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I used to be a beginner.

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I had a thought.

Roll back to January 2004. There I am, a rank beginner, with maybe 6 or 8 days of skiing (over the previous 10 years) to my name. I was frustrated at myself for being such a crummy skier. I thought it was ridicules that I was challenged by greens. So I got focused, took lessons and skied as much as I could. In March of that year I bought my first pair of boots (two sizes too big, of course) and skis. The skis were right (K2 Escape 5500). Now, a 130 ski days three seasons later I am on my third pair of boots and my third set of skis and am a strong intermediate.


I remember how it was to be a rank beginner. It wasn’t all that long ago. I also remember the unanswered questions I had. Like how long should my skis be (rental or owned)? Why own instead of rent? How can I tell if my boots are the right size? How do I stop? What are good beginner skis? How do I stop? How do I control my speed? How do I keep from crossing my tips. How do I stop? How do I turn? What are the right kind of clothes to wear? How do I stop?

I think for many of you, you have been skiing so long that you might not remember those first 10 or 15 days on the slope. If you are like my sons, you many have been 5 or 6 years old when you started skiing. Not me. It was a little over three years ago and at age 54. I've learned a lot since 2004. Both in terms of skill and equipment.

So maybe I’ll keep posting questions a beginner would ask as I think of the things beginners want to know. Maybe thoughts on how it felt to face that first blue and how to deal with "steep" hills (hint: don't look down the hill. Stop short of the edge, admire the scenery and just ski. Standing at the top and looking down a steep hill only contributes to fear.)

Any other "used to be a beginner" folk out there who want to share?


It seems like only yesterday………..
post #2 of 31
My memory may be selective, but it seems things were simpler back then.

Here's my questions of the day:

How long should your skis be?
Between your wrist and your finger tips when you stretched your arm over your head.

How do I stop?
The same way you do it on skates

How do I go faster?
Get longer skis, and better wax.

Why buy instead of rent?
Because it's cheaper, and the rental skis go all snaky when you get going fast.

Are buckle boots better than lace-ups?
Yes, because you can make 'em tighter.

Why get safety bindings?
So you friend doesn't break the skis you lent him when he skis into a rock cut (teenagers believe themselves indestructible).

Why am I wiping out so much?
Your just learning; you will fall less with more practice. (the fact that we were on the steepest hardest trails from day 1 couldn't have had anything to do with it : )

Can you get hurt skiing? No, not seriously. That only happens to the other guy.
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
My memory may be selective, but it seems things were simpler back then.

Here's my questions of the day:

How long should your skis be?
Between your wrist and your finger tips when you stretched your arm over your head.

.
OK, OK. Maybe the people who post along these lines should have been beginners in the 21st Century.
post #4 of 31
Quote:
How do I stop?
Something that most adult beginners want (and need) to know from the second they have two skis on their feet. Why do instructors have them first do a streight run ?? And why do instructors have them do a gliding wedge first??

I train the instructors at my area to teach a stop (after boot drills and scootering around a circle) directly after climbing up the gradual hill by first stepping around a turn in a slight wedge shape and then gliding around a circle to a stop. Repeated in both directions. From there, they learn to link two turns with a slight streight glide in between. The class needs to know to stop by turning and slow by turning before they are in a situation where they feel out of control (bad habits start that way).

Instructors need to create a learning enviornment where fear is not impeding the students development. I see too many lessons where the class is standing sideways on the hill being lectured by the instructor and waiting their turn to ski. The class should be either climbing up, or skiing down and never standing and waiting (they have enough of that in the rental shop). If I have 8 people in the class, I demo 8 times in real time with each person every step of the way.

The class should never be dismissed with unanswered questions such as, what do I do for the next lesson? Where should I go after I master the beginner area? What should I do with my skis while I eat lunch? Where is the caferteria and rest room? To name a few.

I have had people from other beginner lessons leave their class and ask to join mine b/c their time was being waisted by their instructor and they could see the progress in mine, and also see the class was having fun in the process.

So, snpete, please keep asking the questions and hopefully the instruction will get better.

RW
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
Something that most adult beginners want (and need) to know from the second they have two skis on their feet. Why do instructors have them first do a straight run ?? And why do instructors have them do a gliding wedge first??
Wouldn't that be to get them a sensual awareness of these positions before we add to the task? The straight run , change ups and gliding wedge runs help them experience and build on the control and balance necessary to do higher level movements.
I agree with the point of your post that turns are the method to control speed and safely maneuver. They put you in charge of your path and destiny.

I would think building on sensations for the young is best but the tool of turning is our utmost priority.My only differance in my progressions is the three I listed. I don't have your experience but I understand how to build movements and confidence.
Ron , anyone, do you disagree as long as we make the turn and good body position the biggest priority in getting them out of the training
area?



How do I stop? Turn into the hill , uphill if need be, til your speed is not any longer an issue. In the lift line, use the wedge
post #6 of 31
Garry,

Quote:
Wouldn't that be to get them a sensual awareness of these positions before we add to the task? The straight run , change ups and gliding wedge runs help them experience and build on the control and balance necessary to do higher level movements.
I don't see where a streight run, gliding wedge realy gives control necessary to do higher level movements. They are a victum of gravity and I have seen too much panic in the new skier doing these manuvers. Stepping around a turn in a slight wedge promotes diagional movements which is necessary to do higher level movements. I save streight runs or even skating down a slight inclime for after control is gain through turning. People balance better doing some type of activity rather than feeling helpless as they keep thier skis streight in a streight run. Put yourself in the boots of a rank beginner and you'll see what snpete's post is about.

RW
post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
Garry,



I don't see where a streight run, gliding wedge realy gives control necessary to do higher level movements. They are a victum of gravity and I have seen too much panic in the new skier doing these manuvers. Stepping around a turn in a slight wedge promotes diagional movements which is necessary to do higher level movements. I save streight runs or even skating down a slight inclime for after control is gain through turning. People balance better doing some type of activity rather than feeling helpless as they keep thier skis streight in a streight run. Put yourself in the boots of a rank beginner and you'll see what snpete's post is about.

RW
One thought. I think it is important that the new skier feel comfortable and secure. Fear in the newbie will more than likely drive him or her away from the sport. Learning how to stop and maintain control is what the newbie wants the most.

When I was a level 3 skier one of the best things I was taught was how to slideslip my way down a slope.
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
Garry,



I don't see where a streight run, gliding wedge realy gives control necessary to do higher level movements. They are a victum of gravity and I have seen too much panic in the new skier doing these manuvers. Stepping around a turn in a slight wedge promotes diagional movements which is necessary to do higher level movements. I save streight runs or even skating down a slight inclime for after control is gain through turning. People balance better doing some type of activity rather than feeling helpless as they keep thier skis streight in a streight run. Put yourself in the boots of a rank beginner and you'll see what snpete's post is about.

RW
I make these runs to an uphill runout and the skier is safe from a bad ending occurring. I find building confidence while giving them the feeling of being in control the highest priority. Gravity is best felt in short experiences that end safely. A taste , a thrill and do it again. I find no panic present and most often they get an exhilirating experience with eagerness to explore these sensations more . I am thinking the terrain is the key to these exercises.

However, I do agee that stepping into turns and around turns or skating in the same pattern is a great early movement to build on. I go to them as quickly as the student is able . They build good movements we can add to.

I can put myself in the shoes of the beginner and feel their needs as it is often written in their body language and faces. I take no offense to your post.
post #9 of 31
I learned by fear. I was told how to put on the skis, showed how to stop, and left on my own. Everything else I picked up by watching people... When I started teaching, the hiring clinic is where I learned the most... and involved the most fear.

Here we are on a steepish green, very little skiing under my belt, and I was told to ski backwards. I didn't decline, I just tried it... it was hard at first, but became a lot easier. Other than the hiring clinics which really improved my basic skills (position, balance, wedges, etc.) my only instruction was one clinic with my boss for an hour and someone telling me to "Bring my knees toward my chest"... That one bit of info helped me progress quite a bit.

Anyway, as far as beginners go, everything should be taken on an individual basis. If I get a level 2 that wants to ski today and tomorrow with his/her family that have been skiing longer, I'm gonna get them out of the beginner area and get them the necessary skills they need to go where they want. The idea is for them to have a good time. If they don't, they will stop skiing. If they want to ski with the family for a weekend, they will get there hopes up... If you let them down and leave them only with enough skills to negotiate beginner terrain, they may get depressed, mad, etc...I base the majority of private lessons I do on an initial conversation with them and attempt to tailor the lesson to them.

Now I get another chance at being a beginner... I've been trying to pick up snowboarding.I didn't care whether I could turn at the beginning... I wanted to know how to stop and control my speed. Sure, it's very different on a snowboard, but it worked. I can stop and control my speed, and I've started working on turning. Knowing how to turn isn't gonna help me when I come up on a total trail-jam that, even on skis, I'd have to stop for.

So, as someone who has been a beginner twice in the past 4 years, I can say that in my opinion, being able to stop is much much much more important than being able to turn. Slightly improper technique, even when embedded into habit, can be fixed. A fearful and bad first impression of a sport is much harder to fix.
post #10 of 31
You know what I remember most from my first few days skiing? Freezing my ass off. I was out there in jeans - ski pants are so darned expensive - falling every 10 feet and shivering like crazy on the few times I made it onto the lift. Crappy coat, crappy gloves, probably not wearing a hat, either, and in all likelihood out there in a cotton sweatshirt.

And then being terrified of falling in front of the liftie when I got off.

I'm surprised I ever came back, to be honest.
post #11 of 31
I am just finishing my 4th season on skis. 57yrs old last march. I too remember wanting to know how to stop, especially wanting to do a hocky stop. I took a 2hr private early on and told the instructor all I wanted to do was learn how to make good hocky stops. Worth every penny for that lesson. Somehow, I really missed the wedge buisness, ya I did learn it for stopping in line, but remember asking another later instructor,second year, if I really needed to learn how to ski in a wedge since I was already steming turns pretty well and hopefully on my way to more paralell type turns. He said well no, not really, why go back, even tho I missed that part and if I ever want to instruct I guess that I would need some refreshers. Anyway, the stopping thing is really important, just as much as stopping in a controlled fashion when and where you want or need to. Good luck new skiers, work hard and ski long, oh, and have fun
post #12 of 31

Skiing 1st rule and the thing no instructor taught me

Hi,
My last season's instructor (La Plagne, France) told me the first rule of skiing: smile!
And it works. Just before I take off downhill I make sure I have a smile on my face. It makes everything else a lot easier.
I suggest you introduce this rule to you students too.
As for something no instructor ever told me (seriously!) - How to go faster. I only realized it by the end of this season and I'll ask about it next year. Perhaps you could advise too? I already know that when going downhill (bikes, ski) weight count - the heavier you are the faster you go, so I have until next winter to work on that one, no snow needed , but what else? What about body and/or ski position? What about long, high speed turns? Should I steer myself like Jonathan Livingston seagull with tiny movements of my ski tips? Most writers on the net talks about short turns, not about going straight. Any one?
Thanks, Eyal.
post #13 of 31
Your time in the fall line defines your speed acquisition and your turn shape defines the velocity you maintain.
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNPete View Post
I (hint: don't look down the hill. Stop short of the edge, admire the scenery and just ski. Standing at the top and looking down a steep hill only contributes to fear.)

I disagree with this. I understand that in order to start linking turns people are going to end up crossing slopes a lot. But, to suggest it as a
viable technique is bad. Not looking downhill is bad technique. And crossing slopes is dangerous to people skiing downhill behind you. Similar to standing in the middle of the run, but in this case a little worse because you aren't looking around and you are a moving obstacle, as opposed to a stationary obstacle.

For all the uproar this site contains about skiing fast or whatever, I can't believe this slipped by. This takes up the whole slope and facilitates people having tunnel vision. As I already mentioned, not looking downhill is bad form, crossing all the way across the slope is bad form, and dangerous. If the only way you can get down the slope you are on is to focus on the opposite side of the run, well then, you should be on a less steep slope. The goal for a beginner is to link turns on the fall line, not criss cross the entire slope.

I'm well aware that people are going to have to do this to improve, and get down slopes that they didn't see coming, or their friends brought them on too early. I just disagree with encouraging it as any sort of technique whatsoever.

Have fun out there noobs
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 

It is not a technique, just a tip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post
I disagree with this. I understand that in order to start linking turns people are going to end up crossing slopes a lot. But, to suggest it as a
viable technique is bad. Not looking downhill is bad technique. And crossing slopes is dangerous to people skiing downhill behind you. Similar to standing in the middle of the run, but in this case a little worse because you aren't looking around and you are a moving obstacle, as opposed to a stationary obstacle.

For all the uproar this site contains about skiing fast or whatever, I can't believe this slipped by. This takes up the whole slope and facilitates people having tunnel vision. As I already mentioned, not looking downhill is bad form, crossing all the way across the slope is bad form, and dangerous. If the only way you can get down the slope you are on is to focus on the opposite side of the run, well then, you should be on a less steep slope. The goal for a beginner is to link turns on the fall line, not criss cross the entire slope.

I'm well aware that people are going to have to do this to improve, and get down slopes that they didn't see coming, or their friends brought them on too early. I just disagree with encouraging it as any sort of technique whatsoever.

Have fun out there noobs
I think you missed my point. What i am suggesting has nothing to do with linking turns or taking up the whole slope (that's why it "slipped by"). It has to do with overcoming fear. If one (a newbie) is stopped at the top of a steep slope and stares down the pitch it may induce/increase fear. I found that if I stopped short of the top of the steep run and did not look down at the pitch my fear factor was a tenth. Once I started skiing down the pitch, I paid full attention to all factors.


It's a mystery to me how you read this huge scenerio into my simple tip.
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNPete View Post
It's a mystery to me how you read this huge scenerio into my simple tip.
Heh. I'll flip your tip - to increase stoke stop at the BOTTOM of the run (in a safe place where you can be seen by other skiers) and look back up at the steep pitch you just skied down.

In either case, stop and take time to enjoy the view. And look down the fall line when you're skiing.
post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl1961 View Post
Heh. I'll flip your tip - to increase stoke stop at the BOTTOM of the run (in a safe place where you can be seen by other skiers) and look back up at the steep pitch you just skied down.
Done that many a time. (I skied that : )

I find that once I get started the pitch doesn't seem so bad. (just ski and know you can do it)
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNPete View Post
Done that many a time. (I skied that : )

I find that once I get started the pitch doesn't seem so bad. (just ski and know you can do it)
Heh. I remember the first time I ever skied double-blacks. These were the runs off the back side of Eldora. Was skiing with a ski-racer friend of mine... went down the first one, no problem, had a ball. Tried a second lap and I absolutely FROZE at the top of the thing. Same run, same line, scared sh*tless. I think I was up there 15 minutes before I could talk myself into taking that first turn... at which point I was just fine.
post #19 of 31
How long have double blacks been around?

I remember skiing some adrenaline inducing lines that were permenantly behind some ropes, and others that were unsigned and a short hike from the lifts way back when, but I can not remember any double blacks when I was learning. The first time I came across a double black I already had enough experience that I couldn't understand why they needed the extra signage. I do have a lousy memory though.
post #20 of 31
depends on the area. The first double black I ever skied was in 1979. (On the same run MG1961 talked about above.)
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
depends on the area. The first double black I ever skied was in 1979. (On the same run MG1961 talked about above.)
So it's a modern invention then:.
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNPete View Post
hint: don't look down the hill. Stop short of the edge, admire the scenery and just ski. Standing at the top and looking down a steep hill only contributes to fear.
Quote:
splitter then said "I disagree with this. .......... Not looking downhill is bad technique.
I know just what both of you mean!
I get told off for grinding to a halt at the start of a steeper bit, staring down it in horror and saying that I can't do it, and then for NOT looking down the fall line when skiing a bit I CAN cope with!
post #23 of 31

Starting off as a Beginner

I tried downhill skiing for the first time about twenty years ago. I didn't have ski clothes, so I was wearing jeans--ended up falling a lot, being very cold and uncomfortable. I walked away never wanting to try it again.
Then about three years ago, at the age of 48, because my husband wanted so badly for me to try it, I took a beginner lesson at Alpine Meadows on Christmas day. My husband made sure that I had the right clothes and equipment. I ended up with a fantastic instructor in a great group lesson and I have now turned into a complete ski fanatic!
So, my advice...make sure you have the right clothes and equipment and try to find really good instruction if you can.
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmc View Post
So, my advice...make sure you have the right clothes and equipment and try to find really good instruction if you can.
This is a pretty darn good first post. It says it all for beginners of any age.
Welcome to Epic .
post #25 of 31
I remember my first day on skis(Dec 19th, 2002) not skiboards. I was 19 and quite overweight. On skiboards edge to edge could do any shape turn you wanted and you could use your upper body cuase they are so short.

First day on skis all i could do was roll over the skis and arc, nothing else, it was scary and dangerous, it took some time to learn leg steering. still learning. I tired quickly, couldnt ski bumps at all, could barely hockey stop, was in the backseat all the time, in boot 2 sizes too big.

In alotta of ways skiing saved my life. At 19 I was 250lb, out of shape video game addict. I hated life(well what teenager doesnt?). Skiing was fun, its was hard a challenge like i never had come up to before. I loved skiing. I started meeting people and got fit from skiing. I had no clue it would end up being my life. It just kinda of happen. 5 season later everyday is better than the last and I love the new life I have made for myself.
post #26 of 31

Thanks for the welcome!

Thanks for the response. Like a lot of you, I was lucky enough to discover skiing (better late than never!). Now, it's hard to imagine life without the freedom, surrender, sheer joy and exhiliration that come with skiing (even on days when you struggle more than you might want to).
post #27 of 31

Oops looks like I killed that thread..sorry

What do I remember wanting to know as a beginner?

How to continue to get better.........I really appreciated instructors who were helpful and encouraging (most want to help but some are better at figuring out what you need to learn and how to get you to understand what they're saying). How to find those instructors? Just keep trying different ones and try to ski as much as possible with some consistency if you can manage it. Some people are naturals...but I'm not one of them.

How to not be afraid when faced with something that looked pretty steep and not to stop every so often and stare in fear? If you follow someone who knows what they're doing, you're focused on what you need to do and you can concentrate on short sections at a time. At some point, you realize that you have the skill and you can just let yourself go and, at that point, it's incredibly rewarding!

Anyway, those are a couple of things I remember.
post #28 of 31
First thing I tell any class, at any level, is that the whole idea is to have fun. Otherwise, why would you be here? Everything I teach - basic skills, safety skills, advanced skills - is taught so they can have fun on the mountain.

I remember my first time on skis: January, 1980, Piancavallo, Italy. Arrived. Got skis. First lesson, next day. So me and my brother (two young, sporty Aussies - 18 and 16) took our skis and walked up what we thought was a hill.

It was, in fact, slightly less steep than the average car park - but when it's your first time on skis, dear lordy that's steep.

So I do remember that.

I also remember that my first ever pair of skis, 185cm, were longer than anything I have now ...

Whatever. Fun: most instructors do, indeed, remember what it was like not to be able to ski. At least, I hope they do.
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
So it's a modern invention then:.
I think I skied double blacks at Aspen Highlands back in 75 or 76. My brother and I were both about 13 or 14 years old and had the skills to pull it off, but that was way beyond the bounds of anything we'd skied before. Talk about a wake up call.

My memories of being a beginner? A week on the bunny hill at Giant's Ridge when I was 5. There were two families that skied together for that week and there were a total of 5 kids. We each must have fallen about 100 times that week, but the only damage was to my dad's wallet when the hot chocolate bill came from the lodge.
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNPete View Post
When I was a level 3 skier one of the best things I was taught was how to slideslip my way down a slope.
I'm not an instructor...but for those of you who are...I would agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Looking back to when I was a beginner in the late 80's I wish somebody had taught me to do this first thing...before anything else. Huge confidence builder if you can sideslip your way out of any danger.
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