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FEAR - Beginners Zone

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
FEAR

Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, it has been instrumental in keeping the human species alive (Skiers Too)!

Obviously there are different levels of fear. A beginners perception of danger is almost always more magnified than that of a more experienced skier. This more prevalent concern with harm and danger can act as a negative influence on a beginner. Often acting as a catalyst to the emotion of fear is a new skier's; friends, husband, wife, boyfriend or significant other.

Have you heard the story before?

"He took me to the top of the hill and left me...he told me to just ski it...he told me this was easy...etc. etc." All of us must realize and recognize that a "green run" to a new skier can look like a terrible, scary ice rink with steepness added. Some relatives, friends or significant others seem to forget the Beginners dread of surviving that "steep" green run.

If you are skiing for the first time, GET A LESSON. See Epic Beginner Zone thread: (So You Want To Ski - For the First Time). If you've skied before and can; stop, turn and perform basic skills and want to be alone (thats ok) then judge carefully where you go on the hill.

While you are a beginner try to stay on slopes that are within your comfort zone. You will have more fun, learn quicker and experience the exhilaration of sliding across the snow without the alarm, panic and dread of skiing slopes that are over your ability level. Once you become more competent and confident in your skills, then by all means challenge yourself with more difficult slopes. After getting the basics (stopping/standing/turning/balance/slowing/going faster in control) your skiing will improve at this point when you challenge your skills and anxieties. Levels of alarm, panic, fear and intrepedation will then begin to diminish.

You wil l find in skiing that if you have a bad habit (i.e. leaning into the hill) that when you push yourself on steeper or more difficult slopes/runs that you will resort to using these bad habits again. One of the reasons for this is that when you become concerned or get cold feet regarding the new steepness, ice or the size of the moguls your fears will regress you back to defensive skiing - leaning into the hill. Be aware of what is happening to you, the element of hesitation and fear are trying to take over. Don't let this happen, enjoy yourself skiing. There are sudden dangers (such as trees, cliffs), alarming situations (such as snowmobiles on your run, snowcats too sometimes), reasons for alarm (going too fast toward people, trees etc.), dread when the hill falls away and is too steep. As a beginner control where you go on the hill.

DO THIS. On the top of every run, pause on top and look down the hill/run and look for good aspects and potential trouble spots. Examples, ASK YOURSELF:

Q. Is the middle of the run skied out and icy?

A. If yes ski the sides, if no pick the middle and give
yourself room to turn and slide.


Q. Any hazards down there. People/trees/rocks etc.

A. Avoid them. Start wide of any hazards and slide wide
around them

Don't wait at the top and become anxious and fearful, just pause and look down the run to where you want to go and ski your best run ever. The obstacles down there are seen by yourself before you get there just go around them.

Make fear and concern an ally in your early days of skiing. Starting your skiing life with a lesson from a professional will get you on the correct path to sucess and enjoyment of an awesome sport.
A Beginner skiing a Green run top to bottom for the lst time is just as rewarding and fun as an Expert skiing a black diamond run.

Use your reluctance, trepidation and even your fear to positively affect your skiing. Don't just be frightened and panicked, be smart and use the emotion of anxious concern to pick your ski territory and give yourself the time to progress in your skiing skills. Above all don't let anyone take you to "the top" until you are ready and want to go!

When teaching beginners and especially First Timers, TRUST is a huge factor in combating apprehensions and fears. A professional instrructor has your best interest as one of his/her primary goals. You will not be taken to "the top". If you are fearful - tell your instructor. Skiing lessons are of the superior nature when you (student) and the instructor are working together as a team, exchanging; ideas, likes, dislikes, fears.
Overcoming your possible reluctance, alarm, dread or fears is part of an instructor's goals for you to have a meaningful lesson. Yes, some relatives etc. can be trusted but don't learn if they have this charcter trait on the lst day, wait a little until you have a few skills and then you will know very quickly if you can trust them to "take you to the top".

SUMMARY. Yes we all have fears. Learn to control your anxieties and make them work for you not against you.

REMEMBER. No matter how much of a beginner you are - theres always someone out there that is even more of a beginner than you. AND, no matter how good you think you are theres always someone out there that is better.

Welcom e to a lifelong pursuit of good snow, the perfect turn and here's to all the lifelong friendships you will make.

GOOD LUCK - GOOD SKIING
Pete No. Idaho - NESC (Non Expert Skiing Club)
post #2 of 27
I've always wonder what NESC signified. Great piece Pete. I'd like to take a lesson from you this year. In exchange I have a drill for you that will metamorphosis your skiing.
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
I've always wonder what NESC signified. Great piece Pete.
Sept 12, 2007

Ditto on the NESC as well as "Great piece".

Hi Pete:

Love the gloves, but haven't used them yet since last season it never got that cold down here in the "banana belt". Hope you enjoyed your "fly fishing". Have you ever heard of an expert fly fisherman named Lloyd Gonzales? He also happens to be an PSIA-e Skiing Examiner as well. Good man, great skier in that order.

Click on following about a book he wrote on fly fishing.
http://www.amazon.com/Fly-Fishing-Pr.../dp/0811732207

Cheers.

CP
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 

zone

Charlie P. Don't know him, will check on book. thanks

Slider. Yeah, what couldI teach you. Do hope to ski with ya all this yr.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
Charlie P. Don't know him, will check on book. thanks

Slider. Yeah, what couldI teach you. Do hope to ski with ya all this yr.
REMEMBER. No matter how much of a beginner you are - theres always someone out there that is even more of a beginner than you. AND, no matter how good you think you are theres always someone out there that is better.

Ski your own line.
post #6 of 27
Everybody has fears. Some more than others and that is very much a normal feeling. Often we have fears that pass when we learn to control the acts that created them . In skiing it could be fear not feeling you will be able to control yourself and that you could get hurt. The job of instructors is to help you learn how to use the tools that put you in control of your speed and path.
A nice turn up into the hill when you feel your speed is too much or building too fast. Turn from danger and to control speed.
When you feel you can control your path then the fear becomes excitement and fun. Playing with gravity is a fun thing to do as long as we realize the rules of gravity and sliding on snow.
Fear is an act of intelligence and it is good to listen to yourself when your body tells you there is danger involved. In skiing and snowboarding we decide how much risk to take on .
post #7 of 27

Skiing in Spite of Fear

:As a beginner, in particular, skiing can be scary. The skis feel unfamiliar. Your natural impulse...to lean back..works against you. Your boots may not fit properly or your equipment is just not quite right and you may have problems controlling the skis.

The best thing you can possibly do to face the fear and learn just how wonderful skiing can be is to find a pro to help you understand what kind of equipment you need and how you need to move.

You will be told to do things that are counterintuitive. The pro will probably take your poles away from you and ask you to do various drills. It is important to put your trust in that person. If you follow their direction, you will find that what they are saying actually works. You will probably ski better without the poles and you will be amazed as you become more familiar with the sensations, how much fun it can be.

You do have to let go though, to surrender and trust first the pro and then your own body once you start to learn more. You will find as you gain more experience, that your body understands much better than your mind what needs to be done.

One of the biggest things to learn as a beginner, other than how to stop and to control your speed, is where you need to be positioned (stance I suppose). There is a sweet spot on the ski that is probably way more forward than you think. If you are in the right spot, you can feel the difference in your ability to control the skis (OK..hopefully I'm not oversimplifying!!! This is the cue to crucify me!!)

I think the major antidote to fear is to understand what you need to do and to know that you are capable of doing it on the run that you're on. Ok, as you challenge yourself, you will need to push this envelope. As a beginner, you absolutely need to get enough experience to become used to the whole thing (unless you're naturally talented.....). So, you have to cut yourself enough slack to learn, to look dorky, feel fearful, etc.
Also, it will help a lot if you don't compare yourself to other people (I'm not learning as quickly as ....) but just enjoy the process, the surroundings, etc.

As mentioned, have a pro guide you. Consider whether you might be more comfortable trying things in a group (group lesson). Or, if you can manage it, you can arrange one on one guidance with a pro.

At some point, you will go out on your own though. You may find yourself frozen on a pitch that looks incredibly steep to you. If this happens, remember to breathe. Take small pieces of the trail at a time if you need to. If you ventured on to something over your head, go back to a trail you're more comfortable with. But then venture out again to the challenging trail.

As time goes by, you will find that the trail that looked overwhelmingly steep to you starts to look flatter and flatter. The feelings of fear will dissipate (at least on the runs you're used to) and you will start to feel like you are moving in harmony with everything.

The feelings that go with skiing are often compared with flight. I think the description of what the experience is like is reflected in a quote attached to one Epic member's signature: "(Skiing)/Flight is abiding peace. Absolute serenity. It is faith and compassion. Purest joy. IT IS A SPIRIT TOTALLY FREE..........."

All the best,
post #8 of 27
I think all of us started with a white knuckle Death Grip on our ski poles.
I think my transition from "oh sh!t" to "Whoo Hooo" was when I fell and found out I was okay, and it was okay.

One of my sisters has struggled with this more than I have and still has anxiety when she skis, but she does it to spend dime with her family.
The Book that she read that has helped her the most is Weem's book Brilliant Skiing Everyday.
I don't know what has helped her, I'll ask.

Another book I've heard about and am thinking about buying for her is,
Out of the Yikes Zone.
post #9 of 27

In the Yikes Zone

TC, The book is named "In the Yikes Zone: A Conversation with Fear" (what skiing can teach us about surrender and trust). It's by Mermer Blakeslee and I think it's one of the best books I've ever read.

One of her biggest points is that fear is always present, you have to accept its presence. The trick is when to know that the fear is real and when to know that its not real because you have the skill level to handle what you're on.
post #10 of 27
Another point in the book -- the nature of skiing exposes you constantly to new things. A run that you're used to may feel completely different from the last time you were on it depending on conditions. There are constant adjustments in skiing --from learning basics, to applying them to differing conditions, to moving on to more challenging levels.

You may have to step beyond your comfort zone to handle these. One suggestion is to step out of your comfort zone to a certain degree (i.e. scary but not completely beyond your control) and then go back to the familiar. Then, increase the frequency/exposure to the new step. As you adjust to it, you will notice the threat dissipates and then completely goes away.
post #11 of 27

Turning fear into fun

Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ View Post
Everybody has fears. Some more than others and that is very much a normal feeling. Often we have fears that pass when we learn to control the acts that created them . In skiing it could be fear not feeling you will be able to control yourself and that you could get hurt. The job of instructors is to help you learn how to use the tools that put you in control of your speed and path.
A nice turn up into the hill when you feel your speed is too much or building too fast. Turn from danger and to control speed.
When you feel you can control your path then the fear becomes excitement and fun. Playing with gravity is a fun thing to do as long as we realize the rules of gravity and sliding on snow.
Fear is an act of intelligence and it is good to listen to yourself when your body tells you there is danger involved. In skiing and snowboarding we decide how much risk to take on .
This seems like a particularly good description. If you can't control your skis or don't know what to do, skiing can be frightening. If someone shows you what you need to do and you experience the control that you can have, it becomes fun.

I've found that I still have to absorb what I've been taught and it's tested when I'm on my own. But if I take the approach that I know what I need to do and then start transitioning that into what it feels like and experimenting with it, that's when my confidence level really shoots up.
post #12 of 27
If I may quote Butthead: "Fear is cool."

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trotski View Post
If I may quote Butthead: "Fear is cool."

I have to say, it doesn't feel cool. It feels like an obstacle. But there's a woman skier I know who absolutely kicks the butt of a lot male skiers I also know.
She told me that she was held back by fear and that one of the things that pushed her to a higher level was going to a women's clinic (Kim Reichelm's in this case).

Obviously fear isn't exclusive to women. But I think it tends to be more obvious as a cause for holding them back or from never getting going in the sport.
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmc View Post

Obviously fear isn't exclusive to women. But I think it tends to be more obvious as a cause for holding them back or from never getting going in the sport.
mgmc, one of the reasons I wrote the Fear thread. In teaching beginners I notice the element of Fear is sometimes very prevalent in new lady skiers. One of my really pet endeavors in this case is to try and make sure the lady isn't turned off permanently to skiing and enjoys herself and comes back. The main ingrediant I use in this type of scenario is to establish Trust, the psychological profile of this type of person calls for some verbal exc hange followed by a demonstration of the trust that was talked about. Looking Mrs. Smith right in the eyes and sincerely talking to her, " I'm here to help you, you can trust me, I won't take you anywhere that will scare you or be dangerous. I know how you feel (empathy) and we are here to act as a team, both of us together. Now let s go have some fun." Trust coupled with empathy will go a long way to dissuade fears of new skiers.
post #15 of 27

Fear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
mgmc, one of the reasons I wrote the Fear thread. In teaching beginners I notice the element of Fear is sometimes very prevalent in new lady skiers. One of my really pet endeavors in this case is to try and make sure the lady isn't turned off permanently to skiing and enjoys herself and comes back. The main ingrediant I use in this type of scenario is to establish Trust, the psychological profile of this type of person calls for some verbal exc hange followed by a demonstration of the trust that was talked about. Looking Mrs. Smith right in the eyes and sincerely talking to her, " I'm here to help you, you can trust me, I won't take you anywhere that will scare you or be dangerous. I know how you feel (empathy) and we are here to act as a team, both of us together. Now let s go have some fun." Trust coupled with empathy will go a long way to dissuade fears of new skiers.
Pete-
I agree. Trust and empathy do go a long way to alleviate fear. Establishing trust, especially with new skiers (particularly women) is a really good approach for an instructor.
post #16 of 27
I've always said, Push me the first time and I'll jump the next!
Not exactly beginner advice, or compassion, however, it seems that the "Ohsheeeeet" moments do turn in to "Whoooo hoooooo" moments, then you're looking for that extra adrenaline rush that the has taken the place of fear.
post #17 of 27
I dunno, I guess that makes me a "girly man."

Fear is the opposite of confidence. Fear is what happens when you don't have confidence in the skills you were taught. The usual methods or overcome fear, is to slowly "ramp up" the terrain, to maintain confidence. Which simply means that the technique you use does not fall apart on the "tough stuff".

This is common in any sport and at any level. As you add power or speed, technique always suffers. If that was not so, WC skiers would ski every turn perfectly, and all would have the exact same finish time. Since they do not, you can bet that it is a result of their different levels of technique. Their technique also does not hold up often as a result of the faith/confidence they have in it to work well on a given course at a given speed.

There is really not a lot of difference in this sort of fear except that for beginning skiers it will occur at far lower speeds and on far gentler pitches.

This is something that everyone should keep in their mind. There is no point cajoling a new skier that "hey this is easy" when they are petrified.

The old 20/60/20 rule applies. 20% time spent below comfort level, 60% at comfort level and 20% above comfort level, to stretch the boundary, and test their technique. The 20% does not have to be alot above the comfort level, just a little bit. And by all means when the skier is attempting something out of their zone, be sure you know them well enough to know if you should be a cheerleader or just shut up! Some may consider your efforts to hep a distraction.
post #18 of 27

Kids experience Fear differently at some point...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmc View Post
Obviously fear isn't exclusive to women. But I think it tends to be more obvious as a cause for holding them back or from never getting going in the sport.
I think there is some truth in this for younger girls. We intentionally got Jane involved in skiing earlier than I would have otherwise. If you wait too long, it's sometimes monumentally harder to get kids over their fear. For Jane, we just wanted to be sure she knew it was OK to enjoy going fast.
post #19 of 27
Having skied with Mermer, I find it amazing that she would be afraid of any ski situation. She's a pretty good skier and a hardass, not what I was expecting at all judging by the title of her book. One of these days I'll have to read it.
post #20 of 27
Here's a tip for people who have been taken by their friends and SO's to a hill steeper than you are comfortable with. Now what?

STOP LOOKING DOWN THE HILL. Look across the hill. Looking that direction it's not so steep to get across the hill, right? Okay, now you're across the hill. Turn whichever way you are comfortable with, a normal turn if you can do it, a kick turn if you've been taught, OR just take your skis off, turn them across the slope and put them on again, whatever works for you. Now ski to the other side. DON'T concentrate on the total hill, just the next traverse. Eventually, you'll be down the hill and normally each turn will be easier. NOW, dump the "friend" and go take a lesson!
post #21 of 27

In the Yikes Zone

Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
Having skied with Mermer, I find it amazing that she would be afraid of any ski situation. She's a pretty good skier and a hardass, not what I was expecting at all judging by the title of her book. One of these days I'll have to read it.
Epic,
The book is about Mermer's work helping people to overcome fear. She does talk about experiencing fear herself though. It's a great book; I highly recommend it!
post #22 of 27
Fear, it's not just for beginers.
I feel fear. At times it's raised my awareness of risk to make me think twice about my terrain selection. Other times it hightens my sense of excitement and anticipation of the run to come. One of the greatest lessons we learn from skiing is how to cope with fear, listen to our sense of self preservation and make the right choices.
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 

Fear

Dogonjon, not being a beginner how do you use fear when you ski. Does it hinder your advancement or enjoyment, or self satisfactiion on tackling steeper terrain. Mammoth certainly has enough steeps to test the fear factor. At MAMMOTH what steeps do you ski confidently and feel relaxed and good about and what steeps put a little fear in you but you do anyway and which steeps do you not do because your're a little to fearful in your ability or they're cripplers killer runs.

As an example I can ski Dropout ok, I am hesitant however especially when I start of the top and I only ski when the snows ok, no ice for me up there. I can ski Da ve's and really enjoy but have a hard time taking that lst turn right off the side. I realize this is a beginners forum but some comments might be interesting and relate to a beginners lst run down, i.e., that long run down Stump Alley.
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 

Fear

Trekchick and Ski Spirit. Finished In the Yikes Zone last week. Good book. Should be a must read for all ski instructors especially Level I.

Mermer certainly has the experience and recognition talent.
post #25 of 27
If you can get into one of Mermer's seminars on fear, do it. Well worth the time, effort, and money.
post #26 of 27

Fear Clinics

I attended Mermer's fear clinic for women last year at Wyndham (as I've mentioned before). Not the greatest snow conditions that week but can't recommend her clinic highly enough. Lots of attention from teachers (including Mermer). The individual teachers are hand selected and trained by Mermer.

Re: clinics for instructors --- makes total sense to me. She provides a lot of insights.
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 

Fear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski Spirit View Post
I attended Mermer's fear clinic for women last year at Wyndham (as I've mentioned before). Not the greatest snow conditions that week but can't recommend her clinic highly enough. Lots of attention from teachers (including Mermer). The individual teachers are hand selected and trained by Mermer.

Re: clinics for instructors --- makes total sense to me. She provides a lot of insights.
Thought the book was on the money. After 20 plus years of dealing with Fear in many ways as my profession, it was a good read for me. Certainly applies to new skiers especially lst timers. Entering the Yikes Zone is many things and levels to different people. That is what makes the subject interesting. Recognizing and then reacting to their fears in a positive way woould be a real plus for any instructor, friend or ski partner for that matter but expecially an instructor.
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