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What's my potential?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm curious to find out how long it would take (and if it's even possible) for me to reach the status of "expert skier." I love skiing to death -- I'd consider it my greatest pleasure in life, at least after my 20 years -- but after a recent Whistler trip and a bit of frustration with my ability level, I'm ready to start hitting the slopes on a more consistent basis and really perfecting this hobby/sport like nothing else before. I started when I was 13, and living in Arizona, my skiing days for the past 7 years haven't numbered higher than 6 or 7 per season. I'm currently an advanced intermediate, though I have yet to reach any kind of plateau, mainly because I don't go often enough that when I do, I just see the athletic improvement that comes naturally from increased musculature. I can ski most anything, though difficult blacks, deep moguls, and major steeps tend to ruin any grace that I can muster up for the milder runs. And though I'm in excellent physical shape, I find that I get tired pretty quickly when doing anything but cruising, so I can only deduce that my technique relies on using my body weight and physically pushing the skis around more than it does really skiing with finesse. After college, I plan to move somewhere close to good skiing and just spend a few years trying to get in as many skiing days as I can. How long would it take an athletic 20 year old to rise from advanced intermediacy to real expertise, and is it even possible for someone who wasn't tearing up the mountain 30 days a year as a young kid or teenager? Note that I'm not someone who expects to become really good in a season, nor do I have any dreams whatsoever of becoming some on-mountain "badass" to impress people with my "extremeness," but I'm really intent on perfecting the actual technique of this pursuit that I love so much. Thanks.
post #2 of 22
I think a true expert skier never stops practicing his skiing, there is always something be improved (moguls, powder, jumping). It's like studiing martial arts. You can do that al your life and you will only get better and better.

As to how fast you will become an expert, there is only one word PRACTICE. Ski more and it will go fast, ski less and it will go slower.

[EDIT]In germany calling somebody an expert on something it usually means he is an idiot and sucks at it. So beware of what you wish for [img]smile.gif[/img][/EDIT]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 11, 2002 05:22 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Crosscarver ]</font>
post #3 of 22
I don't know whether you are aware of the fact that we have one among our cast who claims expertise and states it was done in a short period of time.

I am a little uneasy with the term expert. I suppose others would say I have expertise in several areas, however, I disdain the term.

I would suggest you teach skiing. Apply for a job at a western resort and avail yourself of every opportunity to learn. Our professional organization provides education. Individual resorts teach their employees on a continual basis.

The real key is to talk to individuals whom you think are good instructors and/or good skiers. Ferret out the good and the bad. Spend time thinking. Look upon skiing as an art form, a method of expression. I spend countless hours thinking of progressions that will help my students.It is time well spent and time that I enjoy.

Abandon the desire to attain the label expert and enjoy the journey.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 10, 2002 11:19 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Rusty Guy ]</font>
post #4 of 22
If you can realize the bad habits in your technique and focus specifically on these your skiing will improve quickly.
If you are going to go for it after college, spare no expense -custom boots -new skis -top shelf stuff. Ski with people that are better than you. I do. Watch how experts move over their skis. Learn to be able to recognise an expert skiier when you see one. True experts are rare. In my own observation I see maybe one great skiier every lift ride up. Ski everything every day -powder, ice, crud, crust, mashed potatoes. Learn how to do your own tuning. You can dial in your skis to react exactly how you want them to. Read books on skiing. Watch film. Analyze still photos. I ski in my dreams.
I feel that I am in a similar situation to yours. I am here in Akron, OH studying engineering, 21 yrs old. After graduation, I am buying a trailer and heading out west to be an instructor again. I taught the last 4 years at the local hill and developed into a decent skiier. I haven't skiied but 8 days this year due to lousy weather, lack of motivation, not teaching, and working full time. I skiied Wednesday like a washed-up has-been, because I am. I gotta get outta here!
post #5 of 22
If you are only getting in 6 to 8 days a year right now, take a lesson each day you go out. That will help you learn what areas you need to work on.
post #6 of 22
Practice is only valuable if you are practicing correctly. So it's important to have some regular input on what/how to practice along with regular evaluation of the progress you achieve.

I'd say the regularity with which you get to ski is more important than the total number of days. If you ski two or three times a week through a 20-week season, you'll improve more than if you put together a couple of two-week trips each winter, I believe.
post #7 of 22
One thing that has help me tremendously is to ski with people who are better skiers than me. Even if they are not good instructors of the sport, per se, you can learn quite a bit by watching them ski. I know that I'm progressing when I can hang with friends on a challenging run that just a few months previous I was doing face-plants on.

If you love skiing, you will get better.
post #8 of 22
Well the good news is You are young and you sound like you have some athletic ability.The bad news is,really not all that bad with some lessions and just skiing you will get better.Like rusty said forget the goal and enjoy the journey.
NowI'm going to disagree with some of the advice that was posted here. First Rusty guy said that you should teach skiing.Yes that is a great way to learn,however are you motivated to really teach? I mean If you don't have the desire to teach,then in my opinion you are waisting some poor students time and money.I am sorry but I would be vary pissed if I was taking a lession from some guy who was only there to get a free ski education.I am sure you would be pissed also.Next is Zeeks advice was to spare no expense and to buy the best gear!(zeek must work in a ski shop ) Boots and custom footbeds are a vary worth while investment Buying the latest and greatest skis won't make you a better skier.In fact buying a ski that is more then you can handle will hamper your progress.Find some skis that are right for you Buy them used at ski swap.Take the money you saved and spend it on a lession!

Heres what I did when I was not living in a ski town. Lets say you have 3 or 4 days to ski.Day one warm up and have fun.Day two take a lession and yes have fun.Day three do some drills that you learned and have fun.Day four repeat day three.There are also some good books and Tapes to study But do not use them alone Get some on the mountain lessions.Oh and did I say Have fun?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 10, 2002 03:08 PM: Message edited 2 times, by Utah49 ]</font>
post #9 of 22
Ski every day from first chair to last, in all weather, and all snow conditions. Take a steep skiing clinic or two, spend a year or more racing, teach for a year or so, get videotaped, follow behind someone who is much better than you, and ski until your skis feel like extensions of your feet. Drop lines that make your head swim then go do them again and again until in all snow conditions until you look at something steep and sick and think "right turn past the stump, jump onto shoulder, left turn past rock, 10' air, straighline, speed check, 5' air, GS turn out" instead of "Wholly Sh*t that can't be skied".

Then realize your only an expert in the eye of some one of less skill. Have fun.
post #10 of 22
The point was, "Don't let equipment hold you back." If you plan to ski 70 days a season you'd get your money's worth out of your gear. It's just money!
post #11 of 22
Skier_j, zeek does take a lesson, sort of, every time he skis.

Superplexity, you have been given some good advice. I will add some words of caution if your goal is to become a true expert.
First, it is difficult without training to pick out who is an expert and who is a damn good hacker.
Second, because of number one, it is very difficult to emulate experts by simply watching their moves. Offensive vs defensive skiing is very difficult if not impossible, to pick up on. A good instructor/coach's eye is necessary.
Third, offensive skiing can only be learned on terrain that is far easier than what you are capable of skiing. If your goal is to become an expert through skiing very difficult terrain, you will become an expert hacker whom is great at defensive skiing. Don't get me wrong, skiing steeps is definitely part of the game, just don't mistake it for being the true mark on an expert, or where experts learn good offensive movements.
I work on my own expert skiing technique on nearly flat terrain.
post #12 of 22
1. Examine your commitment and how much time and money you have ..... AND ... how you can maximize your time on the snow.

Are there smaller areas near Boston where you can get a pass at a reasonable rate?

Skip those trips to places like Stowe or Stratton ..... : Where the budget erodes pretty quickly.

Spend a bit of money on NASTAR .... for something like $7 to $10 you can get a special on unlimited runs. This will force you to a different level of concentration. Just do it for FUN and personal challenge and growth.

Now that you are a "local" ..... you will be able to watch the instructors and pick out who you want to take a lesson with versus just showing up and taking pot luck.


In high school I spent a few evenings a week at a hill with a 200' verticle, ten minutes from home........ alone and taking a lot of grief from my buddies. They could spout all of the "big name areas" ........ but they couldn't catch me ...
post #13 of 22
rusty guy,

i don't think the period of time, re the skier you referenced, is so short at all. in number of years, yes, but not in number of days. that skier is able to ski 100+ days a year. that's HUGE. would i be an "expert" skier with 100 days per? i don't know. but i'd be 97% better than i am now without a doubt.
a reference point: i am a (self-assessed, admittedly) level 7/8 skier (depending on your own scale, but closer to 7) who, in the three+ years i've been doing this, averages about 15 days a year. further self-assessment as context: where i am clearly in need of further skills are the usual areas that separate wannabes from true experts; namely, deep powder, real moguls, true steeeeps. no way, i think, to "cram" for these things. you HAVE to get the time. to me, 100 days in a season is one heckuva ton of time. i'd hope i could make monster progress (too) with such a tremendous amount of skiing at my disposal.

i'd second the NASTAR recommendation. since hopping onto one of those courses, i've become hooked. the clock doesn't lie, and it gives one incentive to bring those times down, which will force you to work on "cleaning things up." and it's FUN.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 11, 2002 07:05 AM: Message edited 3 times, by ryan ]</font>
post #14 of 22
What was reflected in Pierre`s msg is valid.
I`m a level 3 as is Pierre and I know that both of us work on our personal skiing daily and with annual 2 day updates. It`s most important. Mother Nature has a way to bring you back to reality, no matter what level you think you are classified. Keep on learning. Keep on training. I am very wary of people who tell me they are experts--all relative.
Keep up the work. :
post #15 of 22
IMHO, time on snow is the single most important factor to become a proficient skier. However, this is not always the case. This weekend I skied with 2 retired individuals (in their 50s) who were proud to tell me that last season they reached almost 90 days of skiing and they average about 60-70 days per season (one of them has been skiing for 12 years, the other, I don't know). Both had top of the line equipment and I decided to follow them for a few runs to see how they ski. I am not an instructor, nor an expert skier, but I think I know an expert skier when I see one. Both guys were intermediate skiers. Both were too far in the back seat and made very tentative, skidded turns. Frankly, I was shocked to see how "time on snow" and skill did not match at all. Clearly these guys could have used some serious instruction.

Here is a point of reference: I have never taken a lesson, started at 29, skied for 10 years, about 25-30 days/year and I am not an expert yet. In fact, at this rate, I will never be an expert. Even with all the instruction in the world, I simply don't ski enough.
post #16 of 22
Tom B, I think that if you had a plan and practiced the right stuff for the length of time needed, you indeed could become an expert in a few years while only skiing 25-30 days a year.
post #17 of 22
Hi Super--

Pierre eh's post is excellent. In one of the most laughably bad books ever written about skiing, the author proudly proclaimed in the introduction that everything he knew about skiing he learned from the chairlift, watching the skiers below. And he went on, chapter by chapter, page after page, to prove his point--he was clueless!

Ironically, the one key attribute of all the experts I've ever known is their continuous "beginner's attitude"--their never-ending desire and effort to improve.

We've discussed the meaning of "expert" at great length here at EpicSki. There are certainly a lot of valid ways to define the term, since there are few objective measurements of skiing ability outside the race course. But there are absolutely some common movement patterns, tactics, and habits that mark virtually all truly great skiers.

And few of these attributes are obvious or intuitive. They can be subtle, and even counter-intuitive. Because good skiing movements are efficient, smooth, and disciplined, they are rarely obvious! Our natural survival instincts inevitably lead to movements that are the antithesis of good skiing.

As Pierre eh! put it so well, it is virtually impossible for most people to distinguish between true experts and "damned good hacks." If you practice bad skiing--you will get good at bad skiing! With enough athleticism and practice you can "hack" down any run on the mountain. And you may even impress a few people on the chairlift as you do it.

Eventually, though, you will find out that you've been travelling down the wrong road all along. You've been travelling a path that never leads to "EXPERT" at all! You'll have to "back up"....

As others have mentioned, one sure way to never develop expert movements is to constantly challenge yourself with difficult terrain and high speeds. This will lead to becoming "good" at defensive, inefficient, hacking.

Another way to never become an expert, of course, is to NEVER challenge yourself with difficult terrain or speed. It takes both! Take lessons so you know exactly what to practice. Practice movements and develop discipline on easy terrain. Test yourself and your belief in your movements on challenging terrain. Mix it up--and have fun!

You will improve constantly. At some point, you will reach a level of "expertise" that you should be proud of. But you should NEVER become "satisfied"!

Here's an old thread you might like to read:

HOW TO IMPROVE (and still have fun!)


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 22
Super, more power to you. I pretty much did the same thing. I grew up and went to college in Michigan, I now live in Utah. I don't ski 100 days a year, my job does not allow that, but I will get in 50 - 60 easily.

There are a few things that make a great skier:

1. Time on the snow. There is no subsitute for actually skiing, but know when to quit. If you are tired, you are doing more harm than good. Stay hydrated.

2. Strenth / conditioning. You must work out regularly and stay in good shape. I was amazed how much my skiing strengthend last year with just an hour in the gym 4 days a week. Don't skimp on the cardio!

3. Agression. You will never be an expert skier unless you force yourself to ski hard. Go big or go home! Stay in the front seat, if you feel youself sitting back, stop, breathe, start again.

4. Hone your technique on the easier runs, but ski the steeps. Once you get really comfortable on skis, ski stuff that scares you, and don't give up until you nail it! Just don't side step a chute, its not skiing, and your going to piss off the next powder hound into the run.

5. Drop the coin at a great bootfitter and spend the time to get the perfect boot for you. This single piece of equipment will do more for you skiing than any other piece.

6. Learn your equipment. In some extreme (weather and terrain) instances, your gear may be the only thing you have, and it just might keep you alive. Learn to care for it, tune it, baby it. Don't be afraid to get your bases ground on occasion though. Have spares once you can afford it. If you plan to ski up to 100 days a year, your going to tear up gear, deal with it, skiing is expensive.

7. Get a helmet, make sure it fits properly, wear it each time you hit the slopes. Its the crashes that you don't expect that do the damage. You or your parents invested in that education, think of it as a $100 insurance policy. It will also give you SUV Syndrome and make you more agressive.

8. Have health insurance. Show me one expert skier who has never had a skiing related injury. I'm not saying they don't exist, but they're few and far between.

9. No matter how supportive your parents are, don't talk about the double black cliff lined chute you tumbled down yesterday. Don't show htem pictures of you hucking 50 foot cliffs. I made the mistake of taking my father up the Snowbird tram last summer, now he worries all winter long. He saw how steep, and how dangerous the terrain that I feel comfortable on really is. Just because you are comfortable with it, doesn't mean that they are.

With all this said, I wish you good luck, it can be done. Don't expect it to happen over night, but it will happen, and if you push yourself, it will happen within a season or two. You can never stop learning as a skier, but you will get to the level that makes you say, "Damn, I'm a good skier!"

Also, I could never be an instructor, its just not for me. I don't mix my passions with my vocations. I could not watch my buddies ripping 30" of fresh pow while I teach some guy from Texas to ski for the first time, its just not for me.

Good Luck!
post #19 of 22
Just thought I would throw my 2 cents in.
Skiing is relatively simple:
1)balance 2)edge control 3)rhythem

Edge control is much easier with modern skis. Begin every day with at least one run on an easy slope concentrating on solid edge contact through out the turn. Work to achieve this positive edge contact in every turn of the day.

Balance is obtained from first learning good body posture and then allowing your muscles to relax so they can react and maintain your balance. I am guessing the reason you are tired while skiing is that you are not in a good balance position. You can ski slopes where you are being thrown off, but you will learn faster by skiing on slopes where you can maintain your balance position. Exercises really help with your balance-work the back and abs as well as your legs. Take time to stretch out before every run. So few skiers do this, but it really helps with your balance. Think of your upper body as calm when you are skiing.

Rhythem is the most difficult piece to master because the terrain has so much variety that can disrupt your rhythem. Sing to yourself when you are skiing. On a gentle slope challenge yourself to see how fast you can go edge to edge. This speed and the rhythem which allows it will help you when you need to change edges fast in more challenging terrain.
Keep it simple: edge control, balance, rhythem-enjoy.

Trail running is probably the best off snow exercise for skiing. I have found yoga to be very useful for skiing as well.
post #20 of 22
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pierre eh!:
Tom B, I think that if you had a plan and practiced the right stuff for the length of time needed, you indeed could become an expert in a few years while only skiing 25-30 days a year.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thanks Pierre eh!, that is a really nice and encouraging thing to say. I look forward to meet you and the rest of the Bears in Fernie. Maybe we can make a few turns together. Maybe you can tell me what is my potential (hopefully I have some ). One way or another, Fernie will be a great reality check for me.
post #21 of 22
'ex_pert n: A man who is proficient with 101 ways to make love, but doesn't know any women. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #22 of 22
1 - mentioned college-most have cheap trips every weekend to some area. That is one way to save money.

2 - some college students are instructors(I know we have said use proficient instructors), so have them teach you the basics again. Practice on easy slopes first.

3 - If there is a local ski club, join it for the cheap trips.

4 - always practice. Had the opportunity to ski with my director(75 years old) on Sunday. He asked what I wanted to work on, and he told me what he was working on!! At 75!!!

5 - always remember to enjoy and have fun, no matter how hard you're working at it.
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