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Harald Harb Letter to EpicSki Community - Page 4

post #91 of 206
Oh. Okay. You might want to drop that comma between "ability" and "to." You wouldn't want anyone drawing conclusions about you based on improper punctuation.
Would ya?
post #92 of 206
Originally posted by Ott Gangl:
>>>but I got that through the Natur Technique in the 60's from Ernie Mulbauer who got that from ......?<<<

....from Walter Foeger of Jay Peak VT, the 'inventor' of the Natur Teknik direct parallel ski teaching method.

Was he Luggi Foeger's brother?
post #93 of 206
It's interesting that some people want to give HH credit for inventing inside foot steering. I never heard of HH ten years ago, but I was teaching students to steer with their inside foot.....in a WEDGE! And they didn't even have to pick up their ski to do it! If only I had known then that I had 'invented' a breakthrough move; I'd be making the big bucks now off the royalties....oh, well..
Speaking of the wedge,( not to be confused with the 'snowplow' ) it is still a valid and most of the time necessary movement pattern to teach beginners. Why? Despite HH's wonderful 'direct to parallel' approach, most people simply are not athletic enough to balance on one foot, lift a ski ( here's that pesky 'O'frame again, folks ) and make a carved turn first time out. And even if they could, you don't have room to lay down railroad tracks on most beginner hills. Most beginners can, however, balance over both feet and learn to steer the skis ( left and right).
Having taught thousands ( I ain't lying ) of beginners ( they're the ones taking lessons, duhhh )I have tried lots of tricks and guess what? I keep going back to the #%@*&%$## wedge! This fundamental movement pattern carries over to high level skiing, and I've taught a few LOL higher level students, too. Now the 'wedge christy'... uh, that's another story, but;
Here's something to consider: When a skier moves from outside ski to outside ski without a recentering or "neutral", they are pretty much committed to making a turn in the direction the new outside ski is going. With me so far? This is O.K. when you are going through a race course and a left turn is followed by a right turn and so forth. I haven't seen a race course where you make two or three left turns then two or three right turns ( maybe I should 'invent' one and get rich from the royalties! ) How many times have you been free skiing, intending to go right, when suddenly there's snowboard dude about to run you down, you better be able to make a left, like, uh, now! Although there is much to be learned from racers, we must accept the fact that racers are athletes in top physical condition who are able to make and recover from moves that most of us can't even attempt. So not all the things they do can be converted to recreational skiing , nor should they be.
One final thing and then I will shut up. Skiing ain't rocket science, sorry HH! There are only so many ways you can make a ski slide and most of 'em have already been thought of. Unless you're talking about using both outside edges at the same time ( the "O" frame, I am dying to try it!)
post #94 of 206
Irul...I don't know, Luggi Foeger was in Yosemite and Diamond Peak out west and Walter was in Vermont, but could be?...

post #95 of 206
Congratulations to us! Harald Harb got tweaked enough to send a message to us. His stated reasons are: "clarification of erroneous comments" and to "put facts and legitimacy to the discussion". I note that his letter contains neither general skiing facts nor information about PMTS. I also note that there is no sales pitch either. So lets all thank Harald for sharing his impressive personal credentials with us. I learned stuff today and I'm truly grateful. In the meantime, if we try to understand why HH does what he does, we might be able to coax more out of him.

I've observed that HH has a track record of not putting a lot of details about PMTS or technical skiing or ski teaching comments in the public domain. Since he is selling books and videos to the public and he is selling his teaching system to instructors, it makes sense not to give away info for free.

HH has invited "emotional" responses through his past PSIA bashing and the "dogma" associated with PMTS. Many of the postings about HH in public forums quickly grow to include an "emotional" component (in response to HH's past). His current message to EpicSki does contain more of the extraneous to the discussion emotional content. There's no need to respond. Engaging in an emotional debate legitimizes the accusations. "Si"'s post in defense of not posting was well said. So it also makes sense for Harald to basically avoid general participation in public forums. This is a shame. We'd all do well to not perpetuate this. So far in this thread there seems to be more weight on the "civil" side. Hoo Rah!

Moving on to the topic of furthering the state of ski instruction, here are a few thoughts to consider…

One of the "public" aspects of the PMTS approach is the "narrow stance". Relative to PSIA, a narrow stance should be in the repertoire, but is not a desirable end result. However, one of my "Harb hunting" expeditions revealed the comment that the narrow stance was more for teaching weight transfer (i.e. getting over the inside ski) than imparting an end result. Although this introduces wonderful potential topics of discussion about means versus ends, I wish to make two different points:
a) HH's public silence on these issues slows down the adoption process.
b) Epicski is the perfect place to investigate these areas without the Harb/Lito/PSIA emotional baggage and help accelerate industry wide acceptance.

It would be a lot easier to accept and support PMTS if HH were to publish some details about the system and some statistics about instructors and lessons. The "if you want to know, buy my book" appears to put "support Harald" ahead of supporting "ski instruction". My argument is that if the approach is truly unique and effective, being more forthright would sell more books. Note: I'm not saying that PMTS is not unique and effective. I'm just saying I can't tell if it is.

When all I knew about the narrow stance approach was the end result aspect, it made me less willing to support PMTS because it conflicted with some pretty basic stuff that I have direct experience with without any meat explaining how it could work. When I look at narrow stance as a means to get to a carved turn, I can do dry land experiments to support that part of the theory. Now, despite having personal reservations about the efficacy of having to unlearn a narrow stance later on, I'm at least open to proceeding further. If I could only get some more meat like that, I'd gladly sign up for PMTS.

Anecdotal evidence
I know one instructor who has been PMTS certified who has received several private lesson requests because of the certification. This instructor is happy with PMTS and
also remains an active member of PSIA. Conclusion: there is room for PMTS in the marketplace.

Moving on to issues raised in the thread....

Accelerated certification
That PSIA is willing to recognize an "outsiders" previous accomplishments vs forcing a new member to "go through the program" is commendable. That said, PSIA has experienced failures as well as success when doing this. Currently the Eastern division has a process that provides for accelerated certification that seems to be a fair balance between "going through the program no matter how good you are" and "anyone who can ski and teach is welcome". If someone does not "know what the Teaching and Skiing Models" are, then (according to today's PSIA standards) they should not be able to pass a PSIA certification exam. PSIA is much more focused on how to teach than what to teach than they were years ago. Although it appears that PMTS does not offer accelerated certification, it looks like there is no restriction preventing passing green, blue and black in one season.

Hey Bob Peters!
"Does anyone look into the crystal ball and see masses of new participants joining this sport?" Take a look at NSAA's model for growth. http://www.nsaa.org/nsaa2002/_growth_model.asp
It's a healthy look into the cystal ball that acknowledges the challenges the entire snow sports industry faces and lays out a path to address those challenges. Yes, we've got a lot of hard work in front of us.

Hi E!
"Why can't PSIA stick up for the Pros?"
PSIA does not engage in the public forums for many of the same reasons that HH does not. But it may surprise some how much support PSIA does provide at the organization level, dealing with sponsors and other industry organizations like NSAA and NSP. These efforts do provide concrete benefits to pros. PSIA is sensitive to not alienating resort management, partly because they recognize that not every ski teacher can be a member and partly because they believe they get more done at the end of the day when we work as a team versus just self promoting. It's not right or wrong, it's just a path that has been chosen ... and a path that has been supported by the voting of the PSIA membership. The folks that think differently have not been (successful at?) running for office.

To the EpicSki community -
Please let's start stripping away the mystique about PMTS. Let's dig up the facts about how many PMTS lessons are taught and how many "active" instructors are certified for PMTS (note to Rusty Guy - we ought to be able figure that out from pmts.org).
Let's develop a good high level summary of what PMTS is about. And then let us give a good pro and con review about the elements of PMTS.

Oops - I see another thread "what's the difference" has started up. Yippeee!


Full disclosure:
I'm an instructor who carries level 2 certification from PSIA and AASI, but I'm not "wonked" to these organizations .

[ October 28, 2003, 04:40 PM: Message edited by: therusty ]
post #96 of 206
Since HH may or, may not return here to engage, there is a web site:


Found this under one of the gear threads for the Volkl P-60.

HH has a post or two over there though the site is not very active and I did not stay long enough to vet out any actual affiliation.

[ October 28, 2003, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: yuki ]
post #97 of 206
Gang - Lets try something besides HH & PSIA bashing. In the last 3 years, there has been a ton of folks who have thrown shots in both directions. Neither has gone away. HH does not need to waist his time replying to every crank opinion e-mail. PSIA dosn't reply to every crank eithe,r so let it rest. If it works and people get comfortable on the slops, let's get them there.

Everyone needs to find what works for them. A lot of the passion I see on this topic is like describing one-size fits all panyhose. They just don't fit everyone. Ask my wife.

With my kids, I did two thing to help them to learn.

1) Have them go to the first time clinic taught at the resort. Let the resort teach how to put on the ski's, slide, wedge, and get on a chair lift. That works great and the resorts have that one down pat.

2) Get them to parallel ASAP. Usally after the second trip to the snow, They can do a basic parallel. I found that by going to HH's process, you can give people a set of fundamentals, and with that set, have them learn quickly.

If anything, true parallel skiing is taught way late in the PSIA process. It should be more up front.

Think snow!
post #98 of 206
follow meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
post #99 of 206

You dwell quite a bit on the narrow stance. Personally, I never think about it. The narrow stance is a function of lightening and tipping the inside ski, ie, controlling the center of mass to engage the stance ski. I understand that this is a different way of explaining what happens in a turn. If you try to control where the CM is from a wide stance, it is not very efficient. However, if you were to bring the free foot in so that the heels are close, you have a greater range of tipping motion than if the heels were seperated, either laterally or fore/aft. This is especially important for those people who are knock-kneed. Even with correction, it is difficult to tip to the little toe edge effectively. Additionally, the free ski is kept tipped and lightened throughout the turn. Where is the most comfortable place for a tipped and lightened ski? It certainally not out a foot where a tip could dig in, or balance be adversely affected.

This war over stance will never be won by either side of the controvercy. I hope that understanding where the other side is coming from can be achieved.

[ October 30, 2003, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #100 of 206
Originally posted by Rick H:
Where is the most comfortable place for a tipped and lightened ski? It certainally not out a foot where a tip could dig in, or balance be adversely affected.
Yes, we certainly wouldn't want a skier's inside ski to engage and use two skis as devices to carve a turn. One stance ski works much better :
post #101 of 206
I continue to read with amazement what appears to be great desire by some to propose that the tight boundaries that they impose upon their own learning are valid reasons for others to stifle their desire to wonder, explore, investigate, learn and grow. How can my not understanding something be a reason for others to not seek their understanding of it?

The best ski teachers, or teachers of anything, I've met have all been voracious learners. More eager to find ways to explore or expand or apply some new idea than waste their creativity inventing reasons why what they have never really tried, will not work.

The logic that:
'it does not work for me, so it can not work for anyone'
is just as flawed as:
'it works for me, so it must work for everyone'.

People learn to ski by every organized system throughout the world, each one taught by a vast range of interpretations within it's own ranks. People also learn by the 'just take your buddy to the top method'. The fact that everything works is an undeniable reality. It gives rise to the humbling notion that people will always learn in spite of us. If we are lucky, or have worked hard at learning more options to provide solutions with, they might even learn because of us.

I think that there is an implicit trust and expectation when someone comes to a professional ski teacher (not a system dependant status) that their instructor will have explored, investigated and learned all that is available to them to be able to provide the most exciting learning experience possible, not one limited by blinders that they will have to learn in spite of.

I teach with a stew comprised of bits and pieces of every system I have ever been exposed to. This stew is also seasoned, not very lightly, with a lot of original exploration exclusive of any system at all. What each of us teaches is ultimately an expression of our working knowledge accrued through experience.

If you are curious about PMTS, or any system, I encourage you to go jump in that pool and thrash around in it openly enough to allow the natural learning sponge within each of us an opportunity to absorb something useful. I expect both you and your students will benefit from your expanded experience.

But tehn waht do I konw, I laenerd to ski by ginog to the top aolne. Und I kant spal.

[ October 30, 2003, 08:45 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #102 of 206
One thing Ron LeMaster pointed out in one of his presentations. In a narrow stance, if you lift one foot, you don't tip over very fast. On the other hand , you tip over really fast in a wide stance.
My conclusion: Probably more comfortable for a beginner to learn tipping in a narrow stance. (did I say that? : )
post #103 of 206
Good Point.
additionally, recognising that lower end skiers going slowly on flat terrain ski pretty upright over their skis, an aspect of the narrower stance as a learning vehicle is that it allows these skiers to experience having their Cm inside both skis while they are on very similar edge angles and reacting the same. Something unavaliable to early skiers in a wide stance where the terrain and low speed dynamics leave the CM between the feet and interacting with each ski very differently.
post #104 of 206
Rusty Guy,

No need to be snide....
post #105 of 206
Originally posted by Rick H:
Where is the most comfortable place for a tipped and lightened ski? It certainally not out a foot where a tip could dig in, or balance be adversely affected.
I wasn't trying to be snide. I was trying to be sarcastic.

So now I'll be serious because I think this is substantive.

Please consider two types of carved turns.

medium speed/pitch and fast/steeper

At medium speeds I'm trying to do everything I can to engage both skis. I'm attempting to leave two pencil thin lines in the snow that are equidistant apart and equal depth. As speed increases this becomes progressively more difficult. The one thing that will destroy this is any lifting or lightening. I'm trying to engage both tools.

At high speeds there will most certainly come a point when there is very little contact between my inside uphill edge and the snow. The outside ski is where the action is at this point.

Bob B has a wonderful adage saying, "the inside ski is where the activity is and the outside ski is where the action is".

I guess this is where I have a fundamental problem with ANY initial lightening to create a stance foot. It creates one footed skiing. In addition, standing on one foot eliminates any ability to use both legs as a fulcrum mechanism, to steer, to create braquage.

You know as I sit here typing I am further perplexed by the "O-frame" concept and/or standing on two outside edges at any point.

I could understand tipping both feet. I could understand tipping the inside foot. Just not the lifting or lightening and or the stance foot!
post #106 of 206
I am tryin to shed some light on what appears to be a dark subject for you. I suspect that the reason you percieve conflict with lightening the inside foot vs. skiing both feet is due to your not understanding that the first is an early level learning process and the second is a high level outcome. You are comparing apples to oranges, and while you might be accuate to state they are different, you are not accurate to state that they are in conflict. Each is correct in its own nature.

The concept of lightening is for learning is a useful stepping-stone to help the stemming, stepping, sorta but not quite wanna-be parallel masses to achieve the necessary order of movement to make parallel turn initiations. These skiers tend to mis-apply your fulcrum mechanism in an inefficient manner by initiating a new turn by steering the new outside ski against the still supportive and yet-to-be-released old outside ski. The learing tool of triggering a turn by lightening and tipping the new inside ski immediatly transfers stance to the new outside ski and prevents the stemming/steering of it. I re-emphasise that this is a "learning" tool and I do not know anyone with a true understanding of it's that use would present it as anything more, much less the end-all, be-all WAY to ski you attack it as. Once an efficient order of movement has been learned by using a distinct sequence of activities (release, transfer, engage) the application can become more blended. The result evolves to reflect just what you present as contrast. More progressive balance re-distribution, more progressive engagment and more two-footed, skiing with both skis.
So lighten up.........

[img]tongue.gif[/img] :

[ October 31, 2003, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #107 of 206
So Arc - why do Harald & Diana insist I MUST learn to ski on 1 ski to ski properly?
post #108 of 206
I'm glad this thread has finally come around, after 5 pages, to discussing something substantive!

This "lifting" and "lightening" issue has been discussed here at EpicSki so many times, and in such detail, that I am loath to go back over well-trod ground. But Rusty makes a very valid point. So valid that it deserves a separate thread. To continue exploring "the lift," please go to "Lifting is Learning (but what is it teaching?)"

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #109 of 206
Originally posted by disski:
So Arc - why do Harald & Diana insist I MUST learn to ski on 1 ski to ski properly?
If you can only balance effectivly when on two skis then it stands to reason that you comparitvly out of balance any time one of your skis either unweights or becomes dominant.

I would not use " better", that is subjective and should be based strictly on what you want to do. For me it is about having more options, both to adapt to terrain and conditions and for different ways to have fun.

Sometimes more, is more...

post #110 of 206
Ah - so Harald & Diana would have written me off as unteachable? At least to any decent level...

Remember I CANNOT (naturally) stand on 1 foot for a count of 5...

All balance I have on skis is a LEARNT process...
post #111 of 206
I usually stay out of these instructional debates, as the opinions I read here are more qualified than my own. However, I find the criticism of Harb's methods are made by people that don't understand what he's trying to get across or by people that are just plain looking for something to find fault with. All this business of one footed skiing wasn't invented by Harb. Anyone that has spent any time on the slopes has witnessed a ski school class of younger children riding up on the lifts and skiing down with only one ski, and certainly anyone associated with a racing program has learned to ski on one foot. The reason is obvious. Once you learn to ski comfortably on the outside ski of a turn (or inside ski, for that matter), then you can do any thing you want with the other ski. If all you ever learn to do is ski on two feet, then that's all that you will ever be able to do. A PSIA examiner once pointed out to me that if you only learn to ski on two edges when you have four edges available to you, it's like having a four wheel drive vehicle and not knowing how to engage the four wheel drive, and the difference in performance will be similar. If you bipass this valuable part of the learning process to get on with two footed carving, then you're leaving out a huge building block in the students learning process. I don't know HH, and have never spoken to him directly, so I have no reason to stick up for him. I have read a lot of his material, and while I don't agree with everything, there is an awful lot of it that makes sense if you bother to follow through with it. And while I have skied with some wonderful upper level PSIA instructors, I have also skied with some god awful ones. And I think that is where the problem lies with PSIA. I've always been able to find a good upper level instuctor to ski with if I took a little time to seek them out. It's getting to the upper level that seems to be the problem. I think the truly great ski schools of such places like Aspen, Sun Valley, etc., just to name a few, are very proud, and rightfully so, of their ski programs. However, I think that they are somewhat isolated from what goes on in the rest of the real world. I think I can say with some confidence that the quality of the lessons most beginners or intermediate skiers get is very inconsistent, to say the least, and their prospects of ever becoming upper level skiers from these lessons alone are pretty remote. I think that while some of Harb's methods may be controversial to some, what he has done is give people at this level a consistent and well laid out plan to follow that does produce results that are difficult to achieve in a typical ski lesson. What he has done in my opinion, although there is bound to be some holes in any such program, is created an effective bridge for this level skier to advance beyond the dreaded intermediate rut. If this offends some people, or strikes at the heart of whats near and dear to some, well so be it. I don't know where all this animosity comes from, it's very evident on both sides, but like it or not, Harb is here to stay. I think something could be gained by taking in to account what makes sense and trying to make good use of it instead of just trying to tear the guy down. Maybe everybody could stand to benefit from it, especially the people floundering in ski classes that could use it the most.
post #112 of 206
>>> I don't know where all this animosity comes from, it's very evident on both sides, but like it or not, Harb is here to stay.<<<

Mac, the animosity comes from Harb attacking in print the INSTRUCTORS who are with PSIA, calling them names and essentially saying that they couldn't teach anybody to ski right.
That is how I interpret this bruhaha, had he limited his attacks to criticising the PSIA teaching model and left the instructors out of it, this whole thing would not have happened.

What would have happened, and what I think should happen is debating the merits of PSIA vs. PMTS teaching approaches and leave Harb's name out of it. When talking about PSIA no one seems to evoke Horst Abraham's name all the time just because he engineered much of it.

Neither Walter Foegers Natur Teknik not Cliff Taylor's graduated length method, both direct to parallel teaching methods, evoked this gall that HH seems to get because they did not put the instructors down even when their systems fell out of favor.

Sure, Harb is here to stay until he gets bought out or leaves as are the Mahre's , the Kidd's, the Moe's. etc.

Most of the original PSIA founders are dead or inactive yet PSIA still goes on and it is because they are not built one one person's mantra.

And yes, in my skiing and teaching for over a half century I have learned that one can ski many many different ways and be competent and surefooted with all kinds of equipment. As I said before, I bought Harb's first book and actually skied all maneuvers his way and they work just fine. But I wonder what would happen if I showed up in my twenty year old 210 Kaestle skis which are stiff like a 2x4 with almost no sidecut or camber and my side entry Rosemont boots.

When I tried them last there was no way they would turn without a hearty unweighting and forward push even when on high edge, all this tipping and lightening doesn't work.

But so what? Ski technique has advanced with the advancement in ski technology and teaching should strive to take advantage of same.

post #113 of 206
Harb might be a great skier and an effective teacher. Surely he's adept at labeling motions in a way that is marketable. But it's his hyperdefensive style that irritates me... as well as his silly airbrushing of photos in his first book.

I doubt he'll come in here and actively contribute. I think he likes playing the Wizard of Oz (no offense intended, Aussies).
post #114 of 206
Lots of good stuff here. Bumping this golden oldie for all the new disciples and one of the truly productive conversations on this topic.
post #115 of 206
Perhaps it also helps explain why, since Harald admits he had virtually no background in PSIA teaching models when he made the demo team and still knows little about them, why he continually and persistently misrepresents and distorts what PSIA advocates good teaching and skiing to be.
post #116 of 206
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
My, he is full of himself isn't he?

No offence to any of our residents, but not too far off from many PSIA top dogs.

I like Oboe's comments and A.C.'s wisdom on his post, for whatever reason he decided to post here in the first place, Harb has me wondering if the real reason, was to let our talented forum members know that we are all miniscule in the realm of ski world knowledge.

My guess is, he will lurk about for a while reading what the forum has to say about the letter, and chime in eventually. If he doesn't, it's not the end of the world.

Although, it would be a plus to have his knowledgeable input. for sure.
This was my one post in the whole segment of the thread back in 2003. It's funny but this could have been something I would say today.

Hey, I'm not well liked, but at least I've been consistant over the years.

Very interesting Cirque. What were you doing anyhow? Searching for classic threads?
post #117 of 206
Lars, as you know,we are putting together a Hall of Fame for the supporters. This is one of the threads I came across, and was struck by how little the conversation has progressed in nearly FOUR YEARS!
post #118 of 206
Bumping this is the epitome of pointlessness.
post #119 of 206
I readthrough the entire thread and recall much of the post conversation. My God, that's exactly what I was thinking. That thread could have been started yesterday couldn't it? One thing's for sure. Harb's opinion and attitude about himself hasn't changed much either.
post #120 of 206
Originally Posted by BigE View Post
Bumping this is the epitome of pointlessness.
I really do think that was the point. :
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