or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

So true........

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Skiers Perceptions of Themselves:
The Reality Gap/ By Todd Murchison

Young people, especially young males, have always been known to somewhat overestimate their abilities. This must stem from some survival instinct, perhaps a powerful ego is necessary to defend the cave from a bear or to have the courage to chase after that maiden from the hut next door.
In sports though, usually that sense of invincibility is tempered by the reality check of competition. In competition one usually gains a wider perspective on their skills relative to the skills of others. No matter how big their egos, you will find few young men who have any illusions about how they would fare playing one on one against Michael Jordan. I asked a few avid Basketball playing friends about where they think they would stand against Jordan and they all agreed that it would be a bloodbath no comparison between themselves and he. I asked some football players how they would fare in a throwing accuracy and distance contest with John Elway. They each admitted that they would not even come close to the power or skill John displays. This is all pretty obvious isn’t it? Not just in sports, in all walks of life. Nobody with an EMT certificate would think they are on the same playing field as a surgeon in medical knowledge. Any rational person with a private pilots license and single engine rating would know there is not a chance they could successfully take off and land a 747.

This is all common sense, yet skiing somehow seems different to people. There is an amazing reality gap between skiers perceptions of themselves and harsh reality. Go out and ask a few young men, avid skiers, how they think they would fare against some top skiers. How would they do trying to follow Scott Schmidt, Glen Plake or Shane McConkey down some extreme terrain? How far behind would they be in a race course against Alberto Tomba, Picabo Street or Tommy Moe? How would their scores in a mogul competition fare compared to Nelson Carmichel, Donna Weinbrecht, or Johnny Moseley? I went out and asked some good recreational and professional skiers these questions, and asked for their honest opinions. The answers were what I expected, pretty delusional! Usually they went like
this, "well I’m sure that Picabo could probably beat me in a downhill, but I’ll bet that when just skiing around I could at least hold my own"; and "with a little more experience in that kind of terrain I could probably give Schmidt a run for his money"; and "I’m not quite as good in the air yet as those top mogul competitors are but I’m getting close in my turning". All of these skiers truly believe what they told me, and I didn’t rain on their parade – hopefully they won’t read this, because I’m going to rain on it hard now. The skiers who earn the right to compete in the top competitions are not on the same planet as the rest of us when it comes to skiing experience and skill. Every one of those athletes was skiing at least five days a week by the time they were teenagers, and skiing right through the summer as well at ski camps in Oregon, New Zealand or South America. They were getting personal coaching by the time they were 12, and they were winning most of the competitions they entered from when they were little kids. There are no shortcuts for this kind of experience. The only way you ski as well as somebody who has been skiing 250 days a year for fifteen years is to have skied at least 250 days a year for fifteen years. Incidentally the top extreme skiers and moguls competitors all had an intense racing foundation like this as well, with top coaching and year round skiing.
I’ve had recreational skiers ask me before "are you ever going to try out for the Olympics" – it would seem flattering but its actually a very sad comment on America’s general knowledge about skiing. I gently explain to them that I’m 28 years old and that I would have needed to ski like I ski now by the age of 12 if I was to even have had a prayer. The other thing is - you don’t just go and "try out" for the Olympics, you need to be a member of the US Ski Team who consistently turns in good results on the World Cup (at least good results for an American – which means at least an occasional top fifteen finish).
The World Cup incidentally is the true proving grounds for a skier. To win a gold medal at the Olympics you have to be the best competitor on that day, to win an overall World Cup you have to be the best competitor all year long.
The main reason that many skiers seem to have such distorted opinion of where their skill is relative to the worlds best is that they: (A) have never competed before, or if they have it was in more of a NASTAR type situation where no professional caliber racers compete; (B) have never gotten a chance to actually even just free ski with any top level skiers; (C) don’t have the movement analysis skills to even be able to tell what truly masterful skiing is . . . its been said that you have to climb to the top of Everest’s foothills (up to at least 18,000 ft) before you can even comprehend how much bigger Everest really is.
So what? So what if on every mountain, every day there are at least fifty people who are convinced they are among the best in the world? Who cares, let them have their illusions if it makes them happy! Well – I care for one reason, I’m sick of seeing America get whipped in competitions every year. Sure the media really focuses on the occasional Olympic victory or World Cup race that we win, and now and then we have a flash in the pan racer who wins several events. But overall we consistently, even with one of the biggest ski teams in the world, get shamelessly beaten year after year. Once somebody’s cup is full, they no longer can learn anything, skiers who think they are already masters will never actually become masters – they are too convinced they have nothing else to learn. One has to first empty their cup for anything else to be poured in so that they might continue to progress.
I’m like a reformed smoker, I’m adamant about this because I’ve been there. Six years ago (or around 1,000 ski days ago) I was convinced I was the hottest skier around. If I could send video of myself showing how I ski now back in time to my younger self – I would not have been capable of appreciating the difference anyway, I would have said "heck, I’m skiing about as well as that guy". Now I look back on video of myself skiing then, and cannot believe how poorly I skied – yet at that time I knew I was great, nobody could have convinced me otherwise. Letting go of this illusion has been very freeing: I now look forward now to continuing to become a better skier, I’ve climbed just high enough to be able to crane my head back and see how much higher up the summits are. They are very high and I know now that I will never be able to hold a candle to the worlds elite competitors, this is not a giving up – its an acceptance of reality. I’ve skied with some of those guys and gals and invariably eaten their dust – but that’s OK they give me something beautiful to watch, and it means I will always have more to learn.
In the martial arts it is said that every master has a master. To truly enjoy your time on skis to the utmost, the toughest skill to master is not a technical skiing skill – its the ability to let ones ego loosen its grip upon you. Ego is not bad, it is sometimes a great motivator but it also is often the greatest impediment to learning. The people who have made it to the top of any sport or profession are usually the first to admit that they have a great deal to learn. Any skiers out there who are feeling like they are at the top of their game, I would encourage you to take the biggest step you ever have towards continuing to improve – empty your cup.

©1997 Todd Murchison


Send mail to LadyLacy@spiritone.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2001 Lacy's Latherworks
Last modified: November 04, 2001
post #2 of 39
One of my most favorite "Todd" articles! thank you for posting this, Artimus, it is certainly prevalent at the moment!
post #3 of 39
Great Post!
post #4 of 39
Yikes! Man whenever I see anything I've written, I immediately put on my editors hat and start tearing into it like a wild dog.

Ah well, that was five years ago . . . thanks for the nice comments!
post #5 of 39
screw the editing! Todd always tells it like it is! Thats why we love him! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #6 of 39
I am very good at skiing moguls but I watched those guys skiing moguls in the olympics and my knees hurt so bad sitting on the couch that I had to turn to a different channel.
post #7 of 39
Most of us have no idea about the skills involved in anything (outside our own expertise) from driving a Nascar racer to holding a heart surgeon's scalpel.

As Todd says, if you've not been doing something for 250 days a year for a decade, you just can't begin to appreciate the nuances of skill involved.

Equally interesting is the fact it takes just as long to begin to understand this. One of the few benefits of growing old.
post #8 of 39
Hey, I read this article a couple months back, and it really made me stop and think. The next time I saw some footage, of Picabo Street just skiing recreationally ( a clip on the Olympic website) I watched with a more open mind. I was struck by the realization that there is simply no way I look anything like that, and I won't look even close for years and years, if ever.

Very enlightening, and I'm glad to have learned this early in my skiing life. I never imagined that Todd Murchison was "our" Todd M. though! [img]smile.gif[/img] Just goes to show ya... good stuff Todd. It really is.
post #9 of 39
Nice article Todd. If you think skiing is an ego sport talk to people about driving. I doubt that any of us would get an F-1 car around the first corner. They are twitchy little rascals.
post #10 of 39
Fascinating! I just had the greatest learning experience! I was skiing with a friend who is an instructor, and by the end of the day, I was a better skier than I've ever been. One of the things he did was "show" me how I looked when I skied. In other words, he imitated me, but in a very non-threatening way. Although I have rarely seen myself ski on video, I just KNEW that his imitation was dead right! and I HOWLED!! It was the funniest thing I've ever seen, and there was no question - that's what I myself believe I looked like. Now, I not only have learned what to DO, I ALSO have learned what NOT to do - I mean, EXACTLY what not to do. I watch out for those "do not do" things, and when I catch myself at them, I correct them. No question about it: A sense of humor about ones self is an asset in learning to ski better.
post #11 of 39
Thanks guys - I'd forgotten about that article, I think I'll rewrite it, update it with more modern examples and resell it to somebody. The wonderful thing about your own stuff, is you can plagerize it all you want -- and the only way to make any money as a small time writer is to resell each article multiple times!

Yeah - I've heard that we skiers are not alone in having somewhat unrealistic views of ourselves. A friend of mine, musician who did quite well, told me once "You know, I've met presidents, billionares, all the movie stars and other musicians, heros . . . but the most arrogant people I've ever met? Horse people" Now that was after we'd polished off a couple of bottles of wine, and his wife was a major horse snob and they got divorced not too long after that conversation . . . so there is a little bit of external circumstance, but it was still an interesting comment!
post #12 of 39
Hey, what happened to your cool website? I just clicked on the link I have to it on my ski-fitness site, but the link no longer works!

Is'nt that breaking one of the prime rules of web development, "Thou shall not put up dead links?"
post #13 of 39
Aw hell - I changed internet service providers, that page is long dead. And I want to build a new, much better site -- but Adelphia doesn't know how to give me webspace yet it seems. They have ripping fast broadband, but they don't know a computer from their own butts!

If you search on my name and "skiing" on a place like Google though you find links to tons of my articles scattered about cyberspace.
post #14 of 39
If you think skiing is an ego sport talk to people about driving. I can relate to that. I've never though of myself as being a top skier,that's the first step towards being a better one. I am just thankful that I can enjoy the sport to my best effort. Great article Mr. Todd.
post #15 of 39
Yeah, I know! I have some of them bookmarked! But I loved the photos!
post #16 of 39
post #17 of 39
What, all those saucy pics with Todd's ski collection are no longer in cyberspace?! [I'll mind my manners now...sorta.]

Waaa! Let's all have a moment of silence and hang our heads to mark this dreadful event, the passing away of what once was...

I feel better now -- especially since I posted the SAME time as Todd's link. Hurray!


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 08, 2002 08:49 PM: Message edited 1 time, by lisakaz ]</font>
post #18 of 39
Slider, we be talking at the same time, kiddo. But the point you are making is exactly my philosophy. The moment you think you know it all, is the moment you know nothing!

Todd is so meticulous as an instructor, that you would never walk away from a lesson thinking "hey, I'm the best!" But you would have a very clear idea of what you need to work on, and your standards for what is good or even acceptable skiing would certainly be raised a few notches!
post #19 of 39
If you think skiers are prone for exageration ya should hang out with young surfers ... boogie boarders especially!

Loose your EGO and the living becomes easy.

post #20 of 39
OMG!! I LOVE the Mayah pictures! Especially the one of her reading Atlas Shrugged! she is gorgeous!

BTW, if you have people do a google search, they are also going to find those black box articles!
post #21 of 39
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by man from oz:
If you think skiers are prone for exageration ya should hang out with young surfers ... boogie boarders especially!

Loose your EGO and the living becomes easy.

You haven't heard a bunch of truck drivers shoot the breeze yet!
post #22 of 39
nice article, Todd. I wonder why I keep agreeing with your viewpoint...
post #23 of 39
No disagreement but I think there is another side to this. When skiing with a world class skier (which I've been fortunate enough to do a few times) there is certainly no way for me to at all match them. But, what I can do is get a first hand impression of what skiing at that level is about and to take notice in those brief moments of attempted emulation of some of the experiences achievable at that performance level. Those moments (while brief and rare) serve as tremendous motivation for me in my skiing. I guess what I'm saying is that it's fine to be realistic but don't forget to dream.
post #24 of 39
Oooooh boy! Herre comes the dog again!- me!

Artimus- Thanks for popping in at my meager website. We still can't find a way to get a comments page up and running. We only know how to use Mcro's FrontPage. Our ISP server uses Apache software. Thy don't mix very well. I also can't get a counter running either! Rats!

A found Todd's article a few years ago and saved it. I somehow hung onto it through many computer upgrades and hard drive crashes. On other forums in years past, before I found Epic I refered to Todd's article many times. I feared that the ones who needed to read it the most never did.

If there is a skiing Bible this article should be the preamble or preface! Tahnk you, Todd for saying long ago what needed to be said!
post #25 of 39
Thread Starter 
Wow!! : Was expecting a response, but not like this!! Bob, when I read that article I thought that it would be something that the rest of the Bears would like. Sorry if I offended you or Todd by bringing it here, but is such a great read. My first thought after reading it was that lessons and classes are on the top of my list for next season.
Todd, I enjoy your writing style and would like to read more. Will search the web (google, and yahoo), for more of your writing. I think that I've missed the boat on something though as I am new to everything to do with skiing....but who is Todd?(sorry, had to ask...pics for a mag, book?? wow)
Bob, I also liked the content of your site. Great tips, hints and ideas. Keep up the great work, and research that you have put into our sport!!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 09, 2002 09:21 AM: Message edited 1 time, by artimus ]</font>
post #26 of 39
Like most good skiers, Todd is way too MODEST about himself to answer that question! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Todd has written many skiing articles in various magazines, as well as a whole bunch of adticles on line. He also has some rather humorous techno-geek articles online, but we won't talk about them here!

He has done some modeling for ski books, I believe the title is Rockey Mountain Skiing?
And I also think he is currently at work on his own book?

So, if you plan to take lessons next year, come out to Mount Snow!

jyardog, what's your url? Awhile ago I had a thread about members with ski websites!
post #27 of 39
"Six years ago (or around 1,000 ski days ago) I was convinced I was the hottest skier around. If I could send video of myself showing how I ski now back in time to my younger self – I would not have been capable of appreciating the difference anyway, I would have said "heck, I’m skiing about as well as that guy". Now I look back on video of myself skiing then, and cannot believe how poorly I skied – yet at that time I knew I was great, nobody could have convinced me otherwise."

Now back then were you a bad skier or just nowhere near world class level? I believe that 6 years (or 11 now) that you were probably a very good skier who was dropping everyone he knew. Still nowhere near world class, still with lots to learn but still skiing better than 99.9% of the people. Even better than SCSA
post #28 of 39
The article is one way of seeing that Todd is not only a consumate man of skiing, but also a man of character. Please do not say just now "Ya, he sure IS a character!" Maybe he is - but he also HAS character, and that's no joke. Most of those who have demonstrated some of the best ski writing on this website - Todd, Bob Barnes, Ott, and there certainly are others - also have demonstrated some of the best character traits, as well. These attributes, as well as professional expertise, benefit all of us, and I'm glad that I have this opportunity to say so.
post #29 of 39
Artimus- There was no offense. I put stuff on our site to share with others freely. it's a way of giving back to the mountain what the mountain has given me.

My favorite saying is ('man' is generic here) No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help his fellow man.

Todd M. and Bob Barnes and many others here have shown this in their character.

If anyone sends me some tips I try to post them at our site. My Wife does a better job at it than I do. : And she gets around to it after she gets done messing up the kitchen with her soap making sutff!

Here it is again. it's a small site, there are much better ones around I'm sure, but i try. www.lacyslatherworks.com then hit Bobs ski page.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 10, 2002 08:54 AM: Message edited 1 time, by jyarddog ]</font>
post #30 of 39
The big difference in the martial arts was that someone with a huge ego would be dealt with in a somewhat less delicate fashion.

The boss would bring in a "ringer" from outside and introduce them as our "new student" ..... The new student would wax the offenders taxi and introduce a newfound sense of humility. Some overweight balding old guys can move like lightening leaving the young Adonis shredded.

We soon learn that we exist only upon the kindness of others.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion