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Ok, who wants some real instruction?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Tired of confusing PSIA jibberish? This article by Kristen Ulmer is the best I've read in years.

You're welcome <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Matter (edited January 21, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 41
Matter, an enjoyable read and funny too. For expert skiers who want a challenge, this has some good advice. Anyone who wants to be an >athlete< in their sport/art, total dedication to the exclusion of all else is desired and required.

I have been on the board of a professional ballet company and if you want to see total dedication check out a dancer. These men and women not only have to attend class of the basics every day, even when on vacation they find a nearby company where they can take class, but they rehearse, perform, have a prescribed diet, sleeping hours, etc. every day of the year.

The same with top gymnasts, figure skaters, you name it. I applaud them and somewhat pitty them. They have no life.

What all that has to do with the PSIA I don't understand. How did those skiers get to the place where they can attempt these feats? They either learned by themselves or by instruction of one kind or other.

Why would you denigrate someone who is stuck in a beginners or imtemediate or even expert rut and seeks professional help?

Skiing is just skiing, it's nice and fun, but not everyone has the desire to be the best or even want sto put out the effort to be good.
How good you are is not a measure of what makes skiing worthwhile, how much fun you have is.

Just my thoughts.... ....Ott
post #3 of 41
The tip about a patrol guy taking you up before opening only works if you are a hot chick, by the way. Unless you find a "special" patroller.
post #4 of 41
it was a good article. Although, I have learned all of this and more from a "Mellow" PSIA instructor from Aspen. So to dis a skier because they happen to be affiliated with PSIA, is ill-conceived. In fact this instructor has been teaching with the focuses Kristen U. describes longer than she has been alive.

If you like this approach to skiing (and life) give "Journey to Center" by Tom Crum a read.

continue learning,
post #5 of 41
Although I love the Ulner article, I think Jonathan an excellent point about MELLOW. I recently took a workshop from an instructor who, at first, I thought was so mellow she was going to drive me insane. On the first day, I thought, "this is not going to work, I'm taking this so that I can get out of my comfort zone, and here I'm being overly nurtured." But this was the workshop where I had my first experience in always coming in ahead of the class, instead of last. And learned to control torso counter rotation so that I could improve my short radius turns, and not freak out on narrow trails. And learned, for the first time,pole planting. Then, an INSANE exercise called the falling leaf, which requires you to spend time skiing backwards , and then turning yourself back around.. And using an Akido concept of allowing the body to "turn to water" when falling, to avoid injury. All this, from someone who spoke in barely a whisper.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited January 21, 2001).]</FONT>
post #6 of 41
How did "Tired of confusing PSIA jibberish?"

get to

"Why would you denigrate someone who is stuck in a beginners or imtemediate or even expert rut and seeks professional help?"


"So to dis a skier because they happen to be affiliated with PSIA"

PSIA does not teach you to go where Ulmer wants to go. There is not a ski school in the country that you could walk into and get a lesson that would take you into the nastiest terrain you can imagine. Yes some ski schools offer special clinics like Chris Anthonys A-basin clinics. Yes some instructors can ski those lines. But what Ulmer is talking about is beyond the focus of the PSIA, and with good reason. What is PSIA's mission statement? It's not to get every skier ripping the steepest slope on the mountain while dropping 20'ers like its just another turn. Look at the emphasis on "beginners magic" and "direct parralell" etc. PSIA is focused on helping beginners, intermediates even experts, ski better. What Ulmer is talking about is beyond expert.

I'd like to continue but work calls.
post #7 of 41
>>>How did "Tired of confusing PSIA jibberish?" get to "Why would you denigrate someone who is stuck in a beginners or imtemediate or even expert rut and seeks professional help?"<<<

>>> PSIA is focused on helping beginners, intermediates even experts, ski better. What Ulmer is talking about is beyond expert.<<<

Harpo, just read these two statements. If Ulmer's stuff is beyond the PSIA teaching system, why call what it does teach "confusing jibberish"?

To me that is denigrating the job that PSIA instructors do, teaching many thousands of people to ski at recreational levels. The skiers who ski chutes and jump off cornices are a fraction of one percent and if they want to do this, fine. It has absolutely nothing to do with PSIA teaching, so why even mention it.

post #8 of 41
Harpo wrote: "There is not a ski school in the country that you could walk into and get a lesson that would take you into the nastiest terrain you can imagine."

I disagree completely. I've taught speed clinics, air clinics, gates, etc. at my little east coast area. Walk into any ski school and ask for a lesson in "hucking" and you'll get it (assuming they have the terrain). Not only that, but a few years ago, while at Whistler, another instructor and myself signed up for a 1/2 day lesson. We were the only ones in the group and asked to see the nasty steep stuff. The instructor was more than happy to give us a lesson in the steepest stuff Whistler has to offer.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited January 22, 2001).]</FONT>
post #9 of 41

Thanks. That's a nice addition to a forum where, in MY OPINION, the state of the head is too often left out. (Then again, I don't think it's an instructor's "job" to get into the student's thinking process/mental approach unless solicited and even then, it gets tricky in a hurry.) Still, after all the lessons and fine-tuning have made the skier technically proficient, getting one's game to the next level is not, obviously, about allegiance to the dos and don'ts of getting a ski on edge or the (un)weighting in deep powder, not on a conscious level, not at that point. That stuff is pretty ingrained by then, I would think.
What I'll say now somewhat addresses TAG's post re: the state of skiing today. I personally don't care much whether or not Joe or Jolene skier is "sloppy" on the slopes or not "skiing to his/her potential." My assumption is that this person is or is not content with their skiing and will act, or not, accordingly. Either way, it doesn't matter to me. (Yes, I think I am a "selfish" skier. I care about MY SKIING far beyond and above how anyone else skis, better or worse and more than where skiing is economically, etc.) I'll qualify further by saying I would never judge anyone based on skiing ability or their approach to skiing. One reason - just one - I LOVE this sport is that it IS so geared toward what the individual wants to do with it. If someone is having a great time living on blues or greens or blacks or purples or whatever, great. I say, if you're enjoying it, that's close to being enough. If you're not, I'd ask why are you doing it, but chances are you won't be doing it much longer. And that's cool, too, as far as I'm concerned. I'M thinking about how can I ski better, what do I need to work on, where are my weakest links, what scares me, etc. This approach is not intrinsically "good," it's just mine. I think most instructors here - I could be wrong - would agree that all the technique-teaching in the world is not going to get a skier past a certain point, particularly into demanding, even dangerous, terrain, unless that skier is of that mind, which is probably relatively rare. I'm guessing most skiers ARE content to spend their ski days or vacations, more or less lazily having a good time and generally skiing at the level they've been skiing all the previous years, with improvement coming from sheer mileage more than any conscious attempt to work on things.
Very soon I'm going to have to stop skiing with the people I've been skiing with, and it has nothing to do with whether I like them or not. We just approach skiing in such a dissimilar fashion. And so to continue would be me compromising my passion; it would be me compromising my skiing. That I "out-ski" them has much less to do with inherent ability than sheer desire. I get to the hill, stare at the lines, start salivating. I make them jumpy because I want to ski NOW not stop till it's time to get to the airport or the parking lot. In short, I'm there to ski, not to sample the best restaurant. That's neither good or bad and for what it's worth I'm nice about expressing what I'm there to do. They're not in my way, I'm not in theirs; it's just a matter of different sensibilities re: "what skiing is" to each respective (and respectful?) person.
By the way, I'll take a PSIA lesson when I'm in Colorado in March, because I need one. And I'll need more in the future. I'm really not that close to skiing as technically well as I would like, or will need to be to get my body where my mind wants to go.
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 
whoa, let's end one thing here

I wasn't "dissing" the PSIA, but I can see how it came off like that. Frankly, I meant that Ulmers article and writing style is a big difference from the usual technical jargon that is thrown around both here and in normal instructional articles. I found that Ulmer article to be a breath of fresh air compared to the usual topics on here that exhaustingly argue the merits of where your uphill leg should be in a turn.

However, I think the PSIA has does have some serious problems to overcome in the next few years. The PSIA is confused why people are not taking lessons. Its really not that hard to figure out. For the most part, they are boring. If people aren't excited about taking a lesson, don't count on them signing up. Second, little is learned and accomplished in the vast majority of lessons. To really learn something you need more than a half day to ingrain it into your overall technique. Third, they are too expensive.

My honest opinion on becoming a better skier is this. Yes, you need some instruction to point out glaring faults in your technique. But after that, the way to expertdom is simply getting lots of snow time. Theres nothing like experience. If you're only skiing 10-15 days a year, you're never going to "rip" as Ulmer would say.
post #11 of 41

I can definitely climb on board this bus. But I think that Ulmer's article was more of a reality check or inspirational message, than it was instruction. When you get to the instructional tips in the article, I didn't see much difference except that it was written in the 3rd person, rather than 2nd person (Rob's pole is planted, vs You should keep your pole planted). But it is well written, and easy to read. If you take this from the 3rd person to the 2nd person, it gets way more obnoxious than a lot of instructional stuff I've read. If I take the "over the rock" sequence and change the phrasing, I get this: "weight is distributed
over both skis; shoulders are facing downhill over your edges, counterbalanced by your hips rotated into the hill. You reach for your new pole plant to keep your momentum flowing down the hill. Your uphill leg releases the ski's edge grip, allowing his upper body to move into position over the downhill leg." And that's just photo #1! Yikes!

I also agree completely with your idea of longer lessons. Some of the destination areas already have those as a regular offering. I pushed my little ski area to offer longer lessons, but they noted my idea and told me to shut up. Their feeling is that skiers at a day area don't want to "waste" half of their day or more in lessons. If they didn't have the attitude of it being a waste of time, then maybe we could cultivate some skiers, rather that teach 1.5 hrs of on slope survival skills, only to have the person come back to ski once every 2-3 years.

I also agree that it's too expensive, and add to that, that instructors are not paid nearly enough. They bring in $200 for 10 people to attend a 1.5 hr lesson, and pay out about $15 ($10/hr for 1.5 hrs) to the instructor. Then they wonder why they can't keep instructors around, and why the ones who do stick around, don't like to teach beginner lessons. And we only get paid when we are actually working.

Change both problems, and it will instantly cure all issues, including the point you make about lessons being boring. In 3-5 hrs, you can have a great time on the hill, learn to become a skier (or actually work on a problem area, rather than just having a few tips thrown at you), and pay a person a decent day's wages. By doing this, you grow the skiing population, get people to want to buy stuff, and take ski vacations. The whole industry benefits.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited January 22, 2001).]</FONT>
post #12 of 41
Thought I'd weigh in and say I agree with both sides. Instruction is invaluable, but to make the most of it IF you strive to be like the ski movie stars, you've got to push hard all the time and treat it like any other competitive sport. Personally, I liked the Ulmer tips even though you won't see me jumping cliff bands or running 55 degree chutes.
post #13 of 41
I'm envious of JohnH. I'd love to have the freedom to teach, what the student wants to learn.

"I disagree completely. I've taught speed clinics, air clinics, gates, etc. at my little east coast area. Walk into any ski school and ask for a lesson in "hucking" and you'll get it (assuming they have the terrain)."

Be careful of making the all inclusive "any ski school" statement. I teach for one of the larger ski area in the PNW. Two years ago we were asked NOT to bring our students into terrain parks, half pipes, and our most advanced terrain under threat of loosing our jobs. Any cliff drops in area that we are still allowed to teach in weren't discussed, but, I'm sure it would hit the fan if I took any student off one.

I don't think our area is alone in this policy. When the "The Proffesional skier" or "Pro rider" (PSIA publications for those who don't know) have articles on park or pipe riding they always include the statement "if your area allows teaching in this terrain". This leads me to believe other areas are as restrictive as mine.

I realize the underlying reason is our ligatious society and insurance companys but it's damaging the credablity of the ski school. If were aren't teaching what many of our "younger" clients want to learn, why would they want to take a lesson in the future.

It's no wonder lesson sales are flat. The only people taking lessons are older students or young beginners. Areas like mine are killing off our future customers. If we could teach them 360s or pipe skiing when they are 15-30 maybe they will come back to improve their over all technique when they are 30-80.
post #14 of 41
That's pretty depressing. I always thought one of the points of a ski school was so that you could always have instructors available to teach students anything that could be skied at that mountain.

IMHO, it's stupid to have areas that are legitimate to ski that instructors aren't permitted to teach HOW to ski. Aren't instructors also, by the way, expected to teach how to ski said areas safely? Isn't this currently an issue (how to get less accident-prone skiers on the hill?)
post #15 of 41
I totally agree.

Here's a law suit I'm waiting to see.

Parents want Billy to take a lesson in pipe/park riding. Ski school says "we won't let our instructors take you in there". Billy doesn't take a lesson, goes in pipe/park, is hurt badly. Parents sue area under one of two arguments.

1. If it was too dangerous for the instructor to take him in why are those things on the mountain?

2. The school wouldn't give him a lesson on safely riding in there so he didn't have a way of aquiring this important knowledge?

I guess my area would rather take the odds of loosing people comming to the mountain and the revenues they bring. Then a huge sum settlement if an accident did happen in a class situation, in one of these terrain features.
post #16 of 41
Grizz, Do you teach for the resident school at Crystal?
post #17 of 41
Sorry.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lucky (edited January 22, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 41
No, not Crystal, think South. Does Crystal have a similar policy?
post #19 of 41
Somewhere at Pico, back in the woods are some "chutes". I had signed up for a private lesson and the instructor after one run said "you ski fine, now follow me"... off through the trees he went. Looking down through the rocks I was a bit scared and tried to appeal to the intellect and asked about the proper technique. His only response was "turn where I turn" and off he went.

That was the best technical instruction I've ever had.... trust yourself....
post #20 of 41

My apoligies for using the word "any". I never noticed that disclamer in the PST. I falsely assumed that if a ski area has a park/pipe, that the best way to learn to use them safely, was to get proper instruction. It seems bizarre to me that you would be told not to take lessons there, so I agree with everything said here.

I guess I'd need to research any trips to areas with extereme terrain, to see if they offer instruction on that terrain, if I was planning to take a lesson, which I often do.
post #21 of 41

Thanks for the link to a great article. I've read a few storys over the past couple years by Ulmer and have to admit, she writes as well or better than she skis - has kind of a fresh, hip style to her prose.

Anyway yeah, as Ott says she hits right in the heart of what you need to go from expert to "world class" - total dedication - quit your job - ski as hard (and as fast) as you can all day, every day, year after year. I've met a lot of people out there pretty obsessed with the sport but only one or two to the degree she suggests.

And Harpo's correct, her encouragements begin where traditional schooling ends. But you know, her apparent enthusiasm shines through and is passed on here in this article so it proves it can be done in written or verbal form. And she's not even a teacher.
post #22 of 41
I attended the X-TEAM clinic 2 years ago at Crested Butte. I had a great time and my skiing improved especially in the crud and steep terrain. The Egans, DesLauriers, and Dean Deacas were fun to ski with and each has a unique way of coaching/teaching that should appeal to just about anyone serious about improving. I think Crested Butte is the best place to go (except for Chamonix) if the cover is adequate.
post #23 of 41
>>What does that say about their lives outside the "extremes"? <<

It says we are slowly killing ourselves sitting behind desks, under flourscent lights, and need something to remind us that we aren't actually growing roots in hermetically sealed buildings. It's the "primal scream" being acted out.
post #24 of 41
Thread Starter 
I kind of agree with you Gonzo. While pushing the limits is fun and exciting, you have to know where to stop. Case in point, the "new school" terrain park culture that is getting big right now. I see little kids, age 10-15, throwing all kinds of inverted jumps off kickers and tabletops with hopes of becoming the next Cusson or Candide. These kids are landing on their head, neck, and back in every way possible. I've seen so many injuries this year its unreal.

You have to know where to draw the line, and these kids obviously don't. At home they pop in "The Game" in their VCR, watch Candide clear the giant Cad's Gap with a D spin, and the next day they go out and try to do the same thing. Serious life changing injuries are the result.

However, you can ski aggressively (and jump aggressively) if you do it safely. Ulmer wasn't telling people to go out and break their neck. She's just urging the average joe to push themselves harder. Its a message we can all learn from. Theres more to skiing than carving the groomers on a pair of shorty slalom skis. You think you aren't capable of doing mach 2 down a crud field at Snowbird/Alta? Push yourself, get yourself some fatties, suck up the courage, find a safe line, and let it rip.

Gonzo, listen to your inner animal. Whats he saying? "Pisst hey Gonz, sell those X-Screams, buy me some AK Rockets, move to JH, and let me run like I want to."
post #25 of 41
Gonzo, what a load of crap! Why do you have to make everything relate to "our corroding society?" Kristin is just one of those rare people who have to do this sort of thing. Much like astronauts and fighter pilots and Navy SEALS. Much like the pioneers who killed the Native Americans so that you could live in Montana. You seem to automatically assume that someone who has different motivations than you must be missing something in their life. What do you think that she is missing that would make her want to do these things?
And what is with the thinly disguised slight to the East coast people? I would say that there is something missing in YOUR life if you have to go to a different location to find balance in your life. That comes from within.
And I even take issue with your corroding society comments. I feel that the best thing to come out of the last decade is that it really is no longer acceptable to hate different groups of people. What could possibly be bad enough to offset that?
post #26 of 41
SKI TO DIE!!!!!!! or else.

(or, skeeorBskeed.)

this mess edited by T. Quila.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by ryan (edited January 23, 2001).]</FONT>
post #27 of 41
Personally I think Ulmer has a better chance of being killed in an auto accident then dying in a ski accident. Breaking legs, blowing out knees, etc is different story.
I don't think what they do is as dangerous as its made out to be. It seems to me that the most dangerous thing to do on skis is to go fast on groomers. Ask the 2 guys who have slid off into the trees at keystone - can't they are dead! How many skiers in the US "extreme" scene have been killed skiing? Not including avalanches.

Gonzo I just read you latest post - seems we posted at the same time and all I can say is
"Your unbridled arrogance is quite nauseating."
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by harpo (edited January 23, 2001).]</FONT>
post #28 of 41
Hey children, play nice! ...Ott
post #29 of 41
Hey guys I know the snow cover is getting thin. Easy, steady now, you can ride that hoss without the spurs.
post #30 of 41
Harpo and Gonz,

enough with the childish attacks. If you want to dissagree with someone, fine. But, please do it respectfully. This isn't the way.

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