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What is it?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok guys, if I'm a lower intermediate in good physical condition, atheletic, and a will to improve,

What's the most important thing I can do to improve my skiing to a higher level?

(this question isn't for me BTW)
post #2 of 10
Can you tell us what your Lower-Intermediate skier is already able to do, and how well? Are they Wedging, WC or somewhat Parallel?

(Recent discussions may have re-defined what "intermediate" means)

post #3 of 10
Lars, as you know there are a lot of factors that play into what an instructor prescribes for a student. Generic input gives you generic output. That will only work for the person that fits the generic case.

We really can't tell whats going on without seeing it. Written descriptions will give us an idea of what the person giving the description thinks is going on. Eyes on is the best way to see what is actually going on.

Then based upon what we see we can think about it and come up with an appropriate plan.

If you can post a video of the skier that would help. Still photos will give some ideas, but not all.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
The skier is ficticious Terry. But, there are a million of them out there looking for the single biggest tip you can give them or teach them to help them improve to the advanced intermediate level.

Can you think of something?
post #5 of 10
For the serious student that wants to improve I can think of several of things.

- Have your stance and alignment checked. At the intermediate stage you should be looking at your equipment to insure it is not getting in your way. Invest in your boots if needed. (It probably is.)

- Hook up with a good instructor for a series of intense lessons. Most good instructors have mentors, even the high level ones. Hook up with someone you trust and take some lessons from them. Even a one run intense lesson can help you make improvements.

- Be willing to challenge yourself and try different things suggested by your instructor/mentor. Too many people think, "That's too hard or too high above me. I'll never be able too..." To which I say B.S. If you don't try you won't find out. You can do more than you think you can.

- Adopt the "Go there" mindset. Plan where you want to go and then GO! Too many people adopt the "Defensive" mindset. "I don't want to go there, BRAKE!"

For me mindset is the key. If you truly want to improve, you will find the ways to do it. It's sort of that zen thing, the teacher reveals himself when the student most needs him.
post #6 of 10
Lars, that's a great question. The common denominator in intermediate (and below) skiing is a lack of base level skills. These skiers need to begin by focusing on edging and balance skills.

Start exploring the concept of moving fore and aft on their skis. Become aware of the location of the pressure existing on the base of their foot, and learn how to control it. Play with lateral balance, get comfortable skiing in different states of balance, and learn how to alter them as desired.

In regards to edging skills, most intermediate skiers employ very energy and movement inefficient methods of turning their skis. They are uncomfortable with the sensation of tipping their bodies downhill at the beginnning of the turn, and are intimidated by the acceleration produced by turning gradually into the falline, so they rush the top of their turns with gross upper body rotary movements and pivoting/stemming actions. They need to learn the art of leg steering, and the concept of turn shape. They need to discover that the falline is their friend, not their doom,,, and come to view the speed it produces as something to be enjoyed during a temporary phase of the turn, which can be harnessed to what ever degree is desired via turn shape. They need to learn how they can employ skid angle skills while leg steering their turns to produce any resultant speed they're comfortable with, while on any slope, and while skiing any line or turn shape.

These skills alone will elevate their skiing to levels well above the majority of skiers on the slopes,,, without even beginning to explore carving. How do they learn these things? Well, that's the big question, isn't it? A training program of some sort needs to be pursued. These are not things most skiers can self discover and learn on their own in short order. Either on snow lessons with a quality professional need to be taken,,, or a structured and comprehensive self-training program needs to be followed,,, or both. Those self-training programs can be found in the form of books or video. Tips from the Internet can provide some clues of what to do, but they don't provide the detail, visuals, or feedback needed to really get a person from point A to B. Advice from friends can also provide some help, but because the technical and training knowledge of the friend is often limited it can also send the intermediate skier on wild goose chases and down dead end roads. The best and most productive route is to seek the professional advice/assistance I suggested above.

Here's a little video I put together that provides a quick overview of the common stages of maturation in edge control skills.
post #7 of 10
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
What's the most important thing I can do to improve my skiing to a higher level?
(understanding the hypothetical "I")

The weasel answer: Commit to getting better.

The answer you're looking for: Learn to let the skis turn you via edge control movements.

The PSIA answer: There is no one most important thing that applies across a million people because different people have different needs.

Some athletic lower level intermediates only need mileage to get to the next level. Some only need a few lessons. Some may need equipment tweaks. Some may even have balance issues that need to be addressed. Whatever they need, the first step is making the commitment to discover their needs and address them. Going skiing 1-2 times per season on rental gear and just hoping to get better is probably not going to get the job done. Moving up in ability requires time, money and effort.

Many athletic skiers make the jump to advanced intermediate quickly after discovering how to let the skis do most of the work. I've helped a lot of intermediates move to the next level with a simple tip, but I rarely use the same tip twice. You need to watch them and listen to them before you can possibly know what is most important for them.
post #8 of 10
Consider the person who takes us into their garage and says, "I've had this car for 20 years and it's old and worn out so what's the most important thing I can do to improve it?"

We look at their unmoving car in the garage and wonder, "How do we respond"? Should we say "Improve the Brakes" because brakes are always important for safety? Should we say "Improve the engine" because the the car doesn't even run (but the brakes are fine)? Should we be get focused and say "Improve the carburetor" because we're guessing that there's a mouse-nest in there that can't be seen without inspection?

The generalization of 'Lower Intermediate Skier' isn't informative enough for me to provide a reasonably specific answer (at least, no more so than 'Old worn out car'.) The PSIA Answer works well for me because it suggests that I look more fully into the situation and determine what's not working properly or perhaps is missing entirely.

I can't really say Balance is more important than Edging, nor that Rotation is more important the Pressure until I see what the student has working well already. It's true that without reasonable Balance other skills cannot be applied nearly as well - but what if a skier's Balance is reasonable for what they're trying to do but a different skill is now their main hindrance to improvement?

In the end I don't think there's a General Answer that can be applied to any un-examined skier based on a Skier-Level description.

Rick's answer is based on "What most lower-level skiers usually do...". Thinking about it this way helps ski schools create a series of generalized answers suitable for instructor training (basically, typical things to look for in students at that level and typical solutions).

Specific solutions for generally-seen problems are sometimes helpful for self-taught students as it gives them something to look for in their own skiing but without help they'll likely have to guess at their own proficiency in comparison to solution descriptions.

post #9 of 10
I offer that maybe most skiers ski the way they do is because they have arrived at some limit of the interaction of their functional learning ability (not potential) and their belief system of "how to ski".

We have all had students give an explanation of what they think they are doing that MA proves to be something else. When most skiers see themselves on video for the first time, they do recognize themselves. Reality is quite different that what the ego driven mind's eye perceives. What they think is not how they ski.

I'd suggest that the most potential for improvement could be in expanding both the ability and scope of perspectives with which one learns. Most stagnated skiers have limited awareness of the actual "cause and effect" of what they think about to ski, and what movements those thoughts functionally translate into, and what effect they actually produce as a ski/snow outcomes.

I have found that a little time spent teaching "learning" skills pays huge dividends both in the present lesson and in the students ability to pursue effective practice and continue to create improvement on their own.

I suggest using activities that encourage a student to find awareness perspectives that enable them to accurately identify that move-A results in outcome-A, and move-b not only results in outcome-b, but they prefer and why. This requires making sure that they shift old-moves/outcomes from habitual background into perceptual foreground. This is creating real learning that goes beyond just temporarily changing their movements and then having them migrate back to the familiarity of their old comfort zone.

We again reflect on:
"You cannot do what you want unless you know what you are doing"

So we can teach them a new move, or teach them how to better learn which moves they want to ski with..........
post #10 of 10
Practice. All the time.
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