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Skiing Lessons That Did Not Work For You

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I would be interested to know what was the difficulty anyone may have had with respect to a skiing lesson they had in the past, as I have put up some non ski school taught ideas on another post I started titled "A new way to teach beginner and intermediate skiers" and had replies mostly from ski instructors who mostly felt my ideas were complimentry to structured ski school lessons to varying degrees. No one said my ideas
were wrong. So in this post I would be interested to know if there are other people out there who like me devised non ski school taught methods
to aid their progression or are there people out there who are struggling
and would like to say what there problems are and perhaps I may be able
offer advise.
post #2 of 24
I had an instructor when I was about 14. He would have me wait and then send the rest of our group down . Then he would have me come down and tell them to ski like that. It might have been ok for them but he didn't teach me much . I remember him asking me if I could explain how I ski to others I said no I just do it .He thought I might make a good instructor. I went into racing the next year
post #3 of 24
That is funny. Did he give you a tip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ View Post
I had an instructor when I was about 14. He would have me wait and then send the rest of our group down . Then he would have me come down and tell them to ski like that. It might have been ok for them but he didn't teach me much . I remember him asking me if I could explain how I ski to others I said no I just do it .He thought I might make a good instructor. I went into racing the next year
post #4 of 24
Sadly, this is a common problem, even in clincs: the instructor fails to adress everyone's needs and only concentrate on either:
a) the best skiers
b) the worse skiers

Individual coaching should be the cornerstone of every lesson, wether there are 2 students or 30. You can ALWAYS tell someone to practice something, think about a movement pattern, make them question their skiing, etc. Since I have more experience with kids in a race course, let's take this example:

You have 5 students. 4 of them are just starting to grasp the tactical element of "line" through an easy gs course. One of them is a provincial all-star team member who is way ahead of the curve. What do you do? Set a gnarly, steep course and risk having the 4 students stagnate, or do you set an easy course, wich means the all-star will get bored, or do you go the middle route and everyone loses? No, what you do, at least in my opinion, is up the level of difficulty of a task in a setting where every student is comfortable. Have the beginners focus on line, and have the best student focus on improving other tactical elements that need to be improved in an easy setting first, such as seeking the fall line, clearing gates, etc. Have him ski his speed skis to teach him to be quicker at transition. Have him ski without poles in order to increase separation and better the footwork. Have him ski the lowest, straightest line possible. Many teaching situations are not optimal and pleasing everybody is difficult...

But using one of your students as an "example" of great skiing is risky because it will infatuate said student or it will send him the message that there's nothing to improve for now, wich is bad.

Another situation wich is tricky for beginners or advanced skiers is when instructors start to point out every mistake at once. This has never worked for me and I oubt that ti works well for anyone. Sure you may be banking and following your skis at the same time, but will trying to fix both push you out of the comfort zone enough that nothing will be accomplished?
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyRay View Post
Sadly, this is a common problem, even in clincs: the instructor fails to adress everyone's needs and only concentrate on either:
a) the best skiers
b) the worse skiers

Individual coaching should be the cornerstone of every lesson, wether there are 2 students or 30. You can ALWAYS tell someone to practice something, think about a movement pattern, make them question their skiing, etc. Since I have more experience with kids in a race course, let's take this example:

You have 5 students. 4 of them are just starting to grasp the tactical element of "line" through an easy gs course. One of them is a provincial all-star team member who is way ahead of the curve. What do you do? Set a gnarly, steep course and risk having the 4 students stagnate, or do you set an easy course, wich means the all-star will get bored, or do you go the middle route and everyone loses? No, what you do, at least in my opinion, is up the level of difficulty of a task in a setting where every student is comfortable. Have the beginners focus on line, and have the best student focus on improving other tactical elements that need to be improved in an easy setting first, such as seeking the fall line, clearing gates, etc. Have him ski his speed skis to teach him to be quicker at transition. Have him ski without poles in order to increase separation and better the footwork. Have him ski the lowest, straightest line possible. Many teaching situations are not optimal and pleasing everybody is difficult...

But using one of your students as an "example" of great skiing is risky because it will infatuate said student or it will send him the message that there's nothing to improve for now, wich is bad.

Another situation wich is tricky for beginners or advanced skiers is when instructors start to point out every mistake at once. This has never worked for me and I oubt that ti works well for anyone. Sure you may be banking and following your skis at the same time, but will trying to fix both push you out of the comfort zone enough that nothing will be accomplished?
I guess a solution to the non equal ability in lessons problem could be avoided by having a pre lesson assessment of ability by an instructor.
One thing I have found with 2 lessons I have had is that some ski instructors overlook the possibility that ski gear may be affecting the students ability. I have had 2 lessons at intermediate and advanced levels
where this has been the case.

My intermediate lesson was a case of me not pressing my shins hard enough into the tounge of the very new boots I had, which I found out after looking at the boot forward flex adjustor was that it was set too stiff.

My advanced lesson was to find out what skiing ability I would need to have to ski to instructor level. My perception at the start of the lesson was that I would have to have high speed carving ability and had no trouble demonstrating that on my Volkl P10 205cm skis but when the instructor asked me to try a low speed beginner slope carved turn I could not do it and 2 years ago when I bought a pair of Volkl P60 SL Race 155cm for the purpose of recreational racing I found out that I could carve on these on a beginners slope. So I would be interested to take
another instructor level assessment lesson on these. I have tried a high speed carve on these and they are ok on a well groomed slope so if I was
to be told my high speed carves on these were too unstable I guess I would have to look at another pair of skis again if I wished to enrol in an instructors course. A lot is spoken about winning race skis. I wonder what the best skis for an instructor examination would be?
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassina View Post
I guess a solution to the non equal ability in lessons problem could be avoided by having a pre lesson assessment of ability by an instructor.
One thing I have found with 2 lessons I have had is that some ski instructors overlook the possibility that ski gear may be affecting the students ability. I have had 2 lessons at intermediate and advanced levels
where this has been the case.

My intermediate lesson was a case of me not pressing my shins hard enough into the tounge of the very new boots I had, which I found out after looking at the boot forward flex adjustor was that it was set too stiff.

My advanced lesson was to find out what skiing ability I would need to have to ski to instructor level. My perception at the start of the lesson was that I would have to have high speed carving ability and had no trouble demonstrating that on my Volkl P10 205cm skis but when the instructor asked me to try a low speed beginner slope carved turn I could not do it and 2 years ago when I bought a pair of Volkl P60 SL Race 155cm for the purpose of recreational racing I found out that I could carve on these on a beginners slope. So I would be interested to take
another instructor level assessment lesson on these. I have tried a high speed carve on these and they are ok on a well groomed slope so if I was
to be told my high speed carves on these were too unstable I guess I would have to look at another pair of skis again if I wished to enrol in an instructors course. A lot is spoken about winning race skis. I wonder what the best skis for an instructor examination would be?
RX8, soft enough to carve with both skis at slow speeds and stable enough to carve at high speeds.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
I guess a solution to the non equal ability in lessons problem could be avoided by having a pre lesson assessment of ability by an instructor.
Sadly, for some race programs, this is not an option. When you have 15-20 kids and 4 coaches on hand with the kids' ages ranging from 6 to 17, there's ought to be group imbalances unless you are very lucky. Heck, even with small groups in the same age and ability bracket, very often people have needs in their skiing that need to be adressed individually.
post #8 of 24
Lessons from which I've gotten little or no benefit have generally been very formula driven. Such lessons often start out talking about things like this is how we stand, we want to be stacked, keep your hands here, ... Al this before watching folks ski. The best lessons have been interactive, dynamic, and have had an element of individualized instruction. The instructor starts by asking questions about how the studnets think they ski, and what the student's goals are for the lesson. Then the instructor watchs the students ski for a bit and then give's indivudalized instruction to each student. I've been in lessons where the instructor has basically told each student to work on different things, and then spends a little time working with each student. Clearly, this is easier to pull off if the students have relatively comparable skills and if the group is not too large.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
RX8, soft enough to carve with both skis at slow speeds and stable enough to carve at high speeds.
I assume you mean Fisher RX8. I see they have some good reviews on Epic Ski. Unfortunatly it is too late in the season for me in NZ to demo some but will keep an eye out next year thanks.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassina View Post
I assume you mean Fisher RX8. I see they have some good reviews on Epic Ski. Unfortunatly it is too late in the season for me in NZ to demo some but will keep an eye out next year thanks.
Yes, the Fischers.
post #11 of 24
the lessons that work least well for me.... (yes a whole 2 seasons of them before I woke up... a mutual friend tried to get me to change a season earlier - should have listened then... hindsight is always 20/20)

Given by a skier who skied atriociously herself... and set about nicely teaching me her bad habits.... and undoing some of the better habits my first instructor had instilled...

I then had to "unlearn" all the stuff I learnt from her... interestingly this was my first experience with a PSIA trained/accredited instructor....

ant knows who I mean I think - so she can attest as to the skiing skills and teaching style...
post #12 of 24
Lessons that didn't work for me:
1. all negative feedback
2. lesson more about instructor than the students (park the ego)
3. directives without explaning why except 'this is how it is supposed to look'
4. drills with no apparent purpose. (needn't be explained before if it's a kinetic aha you are going for, but surely needs to be explained after so that it will be incorporated into one's skiing and not left on the hill.)
post #13 of 24
yes Mom - I've had some bad experiences with 2 and 1 fairly recently.... and a bit of 3 and 4 also....

My usual instructors are the opposite... they explain what is happening for me - in detail.... sometimes a little too much... but I prefer that to that "do drill" "drop one liner" "skate off when student questions" line of instructing.... dammit if I don't understand YOUR jargon then I'm not learning zip!
post #14 of 24
Although not a direct answer to the question, some of the best lessons I have had is where I have dropped down a level or two and really focused on the tasks. For example, if you normally ski in a Level 7 group and spend a day in a Level 5 lesson, you can really fine tune the movements without worrying about terrain or keeping up. It also made me realize that I did not have ownership of skills that I thought I had mastered.
post #15 of 24
You bet. Mixing it up helps a lot. How about on the other side of that extreme, skier31? Skiing with a group that pushes you beyond your comfort zone.
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post
Although not a direct answer to the question, some of the best lessons I have had is where I have dropped down a level or two and really focused on the tasks. For example, if you normally ski in a Level 7 group and spend a day in a Level 5 lesson, you can really fine tune the movements without worrying about terrain or keeping up. It also made me realize that I did not have ownership of skills that I thought I had mastered.
When I was learning I went up too steep on skis that were too long for a day so the next day went back to shorter skis and was fine. I was able
to ski far longer skis in the end anyway but a valuable lesson in not trying to progress too far in one day.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
Lessons that didn't work for me:
1. all negative feedback
2. lesson more about instructor than the students (park the ego)
3. directives without explaning why except 'this is how it is supposed to look'
4. drills with no apparent purpose. (needn't be explained before if it's a kinetic aha you are going for, but surely needs to be explained after so that it will be incorporated into one's skiing and not left on the hill.)
I think if all instructors were hired based on their ability to remember
their own learning progression perhaps it would give them a better ability
to relate to students and not simply just recite instructional proceedure from the manual
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassina View Post
I think if all instructors were hired based on their ability to remember
their own learning progression perhaps it would give them a better ability
to relate to students and not simply just recite instructional proceedure from the manual
Then I'd be out... I learned in 1971. And the approach is completely different today--and not just because the equipment is so much better!

I'm not sure this gets you where you want to go. There are good and bad experiences (mine wasn't particularly either; I just can't remember it... mostly just bombed around the mountain chasing my buddies who had already been skiing for years!).
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
You bet. Mixing it up helps a lot. How about on the other side of that extreme, skier31? Skiing with a group that pushes you beyond your comfort zone.
I think if it is done with the right attitude, intent and understanding of what I plan to accomplish then it is good. When I went to ESA last year at Snowbird, my plan at the beginning of the week was to ski everywhere Bob took us without worrying about whether or not I could do it or worrying about how I was doing it, and at a speed I at which I was comfortable. When I ski with people who push me beyond my comfort zone, I have to be ok with being slower, more tentative etc and realize that by doing this, it will make me better. I realize when I do this I tend to revert to some defensive movements that I am working hard to eliminate from my skiing so I try to push the comfort zone gradually.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Then I'd be out... I learned in 1971. And the approach is completely different today--and not just because the equipment is so much better!

I'm not sure this gets you where you want to go. There are good and bad experiences (mine wasn't particularly either; I just can't remember it... mostly just bombed around the mountain chasing my buddies who had already been skiing for years!).
The reason why I made this comment regarding remembering your own
learning experience relates to the fear aspect of skiing ability progression
which I do not believe ways can be devised to reduce this as everyone
has a different fear threshold. For me learning was about overcoming fear
80% and technique development 20%. I always got the most out of skiing lessons when I had progressed to the point where I had zero fear prior to the lesson.
I hope I have been able to explain where I am coming from and I learnt in
1991-2 at age 33. Perhaps 33year old learners have a higher fear threshold than kids?
post #21 of 24
Kids don't have any fear, for the most part. I had a little more because I was 10, but I was chasing friends who had been skiing for 5-8 years (since they were able to walk, in some cases). I don't remember of being afraid of skiing back then, just finding new terrain and experiences.

However, I've been scared a few times the past couple of years (interestingly, the two most challenging experiences were both at ESAs! One in '05, one in '06). In one case, I totally psyched myself out on the top of Liberty Bowl at Big Sky. In the other (during coaches' day), I found myself at the top of a tree- and rock-lined chute with Shanzy. He told me I could ski it. I was mentally/emotionally challenged. He encouraged me. A leap, 180 degree rotation of my skis while clearing a log, drop into the chute, turn 'em downhill and ski the 18"-24"+ to the bottom. What exhilaration! Overcoming that fear was amazing.

So, not sure how this meshes with what you've experienced. I will likely do some cross-training to help me feel a bit like I go back to the beginning, but still think that knowing what I know about sliding on snow probably makes it easier for me than for most. I've been working the skis' sidecut since the mid-70s!
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassina View Post
The reason why I made this comment regarding remembering your own
learning experience relates to the fear aspect of skiing ability progression
which I do not believe ways can be devised to reduce this as everyone
has a different fear threshold. For me learning was about overcoming fear
80% and technique development 20%. I always got the most out of skiing lessons when I had progressed to the point where I had zero fear prior to the lesson.
I hope I have been able to explain where I am coming from and I learnt in
1991-2 at age 33. Perhaps 33year old learners have a higher fear threshold than kids?
cassina - I have HUGE issues with fear... I'm quite used to falling as i did so a fair bit of my life doing normal everyday activities...so i EXPECT to fall and hurt myself on skis
the instructors I have had who have handled my fear the best all grew up on skis.... they simply are better instructors... they understand that teaching people to ski is a wholistic process - that all parts of the equation need to be dealt with....

an analogy -I do a bit of work in wound care... we are always told "treat the whole patient not the hole in the patient

this is my way to assess my instructors... the ones that have a full range of skills are instructors... the others can be as qualified as they wish - but to fail to deal with the student and their issues makes them NOT an instructor but simply a technical assistant to skiers
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Kids don't have any fear, for the most part. I had a little more because I was 10, but I was chasing friends who had been skiing for 5-8 years (since they were able to walk, in some cases). I don't remember of being afraid of skiing back then, just finding new terrain and experiences.

However, I've been scared a few times the past couple of years (interestingly, the two most challenging experiences were both at ESAs! One in '05, one in '06). In one case, I totally psyched myself out on the top of Liberty Bowl at Big Sky. In the other (during coaches' day), I found myself at the top of a tree- and rock-lined chute with Shanzy. He told me I could ski it. I was mentally/emotionally challenged. He encouraged me. A leap, 180 degree rotation of my skis while clearing a log, drop into the chute, turn 'em downhill and ski the 18"-24"+ to the bottom. What exhilaration! Overcoming that fear was amazing.

So, not sure how this meshes with what you've experienced. I will likely do some cross-training to help me feel a bit like I go back to the beginning, but still think that knowing what I know about sliding on snow probably makes it easier for me than for most. I've been working the skis' sidecut since the mid-70s!
In some way I guess I was lucky to do all most all of my learning on my own without more experienced friends "pushing me". Having said that I did push myself anyway but have all ways stayed away from high
jumping extreme terrain park type activities rails etc. I guess high speed on racing skis would be as extreme as I feel comfortable with in addition
to off piste black runs that are obsticle free if I was to loose it.
post #24 of 24
Personally, when I was learning, lessons in general didn't work for me, they just bored me until I took off (especially at higher levels when often times I skied better than my instructors - this was a small area with VERY limited terrain).

In terms of teaching, the lessons that have backfired are when I should have more attentive in the begining to my students stubborness. I admit my lessons are often a bit unorthodox at times, but when a student has previous opinions set in stone (especially when they're wrong/ineffective/misunderstandings of a concept) and refuses to acknowledge anything else gets tiresome.

In my own training, well, that's a WHOLE 'nother story. I had a 2-3 year debate with a PSIA-E DCL that worked at my area about my stance width. I argued that a proper stance should be variable/dynamic and effective at all times, and the DCL argued that the stance had to be shoulder width (later in the argument the opinion changed to hip width). Being larger in size, I argued that hip/shoulder width was rediculous and the DCL would not budge, until I discussed the debate on the lift with said DCL and an Examiner. It wasn't until the examiner pointed out that the hip width ideal had to be interpretted differently than the appearance of the hips, but to visualize the bone structure, and that the ideal was in reference to the hip/femur joint. Unfortunately this debate prevented me from getting any viable feedback for quite some time (I used to joke with people in clinics that I could predict what I would receive for feedback).
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