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EpicSki Podcast: Questions for Weems Westfeldt

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Weems Westfeldt, author of Brilliant Skiing Every Day and the ESA Aspen Head Coach has offered to be interviews for an EpicSki podcast. Now is your chance to ask Weems questions about his book, his ideas about skiing, teaching skiing, his experience teaching in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, or anything else that's on your mind.

Our plan is to record the podcast while we're all together for the EpicSki Academy in Aspen at the end of January, so get those questions in as soon as you can!
post #2 of 22
hey, am i on?

you're on, ryan.

am i on?

mr. ryan, you're on, can you please turn down your radio?

OH. sorry. how's that?

much better. thanks. you have a question for weems?

um, yeah, i do.

[SILENCE]

what is that question, ryan.

oh. right. my question is: was there a point in your skiing career, as a skier, as an instructor, where competitiveness - with yourself, the mountain, others - gave way to a more "holistic" approach to skiing and ski instruction? i guess what i'm getting at is a sensibility that moves from "winning" to one that is more about "enjoyment" and the mountain experience as a whole, rather than as an opportunity or challenge to exhibit...expertise?

i think what i'm getting at is...how your skiing sensibility may have broadened over the years, due to people you meet, your own on-mountain experiences and life changes, and, maybe, that whole Aspen atmosphere.

thanks.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
ryan,

I'm not sure I get the latter part of the question...

What are you getting at when you ask, "...rather than as an opportunity or challenge to exhibit...expertise?"
post #4 of 22
yeah, kinda vague. nix that.

instead, weems, just tell curtis capparella that the guy from the adult beginner's group at buttermilk on march 6, 1998, says Thanks. a ski lesson can change your life.

what i was getting at, steve, is something along the lines of finding a kind of deep peace in what one does, rather than approaching it as something to show people how good you are or "impress the guests."

kind of a "you may be ripping, but are you smiling" question. that's what i'm getting at. the best skier i've ever been around can, of course, ski rings around just about everyone, but he never even hints at tooting his own hornm, he says only positive, encouraging things about others' skiing, and he seems deeply happy while not caring about being one of the top dogs or in some particular percentile of the top skiers.

and he'll post a picture of himself falling.

doesn't act like he's sacrificing hours of his life when leading you to and around terrain he could ski backwards and blindfolded.

that kind of thing.

it's inspiring. and bigger than some sort of perfect turn. i have a feeling it's rare in the professional ski world.

i bet weems may have a wise word or two toward that.
i wish i could be there.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
ryan, that's what I thought you meant, but thanks for taking the time to clarify it. As an interviewer, I'm working my way off the bunny hill...
post #6 of 22
Weems, what is the best way to lose your chicken strips? (ask him, he knows what I mean!)
post #7 of 22
I'm looking forward to this question, but for the moment, I'll say I always have been and still am competitive, and only with myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan View Post
hey, am i on?

you're on, ryan.

am i on?

mr. ryan, you're on, can you please turn down your radio?

OH. sorry. how's that?

much better. thanks. you have a question for weems?

um, yeah, i do.

[SILENCE]

what is that question, ryan.

oh. right. my question is: was there a point in your skiing career, as a skier, as an instructor, where competitiveness - with yourself, the mountain, others - gave way to a more "holistic" approach to skiing and ski instruction? i guess what i'm getting at is a sensibility that moves from "winning" to one that is more about "enjoyment" and the mountain experience as a whole, rather than as an opportunity or challenge to exhibit...expertise?

i think what i'm getting at is...how your skiing sensibility may have broadened over the years, due to people you meet, your own on-mountain experiences and life changes, and, maybe, that whole Aspen atmosphere.

thanks.
post #8 of 22
How does one coach in 'Touch'?

Does there need to be a congruence of coach and skier polarity?
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post
How does one coach in 'Touch'?

Does there need to be a congruence of coach and skier polarity?
Great question, and more detail later.

But, for the moment, two ideas:
  1. Develop foot feel. This can be done by simple intention to feel every change in the snow--all the nuances, the bumps, the textures, and just notice them. Better--notice them through the edges instead of the soles of the feet. Also, it can be done by awareness of all the interface points between your foot and the boot: Where are you pressing the boot? What's going on in the toes, arches, heals, anklebones, shins? How are those points moving in the boot?
  2. Develop rhythm. Keep making turns at the same count, even when you feel not quite in balance. Do it at appropriate speed/terrain for your ability. Rhythm takes the place of thought, and the body/mind system finds what it needs.
post #10 of 22

Foot feel

Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
Great question, and more detail later.

But, for the moment, two ideas:
  1. Develop foot feel. This can be done by simple intention to feel every change in the snow--all the nuances, the bumps, the textures, and just notice them. Better--notice them through the edges instead of the soles of the feet. Also, it can be done by awareness of all the interface points between your foot and the boot: Where are you pressing the boot? What's going on in the toes, arches, heals, anklebones, shins? How are those points moving in the boot?
  2. Develop rhythm. Keep making turns at the same count, even when you feel not quite in balance. Do it at appropriate speed/terrain for your ability. Rhythm takes the place of thought, and the body/mind system finds what it needs.
Interesting. I recently acquired new boots, and noticed immediately that, while the new boots are far less forgiving than the old ones, they also provide much more feedback about what's going on underfoot. Edge engagement on both little toe and big toe edges was particularly noticeable, and helped me determine how I wanted the soles canted.

I like the idea that rhythm takes the place of thought. I tend to overthink my movements, and, in fact, I don't like to be dependent on rhythm. This comment, however, suggests the use of rhythm as a tool rather than a crutch.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
Great question, and more detail later.

But, for the moment, two ideas:
  1. Develop foot feel. This can be done by simple intention to feel every change in the snow--all the nuances, the bumps, the textures, and just notice them. Better--notice them through the edges instead of the soles of the feet. Also, it can be done by awareness of all the interface points between your foot and the boot: Where are you pressing the boot? What's going on in the toes, arches, heals, anklebones, shins? How are those points moving in the boot?
  2. Develop rhythm. Keep making turns at the same count, even when you feel not quite in balance. Do it at appropriate speed/terrain for your ability. Rhythm takes the place of thought, and the body/mind system finds what it needs.
Jan 10, 2007

Dear Weems:

I'm looking forward to your podcast.

As for rhythm, I remember a time when I was at Ski Roundtop (a small Penn area, 600 vert ft), when the President of the area (previously the SSD and Eastern Examiner) whom I suppose you are familiar, Jonathan Jenkins, asked me to ski a few runs with him. On the chairlift he said to me, "You make nice round turns. But how come the shape of your turns differ from left to right?" He suggested that I hum a song with a good "rhythm" while I was skiing. Ever since, many people have commented on my ability to seemingly ski the same on terrain of differing difficulties. Thanks Jonanthan and hope you are enjoying your "sailing" adventure.

In a previous post, you mentioned that you were "competeitive with only yourself". I like to think that I hold a similar view (competitive with you. Yea, in my dreams). When I first started jogging 20+ years ago, I read this book "Jog, Run, Race" by Joe Henderson (who in the running world is more or less equivalent to an Examiner), he said: "Racing is about beating or matching one's previous Personal Record (PR)". Liberated to just enjoy running, I expanded this to skiing as well as other endeavors in my life.

My question to you is about idea (1) feeling the snow. I've known about this idea for awhile, but find it difficult to "execute". With one's feet in ski socks, wrapped in boot liners, encased in tight, hard plastic shells, attached to rigid bindings which are in turn imbedded in a pair of long "sticks", I just find it difficult to "feel very much of anything:". I've been trying it since this "feeling the snow" is mentioned in your Sports Diamond book of which I am an enthusiastic convert. This seems like a very "zen" like thing to do. Any suggestiongs or hints? Or should I drag myself out of whatever corner I'm stuck in?

CharlieP

PS: still smiling though as well as sticking out my tongue when I ski. Maybe a return to my childhood? I find this helps as well.
post #12 of 22
Thanks! More detail later, but two thoughts:

1. It can be supported by intention. Imagine your nerve endings going through the skis.
2. Notice and accept the chaos underfoot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieP View Post
Jan 10, 2007

Dear Weems:

I'm looking forward to your podcast.

As for rhythm, I remember a time when I was at Ski Roundtop (a small Penn area, 600 vert ft), when the President of the area (previously the SSD and Eastern Examiner) whom I suppose you are familiar, Jonathan Jenkins, asked me to ski a few runs with him. On the chairlift he said to me, "You make nice round turns. But how come the shape of your turns differ from left to right?" He suggested that I hum a song with a good "rhythm" while I was skiing. Ever since, many people have commented on my ability to seemingly ski the same on terrain of differing difficulties. Thanks Jonanthan and hope you are enjoying your "sailing" adventure.

In a previous post, you mentioned that you were "competeitive with only yourself". I like to think that I hold a similar view (competitive with you. Yea, in my dreams). When I first started jogging 20+ years ago, I read this book "Jog, Run, Race" by Joe Henderson (who in the running world is more or less equivalent to an Examiner), he said: "Racing is about beating or matching one's previous Personal Record (PR)". Liberated to just enjoy running, I expanded this to skiing as well as other endeavors in my life.

My question to you is about idea (1) feeling the snow. I've known about this idea for awhile, but find it difficult to "execute". With one's feet in ski socks, wrapped in boot liners, encased in tight, hard plastic shells, attached to rigid bindings which are in turn imbedded in a pair of long "sticks", I just find it difficult to "feel very much of anything:". I've been trying it since this "feeling the snow" is mentioned in your Sports Diamond book of which I am an enthusiastic convert. This seems like a very "zen" like thing to do. Any suggestiongs or hints? Or should I drag myself out of whatever corner I'm stuck in?

CharlieP

PS: still smiling though as well as sticking out my tongue when I ski. Maybe a return to my childhood? I find this helps as well.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Now weems, stop answering all the questions! That's what the podcast is for!
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Now weems, stop answering all the questions! That's what the podcast is for!
The real answers are much longer!
post #15 of 22
Weems, of all the innovations in teaching skiing over your career, which do you feel have done the most to create dedicated skiers out of people who formerly did not ski or have any inkling of what they were missing?
post #16 of 22
Weems,

Over the years, how have your students affected your teaching style? (Yes, it's open ended....)

L
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
Weems,

Over the years, how have your students affected your teaching style? (Yes, it's open ended....)

L
Edit: Can I rephrase that?

What is something you have learned from your students?

L
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieP View Post
My question to you is about idea (1) feeling the snow. I've known about this idea for awhile, but find it difficult to "execute". With one's feet in ski socks, wrapped in boot liners, encased in tight, hard plastic shells, attached to rigid bindings which are in turn imbedded in a pair of long "sticks", I just find it difficult to "feel very much of anything:". I've been trying it since this "feeling the snow" is mentioned in your Sports Diamond book of which I am an enthusiastic convert. This seems like a very "zen" like thing to do. Any suggestiongs or hints? Or should I drag myself out of whatever corner I'm stuck in?
I'm not Weems, but maybe you should try to feel yourself moving through space. Your body is smart you need to be able to trust it and move it down the hill. It;s nice to know what's right underneath you, but it's already too late to do anything about it. The sensors in your feet are one more sense you can use in addition to the inner ear, your eyes, the sounds that your skis are or are not making, feedback from your poles touching the snow all of those proprioceptive thingies and so on.

Use the Force.
post #19 of 22
Jan 14, 2007

Dear Epic:

Thanks for responding to my question about feeling the snow. Tomorrow when I go skiing, I'll give your suggestions a try. Especially interesting is what you said about "feeling your body moving through space". That is what I sometimes feel on a good day as if I were a bird "soaring" in the air. I will concentrate on this sensation, since I have experienced it before (although not all the time), and it is such a "neat" feeling and one of the extreme "joys of skiing" (not to be mistaken with the "Joys of s?x"). Hopefully, even on a bad or average day, I will be able to capture some of this sensation.

BTW, I think I read on some post that you had taken your "Munchkens" down Goat, Liftline and National, some of the most difficult and honored trails in skiing here in the US. Lets hear a cheer and congratulats to you and your "gang" .

Thanks.

CharlieP

May the force be with you, OBeWanKaNobe.
post #20 of 22

A question for Weems

In Europe, especially in France, teaching skiing is a true profession. Although there are some who teach at the biggest resorts who earn a decent living, what can we do here in the US so that those of us who love to teach skiing can actually make a living doing it full time.

Thanks for all your contributions to the sport over the years. You're a legend.

Bob
post #21 of 22
What is the one thing you have figured out in teaching/coaching that is most successful at giving your students that "Ah Ha, I've got it!" moment?

Do you have a quota of hugs?
Have you met that quota?
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by trekchick View Post
What is the one thing you have figured out in teaching/coaching that is most successful at giving your students that "Ah Ha, I've got it!" moment?

Do you have a quota of hugs?
Have you met that quota?
No quota. Too much is not enough.

And the answer to the question is...."hugs".
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