or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Scourge of Complacence

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Friends, I had a "breakthrough" last Sunday that I wanted to share. It was not a gear related epiphany nor a technical discovery. It was attitudinal, and if I can hold onto it, it will be the best revelation of all.

I have been out about eight or nine times this year. Everything seemed to conspire to keep me on blue groomers. I got some new boards (Ripsticks) and modded my boots (ripped out lifts and spoiler in my XT 17's). I told myself that I wanted to get "acquainted" with the gear before hitting harder terrain. Then I got my wife her first well-fit boots and we skied together on the blues where she is comfortable. Truth is that the easy stuff does let you concentrate on those important drills, and I did. But it was all rather safe and uninspiring.

Last weekend, I went solo for the first time this year and had some choises to make - back to the blues or above. It really was a harder decision to make than it should have been. Eventually, I took the T up to the black/double blacks and pondered the drop - and then did. Not a pretty first run on a relatively steep trail with few bumps. But what a rush to have done it. First time all year I actually stopped and looked back to see what I had done. Ran that trail a few times, building more confidence and skills with each go. Then had to decide whether to turn it up a bit with a double with ungroomed bumps. I am a weak bump skier, but I hit that trail with everything I had (except my head). Again, first run not so pretty but inspiring. After two runs, I actually started to put aside the insecurity factor and got down to the business of experimenting and learning how to do the bumps on a DD. Frankly, wore myself out but had a great time doing it, and I was rewarded with runs down trails virtually no one else was on. In the last hour and a half, I returned to my old blue groomers. They had become mysteriously flatter since my last visit, an I unmysteriously kicked their respective asses.

I bet I will have to ask the question again this weekend, but I know what the answer is already. So here is the lesson I learned: the perfect ski, perfect fit and solid technique deserves the right attitude. No matter what your level, consider the next color. It may very well look good on you. Thanks for reading.
post #2 of 10
I don't know about everyone else but I am a psychologically lazy skier in the sense that I don't seem to pay any more attention than I absolutely have to, and consequently I am always amazed at how much more on my skis I feel when I do something more challenging that forces me to pay attention and focus. I think that after you get the basics down skiing is about 70% in your head.
post #3 of 10
Yep, I agree entirely. As an intermediate aspiring to improve, I've had a few very similar incidents. First was at Winter Park this past December. I had been avoiding doing Cranmer, but when I had some solo time on the second day I told myself fkit, and went for it. And it was easy! I don't know what I was getting so worked up about. Possibly what the rest of my ski group would think of me, and the well-meant criticism of the flaws in my skiing that would inevitably come. But when I could just ski on my own, without worrying about anybody else in my group, I had a sense of freedom that let me just relax and enjoy trip. So on the third day, Canmer and the blues on Mary Jane were a piece of cake. I made a pact with myself then, that if I felt challenged by a run, my first reaction would be to go for it. I still hadn't tried any bumps...

So when we went to Heavenly this year, I kept my pact. I skied the blues without hesitation, and I did several runs down the bumps on Little Dipper. Not well, mind you, but I did it. And now I have the confidence to try again. And I will improve.
post #4 of 10
Over the years, I have realized that a confident stance, a confident pace, and a confident direction really improves my skiing and lets me rip. When you feel tentative, tense, or anxious, your skiing will suffer. My mode is to ski confidently and ski smart on the hill. It works! An important part of that is to know your strengths and weaknesses, and always ski within your ability level. And realize that trail ratings do not necessarily correlate to ability level. I have as much respect for an intermediate who can get down a double black by making wide controlled turns as I do for an expert who rips down the fall line. They are both skiing confidently at their ability level, regardless of the trail classification. When you are in control, you are golden, and your skills will advance quickly.
post #5 of 10
I find the best way to improve is to go out alone and ski things you normaly wouldn't. Sometimes being with others, who aren't into ripping the steep stuff, can hold you back. I've gotten talked out of a lot of runs simply because they didn't want to do them and felt that if I did they would have to follow. Also...don't gape. Too much analyzation can lead to paralyzation. I've stared down runs at JH, Snowbird, and Lake Louise, and they looked pretty hairy. Just had to jump in and do them to realize that it's a mental game half the time. Just don't get too overconfident.
post #6 of 10
Deliberate1, thanks for a great post and a great thread. It has me thinking I need to spend more time on skis alone - focusing on the attitude.
post #7 of 10
Great responses by everyone. I think the general feel of this topic is go out and just do it. Having the confidence in yourself and your gear is a big part of skiing which then leads to what to me is the best part: exploring the mountain. As a ski instructor one of the main points I try to get across is that the "stuff" I'm teaching is so someone can go to any ski area and feel confident when asked if they want a trail map at the ticket window they can say "no thanks". They have the skills to navigate around a resort, negotiate down trails and terrain and have a curiosity to explore different trails with confidence. Some of the best skiing I have done is when out by myself and searching for stuff. Taking my time working down a line then looking back and feeling a sense of accomplishment, I won that round but next time maybe the mountain will win. Good and fun skiing can be had all over a mountain , knowing where to look for it and how to enjoy it only comes from trying it.
post #8 of 10
I skied alone today and was working on getting everything dialed in on easy runs. Stopped checked my tracks,blah,blah,blah. Started getting bored with the whole thing. So the next run I just skied it the way it felt right. Lots better preformance. It's good to work on technique but there's a point where you just need to go ski.
post #9 of 10
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
"Also...don't gape. Too much analyzation can lead to paralyzation."
Great point. After going down a trail for the first time, I "try" to drop into it without stopping at the top, once I determine that there is no traffic. I find the first turn, from a stand still, to be the hardest. And there is that psych factor.
Thanks for all your thoughful responses. As I was rereading my initial post it also occurred to me that Oboe's "alone" comment not only looks rather elegant on the page, it rings true. Much of the enjoyment I had last week skiing alone was from being alone. I like skiing with others, particularly my wife and boys. It is a great joy to see my guys kicking it down the hill. I can only hope that we might be three generations on the hill at some point. And skiing with my wife who is a relative newcomer to the sport is a gift I have always wanted to share with her. She is now the one pouring through the ski mags.
Skiing is a wondeful social activity. But I wonder whether the full potential from skiing can be experienced unless you are alone. Compromises in trail selection and particularly waiting or being waited for can be a shackle of expectations and the source of no small frustration, especially if the group skis at different speeds and levels. Skiing alone is liberating. If you want, you can ski that same pitch repeatedly, or not at all. I have skied all day without a break because I wanted to. This pace would not have suited my ususal companions and would be unfair to them. Reconstructing a group inevitabley requires detailed plans to reconnoiter at a certain time and place, which sometimes happens, or not. Life is so full of planning, scheduling and compromises. On a great day, skiing allows me to switch "tracks," if you will.
Something wonderful happens when you share the magic of a great run on a beautiful winter's day with someone who feels it to. But there is something so totally liberating when you head out alone.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion