Are you progressing?
It's great that you've found so much reward in your short time in this sport--congratulations! Your perspective as a relative newcomer is important, and your views are certainly not uncommon. Thanks for sharing them with us!
Unless you're among the rare few who compete, skiing, unlike many sports--golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, skeet shooting, darts, you name it--does not involve a score or a time, so what constitutes "good skiing" is highly subjective and personal. It is notable, though, that at the highest levels of the sport (measured by competition), virtually everyone shares very similar movement patterns for similar tasks, while typical recreational skiers show every variety of technical habit in the book--yet most manage to get down the hill. It does seem that competition weeds out the dysfunctional techniques and selects strongly for those who "do it right."
Instructors are trained to recognize the fundamental elements of this effective, functional, "right" way, and to help students acquire good habits that will take them as far as they're capable and motivated to go. We aren't only
trying to help students have fun, nor are we just teaching students to ski some arbitrary style that is in vogue at the moment. We want to make sure that what we teach you is not only rewarding for you today, but that it will add to a long, happy, and healthy future for you in the sport. (There's even a name for this concept--it's called "teaching for transfer.")
And most of what we see on the mountain, especially among the self-taught and those taught by their "friends," is a far cry from that! Even on the hardest runs--especially on the hardest runs--we see skiers getting down, surviving, even showing off a bit, and having a blast, whose fundamental techniques and tactics still give them away as hacks.
This is why I take such exception to your statement:
|I simplying saying that the idea that a new skier shoud use pro techniques was stupid
It is a cardinal rule for instructors, rule number one, that we will not teach beginners "beginning skiing"--we will introduce them to the skiing of experts!
For their best interest, especially in the future, new skiers absolutely should learn "pro techniques." Would you rather just learn bad habits that will eventually hold you back, that you'll have to spend time "unlearning" down the road? You get good at whatever you practice, and we want our students practicing only the best skiing. If you aren't practicing the same movements, techniques, and tactics that real experts are, you aren't ever going to become one. If you practice bad movements, you will become good at bad movements, and nothing else.
Few beginning skiers know the difference between good movements and bad movements, between the tactics of experts and the tactics of hacks. Do you?
Since skiing is a potentially dangerous activity, it naturally puts skiers on the defensive. With a defensive attitude, you practice defensive movements--and eventually get good at them. That's pretty much the definition of most recreational skiers out there, at all levels--defensive. And defensive techniques can get you a long way, depending on how you measure progress. You can survive some pretty gnarly terrain with good enough brakes!
Experts, meanwhile, are habitually offensive
. They glide and carve and make it look easy. They never seem to fight the mountain. They hardly ever brake (although they are good at it when they have to).
The fundamental movements and tactics of good skiing are not difficult. They are well within the means of virtually any beginning skier. But the offensive intent that produces these movements is far from intuitive.
If you learn to brake, and then practice it and get better at it, you will be able to ski first green runs, then blue runs, then black runs. Is that progress? And many skiers--like yourself, presumably--can get to that black run level pretty quickly. You're getting good! But at what? The farther down that road you go, the greater the chasm between you and the true expert!
Do not confuse "defensive" with "timid," by the way. It has nothing to do with that, and even the most aggressive, fearless adrenaline junkies tend to adopt defensive, braking ski techniques. They just brake aggressively. In fact, young, fearless, aggressive, and reasonably athletic beginning skiers are the ones most likely to develop the defensive habits of the perpetual hack. If you like to ski "fast" and never ski slowly, if you like to challenge yourself with ever more difficult runs and avoid skiing on the "easy" ones, if you always chase around skiers who are better than you are, if you constantly seek the adrenaline rush of skirting the edge of disaster, I guarantee that you are becoming a very good defensive skier!
As we've discussed before, pushing yourself to, and even past, your limit now and then is important to becoming a great skier too. But back down sometimes, and spend some quality time in the "offensive zone." You'll know you're there when it feels like it's "too easy," and you're going "too slowly." In fact, that's my simple definition of offensive skiing--the desire to go faster all the time. You aren't there if it feels "fast"!
Learning to get down the mountain is easy. Learning to actually ski
it is not! Like fine wine, great skiing is something few people appreciate until they learn a lot more about it. Then, they never go back. Skiing is like fine art painting, which the master Degas once said, "is easy, as long as you don't know how to do it" (probably not an exact quote, but you get the idea). The more you learn, the more you appreciate!
Top ski pros want you to have fun. They want you to accomplish your goals, including more speed, more air, and more challenging terrain, if that is what you want. But they also recognize the value, at least in the longer term, of discipline, accuracy, and good ski technique, even if these are not
priorities for you.
We measure ski technique with one simple ruler: function. Good ski technique siimply works best. More than anything else, it will help you accomplish your more tangible goals--speed, terrain, conditons, features, race courses, or just overall glory. It's not a matter of style, dogma, or personal preference. It just plain works! And it doesn't come without effort, dedication, discipline, and time.
Yes, HelluvaSkier, I think that movies, marketing, and the focus on "freestyle" have skewed the picture of what "good skiing" really is. It's made it much harder for people to distinguish the great skier from the hack with big cahones. When glory and fame arise from hurling yourself off a 250' cliff and landing headfirst in the snow (read this
), who needs good technique?