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Learning Curve

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
It only takes folks a little while from their first day on skis to be knocking on the door of the dynamic parallel turn. Then it seems that the majority spend the rest of their days on skis knocking and never getting in.

Why is it that so many start out and so few become dynamic skiers?

What do the haves have that the have-nots do not?
post #2 of 56
Skiing and snowboarding are both not very natural concepts. When people step out on the ice after getting out of their car on a snowy day, ther aren't usually at ease. When we ski we are trying to harness this unnatural sliding sensation. Often times people do this with negative, abrasive movements, because, naturaly, they are afraid of sliding. Furthermore, most people dont seak warranted help when trying to get better. They just struggle in getting down the hill because they have never been able to harness this unnatural sliding sensation (i.e riding and gliding). I truly beleive that anyone can learn how to ski, as long as they have someone patient enough to help facilitate their learning.
post #3 of 56
There are these things called blue squares and black diamonds....
post #4 of 56

I believe that many of them actually stop knocking because they believe they've already got in. Essentially, they no longer think they need lessons or that there's nothing else ski school can offer them.

post #5 of 56
nolo, this reminds me of Yoda's recent tale to me... he has worked with many skiers at Club LT, but feels that only a small handful are worth his effort. why? the continued emphasis on improvement, desire to learn/improve, AND a willingness to work on technique when it's often funner to simply freeski and not really focus on technical issues.

layered in with the willingness to work is athletic ability, which might be native, might be practiced, or might be a combination of the two.
post #6 of 56
IMHO most people on the slopes are there on vacation to enjoy a week of fun and relaxation, they are not that serious about how well they ski nor do they care about jumping up to the next level. My brother-in-law has been skiing for 29 years and has no desire to ski anything above a blue square...great intermediate skier...and very happy to stay there...
However, there are those who are very competitive in nature and feel that becoming the best skier he/she can be is the ultimate goal and nothing less would do. These people are the ones who not only excell in skiing, but in any endeavor they undertake whether it be running , cycling, tennis , golf etc. This is the group of people who take lessons on a regular basis, who buy the best equipment yearly, will read, talk and sleep over skiing all year long...In other words...Bears...
post #7 of 56
nolo I think the biggest thing that separates the advanced intermediate from the dynamic skier is intent.

Passion alone will not do it. I have seen very passionate skiers who are hacks. The level just below dynamic skiing, is the level at which most people can gain enough comfort to ski most of the mountain terrain. Intent is what separates comfort from change.

It takes intent to change and move beyond comfort. I takes a certain amount of intent to move out of you're comfort zone and open the mind up enough to explore. Every advanced skier knows they are not skiing as well as they would like but is their intent to search for what they are missing or wish for it.

The second part of intent is intending to do what it takes to get what you just discovered. Egos checked at the door. I see way to many ski instructors who are defensive and closed minded or very wishful in their thinking. After a clinic its back to the comfort zone skiing the same turns every run.

The very first step to move to the next level of skiing is intent. I try to make sure students know this is vital. Its vital throughout the learning process. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 56
well-said, Pierre. I agree completely. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #9 of 56
You won't hear me say this very often, but I think you're all correct. I wonder how many skier have an understanding that they're not dynamic skiers. If you ask 10 skiers (other than on this site) what level they are and 9 of 10 will equate their ability with the rating(s) of the slopes they can get down. They ski like an empty wagon running down a bumpy road, but in their eyes they're advanced because they can get down a black diamond run.

I think another reason is lack of perserverance. Most people want things to be easy for them and getting to a certain level, as Nolo implies, is not that difficult. You have to work to get beyond that, and many skiers are not willing to do so despite their passion for the sport. They're knocking on the door, but not insisting that they get in.

ps. Pierre, I agree with gonzo, very profound post on your part.
post #10 of 56
What is their motivation?

Like rajun cajun says many are quite happy with a certain level of achievement. It is still recreation and enjoying the winter mountain environment. Identifying, accepting and working within their motivation is the core of guest centered teaching. Or just accepting our motivations may not be anywhere in their vision.

For those who want to go beyond, as Pierre says, intent is a key element. Passion does not mean you are willing to pay the price.

Just as with skiing I see so many golfers in the summer who are passionate about the game, want to improve, score better but will never get beyond their current level. They may even practice religiously-almost always the wrong things. Let's look for the miracle move, the new piece of technology-that's the key in their mind- when both skiing and golf are still a fundamental oriented, movement driven sports. No matter what the sport, moving to a higher level takes (for most of us) a significant amount of dedication and effort. The question is how do we get these people to come back to the lesson fold since most won't take lessons. I think we've beaten that horse many times before in this forum.

Interestingly in our Level 4 (Trainers Accred) clinics this year we have done only one bump run and very little "dynamic" skiing this season. Since January we have done hours of side slides and pivot slips. Why-to get our movements orginating out of the correct body parts and the direction of movement appropriate. Everybody in this clinic is way beyond Level 3 and we can fake and hide a lot. Boring-YES!!! But you should see the positive changes occuring in every ones skiing and movement patterns. The accuracy of stance and movement is astounding. How many recreational skiers are willing to pay this price?
post #11 of 56
Thread Starter 
What do the haves have that the have-nots do not, dynamically speaking? I don't think the intent to be dynamic equates to being dynamic. It's something else, I think...
post #12 of 56

Could you describe the difference between a dynamic skier and one who is merely knocking on the door?


post #13 of 56

Most of the intermediate rut skiers I know ski as a mechanism to create a social atmosphere. They want to be outside, in the fresh air, but they ski for the social interaction. Once they become proficient at skiing the groomed runs, their desire to expand their skiing horizons wanes. Two inches of powder on corduroy on a bright sunny day is perfect. Twelve inches of powder on a snowy day is misery. Why? Because the second set of circumstances limits the social interaction and increases the skiing skill requirements. This is the opposite of what they want out of skiing. Their interest is not so much to escape their lives as to add an experience to their existing lives.

Fear. The fear part of the equation extents to everything from the fear of looking bad, to the fear of the powder being too deep and difficult to ski, to the fear that falling on a particular run could cause serious injury. The element that draws the “have” skiers - fear repels the “have not” skiers. While skiing at Snowbasin with TomB, stmbtres, Rustyedge, UtahJim and my wife Helen, I quickly became bored with skiing the groomers. I said, “I have to get off the groomers and onto the crud”. Stmbtres said something in return that made me smile but also think about this very issue. He said, “What, will you explode if you don’t?” (Sorry stmbtres but that is as close to your quote as I can remember – please correct me if you remember it more clearly). I said, “yes.” And it is true. I find skiing the groomers to be interminably boring. So much so that if that was all I could ski I would quit skiing altogether. Yet others find skiing the steeps, the powder, the bumps, and the crud to create so much fear that it is unpleasant.

Desire. Others have discussed the desire part of the equation but I believe it relates to what the individual wants out of their skiing experience. I want thrills, fear, danger, and lots of exhausting activity. I desire to be ripped out of my mundane existence and tossed into something that makes me forget that existence completely. It is hard to worry about some inane technical part of your job when you are contemplating the route down a 1200’ 48 degree pitch with two rock bands. Others want only to transplant their present life to the mountain, add some friends for socializing and viola they are content.

Time. To be a “have” skier you must have and dedicate substantial time to the process. Not everyone has the time. After all you either have time or money but seldom do you have both. Those that do not have the time to dedicate may still want to ski, but they will never be able to join the realm of the “haves” and will always remain “have nots.”

post #14 of 56
"What do the haves have that the have-nots do not, dynamically speaking?"
They have an adrenalin addiction. They like being out there on the edge pushing their limits, exploring, testing new movements.
Are you an adrenalin junkie Maddog?
post #15 of 56
Bill, I think of myself as an escapist.

post #16 of 56
interesting thoughts,

I like alot of the replies here, but I'm not sure if I understand what Nolo is getting at. I'm not sure if the others here are clear on it as well, but it might just be me that's in the dark.

But, I have a moment and the topic is worth a stab.

First, I'm not sure if intent dictates dynamic skiing. I've always enjoyed Pierre's view of skiing, so his perception of intent may. I agree that a dynamic intent has to be present, but there has to be a level of balance and movement patterns that supports that intent to create truely dynamic skiing.

I also like Maddog's comments about terrain, but (there I am with my big "but" again) I've seen an awful lot of skiers skiing crud, bumps, powder, and scary places in a non-dynamic manner. I feel our new marvelous toys allow young althetic skiers (and some not so athletic) to stand on their skis somewhat statically and ski in snow conditions/places that used to require some dynamic patterns. I also put out to maddog (although I know very little of your skiing) that if you're movements and ski choice are correct, skiing dynamically on the groomed can be very exciting. In reference to this, I ski mostly off piste myself and that has been the focus of my teaching career. I feel the terrain and the conditions can provide the excitement off piste. On the flip side, I feel the right new skis mixed with dynamic movements provide the excitement on the groomers.

So, does any of this paint an answer to Nolo's question. Probably not. Once again I just took a shot a my perception of other answers.

Most people don't make the jump to dynamic skiing because they don't want to. (that sounds an awful lot like Pierres intent answer) What I'd add is that maybe they develop the movements, manage to create some dynamic balance, and even have a few series of dynamic turns or runs. Then, they don't like it. Like Rajun Cajuns example, and maddogs example, they like the status quo. They like to stand on top of their skis, on top of the snow. Being dynamically supported by all the other forces or not having a solid connection to the ground beneath them is disconcerting, so they go back and hang on to that. To be truely dynamic you have to give up a bit of control at first to have the highest level of dynamic control later. Most skiers enjoy the finish of the turn and see being across the hill as safe while dynamic skiers recognize that the happy place in a turn is in the body of the turn, when we're dancing with the forces and not having gravity to quarrel with.

Anyway, there's a quick Holiday version of what holds people back. Along with that is some ideas of what I feel the dynamic skiers have that the more statically biased skiers don't.

Make it a great day, and release a bit of control to gain some dynamic exhileration (spelling?). Release the moment a bit to enjoy the excitement of flying with the forces.

Cheers, Wade
post #17 of 56
Thread Starter 

To me dynamic means that the forces are with you--you're not fighting them, but recruiting them to assist in skiing. That's why the most dynamic skiing looks so easy--it is completely and at all times in harmony with its context.
post #18 of 56
Maddog"s post on "fear, desire and time" is right on the mark...
If you going to run with the big dogs you can't just sit on the porch barking!
I can come up with alot of reasons to why I ski just 6-10 days a year. If I was totally committed to the sport of skiing, I could/would find the resources and time to get on the mountain. Talking about it is the easy part..acting on your convictions takes alot more energy and effort...One thing about the sport of skiing..You can't pretend for very long!
post #19 of 56
What do the haves have that the have-nots do not, dynamically speaking? I don't think the intent to be dynamic equates to being dynamic. It's something else, I think...
Hold on nolo, intent goes way beyond wanting to be dynamic. Intent starts with wants but as we have said many times on this forum, intent dictates technique. Intent changes the playing field so that learning the most efficient technique can take place.

You asked about those folks knocking on the door. You sound in the above post like you are looking for differences in technique. Its uncharacteristic of you to not be plying for a more philosophical answer. I am confused where you are going with this too.
post #20 of 56
Originally posted by BillA:
"What do the haves have that the have-nots do not, dynamically speaking?"
They have an adrenalin addiction. They like being out there on the edge pushing their limits, exploring, testing new movements.
Are you an adrenalin junkie Maddog?
Have to disagree on the adrenaline bit...

I know one 80 year old that is quite dynamic skiing & yet he appears to have no adrenaline addiction...

Ott - what about you?

& Oz - I have seen you ski with your kids - do you ski less dynamically when you spend a week skiing with them? Cause it sure does not look like you become an almost skier & I am guessing there is not much adrenaline rush skiing with a 7 year old that snow plows still.
post #21 of 56
Thread Starter 

I'm not looking for any particular response to the question, really. I suspect that a person's boots play a role in whether one can be in line with the forces.

I'm not belittling intent, by the way. But I think there's more than will (intent) involved.
post #22 of 56
Nolo, I believe that one characteristic many of the "have nots" share is a lack of proper instruction at the lower levels. Regardless of their intent, athletic ability, desire, time, or any of the other things mentioned, most of them lack the "accuracy of stance" that Ski&Golf described.

They exhibit a stiff outside leg, or an outside hip that's too high and forward, or an upper body inclination into the turn, or too much rotation, or lack of independent leg action, or a lack of fluid rhythm, or poor hand position, or some combination of all of these. At the skier's advanced intermediate level these may be very subtle, but they exist nonetheless. And they surely and certainly inhibit any chances of becoming a truly "dynamic parallel" skier.

As you know, Nolo, as well as anyone, at this level these bad habits can be extremely difficult to replace with more effective movement patterns, even if the skier recognizes and acknowledges them and seeks instruction to try to overcome them.

Many of these habits develop on their own in self-taught skiers. Unfortunately, they also happen in skiers who have consistently taken lessons because, I think, of the poor quality of instruction given at lower levels.

The misguided belief and practice on the part of so many ski schools that the less experienced instructors should teach the beginners and lower level classes often results in instructors overlooking or even tolerating the developing bad habits because they, the instructors, don't understand that they are laying a foundation for all of the learning and progress to come. Too many of these instructors have no frame of reference to allow them to put the basic skills, good or bad, that their students are learning into a more advanced context.

One problem is that bad habits such as those I listed above don't necessarily inhibit skiing at the lower levels. The student can still believe tht he or she is making progress because the stiff outside leg or the hip in the wrong position don't stop them from skiing. So they become ingrained and tolerated. Progress is measured in terms of more difficult terrain rather than in skills. Eventually the skier tries some terrain that truly requires proper skills to ski comfortably, and the skier is NOT comfortable. And then learning, desire, intent, can all stop.

[ February 07, 2004, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: David7 ]
post #23 of 56
I'll roll gonzo's stuff & Pierre's intenet together & suggest that you need the HUNGER & a goodly dose of PERSISTENCE

if you are hungry enough you will push past the hassles required to have the lessons & to practice the moves
There will be points where it will be easiy to find a reason to stop.... that is where the persistence is required....

I could easily have allowed the fear of falling stop me - I simply chose not too - I'm still scared witless from time to time - but if my instructors will take small steps with me I will work to overcome the fear - WHY? - because I still WANT to learn to ski better badly enough to let them try to teach me to jump & go in the 1/2 pipe& etc etc...& I am persistent enough to not be deterred when it is HARD for me to do so - when maybe I look like a fool as I sob after getting scared to immobility.... but I don't keep TRYING we will never negotiate the balancing act required to achieve the goal we both want... My instructor has no desire to upset me - but he is human - as am I - & sometimes it all gets tangled up & we both end up at a place we would rather not be. We both want the same outcome - so we work to do better next time...

Surely the fun is in the TRYING as much as in achieving perfection - I never expect to be perfect - only to do better always.
post #24 of 56
This in an excellent discusssion! Everyone has made pertinent points, which I believe are applicable to different people. Disski summed up my own experience about persistence.

For me, getting past the initial hurdles involved a willingness to fail. Professionally, I am required to display a relative degree of elegance in movement. For me, falling on skis is a fall from grace.

The acceptance that a really good day can be followed by a really bad day is what keeps me going.
post #25 of 56

I think there is one specific skill that stands in the way of the “have nots”. It falls under my “fear” category. Dynamic skiing requires that the skier be willing to permit his center of mass to be below the carving edge of the ski for at least a brief period of time during dynamic turns. In essence the skier must rely on skill, and experience to “bring the ski around” to where it catches up to and rebalances the center of mass. The “have nots” are not willing to permit this out of balance phase. The consequence is a blocky square stance and lack of dynamic flow. The reason they are not willing to permit the out of balance phase is a natural fear of falling.

Linked turns are a series of in balance and out of balance movements. Until the “have not” develops a comfort with that idea he will remain a “have not”.

post #26 of 56
Modern equipment allows us to make turns that have no out of balance phase, even on fairly steep stuff. The catch 22 is that they are very dynamic turns!
Not that I completely disagree with Maddog here, but consider this: the skiers nolo mentions make the same static turns no matter how shallow the slope.
post #27 of 56
Thread Starter 
Is the physical answer stance/fundamentals and the psychological answer motivation/intent?
post #28 of 56
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
post #29 of 56
I can break it down in even simpler terms. With everything in life there are 3 major hurdles:

1) you must want it
2) you must work for it
3) you have to be genetically capable of achieveing it

That is the big picture. Every single characteristic that was discussd falls into one of these categories. Everyone here is concentrating on the details, but the big picture defines our potential in everyhting.

The good newws is that there are many degrees of excellence and the difference between HAVE and HAVE NOT is not absolute.

But I sense that some (Maddog perhaps) feel that in order to be in the HAVE category you have to be able to ski everything on the mountain. That is a tall order. I prefer (for my own sake ) to lower that standard. By how much? Well, just enough so that I have a chance to make in the club. Otherwise it will be hard to justify all the ESA instruction I have received.
post #30 of 56
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great input on my question so far.

The question arises from an experiment I tried early this season when I removed my footbeds and skied a couple of days, one day on groomed hardpack and another in fresh powder. (I told another pro this and he said, why'd you go two days? Wouldn't one run tell you all you needed to know?)

What I learned was that I couldn't make a decent dynamic parallel turn without my boots being tuned to me.

I also skied one day with my bindings set a couple of millimeters back of center. I was forced to muscle my skis to get them to initiate the turn.

These two trials showed me the extent to which poor fitting equipment affects stance and balance and the ability to perform the right moves. In turn, my disappointing skiing pulled my mood and motivation down. I felt like I skied (bad/ly), even though I knew that in the right setup I can ski well. It proved to me that just as equipment can enhance performance, poor performing equipment can take a good skier and make her into a flailing hack.

[ February 08, 2004, 12:00 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
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