There is one other aspect of this whole discussion...
...that I think is missing which is: An EpicSki person submits a video for MA...what are his or her goals? The knee jerk answer is "Obviously, the poor soul wants to improve his or her skills in search of the Perfect Turn, which is, of course, the Holy Grail and the whole reason we're all skiing and improving, right? Right?"
Maybe, maybe not. See the EpicSki thread that SSH started on visualization and my comments:http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=42331&page=2
What I found before
I taught for 6 years and became an L3 and after
I stopped teaching formally was that there's a whole bunch of people out there who ski ugly, could care less with the PSIA or PMT thinks, and they're still having a blast doing it. And there's a whole bunch of other people who figure out how to ski pretty well without any formal methodology to follow or MA or whatever.
I still teach and coach skiing, ski racing, tennis, biking...whatever, I just don't do it for money. I generally have a whole different approach these days, and it's much more successful, mostly because I don't have any preconceptions...you want to go here, no problem...let's try this. That didn't work? No problem, let's try something else. We'll get there...try to enjoy the process, because skiing is always fun, unless you're trying so hard you might be better of taking some time out to watch MTV or something.
Sometimes I use MA and sometimes I don't. One of the things I learned when we first started using video when I was teaching at Copper was the first time your students see themselves on video, don't
say very much, because they're going to be going through sticker shock. Most people don't have a hell of a lot of kinesthetic awareness, and they may think they're flexing all over the place, pressuring the ski like nobody's business, whatever...but the first time they see themselves on video, it's like seeing a total stranger who's having a very bad day on a very slippery piece of snow-covered real estate. I saw an EpicSki MA last year where I essentially said "Good skiing...go find something steep and icy and turn up the volume, and adjust what you're doing as necessary." The next thing I saw in the responses was what I see a lot "Okay, but..." followed by 17 pages of technical analysis of what good skiing is, regardless of what this person was doing. I'm not saying I was right, but sometimes when you're trying to lead somebody in a direction, less is more.
In our Masters race program, we always have video available after training. Sometimes I watch it, sometimes I don't. If I didn't have a great day, I already know what I'm going to see, and I'd almost rather just go out and free ski and kick out the jams than get a bunch of essentially negative reinforcement. The other interesting thing about ski racing is, whether you like it or not, it's not for style points. Person with the shortest time to the bottom wins, period. So whenever we look at video, we automatically have a goal, because we also have timing. I don't always agree with what my coaches say in MA. If the clock said I was fast, I'll take whatever they said under consideration, but it is an individual sport, and I am the best judge of what my skiing ought to be. MA and who has the fastest time can be a real eye opener for Team Eldo Masters, because we often train with the CU A team (yep, the ones who won the NCAAs last year)...and yes, the clock is running. All we have to do after training is look at the times, run through the video, and it's obvious what we do or do not have to do. Troy Watts, who was on the U. S. Team back in the 80s, was our coach for a season. One thing he told me was that he spent more time watching the guys who were winning the World Cup races than he did watching video of himself. Also something we do a lot for ski racing, tennis, and so forth...watch the winners, and learn from them by osmosis.
Okay, so running gates has a built-in goal, but for me, it also has other goals. Yep, I want to win, just like everybody else, but some really pleasant fallout from my years spent training and racing is that, at age 58, I'm a stronger, more technically accomplished, more complete skier than I was back in my 20s and 30s...which means I not only can still ski bumps, I can ski them a whole lot better because training slalom in ruts makes skiing bumps a pleasure because you don't have any accursed gates to deal with! Ditto for skiing powder, steeps, trees...you name it. Racing helps all of the above.
And free skiing helps racing. In fact, we try to spend a whole lot more time free skiing...steeps, hard ice, slalom radius turns, GS radius turns, junky snow, and so forth...than we do actually running gates. And a lot of it is learning by doing without a lot of conscious thought. My tennis coach this summer watched one of my matches and said "Stop trying to think
your way through a match and just play
your way through a match." My match play improved immediatly. So do I want to constantly improve my skiing, via MA or whatever? You damn betcha I do. Why do I want to improve? So I can boldly go where I've never gone before...
So I think it's fair to ask if somebody wants to subject him or herself to an EpicSki MA, what are his or her goals? If the answer is "Well, obviously, I just want to get better and I came to the experts, so tell me"...to me, that's a danger signal. Because to a large extent, whether or not someone is "getting better" is largely, as Scott Hamilton said about figure skating judging, basically somebody's opinion. Yes, I know...it's entirely possible to have all the experts do a MA and come to the same conclusion...incontrovertibly, Subject A is in the back seat, or rotating or whatever.
Fine, Subject A, how are you
going to know when you're better? Because you may get out of the back seat, or whatever, on your own terms, but one thing I guarantee...you'll never
get a consensus of experts on this
forum to say "Yep, that's it...you've got it now, no additional improvement necessary." Put a video of Bode Miller's second run in the Men's GS at Beaver Creek 2005 up for MA, and I guarantee
you're going to hear all kinds of wailing..."That dude was totally
off balance, in the back seat at the bottom of the course. Now if he'd have just..."
? The guy took his skiing to the limit and beyond. He did some things I didn't think were possible on skis...and isn't that
what "getting better" is all about, really?