This topic has some relevance for me. (BTW, please excuse me if I commit any netiquette errors, as this is my first post on this board. I scanned for any FAQs or guidelines but didn't see anything specific. If I err, just tell me how and I'll correct it. I find your postings very informative, and don't want to mess up the traffic here.)
I just began learning to ski about 3 or 4 years ago, fairly late (I'm 37 now), because my boyfriend skis. Last Friday was perhaps my 15th day or so on skis, but I've become hooked. Bought skis this year, and have committed to getting better.
I have found learning to ski pretty frustrating because some types of movement (such as dance) I find very simple to pick up, but the addition of that extra component of moving with gravity (sadly, a force not under my control) completely messed up my ability to predict movement or mimic it properly.
However, last year we skiied a week during April at Whistler, and I took a 4-day course called "Ski Esprit" where the same group stays with the same instructor for the full time. I had a big skiing breakthrough --- until that week, I could only ski greens with confidence, and blues for what I'm realizing was nothing more than fear training. At the end of that week I actually had *fun* on a blue run for the first time.
For me, the approach that worked was to learn to ski faster and with more attack and technique on the greens, and *then* move to the blue slopes. The habits I finally managed to acquire on the green runs became ingrained, and I didn't revert to those terrible, terrible practices that just doom you to wholescale yard sale crashes.
Of course, this culminated on my spraining my ankle on a *flat run* on the last day at Whistler!
I have had plenty of time to re-run this session in my mind, and fix the error (weight forward). I've also spent a lot of time reading books and articles I could finally understand (I didn't have any kinesthetic references before my little breakthrough), and trying to watch some videos. Basically, skiing in the mind.
Last Friday, we set out for the slopes, and I knew I had to start on a green run, and try and ski fairly quickly, and then assess how it went, and move to blues. Which is what I did. It all went pretty well. Whew.
Anyway, what does this have to do with the topic? For me, fear --- largely unspoken fear of steeps (obviously, this is a relative term) --- was absolutely a major blocking factor for my learning (the other was instructors' inability to communicate to me how to feel good skiing as opposed to bad skiing, but that's another topic entirely). And of course on top of that, I was worried that I might just freeze up or revert to my old skiing patterns because I was hurt the last time I was on skis.
Believe me, I have no fear of failure or of embarrassment, but the whole psychology of getting my weight placed well forward over the hill.... I needed every bit of help to get my habits correctly placed on safe territory so that good habits were what I reverted to on more "unsafe" or challenging territory.
So for what's it's worth to all you instructors, this is a great way to help your students' fears: get them skiing as well as they can on what feels like "safe" territory, and then ease them out. This may just sound obvious, but I can tell you that it was *not* what I experienced in my short ski student career (I have taken lessons for 80% of my time on skis --- I'm a big believer in technique!) until I was at Whistler.
This year I have two skiing goals: one is to conquer my fear of speed, and learn to ski faster on the blue trails. (I suspect I could handle steeper trails than I ski, but I want to learn to ski much more quickly before I go there.) The other is to learn how to ski bumps. We'll see how it goes.