[ February 08, 2004, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
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[ February 08, 2004, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
|...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.|
|Originally posted by Holiday:
It's interesting you mentioned moving your bindings. I'm a bit obsesive about binding placement and have remounted many pairs of skis to correct what I felt was incorrect mounting. I've also had students skis remounted. I can't help but wonder how many people are skiing on mismounted equipment and just don't know. They figure it must be them, while I figure it must be something with the ski.
Another aside on equipment, even though there are so many great skis out there, I'm amazed at how many people are on the wrong skis, wrong lengths, etc.. Not to mention difficult tunes. I was reading a thread in equipment about whether to detune or not to detune and the majority said they wanted their skis razor sharp, tip to tail. If these people are on stiff, shaped skis and ski all terrain, they must be getting taken for a ride often in my opinion. Granted, I'm a rather measured skier, but if I can't get my skis to break free at will, I lose a lot of freedom in the steeps, bumps and cruddy trees. If it's a wide open field, sure you can just let em rip, but add pitch and obstacles and I want to be able to release at will to create my line of choice.
Make it a great day...
As a new skier who has had the opportunity to ski a lot this year (compared to a small amount last year) I think the difference is that if you ski one week a year or two different weeks a year then it is going to take absolutely forever to improve your technique more than a little bit.
I also think lack of conditioning plays a huge role. If you are not particularly fit and/or your 'skiing muscles' have atrophied, you are probably only going to be able to ski to your maximum ability for a few specific periods during your first week. Your second week, assuming you took a break in between gives you, I think, a huge chance to make some improvement, but a lot of people just are unable to ski two different weeks in a year.
Another thing, I think, is goals. What are your skiing goals? My goal seems to be constantly moving in front of me like a carrot on a stick. In the last few months my goal has moved from to ski all of the reds (confidently) to learning moguls, to skiing all of the blacks, to learn to ski in powder, to ski in chop, and now to ski in just about anything and still not lose my technique. I think for a lot of us here it works like that and we are constantly looking for the next improvement. For a lot of people this is not the case. They are looking to have a good time, maybe to rip it up on the groomers and enjoy a nice lunch on a mountaintop and enjoy the view. They might dabble on the edges of the piste, but why should they spend run after run working on technique that they simply don't care about? They won't do it and thus stay the level they are comfortable with.
I think most of the problem is that there is a serious disconnect between how skiers define their abilities and the skills that actually comprise good skiing. This is largely caused because the trail rating system we use implies ability. Most people who can survive double-black-diamond terrain define themselves as expert skiers. This gets reinforced by the lack of role models. Good skiers are few and far between to begin with, but on most mountains you won't find them skiing things that show up on the trail map. So the self-proclaimed expert may have an inkling that they aren't that good, but as they continue to lap the hardest runs on the trail map, nobody is blowing by them and showing them what fluid, dynamic skiing actually looks like. On top of that, most of these folks have never seen themselves ski, so they have no idea how bad they actually look (or that they need a visit to the bootfitter before they will ever be able to progress).
For those rare skiers that achieve enlightenment and realize that good skiing is defined by how you ski, not what you ski, there is still the problem of actually developing the skills. For most folks, that means going back to green and blue runs and spending a *lot* of time working on skills. If you live in a ski town and can ski 80 to a 100 days per year, this isn't a problem. If you are a weekend warrior, and your slope time is limited, you have to choose between training and skiing. Furthermore, I'm not convinced that two days a week is enough (even if all you did was train). With dedicated coaching it might be, but outside of kids in a race or freestyle program or ski instructors, who gets that level of coaching?
Ski instruction is cost prohibitive and most students don't realize that the goal of a lesson should be to take away enough information to enable self-coaching. Typical students expect (not unreasonably given the cost of a lesson) to see demonstrable improvement in their skiing at the end of the day. When, at the end of the day, they still aren't skiing like Jeremy Nobis, they write off the lesson as a waste of money and never come back. So unless they happen to stumble onto a site like Epic or obtain one of the few good books on skiing out there, most would-be good skiers are completely lacking in technical resources with which to drive improvement.
To turn the original question on it's head, I think that the following is necessary in order to develop into a good skier (in no particular order):
1) Some level of athletic ability. You have to have some level of strength and you must have reasonable coordination. Implicit in this is enough conditioning to be able to spend enough time on the hill to develop the requisite skills.
2) Time to train. IMO, this would be two to three hours for at least three days a week. This has to be focused skiing, for the purpose of skills development (which is not to say all of this time has to be spent doing drills, just that skiing choices are made in the vein of furthering specific skills).
3) Access to technical information. Epic ski combined with a few good books (LeMaster, Elling, PSIA manuals, etc) is sufficient. More visual folks might benefit from CDs/DVDs such as the USSA stuff, etc.
4) Coaching. Many folks can self-coach with the above. Others will require dedicated coaching. Race programs and free-style programs produce great skiers. Teaching skiing can result in the same. Otherwise, multi-day clinics and private lessons can provide enough context for self-coaching, but you have to self-coach. Most people won't emerge from a clinic as a great skier unless they started a clinic as a great skier.
5) Desire. None of the above matters unless you want it. Moreover, in order to become a good skier, you have to first understand what good skiing is (and recognize that it is not you) as well as understand what it takes to become a good skier (which hopefully seems attainable). Showing skiers what they look like on video is one of the strongest motivating factors I know of. When you find out you look like a gaper, it suddenly becomes very hard to claim that you are an expert skier--no matter how many times you've skied the Coulior Extreme.
My thoughts on this issue are somewhat two fold.
First, I feel there is a disconnect between lower level skiing and higher level skiing in terms of what is most effective. I feel that certain movements are taught to beginners which will be most effective for beginning and intermediate skiing, which are not congruent with top end skiing. That is just how it is, and I don't particularly think it should be any other way. These starter-skills enable new skiers to start skiing and enjoying the mountain with their friends, safely, exploring different runs and just having a great time. And the truth is, they will be able to take these sets of skills and achieve fairly high level of skiing ability relative to their friends, with it, without taking any more lessons. They will ski the whole mountain and have fun. For many people that is all that matters.
The second problem is that most people are not motivated to take lessons every year or go to week long clinics. Only the truly passionate are motivated and some of those can't even afford it. I believe that in a race coaching program or a program where a skier will be nurtured along, step by step through various stages of development, that they can be coached into the high-end skiing skill set, which is not totally congruent with how they started out, but will take them to yet higher levels of skiing. However, the simple truth is that the vast majority of skiers out there, are not exposed to this level of continual coaching.
This creates a situation where skiers hit a certain point in their skiing and they realize they have reached a plateau and could be better, but can't seem to get there through brute force practice. So they finally get serious and try to take a lesson or maybe go to a race camp or something. This is where they discover that their movements are not congruent with what top end skiers are doing and then the fun begins to break old habits. Eventually, after some years of very hard work and a series of "breakthroughs", they can emerge to that next level of truly dynamic high end skiing. But few are the skiers with the determination and resources to pursue such a path.
To summarize, I see the main problem as being two fold. One is the fact that early skiing skills are not completely congruent with higher end skiing skills. Second, when skiers are not nurtured along step by step over the course of years, they will end up stuck with lower level skiing habits that need to be broken the hard way, which the vast majority are simply not motivated to pursue.
Thanks for the great input on my question so far.
I think your experiment was a start to what you wanted to find out.
A truely top end skier will be able to compensate for the changes in the equipment or the conditions underfoot and around them (within a reasonalbe degee). The binding position be it 2 inches one way or anouther will take some serious body adjustment but if you and I watch them after a few turns we will probibly not be able to see the difference. The trashed chunky snow 8" deep will also be naturally accommodated for as this individual simply reallignes themself untill it fells right again.
I try hard to keep my skiing as natural as possible but have a long way to go until my body knows what to do, having to think or try to react to a situation is too late the situation is passed and you are either out of that situation or in big trouble.
I use to ski 50-60 times a year but over the last few years have hardly skied at all, this year I am trying for about 20-25 days with more next year.
My personal feelings are you must ski as often as possible to get good, you must always refresh your fundimentals,and you must always try when given the opertunity to ski abouve your comfort zone.
Most people skiing 5 times a year as the average skier does never has the opportunity to develop the skills and physical needs that are required to get to this level. Most are just happy to slide down the hill in bliss not knowing or thinking what
it might be like to ski the trees,bumps,powder, steeps or other quirky types of terrain that turn us on and give us that feeling of ahh man that was great.
They get the same feelings from the blue slopes
and thats all I have to say about that
(I think everyone is passionate at there own level)
As a fairly recent beginner (4 years ago) and the time still pretty fresh in my head, I will say this based on my experiences and what I've seen.
First problem, I think a lot of people learn by imitation. It's easy to imitate a wedge, and it's not too difficult to pull out a subpar wedge turn by imitating. Once you get that wedge and some time, 'skidded turns' come more naturally... But, with out knowing what is going on, it's hard to mimic a carved turn, let alone more dynamic turns. You can see a wedge turn, you can see tails sliding around a turn, you can't imitate all the sublteties of dynamic skiing.
Second, in the case of a person who takes occasional lessons, at the first lesson you take, you make HUGE progress... It seems to me that the more advanced you become, the 'less you progress' from each lesson. Sure, you are learning a lot, but you aren't making those drastic improvements like the first day. The improvements are more subtle, and while they are just as crucial, they may seem 'not worth the money' to someone who has fun with what they already know.
Just my 2 cents.
imo the difference is pretty simple, its a matter of enjoying a lack of control (whether masochistic, or in the overcoming of the lack of control).
the have nots are not comfortable, in being out of their comfort zone. Any advancement in skiing (up to the point where you are actually fairly good) comes with a great deal of fear-inducing situations, from the first akward "pizza to french fry to pizza transition" to going down that first black diamond you really kinda don't have any business being on. The good skiers seek out and embrace these moments, to master them. The not good skiers dislike them. They like their comfortable flat land or green cruisers.
technique simirally follows from this desire to push the envelope. People aren't haves because they can carve gs turns, the haves learn to carve gs turns becasue in doing so they can push the envelope even more. You can comfortably and dynamically attack a black diamond without any real semblence of "proper" form, but the form will let you attack it better.
Now some people never really learn to appreciate the positives in placing themselves in out of control situations (eg, skiing, other "extreme" sports) so they never have the desire to self-improve by taking on tougher terrain, faster and harder than before. Though some have nots might force themselves to learn technique to the point where they can comfortably cruise (and very much enjoy it) they won't become truly good skiers because they don't find enjoyment in the process.
You definitely make a great point about equipment. A lot of us skiing professionals overlook equipment issues or simply don't have the training and experience to see when equipment is an issue. There is a lot to be said about "it's the skier not the ski." or "driver not the car" attitude for making things happen, but some people really do face insurmountable equipment issues.
A new phrase I have been using to guide my assessments these last two seasons is this:
"People ski the way they have to."
This is based on the fact that so much of what we do regarding balance is totally unconcious and goverened by internal processes that happen so quickly it is not possible to be concious about them. Our bodies really do know when we are, or are not, capable of doing some things before "we" ever are.
So as I watch and listen to people on the snow I am trying to determine why they "have" to do what they do. Once I figure that out finding solutions is no longer a trial and error pursuit. I am continually surprised how much some relatively simple equipment adjustments can make a huge difference.
It's a bit of a new perspective to work toward the following outcome for people, but at each stage of skiing I seek to see basic balancing movments become "unconcious" for people before I ask them to make any "conscious" adjustments in their skiing techniques/movements. It is pretty much useless to ask anyone to adjust skills or movement patterns if their mind and body are in conflict about balance itself. Often, when this outcome happens, there isn't much "teaching" needed, because they body readily adjusts and better skiing movements begin to happen somewhat spontaneously.
A couple other things
"Go with the glide and you can always tell the glide where to go."
Many people for one reason or another (environmental, most of the time) experience skiing as a defensive activity in which they go through various positions of bracing and resistance to "survive." Equipment issues can be the cause again here, or simply being in terrain/situations over one's head a lot during earlier muscle memory patterning, or being taught by someone who understands skiing not as a sport of balance and gliding, but digging in and resisting.
Ha. When it comes down to it I think I now believe my answer to your question about what the have nots lack is:
"Decent equipment and/or the ability to use it somewhat properly."
You don't have to be perfect to ski dynamically, just pretty good.
Wow, that's a pretty good post on the topic Roto.
Especially: "People ski the way they have to." This would apply not only to equipment issues (primarily boot fit and alignment) but to their current knowledge as well. Pretty hard to do something if you don't know to do it or don't know how to do it. Looking for what a student still needs in order to be successful is far more productive than looking for what they're doing wrong.
I'm also fully on board with the have-nots needing "Decent equipment and/or the ability to use it somewhat properly."
Pretty hard to do something if you don't know to do it
True. But then, one of my favorite quotes comes from the painter, Edgar Degas: "Painting is easy when you don't know how...."
That's true too!
Degas also said, "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things."
Is not the same also true about skiing at peak performance? It doesn't suggest, to me at least, that good skiing requires that you don't know what you're doing, but that you don't think about it while you're doing it. The conscious mind yields technical control to the body, and pays attention instead to sensory input (Weems's "touch"), tactics (Weems's "purpose"), and will.
>>> but that you don't think about it while you're doing it.<<<
Yeah, Bob, thinking about technique while skiing is so counter productive and it so interferes whith the actual execution of skiing well that when I was teaching and encounter a student who wanted to analize every turn (I know racers have to do it) and self criticize I would recommend that they sing a song
out loud, every word of it, while making a run. It is amazing that when the skier has to concentrate on the words of a song he can't concentrate on what he is doing wrong and surprisingly he will ski better.
As an alternative, I suggest the advise I gave John Mason here a very long time ago:
>>>>For myself I spent the rest of the morning not skiing so much but trying different things like 5 short radius alternating with 5 long turns, one ski vs two ski balance, playing with varying levels of countering,<<<
John, when we ski together in Seven Springs there will be no drills and all thinking will be suspended. Over fifty years ago back home in the Bavarian Alps I learned the formula, I'll give it to you now so you can 'think' about it now BECAUSE ALL THINKING WILL BE OUTLAWED THERE WHILE SKIING!
Here is the formula:
In the morning, before we start to ski we drink three shots of Jaegermeister and chase it with a beer. That is just enough to still keep your equilibrium and balance but it will suspend all THINKING.
The litmus test to see if you have it just right is that after a few turns you should feel like YODELING and NOT be aware that you are on skis, it doesn't matter if you know how to yodel or not and all skiers around you should look like angels floating down the slope.
If, after a few turns you 'think' "I don't feel like yodeling and I'm still aware of my skis and all skiers around me look like hacks" , you are 'thinking' too much and you need a reinforcing shot of Jaegermeister.
If, on the other hand you notice that you fall down after releasing at the end of every turn, three shots were too much, understandable since Jaegermeister affects people with lower body weight more than us normal heavyweights.
In that case you need to sit on the sun deck for an hour, making sure you take off your goggles or sun glasses so you won't look like an owl when you get home and it also helps to hold one of those reflective shields under your chin. In my case, I also need to take my hat off so my bald head doesn't look like I'm wearing a scull cap without a hat on.
When the skiers on the slope look like angels floating down the hill it is time to put your skis back on.
After a good and plenty lunch three shots of Jaegermeister will assure that your nap will be restful and that when you wake up you are prepared to go to happy hour (or tea dance, when in Europe) and enjoy your manhattans.
Anderl Molterer, a hotshot racer in the olden times had it right with the exception that he chased his Jaegermeisters with champagne. Easy for him since he never had to pay for it.
So now you know. Start practicing "NOT THINKING WHILE SKIING".
Hey thanks Michael.
How you doing these days? Missed you at Alpy in Feb.
The way I see it there are many reasons that people "Ski the way they have to," whether it's a physical, a belief, previous experience issue, or something else entirely. I suppose if I tried I might be able to use the CAP model, Maslow's hierarchy, multiple intelligence theory or such things to narrow stuff down, but in the end all of that limits observations, though it's all a good guide for how to start really seeing more.
I really like Bob's quotes from Degas. One of the primary ways I became a dynamic skier was by making conscious mistakes and having my body make instinctive recovery movements. At these times I experienced ski behaviors/performances that I was not "capable" of making by choice, but having made them "accidentally" was able to go on the quest of discovering how to make them happen again.
Interestingly enough, so much of this happened well before I ever really had a customized boot fit. I guess they were just close enough to allow me to get the job done. Still, to this day, sometimes I cannot ski my best until I throw myself down the mountain and into some situation that demands I release myself from my profession's training to be in cognitive control of everything at all times.
But enough about myself. The real reason I bring it up is because remembering this about myself has helped me understand that a big part of helping people become dynamic skiers is getting them into situations where they let go of conscious effort enough to feel or experience ski performances and body movements that really make it happen.
"Skiing is not about what to control, but what to let go control of," - Another quote I have used to frame developmental skiing periods for people (and myself). So many of us seek to be "in control" of things to such a degree, we prevent ourselves from deviating from the known, making it difficult to experience the changes that we need to make to reach that next level. Just like "People ski the way they have to..." what different people seek to control varies. Some it's speed, some it's direction, some it's certain body parts, some it's fear... etc.
It's interesting thinking about how pursuing technical knowledge of our sport affects us as teachers. I firmly believe we do need to know as much as we can about our sport, but we can make our knowledge a barrier for our students. Reading some of the more technically oriented threads I see so many beliefs from instructors that are so concrete for them that they cannot entertain the possibility that something "different" may be true, or work. Sometimes I read things that I used to believe so firmly but now understand, that though they can be "truths" to a degree, they are not all the time. As a coach, I have become aware that many breakthroughs come at the cost of "losing" current beliefs. Another quote expresses this:
"Every breakthrough is the breaking of a belief, allowing it to be superceded by a new one."
"Often in skiing or teaching skiing, our own beliefs are the very things holding us back."
- It's not that the old beliefs were wrong, it's just that they are not true all the time.
So I spend a fair amount of time doing MA with the following in mind: As a skier skis they are telling me a story about their "skiing beliefs." If I can determine which of those beliefs is holding them back from their desires I am getting directly to the heart of cause and effect in a far more crucial manner than identifying only their "technique deficiencies."
"I can't teach beginners upper level skiing movements."/"Beginners can't make upper level skiing movements." area couple teaching beliefs I had.
The new ones: "Beginners can learn simple versions of upper level skiing movements that they can build on along the way." / "I don't have to teach people toward skiing barriers that are going to be hard for them to surmount."
This is one reason why I use walking analogies and activities. When it comes down to it, walking is really about moving our entire body mass where we want to go. This is why walking is so efficient for us. If it were only about the stepping we would not be efficient walkers.(uh-oh)
"Edge + Pressure = turn." was a primar skiing belief of mine.
New one: "Maintain or recover stance, and my body can do what it needs to get the job done."
So how does this relate to the Have-Have nots...
Haves: Balancing has become unconscious enough that the body/brain are free to respond as they need to.
Have nots: Balancing is such a conscious act that the body/brain are too occupied to attend to anything else......?
Roto, I completely agree: people ski the way they think they should ski. One of the activities I use in my teaching is to ask a student to teach me how to make their turn. You learn so much about what's inside their heads dictating their behavior on skis.
Hmm, I wonder?