Well said, Ott.
Contrary to popular opinion, falls do NOT make us better. But not risking a fall--ever--is a sure way to stagnate.
Sometimes that risk results from inattentiveness--or plain stupidity. Especially for expert skiers, there are times when they simply cannot afford to fall, when a fall would put them at extreme, life-threatening risk.
But trying something new--a prerequisite to learning and improvement--certainly entails greater risk of falling. As instructors, we live constantly with that reality. Weighing the risks, and making sure that the environment is such that a fall entails minimal risk of serious injury, is a big part of the job!
Ironically, one of the least effective ways to avoid falling is to try not to fall! Those experts, in life-threatening situations, must focus intensely on what is happening, on the present, the so-called "here and now." They haven't got time to focus on "not falling." "Not falling" is a distraction. It makes us defensive, prevents us from making the offensive movements so crucial to skiing extreme conditions.
Then there are those snowboarders.... I skied Arapahoe Basin yesterday, just a few more turns before they close tomorrow. (Ironically, due to lack of business, they will close with the best conditions I've ever seen on closing day! I can't remember a time when you could still ski all the way to the bottom--usually you have to download--on closing day.) The run to the bottom is narrow, maybe two snowcat-tracks wide, snow pushed into the middle of the trail.
So I'm skiing down, a pretty good clip, making medium-short turns as smoothly and regularly as I could, when I hear "ON YOUR LEFT--GET OUT OF THE WAY!" and the disgusting loud scraping sound of several snowboarders going way faster than their ability should dictate. I look back to see one of them crash. Then the rest keep yelling--"GET OUT OF THE WAY" (etc.).
I let them pass. No harm done (this time). But when I got to the bottom, I did my best to explain the facts of life to them. They were the stereotypical, belligerent, obnoxious, foul-mouthed, clueless, irresponsible snowboarders that give all snowboarders the unfortunate reputation that they don't all deserve. I brought in the ski patrol, who gladly spoke to them.
It was clear as a bell that they didn't have a clue about "The Responsibility Code." They stated, repeatedly--and I'm convinced that they acually believed it--that yelling "on your left" somehow granted them some sort of right-of-way, and that others had the responsibility to get out of their way. With the patrol speaking to them, they suddenly turned into model citizens, apologizing, saying they understood, etc. But I'm not convinced.
Anyway, watch out. Even when there are only a few dozen people on the slopes at Arapahoe, there still is no shortage if ignorant snowboarders with attitudes. Annie--get the gun!