Fox, there are a couple reasons that accomplished racers are great skiers. First, they've trained hard and long at the fundimental skills of the sport. Any skier who puts in the same amount of effort to improving their core skiing skills as these folks do will realize a similar level of skiing prowess.
The other thing that helps their skiing is the very component of racing that defines it: GATES. Having to turn where you have to, not where you want to, introduces a new degree of difficulty that tests ones skills to the max, and takes ones skiing to new plateaus. Some think they've arrived when they can link pretty arc to arc turns down the slope, when they can tip and carve the high C,,, but put them in a course where precise placement of their turns are a requirement and these new carving maestros often fall apart terribly. Racers, when they get out of the gates find carving high quality arc to arc turns easy to the point of boring. Freeskiing is so nondemanding in comparison.
Fox, in your quote below you say you want to turn where and when you want. Because you don't expose yourself to a race course you don't really have a clear concept of how much fudge factor is involved in that when you're freeskiing a wide open slope. The precision factor is very small. Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat
What I mean is that I don't aspire to be a ski racer. I don't aspire to run gates. I do aspire to ski powder, soft snow, wide open areas where I make my turns as and when I want to, and where "winning" is about enjoying the run, rather than being the fastest.
In the freeskiing arena there's so much room for the general: the general route down the mountain,,, the general turn radius,,, the general edge angle,,, the general type of turn. Success in this world of general goals can be self deceiving. A trip through the gates can be very eye opening as to what the actual level at which one's skill refinement lies.
That said, there's nothing wrong with your desired approach to skiing, and how you chose to derive pleasure from it. You sound as though you're carrying a chip on your shoulder over this racing stuff, and the claims of how effective it is at developing high level skiing skills. There's really no need for that. Skiing is about freedom to choose one's pleasures. Make yours, and be comfortable with it. I think you're reading into what people are saying here when you claim that the idea that "everyone should aspire to racing" is being promoted. I haven't seen that at all. I have, though, seen people suggest that trying racing can serve as an excellent means of taking one's skiing to the next level once they've acquired a certain level of proficiency in their freeskiing. In that they are totally correct, and are simply offering an option for people who are looking to improve even further. It's just people trying to help others, not passing judgement.
Something else for you to consider, Fox. As you probably know, I come from the world of racing,,, close to 3 decades as full time race coach. I've now migrated into trying to bring the skill development that takes place in race training programs to the recreational masses. People think racing is all about barrelling hell bent for leather down the side of a mountain. It's really about developing supperior fundamental skills, the same skills that are at the root of high level free skiing, and in that these skills racers learn are totally transferable to the recreational community. For so long I observed from afar how recreational skiers struggled so, seemingly in a war of survival against the mountain, while my skill laden racers flowed effertlessly down the slopes. I knew that with a bit of skill training that struggle could be transformed into a dance, and their level of enjoyment could leap. It was frustrating for me. watching them flounder, with no concept of what skiing could really be, and no clue of how to get there.
I've now produced my DVD instructional series as my attempt to provide an avenue for recreational skiers to get off that pervasively populated intermediate plateau, and it's all about skill development,,, nothing about gates. Skills are skills, and once you have them you can take them into any skiing environment and prosper. A skier with great skills will quickly become a good racer, or mogul skier, or powder skier, of off piste skier. A skier who lacks a good skill base will never excel at any of those.