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Do FLA's really matter?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Maybe I just don't listen over here in Europe, but I'm not aware of their being two "named" ski technique groups. There are individual ski schools which teach different methods and styles, but I don't believe that the methods are named, as such.
So, my question is PSIA, PMTS, whatever, do we need FLAs to box technique into one camp or another?
By giving technique a name, we are then segregating, creating tension/division/antagonism, and forcing people to choose sides. (which I don't think is good, from experiencein Northern Ireland)

When I ski, I ski badly whether you tag me as one technique or another .
When someone gives me a tip, if it improves my skiing, then I accept it and try to use it.
If we didn't use labels, perhaps there'd be fewer rows on here.
Less of the "I follow Paul, you follow Apollos" and more about the actual skiing.

Just a thought to discuss on a Monday morning.

post #2 of 27
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
FLA - Four Letter Acronym

post #4 of 27
Here, here! Fox Hat hit the nail on the head. More pragmatism, less chauvinism would help. Why bother with the disputes about, um "FLA's"? What matters is ONLY, "Did you use advice/technique that helped advance a skier's skill in, and enjoyment of, skiing?" Inasmuch as skiers are individuals, it stands to reason that each skier will, hopefully, find his/her most effective method/instructor. By the way, as to this last item, in my own experience, although both matter, the indentity of the instructor has a greater affect than the identity of the method employed.
post #5 of 27
There are nationally sanction techniques in most larger skiing countries with smaller ones adopting techniques developed by others.

There is the Austrian, French, American, etc.

PSIA, as other European organizations, have adopted a unified teaching system which is a guideline to instructors with lots of leeway in it. The main benefit of a unified system is that the skiers who take a lesson in Vermont this season and in Copper the next get the same language describing the same movement. Unlike in many other sports where a pro in a different location will tell the person to forget what the last pro said and do it his way.

Until Harb coined it, there was no talk about little toe/big toe edges, they were called inside and outside edges, just one of many examples which may confuse a crossover student, though this is not a major example. Stance foot, phantom move, etc. are others.

You go to Austria or Germany it is the 'bergski' and talski' which translates 'mountain ski' and valley ski' = 'uphill ski' and 'downhill ski' and many foreigners have been confused when told to put more pressure on the mountain ski.

post #6 of 27
I contend that the "methods" that become FLAs, are primarily aimed at the logical advancement of the non skier to a level he/she finds acceptable to their own needs. The "method" has less significance to more accomplished skill levels. Good skiing is good skiing in spite of the method. The subtle differences of "language" expressed by different groups when brought together doesn't diminish the grace and mastery demonstrated. We can all "speak ski" with our own accent.

Rather like any teaching stratagies, it would be best to follow a theme and continuum of teaching and learning, with recognized bench marks and milestones.

Skiing from "tip to tip" is too much like myself. 'Self taught, on the cheap. No one could afford to have a ski school for the likes of me!..Why else would I frequent this list!

post #7 of 27
Ah, Fox! You speak to my heart! Even in my own work, I have never been one to follow any one set "METHOD", and have favored an ecclectic teaching style for as long as I can remember.

In terms of skiing, I can see values to some of the ideas presented by PMTS, as well as other schools. A mistake that people often make is calling PSIA a "method". PSIA is an American organization, not a sprecific methodology.

My problem with following one school of thought, is that it divorces the instructor from their own insight and creativity. In the wrong hands, it can turn SOME managers into control freaks. If all instructors of one method teach the EXACT same sytem, the students become loyal to the system, not the teacher.

But IMHO, NO sytem in its ENTIRETY is perfect for every student. And sometimes an individual instructor may have more insight than the developer of a system.

The best teaching methods provide guidelines, while allowing instructors to think outside the box!
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
While I understand what you say, when I read some posts on here, it is like the battle lines are drawn between one platoon and another, each with their unfurled banner held high above them, launching offensive after offensive against a foe, whose biggest difference is in the letters on the flag.

post #9 of 27
If FLA is a four-letter acronym, then why has it got three letters?
post #10 of 27

Your perception wouldn't be influenced by your immediate environment would it?

The description of two factions carrying their banners high is rather amusing. It's sort of like the "battle" between Coke and Pepsi, isn't it?

My dislike of FLA's is the dogma. What endears PSIA to me is that at the local level it is a peer training system driven by the desire to "give back" what was passed down to me by my mentors to the new kids coming up. (All organizations are alike at the top: dogmatic bureaucracies that default to control, protect, and defend modes--in this PSIA and PMTS are no doubt identical.)
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
OK, David, if you must...
ETLA (extended three letter acronym)

Nolo, I believe everyone's perception is heavily influenced by environment & experience, but you're right, you could compare it to Coke v Pepsi.

post #12 of 27
Who said "there can be no communication in a hierarchical structure". (loose translation into English).
post #13 of 27

We humans, when unsure of our own positions, even subliminally, try a stratagy of division that allows the smallest recognizable elements of what we do know to be our own. That way, we have no confusuion. We may speak of little, but we are absolutely sure of the subject.

Contrary to the popular theme, Ignorance is not bliss, rather a sort of hell.

post #14 of 27
Fox, maybe you haven't noticed, but it's the same here in Europe. The difference is that it's on a national basis, as Ott said.
As BobB wrote(if I correctly remember) it's a matter of national pride.
Everything in centered around racing.
The skills acquired by the racers are then translated into teaching point by the theoretician, and adopted, and used to grow next racers generation, which if successfull, will make the wheeel spin a little bit more.
I'm not an instructor, but I've always felt this
competition amongst national schools of thought.
Everyone (the French, the Austrians, the Germans, the Swiss and the Italians) thinks that their schools concepts are the best one.
As I said, I'm not an instructor, nor a racer, but beleive me, I LIKE to upset the French, Swiss and Austrian, during the rare occasions I go ski there. I like to show that I am the product of my nation ski school "system"...
You cannot imagine how many nasty looks a little badge, worn on my chest, with ITALIA written on it can summon!
It's soo amusing

[ April 29, 2002, 11:57 PM: Message edited by: M@tteo ]
post #15 of 27

You missed the point to the FLA, or is it ETLA? Oh well, whatever. Technically there is no difference between the PSIA and PMTS systems or ay other system based on gravity. Last time I reviewed Newton’s Laws, there had not been changes, at least within the realm of skiing, that little stuff (Quarks?) always seems to change, but those changes never change the coarse physical laws we live under.

So what is up with the FLS’s? Money. And the only way to garner the $$$ is to “create” a new system, market the new system, and make $$$. But as we all know the system must be unique, so to guarantee uniqueness, the system requires a new language. Can’t use the old one, doing that makes it too obvious that the system is just the same old system wrapped up in new “cloths”. Jazz up the language, out goes inside edge/outside edge and incomes big toe side/little toe side, and phantom foot, blah, blah, blah. Make enough changes and even the pros begin to believe that there is a real difference.

I’ll forgive you for not understanding this Americanization of skiing, we American’s seem to have this anal-compulsive economic stuff down pat, while you across the pond seem to have balanced work and holiday. Sigh….

Axiom: The contention between any two systems is inversely proportional to the actual difference between the systems. Because the PSIA and PMTS systems are not very different there is much contention. Essentially this causes lots of arguments about how many edges can be angulated on the head of a pin or such nonsense.

Yes, I understand that I have reduced the entire issue to a cartoon, but hopefully it has caused some hard thought in a creative way that is not generally undertaken. All well and good, but what follows is where I believe the “rubber meets the road.” And, if you can follow my twisted mind through this labyrinth you deserve a prize, for I write like the stogy lawyer that I am and not like the crafty fox.

There are three factors, which lead to learning: 1. The system of instruction (i.e., PSIA, PMTS, etc.); 2. The instructor; and 3. The student/instructor relationship. The most important is the student/instructor relationship. For an example, while in law school I had course in US Constitutional law. I had a reasonable understanding of the Black Letter Law but I also knew there were others in the class who clearly understood the concepts much better than I. Not so, at the end of class, I ranked Number 1, not because I knew the material better than the others, but because I understood the professor and what he wanted. I intuitively understood this man and what he found important, so I studied only what was necessary. In ski instruction the same thing occurs. Some students click with a particular instructor, and learn far more from that instructor than they would from another. This can happen regardless of whether the instructor is considered to be good or average (don’t misconstrue my argument, good or great instructors more often have this result because they actively make the student/instructor relationship work – they understand what is necessary to teach optimally to a large cross section of people).

The second most important factor is the instructor. Good and great instructors are not an accident, they are either naturals or they are taught. The best have an innate ability to size up each individual and teach exactly what is necessary to cause the intended result – better skiing.

The least important of the factors is the system itself. A poor instructor teaching the “best” system will always have poorer results than a good instructor, teaching the “worst” system.

The humor is that the arguments and other falderal focus on the system. Way too little time thought is spent on the meat of the issue – teaching itself. Ski instructing could change for the better if instructors spent more time learning how to teach and if ski schools spent more time figuring out how to segregate students into groups which were likely to respond to similar teaching techniques. While I believe this happens somewhere, it does not happen in my universe.

Many here complain bitterly that the mountain is filled with beginners and intermediates who snub lessons. They snub the lessons because they find them to be too much cost for two little benefit. Students are not segregated by ability and learning style, nor are instructors linked to appropriate students. To the contrary, everything is random, causing the least desirable combinations. Adult students have sub optimal results for relatively high cost and decide not to return. How many ski schools know why people take lessons and why they come back or don’t come back? My son has been in ski school for two years at two different mountains and has never been asked what he likes or dislikes. No surveys have been taken of the parents or anyone else that we know has taken lessons. The ski schools seem the think they know what is best for students. This attitude has resulted in the current ski school situation. Without change it will continue to follow this course.

Wow, that got out of hand. I better stop now while I can!!!
post #16 of 27
Originally posted by IceKing:
Who said "there can be no communication in a hierarchical structure". (loose translation into English).
Must of been either Hilter or Michael Schumacher.

post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Could I summarise your mail by saying that you agree with me?
Or maybe it is that you were able to put my thoughts into words better than I did!


post #18 of 27

post #19 of 27

I agree with you whole-heartedly!!! I would also agree that I used more words than you, but better? No, fox, you are a fine wordsmith. I am little more than a piker.

If you disagree with the last statement, be careful, I may follow DangerousBrians lead, to quote “You lot just pushed me too far this time and alls I gotta say is if [you don’t think I am a piker] I'm staying. And I am doubling my daily post count!!! How many more long, pedantic, egocentric, uninformed posts can you take? Ve shall see, ve shall see! MuuuHaaaaHaaaaHaaaaHaaaHaaaHaaa.
post #20 of 27
I kinda like all the arguments. And waving the FLAs just fans the flames. Since I can never remember what the acronyms mean (on the website or on my job), they help me keep everything in perspective by forcing me to drift baffled through the finer points of the dispute.

I hope the Americanization of skiing instruction hasn't taken the national ardor out of the argument. I liked Matteo's ability to irritate his fellow EU denizens (citizens?) just by wearing an Italia patch on his parka. But I don't think skiing has been Americanized, particularly.
post #21 of 27
Your post brought to mind something a professor friend of mine told me. "A PHD means that preson knows an awful lot about very little".
Here at the UW Ag School they say PHD means Pile it Higher and Deeper.

[ April 30, 2002, 07:02 AM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
post #22 of 27
Bull S-
More S-
Piled Higher and Deeper.


The curse of democratic capitalism. For some reason, we are traind to need to be better than others, and then find we loath our own predicament. My papers are more impressive than your papers.

What of the love of learning????

post #23 of 27

You said, "Everyone (the French, the Austrians, the Germans, the Swiss and the Italians) thinks that their schools concepts are the best one.
As I said, I'm not an instructor, nor a racer, but believe me, I LIKE to upset the French, Swiss and Austrian, during the rare occasions I go ski there. I like to show that I am the product of my nation ski school "system"..."

You and I would get along famously. I suspect that you, Wear the fox hat?, and a few others would agree that slavish worship of any system is a boil on the butt of society. Is there anything more fun or satisfying than lancing that boil?
post #24 of 27
>>>But I don't think skiing has been Americanized, particularly.<<<

sno'more, ski teaching had to be Americanized in the mid-60s when we found that the French and Austrian techniques, which were designed to be learned by nimble teenagers, could not be applied for the 40ish slightly plump housewife which was the average of class takers then, they simply couldn't do it.

Even though reverse shoulder motion while up-unweighted while initiating a parallel turn was the turning force that started the skis to turn, it was not dsigned for folks who couldn't seperate upper and lower body motion.

Enter the American Technique. Much more square to the ski travel direction, stem, abstem or heave-ho up-unweighting got the ski tails sliding sideways.

The whole teaching technique had to be designed for 'everyperson' not 'ueberperson'.

post #25 of 27
I wouldn't presume to diagree with you about ski instruction. As a matter of fact, Lisamarie's unhappy experience in an Italian ski school last year tends to confirm that after forty years the instructional patterns in the USA and Europe have diverged enormously.
That said, I think the culture of skiing is pretty international, if you will, with numerous divergent strands. Or maybe it's that skiing has a wide variety of subcultures--in europe around national schools, in the US among the various regions. But I don't think it has been homogenized and americanized in the way pommes frites and pizza have been.
post #26 of 27
>>>Or maybe it's that skiing has a wide variety of subcultures-<<<

I'll drink to that! [img]smile.gif[/img] ...Ott
post #27 of 27
Snomore, I don't know how much skiing you've done outside the US, but personally I find the ski scene there very different to Europe.

Words of wisdom from Maddog. If you want a summary of why the FLAs;

FLA = TM = $$$
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