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Ski School thoughts

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm 41 and have been skiing about 8 years, since my daughter was 5. I've been taking lessons every ski vacation, and consider myself a level 7, skier. I can get down just about anything, but it ain't always pretty. My form will never be perfect, but it's mine.
So here's the thing...Last year, I'm in Chamonix, FR for a week, and I take a private lesson (Which is so inexpensive compared to the U.S.) Anyway, my pretty little ski instructor sees me ski nice blue piste, and proceeds to take me to the top of the mountain, the Grand Montet, which I'm not thrilled about...She then proceeds to tell me not to get my diapers all wet, that if I can walk, she can teach me to get down anything, anytime. Which she did, and by the end of the day, and week, my skiing improved 200% over anything ever in the states.
I believe this lesson was incredible, because my lessons in Vail and Taos, and other places have generally been with instructors and groups who really want to perfect your form, and don't want you to be challenged, while she didn't care as much about the form (it's not going to change that much at my age), as much as teaching me how to get down anything smoothly with my style.
I think this is mostly for fear in the U.S. of insurance problems and the general U.S. attitude of being pampered, versus challenged.
That was my first time in europe. I try new places every year, and have been to taos, vail, beaver creek, copper, breck, park city, stratton, okemo. I have to say the chamonix trip elevated me to a new level!
By the way, my instructor was a 35 year old former gymnist who broke both ankles in her youth, and now only skis.
post #2 of 6
Hi Rroggydog--welcome to EpicSki!

I'd only argue with your contention that your technique isn't likely to improve much at "your age" (which, incidentally, is about the same as mine).

The rest of your post is dead on. All great instructors (which, unfortunately, excludes MANY instructors) know the importance of challenging you with terrain, conditions, and tactics AS WELL AS technical improvement.

One unfortunate (perhaps) thing about teaching and skiing in the US is the liability thing. It does not prevent us from skiing challenging terrain in a lesson, but the injury/liability factor is perhaps a little heavier here than in Europe.

Keep in mind too that good skiing movements are OFFENSIVE in nature, and that defensive movements (which naturally occur when we are in a defensive state of mind) will eventually lead to frustrating bad habits. Those habits will remain long after the thrill of conquering that death-defying avalanche chute has worn off!

So it is important, fun, gratifying, and exciting to challenge yourself--reasonably. But don't let yourself ONLY practice bad habits! When the terrain gets easy (read "boring"), work on that technique! You CAN make positive changes, and you will reap the benefits by being able to ski even more challenging terrain under control, with a greater margin of safety, and less fatigue. I'll let the "fun factor" that goes with better technique remain a matter of personal preference, but I've never known a skier to wish he or she HADN'T improved!

If you haven't come across it, you might want to check out the thread, HOW TO IMPROVE (and still have fun!) .

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 13, 2002 09:45 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #3 of 6
One of the best lessons came from an instructor who, after an initial evaluation, made the comment .... you ski fine, lets go do some chutes!

I was unnerved ..... rocks and narrow tracks of snow so I started to (stutter) about "technique"..... stalling ... His only reply was "follow me & turn where I turn".

Major breakthrough for me. He took me where I never would have gone on my own. This was in 1982 before the days of the lawyers.

I guess that savy instructors play a game of percentages ..... like a bookie. They probably loose a few that walk or slip down but they win big with those who make it.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 14, 2002 04:28 AM: Message edited 1 time, by yuki ]</font>
post #4 of 6
Right on rroggydog. I personally look for the same in lessons that I take. First it is
: and : then it is .

I can however appreciate that others could be looking for different experience from their lessons and that there is perhaps a lager market for 100% safe and politically correct lessons.

Eugene.
post #5 of 6
With all due respect there is challenge and there is stupid. When I take a lesson I am looking for knowledge and feedback; not chutes. I can challenge myself when and where I want I don’t need to pay a lot of money to have someone take me up where I don’t want to be and scare the Hell outta me; I can do that on my own.
post #6 of 6
My point exactly and I think ski school should be able to satisfy our requirements. We had a thread on this a little while ago.

There are days when I would like to get on a groomer and work on technique and there are days when I would like a little adventure.

Also that knowledge that you are looking for comes in different forms. For example safe route selection and steep skiing techniques. Evaluating which slopes to hit in the morning and what to leave until afternoon. I personally would rather ski challenging conditions with someone who knows the mountain, knows snow conditions and will be able to assist me in getting down should I really get in over my head. Also in some of the ski areas out West it is literally impossible to tell from the lift what you are getting into. That is where local knowledge comes into play.

We took this longest traverse at Snowbird with instructor that I would have never done by myself to find a wide open trail through the woods with fresh snow a week after last storm. To me it was worth the money.

I guess at this point in my skiing I personally am looking for guide experience from instructor as much as skiing technique. Also I find that challenging conditions implify flaws in my technique and also show progress/difference when I start following instructor's advice. Nothing like going from struggling and jumping in and out of 1 foot of chopped powder to smoothly carving turns through it.

Again this is just my personal view.
YMMV (your milage may vary)

Eugene.
PS: Looking to ski a chute does not imply stupidity just like looking to ski a blue groomer does not imply being overly conservative.
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