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How fast is the learning curve for skiing typically?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm new to skiing and I plan on joining the ski team this winter, which means that for a few months I get to go skiing four to five times a week! For a few hours a day!

How long should it take me to get to be a decent skiier? This is obviously something that can vary from person to person, but I was just wondering what you guys thought about it!

Before our ski team starts in Jan then goes through Feb, I plan on skiing at least twice a week, Wed and Sun! haha!

Should this be a good start?
post #2 of 27
depends on how athletic you are among other things...I skied with a guy last year who only had about 5 days on skis and he handled the red runs (advanced intermediate) at Les Arcs pretty well.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Wow! I used to skateboard a bit but now I'm playing alot of tennis... I know, a strange mixture!
post #4 of 27
Beyond innate athleticism, it depends on how old you are, what kind of shape you're in and most importantly, your attitude. If you can lean forward, point your tips down the mountain, be willing to fall, and listen to your coaches, you should be able to ski most anything by the end of the season.
post #5 of 27
Given your youth and penchant for sports (according to your profile), you'll be "advanced" by the end of the season. This presumes your ski team provides some form of instruction.

On today's equipment, it can happen fast.

A person willing to learn, and check their ego at the door (not easy), who has decent athletic skills, should learn quickly under the program you outlined.

I once took a friend who'd never skied to Breck for a one-week trip. He was a former gymnast, with natural grace, balance and strength. The perfect student.

He received instruction from me (not a skilled teacher) and an excellent teacher (former coach of the Canadian Junior National Ski Team).

Before the time the week was over, he was bona-fide "advanced". It was remarkable to see a person learn so quickly.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SubaruDude View Post
Wow! I used to skateboard a bit but now I'm playing alot of tennis... I know, a strange mixture!

Not at all, I skateboard, play tennis and ski. It just means we have ADD!


The learning curve is much shorter than it used to be with new equipment. A few years ago in one season my GF progressed about as much as I did in 2-3 seasons back when I first started (20 years or so ago).

I'lll echo the others that it depends on a lot of factors. The great (and frustrating) thing about skiing is how long it takes you to get really good. There is always progress to be made and very very few people ever become true "experts". Most of us reside in the "advanced" category.

Good luck and welcome to the addiction, I mean sport.
post #7 of 27
skiing 5 days a week you should be able to make pretty quick progress.
post #8 of 27
On today's equipment, a fit person with regular instruction/coaching should make swift progress. Going that often you will no doubt be hitting the blacks by the end of the season.

Reality check: you are talking about racing. While you may be comfortable and confident on skis by the end of February, racing is about finesse and total control. The guys who do it have been skiing for a while. Nobody becomes Bode Miller in a season.

You can get from 0% to 60% in skiing pretty swiftly. The last 40% will take work, practice, good instruction, and experiencing different mountains.

That said, I'm sure your racing program is designed to accommodate experienced racers as well as total newbs. It'll be fun!

Welcome to racing! Good luck!
post #9 of 27
What kind of ski team and how old are you .. and where?
post #10 of 27
Once a skier start to ski 15 to 20 days in a season, they will master most of the their skills. BUT, to get from a good skier to a great skier takes a lot more time and/or instruction.
post #11 of 27
You never stop learning.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Cool thanks guys! It's a racing team, but it's more just for fun and instruction on how to ski. We have about 30 members and 5 coaches so it shouldn't be to hard for me to get some formal instruction! I just need to learn how to stop to get on the team, so I plan on hitting the slopes a few weeks in advance!
post #13 of 27
When you get to the point where you're skiing with some speed, learn how to fall and not get hurt! That way you can reach beyond your comfort zone without risking injury, which will really help you excel.

I've seen people get frustrated with drills they think are pointless or too basic. Trust your coaches, they (probably!) know what they're doing and even advanced skiers and racers benefit from simplistic drills.

Sounds like you've got it dialed in. Its all about having a great time, which HS ski teams usually are.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SubaruDude View Post
Cool thanks guys! It's a racing team, but it's more just for fun and instruction on how to ski. We have about 30 members and 5 coaches so it shouldn't be to hard for me to get some formal instruction! I just need to learn how to stop to get on the team, so I plan on hitting the slopes a few weeks in advance!
OK, the qualification for the team made me LOL a bit, but I think this is great, I wish you the best, and I wish there were more programs like this.

Skiing is easier than walking...you'll pick it up in no time.
post #15 of 27
The high school ski team did great things for my son's skiing, even though its just on a molehill. There's nothing like mileage (with a little feedback) to improve.

At his school, there is a limit of 60 kids (15 varsity, 15 JV, boys and girls) out of 1300 students. Some years everyone makes the team, some years they have to cut a few (which the coach hates doing, by the way).
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Learn how to fall. Got it! haha!

Thanks for all the advice guys! I really appreciate it and I'm so lucky to have found a site where I can get feedback from Pros on this stuff!
post #17 of 27
I bet the instruction and racing will develop your skills very quickly. There's nothing like trying to shave a second off your time to focus your awareness on the subtle technical aspects of skiing.

I've known some people who were pretty decent racers that never became comfortable going off the groomed runs. To get the most out of the sport, I would recommend that you view the skills you acquire through your race training as the first set of "professional quality" tools in your brand new toolbox.

Your race training will give you confidence in making tight, high speed turns on steep hard-packed trails. That's a great starting point to eventually becoming an expert all mountain skier (which is where the REAL fun is).

Find the guys or girls on your team that like to ski bumps, trees, crud, powder...everything on the mountain. Hang out with them, and follow them around the mountain when they're not in race class.


You'll find that the angulation, edging, and weighting techniques you've been learning are not always the most effective in every situation. For example, you might find that "skidding" isn't necessarily a dirty word in a steep, tight bump field. In other cases, you'll find that subtle modifications to your racing technique are required.

Get your hands on some twin tips, go play in the park. Take some telemark lessons. Do some backcountry touring. Try some nordic touring. Earn your turns when the lifts aren't running.

Build a pulk, pull your gear into the backcountry wilderness...learn to build a snow shelter and sleep in it.

Get yourself some avalanche training. Do some cat skiing. Write "heli-ski the Canadian Rockies" at the top of your bucket list.

Ski Stowe's "Front Four". Ski Great Scott, High Rustler, Corbett's, KT22, Tuckerman's.

Spend a day lapping the tram at Snowbird. Get first tracks in Alta's Devil's Castle. Ski Jackson Hole, Taos, Tahoe, the Pacific NW, Whistler, Revelstoke, Big Sky. Ski Europe.

Spend a year as a ski bum. Tend bar in a base lodge. Work as a liftie. Become an instuctor. Serve on a ski patrol. Fire an avalanche cannon.

Do all of that and you're still barely scratching the surface of the world of skiing.

I recently read William F. Buckley Jr's literary autobiography, "Miles Gone By". In one section, he recalls the yearly trips to Alta that he took with Lawry Chickering and Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman. Friedman began skiing late in life and pretty much stuck to the groomers. When Friedman was 81, their instructor Junior Bounous had him try some fat skis and soon had him skiing powder in the trees. Buckley joked that he and Chickering might need to pull a Tonya Harding on Friedman before he got too good for them to keep up with. He went on to say:
"Ah, well I exaggerate, but I don't when I say that Lawry and I skied with someone who at eighty-one was three times the skier he was at seventy-eight".

The point is, you WILL become a good skier this year. But, by continuously adding new skills and experiences, there's no reason that you can't keep ascending that learning curve for the rest of your life.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DropKickMurphy View Post
I've known some people who were pretty decent racers that never became comfortable going off the groomed runs. To get the most out of the sport, I would recommend that you view the skills you acquire through your race training as the first set of "professional quality" tools in your brand new toolbox.
Ah, yes, this is key. I grew up racing in the 80s and at that time most of our training was focused on groomers and gates. I am still battling to improve (but I am getting better!) in powder and bumps and last season was the first where I was really starting to feel like I was making big strides in these areas (I'm not horrid but not as confident as I am on fast groomers). Now with the team I coach for we train heavily in all sorts of terrain and in fact for the younger racers won't even touch gates until the last weekend of December or first of January. And we never spend more than half of any given training day training in gates.

All this is to say, don't forget that all-mountain training is absolutely helpful in the gates and will provide for more life long fun than just training in the gates.
post #19 of 27
well, i was going down the mountain on my first day; but then i'm smarter than your average "barking bear".

seriously though. it depends on your athletic ability and confidence. the first time you look down a serious black, it might scare you off; but sking blacks and moguls with regularity is the fastest way to get very good. just like anything else, iron sharpens iron, or in the case, mountain sharpens ski.
post #20 of 27
hey coug ....

As a former instructor, they all go down the mountain the first day.

One way or another ...

Some go down doing nice shaped turns ...

Some go down, through the fence and into the parking lot!

Some go down on the nice sled, behind Santa in a red jacket ..
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by skicougar View Post
well, i was going down the mountain on my first day; but then i'm smarter than your average "barking bear".

seriously though. it depends on your athletic ability and confidence. the first time you look down a serious black, it might scare you off; but sking blacks and moguls with regularity is the fastest way to get very good. just like anything else, iron sharpens iron, or in the case, mountain sharpens ski.
Second this. If you can ski moguls well, you can ski most anything on the mountain. I still have a long long way to go on moguls. My problem is that I like pretty much everything else more.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post
hey coug ....

As a former instructor, they all go down the mountain the first day.

One way or another ...

Some go down doing nice shaped turns ...

Some go down, through the fence and into the parking lot!

Some go down on the nice sled, behind Santa in a red jacket ..
Yuki, is this like the park rats who stand at the top of the park and yell a the buddy who just went........."didja land".
Helllloooooo. they always land


Subarudude, attitude is a key in learning, as stated above.
Try to be open and really receptive to learning. Many who start out as eager as you tend to get arrogant before they get good.
Good luck, and have fun!
post #23 of 27
If you can get some good instruction right out of the gates and learn the basics from the get-go...you'll be in great shape to compress the learning curve. Really learning how to ski in an upright "ski neutral" position and understanding your lateral weight shift through the turn will go so far for you. Don't make the same mistake I did which was learning so many bad habits that i had to "unlearn" them before I could really focus on improvement. Biggest rule of all..is have fun! So many people take themselves and their skiing to seriously...fun will lead to natural improvement.
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
Haha, trust me trekchick, I love making fun of myself! I'd love to just go to some random mountain someday and ski down it with out any kind of groomed trail or anything! That's my goal as a skiier, not to just get a fast time but to have loads a fun doing it!

I used to run cross country and I just liked running through the woods! haha, I can't wait to learn how to ski!

And yes, that would be so awesome if I could be a ski bum for a year! Unfortunatly I will be going to college soon and then I'd have to pay off my dues afterward. Of course I'm sure I'd be happier if I just got by and did what I want, but oh well, I guess I'll just be a slave to the system a bit longer.

Thanks for all the advice guys! I love this site! hahaha!
post #25 of 27
Or...you could put off college for a year or so before you have any debt.
post #26 of 27
Can't tell, have been born with skis attached to my feet.

Depends mostly on how often you ski and in what shape you are - hard to give a general rule here.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DropKickMurphy View Post
Ski Stowe's "Front Four". Ski Great Scott, High Rustler, Corbett's, KT22, Tuckerman's.


.
Maybe after the first week or so.
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