Ryan: Your post is excellent. At first it seems as though this subject is like a chicken & egg syndrome. Which one came first??
Well, for high level skiers, III and above, the learning becomes one of feeling the snow, speed, surface conditions, etc., etc., and being able to react to changes with virtually no planning. For level II and aspiring IIIs, I have found it's more of mental challenge to overcome those fear monsters that invade our senses. I have found that many times the level II+ skier has already developed the technical ability needed to ski challenging runs and conditions, but that he / she "hits the wall" as I call it. This is when a good and trusted coach / mentor comes in.
Let me share with you how I overcame my own fear of skiing rock hard icy bumps on an expert run. I was training for my level III Alpine exam. The run is set up with an upper section and a lower section separated by a fire road used in the summer by the Forest Service.
Here's what I found out about myself. Every time I went to train on this slope, which mind you runs under a chairlift the entire trail, I found that if I stopped on the fire road and looked over the slope to pick a line or for some other reason, I began to procrastinate about skiing it. Therefore,I inevitably skied it poorly. So one day in my risk taking wisdom I thought to myself, if I can't see whats over the edge then I won't stall myself and waiver about skiing it.
With that in mind I began to drop into this bump run no matter what the conditions were and no matter how bad the bumps were. Keep in mind that I didn't launch onto this run with utter abandon in an unsafe fashion. I simply slowed down at the fire road lip, but continued over the edge and picked the line I wanted as I went.
Guess what happened to my skiing???? It improved significantly. Why and how could that be-you ask??? It happened because I didn't let myself have the time to hit the wall. Ever since I discovered this barrier breaking psychology about myself, I almost never stop on any of the more difficult runs, which would cause the wall to be put in front of me again.
So you just might want to test yourself out and try this little exercise, to keep you from "Hitting the Wall", when the season begins again. Please be safe however. Good Luck.