignment issue has come up recently in the video I posted. Photos and video do have some merit.)
My training started when I was 12 at Ski Roundtop, PA. They offered an excellent ski package for the area schools that consisted of six lessons that I took advantage of all the way through my senior year of high school. I also had some minor race training and competed a little bit at the local level. I usually always had a season pass and skied several days a week. I once got in sixty days in a row. After high school, in the mid-eighties, I was a junior instructor at Roundtop teaching mainly never-evers, novices, and low intermediates. A lot of those lessons were to the very same area school programs that I was brought up in. Roundtop kind of had its own unique way of teaching beginners in that we taught people how to turn by using a J-turn. Many of the instructors were PSIA and several of them were high level. I took many “clinics” from those higher-ups so I’d have to say that it was PSIA driven. This is where I kind of obtained my current distaste for most teaching programs. It was just to rigid and authoritarian for me in that “this is the way you must ski” (PMTS appears even more so). I did not want to ski like a robot. I just wanted to ski and develop my own style with the skills I had obtained and have someone be more of a coach. Free-skiing then was spent in the icy moguls that I developed a strong passion for and still have today. Afterwards I raced for an Army team and did fairly well in the races I entered against guys who had much more training and experience. After the Army I moved to Augusta, GA and for about ten years skied pretty sporadically. If I was lucky, I got in a few days a year up in NC or WV. In the late ninety’s, the shaped ski craze and the ski bug bit me again so I have been skiing much more. Last year I got in 15 days but this year a paltry 6. I’ve had two carving lessons and four high level off-piste lessons since rededicating myself to the sport. Not unlike golf, I look for ski instruction to work with what I’ve got and provide coaching tips or spot a minor quirk in order to handle difficult conditions like that day at Snowbasin as opposed to some dogma on how you must ski. Just as much from the ski instruction I have received, I’d say most of my high edging and balance skills were obtained through lots of ice hockey that I played when I was younger and still do twice a week. As far as where I rank on the skill level chart, I struggle with that but would say I am a high 8 most of the time or low 9 on my best days. To sum all of that up, I had a lot of old school training that ended twenty years ago and six modern lessons since. I’d still say I’m a better skier today at 40 than I was in my late teens and early twenties skiing far fewer days a year.
Hope that adds a little belated light to an interesting topic. Glad I could play a role.