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Approprate teaching skis/technique

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Since there seems to be many here who like to hotly debate issues I’ll throw a log on the fire and watch the embers glow. Do instructors out there think that highly specialized skis are beginning to have too much influence on instructor technique?

In my area many of the instructor trainers have gone to the specialized short lengths of slalom race skis or short super carve skis with phenomenal side cut. On seminars in the region I find repeatedly that technique offered is quite specific to these skis. Even FIS thinks this has gone too far and is upping the minimum length for slalom skis by a significant 10cms. I think as more trainers subtly influence more instructors (certification relies on the ‘in technique’) to switch to this sort of ski and therefore technique then those instructors get a little further out of step with what their students are actually skiing on. Therefore a little further out of step with what technique is appropriate to their student. An experienced instructor may be aware and adjust for this. It’s the inexperienced ones I worry about.

I don’t think it’s any more appropriate to base skiing style and technique on this specialized genre of skis than it would be to base it on big mountain fats. While Big Daddy’s and Pocket Rockets represent valid new technology they are very specialized and represent a very small percentage of the skiing public. They pretty much represent zero percent of the lesson buying public. The same could be said for World Cup Slalom race skis.

I always taught on slightly shorter not quite race slalom or GS skis. I had race skis too but not to teach on unless it was race technique for the day. I mostly free ski on not quite full race GS or mid fat skis. I also have slalom race skis but in next year's legal length and only take them out when the mood suits it.

A lot of new technology is out there and instructors should be on the cutting edge but are the skis (and manufacturers) starting to dictate teaching methodology instead of the students? Sort of like the tail wagging the dog. Great marketing tool for manufacturers but that’s my concern, is that what it really is instead of what’s best for the student on rental skis, 2 year old skis or something other than a slalom race ski?

Let the raging begin.
post #2 of 9
You probably have lit a fuse here.

I can only attest to what I do and what I see happening around me. In the mid-west the short carvers are making an impact. First they are far and away the most fun toy to ski on our smaller (short) hills. I spend a lot of time on 167cm's in pre-SL race weeks, or on 181cm's in pre-GS or go west weeks. I do not take my 167cm's to the mountains where I've found them too busy at the serious speeds I prefer to ski, so I take two pair of 181's (narrow GS and mid-fat all-mt).

That said what I see happening in my mid-west corner of the world is that instructors who have plateaued or skied with the same traditional movement patterns for years, get into a ramped up learning curve again when they get on the new short SL/carvers. They are evolving beyond the early shape ski park-n-ride rut and really learning to ski with active and efficient movement blends on these little mega-feedback arc rockets.

However, the clinics I lead explore both the differances and commonalities between what we are learning at our skiing level and what our students need to be learning at theirs (most classes being at lower levels).

Because these insrtuctors are developing increased awareness of their own movements and new focus's for analizing others, from what they are learning from/on the short shapes, I think the overall impact trickled down to the end customer is a positive one. But, they do need guidance in translating their new moves into appropriatly relavent avtivities for their students. A big plus is that instructors who are in a inspired learning mode themselves share that entheusiam for learning with their students and everybody wins.

[ January 02, 2003, 12:35 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #3 of 9
OK, I'll offer my 2 cents on this. The goal is for the instructor to clearly demonstrate the skill he wishes to teach his students. At lower skill levels I don't believe the skis on an expert instructors feet really distort the demo. An expert skier can control planes of balance, degree of edge, rate of steer and upper body position completely to the point that the visual is not affected. An instructor of lower skill ability may not be able to do this but if that is the case then his demos will be lacking regardless of the shoes on his feet.

The problem may come when demonstrating upper level skills, and I refer specifically to carving skills. When doing carving instructional sessions most likely you will be touching on degree of edge and appropriate form of angulation for amount of edge. In this situation it is impossible to demonstate a high edge turn on a short super side cut slalom ski (say in the 150's) and be able to produce the same arc and utilize the same angulation as your students on 185 more moderately cut GS skis. Your demo will not look the same. You can reduce the degree of edge to produce the proper radius and angulation but that leaves the visual flawed. Unless of course you are teaching a class of racers with their slalom boards on. Other wise in this case I would suggest instuctors gear the they use to conform with the general equipment preference of the group they are teaching.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Arcmeister:
You probably have lit a fuse here.

However, the clinics I lead explore both the differances and commonalities between what we are learning at our skiing level and what our students need to be learning at theirs (most classes being at lower levels).

Fuse lighting was the stated intent. Game On!

Your statement above is exactly the point and needs to be stated clearly to the instructors being trained. What I see in my small corner is a pervasive acceptance of these skis at the upper levels to the point that this is what skiing becomes about. So the intent may not be to lead the trainees to believe that this is the 'new wave' but since it is not clearly stated they go off with one message. 'Must get short super carves must ski like this'. For the other fellow who posted (I have to check the names first) it is at the higher end that I worry about. There are some unique movements specific to skiing the short slaloms well and repeatedly it was the emphasis of each session. I've been at it a long time and see through the trends. I think the pilots also ski different and I worry that a senior trainer may start to guide technique specific to that narrow niche as well. A lot of people on these sessions (from across the country) go home to their home hill and take with them a slanted message of what skiing has become or is becoming. Come on the fuse is still hot. Jump in.
post #5 of 9
If you are teaching beginners who probably have rented skis, I think instructors should have the poorly maintained, dull edged rental skis on their feet, from the resort rental department. No special arangements to get your skis tuned and waxed, use the skis that they would give to anyone else.That's probably what the beginners are skiing on, or rather trying to ski on.

As to hgher level skiers, use the equipment that works best for you in demonstrating what the students should be learning.
post #6 of 9
I'd like to think that a good skier can do any of these movements on a variety of different skis. The last (and Only) clinic I went to, the leaders were on 170cm Dynastars and 175 T-50s. I was on my 190 V-Pros, and it's not like I couldn't do what they were doing. I think they probably would have looked the same on Pocket Rockets as they did on their own skis. Also, a lot of our customers are skiing on short slaloms. They seem to be the most popular thing at the demo center too.
post #7 of 9

I'm a guy who loves the "short carver". I spend 80% of my time on this type of ski.

I own longer skis.

I would argue the short skis have made me a better skier. They have no tail. I have to focus constantly on my fore aft balance.
In busted powder, deeper snow, windslab, etc., thet are tough to ski. At medium to high speeds they have to be on edge.

My point is that yes, they are great for short radius turns. They require a fair amount of attention to ski elsewhere. There are many situations where I wish I had a longer straighter ski strapped to my feet.

So, just as a long straight ski is tough to turn quickly, a short ski is a challenge when chasing longboarders in a clinic!
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Arcmiester, thanks for the response. I thought we had the start of a good debate there. Alas I must have asked the question poorly, the rest of the reponses sort of missed the point.
post #9 of 9
Last year and the year before I pretty much stuck to the short carvers. This year has been different. I didn't buy any new skis this year so I am skiing on skis a year or two old. We have two resorts a couple miles appart. I have skis at both resorts so I don't carry them back and forth.

At Boston Mills I have two pairs. One is a Volkl Vectris 184cm and the other is an Atomic 10EX with telemark setup. At Brandywine I have a pair of Rossi T powers in a 167cm length and a pair of Atomic Zone 120cm skis. I use all of these pairs a fair amount and as you can see these skis vary greatly.

This is the first year that I have done this and to my suprise, this has vastly improved my skiing. I have gotten so that I depend more on the core movements instead of little things I use to stick into my skiing here and there, like leveraging and lack of rotary blending. Let's face it, Atomic 10EX's in a telemark setup cannot be leveraged at the tip and need a fair amount of rotary for short carved turns. The Zone 120's need almost no rotary and you can't leverage them either. The Vectris can be leveraged and respond well to any rotary inputs. The T powers are very forgiving and two footed turns are a blast.

L7 has a point. When we ski on one pair of short skis all the time we tend to get lazy and assume everyones skis behave the

On my second attemp at level 3, I was ready but like a fool, I decided at the last minute that a pair of longer stiffer skis than what I was use to, would add to my stability a grace. The longer skis required more steering and rotary blending than I was use to and I therefore had a slight wedge on every turn. Bingo, I flunked the first two out of three days. The third day I got back on my familiar skis and passed the with flying colors. I went two weeks latter and $1000 poorer and got my level 3. The point is I had gotten lazy and lacked the ability to blend in any situation and did not adjust to the stiffer longer skis. I'm sure that I was perpetuating some of this in my approach to teaching skiers on vastly different equipment.

Wink has a point, instructors should occasionally go jump on a pair of rental skis and try them. As for teaching in them, Norfolk & Way.
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