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High end ski pros...How do they keep knowledge and skill cutting edge

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Where do the top instructors go to get their information.  Do they have a network or a method to share concepts and tips?

post #2 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

Where do the top instructors go to get their information.  Do they have a network or a method to share concepts and tips?

 

emails and IMs from top level instructors from around the world, a couple WC racers, some pro freeskiers, and other various highly skilled coaches./skiers.

 

info travels fast in this day and age.

 

 

post #3 of 23

Bars.

 

I once spent an entire evening at the Deschutes Brewery discussing GS sidecut with coaches and equipment reps.

post #4 of 23

Chairlifts.  I'm no pro, but I've met a lot of them on lifts over the years and heard a lot of good info thrown around.


Edited by Garrett - Wed, 04 Feb 09 06:14:19 GMT
post #5 of 23

[Moderator Discusson On]

 

Why is this here?  I don't see anything wrong with this.  It could get interesting and even funny.

 

[/Moderator Discussion Off]

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

[Moderator Discusson On]

 

Why is this here?  I don't see anything wrong with this.  It could get interesting and even funny.

 

[/Moderator Discussion Off]

 

It was in "Ask a Ski Pro". The people replying are not members of the "EpicSki Pros" and should not be answering. Since the forum can't enforce this and since I didn't want to delete posts without having the conversation here, I moved it.

post #7 of 23

I'm returning this to Technique and analysis.  It was just in the wrong forum.

post #8 of 23

 

Where do they go? Each other.

They also get info the same way we do - from books, magazines, video, racers, students, experience ....

post #9 of 23

It's actually quite simple-  you have to constantly be re-evaluating and challenging your own belief systems about skiing. Every belief system has a personal hierarchy. 

 

And then you have to be willing to add those things which pass the litmus test of support of the core conceptual theories, and to relegate to a lesser status within that hierarchy those ideas which no longer meet all the tests which make it a viable idea. Never tossed, just down graded.

 

Where do those challenges come from? Watching, exploring, experimenting, reading, discussing, and furthering your own knowledge of the core concepts which define our sport.

 

Unfortunately, most ski instrs entering this industry more recently do not have the experience or background to challenge themselves at the highest levels. Therefore they are reliant upon the more experienced pro's to "fast track" them through the knowledge gleaned from years of experience. But because this "fast track" process does not offer the depth of understanding which is held by the training pro, the receiving pro rarely develops more than a superficial understanding. Some pros, if they stick with instructing for a long enough period, may begin to reach the point where they will begin to synthesize their own learning process, as I described above.

Otherwise, they are just regurgitating the rote knowledge they gained during the "fast track" process. And there is no guarantee that that knowledge was accurate to begin with.

 

 

post #10 of 23

Nice post, VSP--I couldn't agree more.

 

A lot of instructors gain a lot of "knowledge" very quickly, soaking it up from trainers, books, videos, and mentors. But knowledge is but the lowest rung on the ladder of Bloom's well-known hierarchy of understanding--the "Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain."

 

Knowledge accumulates when we accept beliefs. Understanding begins when we challenge them!

 

The best instructors, as VSP has described, challenge everything, and take nothing for granted. While they seek ideas everywhere--watching, listening, reading, observing--they accept nothing blindly. They explore constantly, challenge "conventional wisdom," and test ideas. They argue (EpicSki is a case in point!) and experiment. And above all, they thrive on the "cognitive dissonance" that arises when something challenges their belief system.

 

Unfortunately, few instructors have the confidence, experience, or willingess to challenge their own beliefs. But I begin virtually every clinic I lead with the insistance that the participants must not believe anything I tell them. However, they must also agree not to believe anything anyone else tells them either--and they must be prepared to challenge anything they already believe themselves!

 

Don't be fooled by the "knowledgeable" instructor. Knowledge is barely a start!

 

Best regards,

Bob


Edited by Bob Barnes - Fri, 06 Feb 09 17:09:28 GMT
post #11 of 23

 Something tells me that the these High End Pros are often awaken with revelations which are studied, discussed, and sometimes tested, among the highly respected peers.  If a highly respected peer is not available, then I'm sure they can turn to Bob Barnes 

 

 

 

 

 

post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

Nice post, VSP--I couldn't agree more.

...

 

Knowledge accumulates when we accept beliefs. Understanding begins when we challenge them!

 

The best instructors, as VSP has described, challenge everything, and take nothing for granted. While they seek ideas everywhere--watching, listening, reading, observing--they accept nothing blindly. They explore constantly, challenge "conventional wisdom," and test ideas.

... 

Don't be fooled by the "knowledgeable" instructor. Knowledge is barely a start!

 

Best regards,

Bob


Edited by Bob Barnes - Fri, 06 Feb 09 17:09:28 GMT

How else would the sport evolve?   Thinking of Rogan now, he teaches from an incredible knowledge base which he firmly advances, yet he seems to have a vast source of information "feeders".  I suspect that he has pursed this network as a part of his professional development and desire to be the best.  It's called motivation.

 

You would need to get to a certain level where other high acheiving pros would find your input worth while -  bring something to the table.

 

 

 

post #13 of 23

One often overlooked source is the skiers we teach. I find they see things without the filter of organized ski teaching and coaching. One system carries no more validity than another and helping our students make sense of all this competing information is where a lot of new insights can be found.

Another way to experience this is to become active in more than one of these organizations. It's sort of like the old Chinese story about eight blindfolded men being led into a room. They touch different parts of the elephant in the room and through their unique experience they perceive it to be many different things. The one who touched the trunk thinks it might be a snake. The one who touched a leg might think it's a tree. No one person gets to see the entire elephant but collectively they have a better shot at figuring out what it is.

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

Also, working with the pros of the ski school...  If you have the MA skills, you can improve knowledge by working with others who ski well -  seeing what works and what doesn't - working with strong skiers who can provide feedback.

 

And, working with the whole ski school, developing efficient teaching skills, top to bottom...  If you have the ability to be an administrator, that would put you right in the middle of the profession.  One problem with this approach can be not skiing enough and not getting out to be around others.  But that is also part of being a good administrator, making sure the resort relationship allows for professional development by getting with other pros.

post #15 of 23

Yes, learning opportunities are everywhere!

 

I don't remember who said it, but the line "there's no better teacher of horsemanship...than a horse" comes to mind. For those willing to explore, question, challenge, observe, and experiment, skiing is full of answers.

 

The thing to keep in mind is that there is very little "theoretical" about skiing. Everything--every movement, every piece of equipment, every change of timing, condition, speed, pitch, or tactic--has effects. To the keen observer, those effects can be seen, felt, heard, measured, timed, and compared to the effects of alternatives. Wasn't it Yogi Berra who said, "you can observe a lot by watching"?

 

It's all cause and effect. It has nothing to do with a "system," except, perhaps, at the very lowest, introductory level. Once an instructor gains a little basic "knowledge," it's time to start learning!

 

Best regards,

Bob

 

Stowe * Aspen * Big Sky

Edited by Bob Barnes - 2/7/2009 at 04:56 pm
post #16 of 23

Doorways are all systems represent. For the new instructor being part of an organization gives a framework to their learning. Going beyond that still requires acquiring and assimilating knowledge before transcending those phases. Why not find out what that group has to say and what conclusions they draw from their studies? Nothing says you need to agree with their conclusions but when you see why they feel their conclusions are correct, you may find yourself agreeing with them.

Skiing is so much more than the mechanical movements. Keeping an open mind and wide eyed enthusiasm for the journey is what I see as the most common thread among all the skiing greats. 

post #17 of 23

One thing;

  

Be careful about seeking "cutting edge".  The foundation skills of skiing are the same now as they've been for decades.  Only the blends of those classic skills that are needed to meet the needs of different situations and equipment vary.  In true expert skiing, the blends are always changing.

 

Those are the things to focus on,,, the classic foundation skills.  Trouble and confusion creeps in when those who have yet to acquire the a complete foundation knowledge and skill base try to seek and grasp onto the cutting edge technique de jour.  Their focus becomes narrow, their tactical application of technical options less than efficient, and their execution of their technical narrowness often sub-par for their lack of foundation skill base. 

post #18 of 23

So Rick,

 

Here's a question that I've been grappling with for a while:

 

Do you think it is better to try to develop a broad as possible skill base before teaching technique, or is it better to teach a single technique and later expand the skill base?

 

 

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE View Post

So Rick,

 

Here's a question that I've been grappling with for a while:

 

Do you think it is better to try to develop a broad as possible skill base before teaching technique, or is it better to teach a single technique and later expand the skill base?

 

 


 

Big E- How can a solid technique exist without first developing the foundational skill sets first? After all, technique is just the application and blending of those fundamental skills, as mentioned by Rick earlier.

 

Obviously, the two go hand in hand- as the skills get stronger, so does the technique- and as the technique gets more polished, so do the skill sets.

post #20 of 23

I'll clarify what I'm talking about. 

 

I'm thinking about limiting the technique to say one release move and then developing the skills to solely support that ONE technique.  After a certain time has passed, after the student can manage that particular technique, we begin to branch out to other techniques that demand different skills or a different skill blend.

 

Most folks do this with the slipped round turn as the holy grail.  Everything that is taught is focussed on first producing a nice round low-edge angle medium radius steered turn.  Then other things are get added, like the short radius turn and carving.

 

Some do this with the carved turn as their target, then add brushing and the short radius turn.

 

Both examples have a "target technique", both examples add versatility later.......

 

Suppose instead that the skill base is worked from the start.  ie. Edging drills, pivotting drills, balance drills, pressure control drills without regard for any turn style or release move.   If the student falls into a poor movement pattern, then detect and correct. 

 

I see this being done a lot, without regard to any technique/framework actually being taught to the student.  I've seen results of this where skiers can become quite good, but are clueless about how to teach someone else, or even what the movements they do are called.  Some skiers will go for years and not know that they can edge and turn their feet at the same time.....

 

One is based on restricting the mechanics of skiing to support the given technique, the other is based on practicing the skills of skiing without the restrictive technique based background.

 

 

 

 

post #21 of 23

This discussion has taken an interesting turn! Thanks for "steering" it in this direction, BigE!

 

My feeling is that, even in the very first lesson, we must introduce the foundational skills, but we must also tie specific techniques to their outcomes and intent. And we must help people develop the habits of expert skiers, from the start.

 

Stated another way, I often say that "intent dictates technique," and I recognize a "spectrum of intents" that dictate the various techniques that all skiers--beginner to expert--will use. Specifically, that spectrum ranges from pure carving to pure braking, with pure turning (which I define as the intent to control direction and line precisely--not just to make a direction change, but to put the feet and skis exactly where I choose to put them, continuously) somewhere in between. Here's an image I've posted many times previously:

 

Spectrum of Intents 

 

As I see it, the habits of great skiers are universally offensive. They turn when they can (controlling speed through tactics, rather than technique, through choice of line rather than braking), and brake when they have to. When neither line nor speed control are an issue, they just play! Pure carving, to me, is just playing. I'm not controlling my line with complete precision--I'm letting my skis choose the line, at least somewhat (I expect to carve tighter turns on slalom skis, for example, than on GS skis).

 

So the signature of great skiers is the ability to ski a precise line, and to choose that line deliberately so as to minimize the need for braking. That's the "slow line fast" that I often allude to. And the key is efficient turning technique. Of course, great skiers brake very well when they need to, and they're the best at pure carving as well. But the steered, precisely-shaped turn is the cornerstone of great skiing.

 

And so, for beginners, the major technical focus would be on the movement patterns of making great, precise, efficient turns that maximize the performance capabilities of today's great equipment. I'll teach them to brake, too, when needed, but I want to make sure that both they and I know that I'm teaching them a very different technique, for a very different purpose. I'll also play with pure-carved arcs, on the flats, and across the hill, so they can experience both the pros and cons of riding the sidecut.

 

Either way, they all build on the same fundamental skill pools, just blended in different ways. It is basic skill development, but not just randomly. Movements--techniques--are tied to intents from the very beginning, and throughout a skier's progression.

 

Mostly, and over-riding any technical focus, I want beginners to learn to love gliding, not braking. I want them to start thinking like an expert, to start developing the habitual offensive intent of experts, from the start. The movements--the techniques--of good offensive turns are quite intuitive, providing the skier is, in fact, offensive. Most beginners think they want more than anything to learn to stop. I want them to learn to GO!

 

---

 

All of this leads to what I believe is a fairly common philosophical approach to teaching beginners. That is, to introduce fundamental skill-based movements, and to focus primarily on learning the technique of making a basic turn. Once the basic, offensive turn becomes consistent, options increase. "Linear learning" involves taking the same fundamental technical elements and improving them--your "teaching a single technique" to a higher level. "Lateral learning" involves exploring different blends--diverse techniques, for different intents along my spectrum. Good instructors will do either or both, depending on needs. As skill level (linear learning) increases, options grow wider (lateral learning). I visualize the whole process as forming a "cone of learning," that starts low and narrow, and becomes ever higher and wider, built on the foundation of the basic skills. Here's how it looks to me, combined with (an older version of) the Spectrum of Intents:

 

 

Well, we've diverged from the original path of this thread, but I think it's still relevant. The best instructors do not take anything as dogma, and nothing in my description here is dogmatic. It allows choice, encourages experimentation, and simply requires that movements have purpose--that cause ties to effect.

 

Best regards,

Bob 

 

Stowe * Aspen * Big Sky
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

Where do the top instructors go to get their information.  Do they have a network or a method to share concepts and tips?


 

Interski is the major venue where the teaching bodies of the worlds skiing nations get together once every 4 years to share ideas/concpets/development etc.  Lots of development, advancments etc, come from this source.

post #23 of 23

The innovation is the purpose of the journey, the events like Interski are just a convention to discuss the what we discovered while on the journey.  

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