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Is learning this quickly normal?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
We’ve just arrived back from Chamonix (good conditions but thin base still needs work). For our 12 year old it was his first time on snow, but we were all astounded at his rate of progress. I’m probably over reacting and just being the pound parent, but I wanted to check on expert views out there…

Due to lessons not starting on our day of arrival we booked him into group lessons at the indoor snow dome at Xscape Castelford –thanks to Richard and the other guys for getting him to the point of just starting to parallel in the space of three hours, but that where the story starts and the main question begins. I’m interested to hear if his rate of progress is pretty normal for a 12 year old.

Day One - Le Tour. He’s cruising reds, and then decides to follow me off the side of the piste into some wind blown powder with light crust. Links turns and doesn’t fall over. Annoying.

Day Four. He’s already done his first black at Les Houches and not fallen.

Day Five. Mum’s sulking in the café whilst we head up the Brevant cable car to the Boznon black run in flat light and snow. A little trepid at first by the time we’re half way down I’m impressed enough to let him wander over to the left (still steep) whilst I take one of the fall lines skiers right. He looses it on one turn, picks up speed heads toward some death cookies, but pulls off a recovery turn and keeps on skiing to the the bottom of the pitch like nothing has happened. The snow is great, I’ve got big smiles from my run, but the best thing is seeing that that glowing feeling I get at the bottom of a really good run is doubled by the way he’s skied a solid black.

Day Six. Joined by more friends and it’s a powder day so it’s time to get to Grand Montets before the crowds. Mum’s left dazed by the frenzy of shower-breakfast-drive-boots-skis-GO that is a powder morning. Lou’s right into it now and makes the lift station before me.

A couple of runs in the powder on piste to test him out, then it’s into the some of the easily accessed bowls whilst mum has a hot chocolate. One fall but no submissions even though its bumps covered in 15-20cm of fresh snow. I’m getting worried that I’m soon going be loosing my crown to a young upstart. Rejoin bigger group and head in to the Canadian bowl off the Bochard as a small team of advanced skiers, but with a new member to the team. One fall, again no submissions, however this time we’ve been in fresh snow on slopes of maybe 25 degrees as we’ve taken the steep exit bowls just before the Lognan station.

Day Eight. More of the same off piste at le Tour and he’s asking for tips on how to improve his carving –yes carving! Not happy with skidded parallels he’s now starting to hold an edge right the way through linked turns…on hire skis!

Day Nine. Still work to do on the carving –though it’s now more like carving than skidded turns, and he’s still not turning on every bump in the soft moguls at Grand Montets, but he falls only once all day (in the bumps) and we’ve been every where that’s open on piste and off piste.

1) Is this a normal rate of progress for a 12 year old? I’ve certainly never seen an adult progress at such a rate and know plenty of people who have skied for years who will never reach this level.

2). The prospects are daunting and in a way I hope I haven’t a prodigy on my hands as the bank balance won’t take it! Dad…can I come to the Jackson Hole with you… So anyone any ideas on how I can boost my income? – Not only are the requests for trips going to be coming in thick and fast, but I’m going to need some dosh for lessons myself in the struggle to stay ahead!
post #2 of 20
My stepdaughter is from Florida, hardly the ski capital of the world, but due to years of horseback riding, she picked up skiing very quickly at the age of 12. Keep in mind that junior high school kids are constantly exposed to different activities, both physical and mental.

The "learning muscles" of the brain are a lot more active at that age. Don't feel too bad! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #3 of 20
Cool that he's picking it up. For some, the basics come fairly quickly. Solid intermediate skiing is not necessarily that far away from those just getting on skis, given a little "natural" tendency toward balance on skis and a desire to use gravity for some good fun.
The progress comes in smaller pieces the further along the learning curve, as more nuanced (and less purely athletic) movements are required.
That he is seeking more challenging terrain and wants to ski better are great signs. When he starts talking about skiing those blacks with style and intent, rather than simply getting down them w/o falling, you'll need to make sure you're on YOU'RE game, 'cause it sounds like he'll be closing the gap fast.

[ January 02, 2004, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #4 of 20
With all due respect for your son's rapid progress, moving on to challenging terrain before developing a solid foundation on easier trails can potentially lead to the development and/or reinforcement of bad habits and defensive skiing.
post #5 of 20
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
...due to years of horseback riding, she picked up skiing very quickly at the age of 12...
I agree with the idea that kids can learn athletic activities more quickly and easily than adults, but I'm not sure how horseback riding has anything to do with skiing. I can understand the parallels between some activites like in-line skating and the muscles and motions used in skiing. Although riding a horse is a fairly athletic activity, I don't see how the athletic skills learned from riding have much to do with skiing.
post #6 of 20
In reality, there are quite a few skills that transfer from horseback riding to skiing. I've had some rider students that picked skiing up fairly easily. Some transferable skills:

Pressure on the outside stirrup during turns.
Guiding the horse with the knees in the direction of the turn. (easily related to ankle steering in the direction of the turn)
Staying forward on the horse=staying forward on ski's.

There are probably others I haven't discovered yet. Help me LM. [img]redface.gif[/img]

post #7 of 20
I haven't been on a horse in years, but I did watch Seabiscuit the other night, so I'm qualified to get into this conversation.

I might suggest a couple of other "skills" that could transfer from horseback riding to skiing. One would be the concept of a "quiet upper body". The other would be the freedom to give in to an external force, whether it be the horse or gravity.

Do we too often narrowly focus on specific movement patterns and muscle groups an thus overlook the fact that skiing, and many other sports and activities, are as much mental as the are physical? (Read Lisamarie's post again.) We don't always need exact "parallels" from other sports when we are looking for transferable skills. A background in horseback riding, and the right attitude, would be a lot more valuable than a background of in-line skating if it were coupled with a fear of moving downhill or a tendency to resist gravity.

I had a 37 year-old man in a private beginner lesson the other day. He plays tennis and basketball. I reminded him of his general balance and reflex skills rather than trying to find specific muscular movements that he could transfer. Reminding him that he is a good tennis player helped him to believe that he can be a skier. While his progress was not anything like that of Freshtrack's son, he and I were both pleased with his accomplishments during the lesson.

Of course, it didn't hurt that his very attractive wife, herself a skier, came by and commented that skiing made him look "sexy".
post #8 of 20
I think it's awesome he's picked up so quickly! Time for some decent lessons? The best use of your money could very well be The Academy (lie about his age to get him in!) [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

Receptiveness to instruction (and new things in general) can take you to amazing places. Go for it! :

[ January 02, 2004, 12:47 PM: Message edited by: Bonni ]
post #9 of 20
Eh, sounds like average to below average progress.

On my 3rd day on skis at age 9 (K2 Merlins, 200+ cm.), I was running icy bump zipper lines, finishing the run with inverted airs, and waist deep pow in tight trees.

But people progress at different rates, the kid's still doin ok.
post #10 of 20
After years of experience skiing I had a terrible time learning to ride. My natural response whenever some kind of balancing move was required was to try to do something with my legs (ie balance from my feet) while what I needed to do was relax my legs and sit more deeply. I don't think theres a lot of carry over but the ability to learn is something that can be enhanced by practice and that can carry over. These kids are just little learning machines and if circumstances are fortunate their progress can be amazing.

post #11 of 20
my gawd, this is gonna come full circle to nolo's jockey thread, isn't it?
ISN'T IT??!!
post #12 of 20
I wish I could ski 9 days in a row.

His progression seems normal for someone, even adults, who have some athletic ability.

I agree with droldman about picking up bad habits moving to hard terrain before skiing cleanly on lower level runs.

It's cool that you are proud of him and that he enjoys skiing but don't mistake sliding down the hill to skiing down the hill.

I would be worried that his comfort level is too high for his ability and he may get into trouble on say a steep icy bump run.
post #13 of 20
the skeptic in me says "big deal"

but the openminded one in me says, "show us a video footage of the progression, and maybe we will be able to consider his prodigiousness or lack thereof."
post #14 of 20
Yeah, I'd love to see his tehcnique. I'm imagining large 'slow down' turns followed by flat lining. Not what I'd call skiing at all.

Get him to demonstrate small, medium and large radius turns consistantly before even being considered intermediate.

Not shooting you down - just providing a slightly more objective perspective. 'Not falling' should never be considered in the same sentence as 'achievement' when relating to snow sports.
post #15 of 20
From what I've seen of his messages on this and another forum, freshtracks seems to be a pretty accomplished skier, or at least an experienced one. I think that he would not have posted this message if his son was just 'getting down the hill', even fast. Some of the messages seem to assume that freshtracks' perspective is skewed 'cause he's the proud father.

I know he's asked for expert / objective views on his son's progression, but I do feel that a few more "congratulations" are in order.

So, freshtracks, from someone who's not an expert by light years, and, depending on the definition, possibly not even an advanced skier, here's a comment of 'well done!' for your son. And, even more importantly, I am glad that you will have huge fun together on the slopes, in many years to come [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #16 of 20
Originally posted by Cedric:
From what I've seen of his messages on this and another forum, freshtracks seems to be a pretty accomplished skier, or at least an experienced one.
I didn't realize that someone can judge a skiers abilities based on their knowledge of skiing on a message board.
post #17 of 20
Originally posted by Scalce:
I didn't realize that someone can judge a skiers abilities based on their knowledge of skiing on a message board.
Scalce, I think we all do.
And if you doubt me, create a new user profile for yourself on *another* forum, and ask a basic question.
post #18 of 20
I dunno, Zorro... I think I know more about how to ski well than I actually perform such skiing

post #19 of 20
Gonzo has you there........yet again.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks Cedric. You've hit the nail on the head.

Yes I'm proud, but I'm not here to boast.What I wanted was a sense check on what had been accomplished from people who are able to offer a considered assessment.

My reason for posting this thread was that although I've skied with lots of adults over the years and consider myself a good skier with a a sound technical awareness, I'm not familiar with the way kids progress on skis. All I can say is that a significant group of us were all impressed and more than a little surprised at the rate of progress.

As to all that talk of wide turns and 'just getting down the hill'... did you actually read the original posting? If the reality had been 'just getting down the hill' then I would not have wasted my time posting. If anything down played things a little.

In a way I'm relieved to hear that quite a few kids progress this quickly. I now won't feel so bad about not taking the family with me on my other trips this season.

To those of you who have offered useful comments thanks. To the bahhhumbuggers...haven't you learnt anything from Ebineezer this season?

Wishing you all a snowfilled 2004. FT.
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