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Email conversation with Lito (long)

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Because of all the flack generated (some very funny I might add) I took the opportunity to contact Lito since my dad and uncle both spoke very highly of him. I wanted to get his side of the "HSS debate"

Here are a few excerpts from our email conversation.

About all the discussions on that ski forum-- I think that such free-fo-all
discussions are great but I tend to avoid them myself because it can easily
get a little polemical. And in fact, I am very undogmatic about my ski
teaching ideas. The question I focus on, is not whether my approach to ski
teaching is right, or best, but whether it is useful. And even when I'm
training instructors, I tend to warn them not to believe anything I say or
show them but to take everything with a grain of salt, until they try these
approaches out with their students. And even then, only to adopt what really
works. Plus my own approach to teaching is constantly changing.

This said, I like what Harald Harb is doing very very much; he is a gifted
skier and coach, with a lot to contribute, and I've personally learned a lot
from him. We often express skiing and teaching ideas a little differently,
but I think we are more or less on the same wave length. And neither of us
is impressed with official ski teaching.

A successful lesson is often viewed as one that gives skiers a
couple of good tips, or makes them a wee bit better. Why bother? I think the
point of ski instruction should be to create expert skiers. I also think
that, in general, private lessons are a hoax and a waste of time and money.
And personally, I don't want to be involved in a ski teaching situation that
lasts less than a week, because I think that's about the minimum time needed
to build strong new skiing habits....So I guess I'm pretty opinionated, but
I'm not really dogmatic about ski technique or ski teaching. I try to be
pragmatic and idealistic at the same time. It usually works.



As I understand you then is that it's not any specific method that is correct but for instructors as well as students we need to "find our own way" using what works for us and those we may coach/teach or ski with.



Just a small note of possible clarification. It's not so much that I don't
have a specific method. I guess I do have a very definite method, or
better, methodology. It's just that I am not very dogmatic about it. As a
practical instructor I understand that to accomplish any specific goal on
skis, I may need half a dozen different teaching approaches. And I try to be
guided in my approach to teaching by what works best for my students. Almost
everything works, not everything "works best." My basic idea has been to
look hard at expert skiers and try to discover, not what makes them
different from one another, but what they all share in common. In this way I
hope I have been able to simplify and reduce the number of moves and
movement patterns that I teach to an absolute minimum. And then too, I
notice that what I stress in my teaching is slowly changing from season to
season. I am putting more emphasis than ever on muscular relaxation in high
level skiing and I find that this may be what makes the difference between,
say, competent instructor-level skiing and dazzling skiing. Excess muscle
tension is almost everyone's enemy on skis... Anyway, there's a lot more to
talk about, and doubtless we will get to do so one of these days. I am
polishing the illustrations for a new ski book that will be out this fall,
and after that I plan to work on a small book called Decisive Ski Teaching.
So I guess the story goes on. You are very welcome to discuss or share any
of my thoughts with your buddies and correspondents on the web. And of
course, I'll continue to publish essays on these themes on my web site. I
have a good one that I'll put up next week.
Cheers Lito

I edited out some of the personal things and comments I deem private. My take on this and what I have heard from others who have taken his course is that Lito's main contention is not PSIA in general but the method and goals. Rather than out right attack the system that works for some, he separated himself from the "system" to do what he felt was a better method. Based some on simplified movements, and a minimum of 1 week of skiing with a program that is not rigid but continues to evolve technology and techniques change. I think the biggest selling point and success comes from the dedication to a week of time and Lito's infectious love of skiing and passion.
post #2 of 32

Thanks. That was interesting. The only thing I sort of have a problem with, that he stated as his goal was "I think the point of ski instruction should be to create expert skiers.". I think he puts the cart before the horse. I would suggest that the goal should be to create "dedicated/enthusiatic/committed" skiers. As we've said before, dedicated skiers will become expert skiers. If they only get a 1-2 hour lesson, but do learn enough to keep them interested enough to want to come back and learn more, then the goal has been achieved. But telling someone that to start skiing, they must take a week of all day lessons and become an expert in 4 weeks of these lessons, is absurd. You have then created an instructor-based system, rather than a student-based system. We need to give them what THEY want, and try to make them want more(that's the real goal - leave 'em wanting more). Not just create someone who can turn properly in the shortest amount of time, irregardless of the compromises that need to be made. That goes back to the "what is an expert?" theme. These "instant experts" will leave the ski industry as quickly as they came.

**Due to the power shortage, the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off indefinitely.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

Good points.

From what I have heard from most of my friends and relatives that have been influenced by him or have taken the camp is that what you are saying and Lito's thinking are not really that far apart. I feel that his attempt to move away from the 1-2 hr lessons and "create expert skiers" shows his passion and also why he does not offer shorter lessons. He promotes that this is what it takes to become an "expert" skier and if you want to get there with the quickest path...

I think the class he has is geared towards intermediate skier that are stuck in the "plateau" so in general most people entering his class probably already have that urge to get better and probably most of the skills needed to "get down the mountain". One of the guys in my dad's class was in the class for the third time. I would love to see his progress from year to year. As we have beat to death already, PSIA does not say you can not do a direct to parallel or any other "method" but what works.
As a certifying agency PSIA does expect certain skills to be present but does not tell instructors they must do certain things or teach certain ways. It sounds like Lito does the same with his students/instructors. He says
"As a practical instructor I understand that to accomplish any specific goal on skis, I may need half a dozen different teaching approaches. And I try to be guided in my approach to teaching by what works best for my students. Almost everything works, not everything "works best.""
post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 
In addressing your point JohnH

Lito points out that you should take a lesson, (private suggested) and have them evaluate what you are doing. Hopefully this will get you interested to come back for more. then to take the time and make the commitment. schedule a week to work with the same pro or do it yourself and just check in with your "pro" to check your progress...
post #5 of 32
dchan, thanks for the thread. I have to agree with most of that. I really don't like one hour lessons. I tell most people about the week thing but then you're talking most probably destination resort. On a weekend, people won't even stay Sunday afternoon so what do you do?

Another option is skiing in the same group/instructor every weekend for several weeks or even the whole season. This works quite well.
post #6 of 32
I'd like to suggest that the shorter lessons are most valuable to people who are either out of shape (and couldn't keep going longer than that) or looking for tips they can practice on their own - not skiers looking for major ideas for improvement!

I imagine this is kind of self-selecting - if you sign up for long or multi-day classes, you're probably that kind of student!

~Michelle H.~
( skiandsb@vail.net )
post #7 of 32

Does this mean we should be, committed?
post #8 of 32
I have skied for a week with Harald and Lito. What I liked about the week-long sessions is that they really get to focus on your strengths and weaknesses and each persons learning style. I think both of these guys will pick up on the people who are committed to improving and are especially willing to go the extra mile for that type of student.
post #9 of 32
I agree that a one day class for a guy like me would be a waste.

I need a 3 day camp - at least, to really understand what it is I came there for in the first place and for it all to sink in.

But, I do think that an Intermediate could realize a breakthrough in their skiing with a one day class, and the right instructor.

Finally, I don't want anyone out there to think that HSS' system is magical. It's not. You need to put in a lot of time and you need to be dedicated towards realizing whatever goals you have. This being the case, you will become an expert skier (as defined by Harb) if you put in the time. But, that may also be the case with whatever system you practice. It all comes down to how the individual defines expert skiing. That, is most important. Decide for yourself what you want to become in a skier then go get it. Along the way, don't let anyone blur your thoughts. Find a system, stick with it.

Some skiers only want to ski bumps - so learn a system for bump skiing. Some skiers only want to ski groomers, so learn a system to ski groomers great. But that's not for me. I want to ski everywhere, anywhere, great, and that's what the appeal of PMTS was, probably more than anything. It's truly one system for anywhere. The movements you learn you take anywhere on the mountain and in any conditions. That's the simplicity I always speak of. The Bears can argue all they want that there's not just one way to ski for anywhere and in all conditions. Well folks, in this system there is. Maybe some skiers like to have different plans for different terrain and conditions. I don't. You know, KISS.

Going on, look at me. I've put in now 120 days in the last two years.

I've literally now built my life around skiing. I get there early, pretty much when the lifts open, and I stay late. I don't have a beer at lunch - never. Most people I talk to think 3 hours of skiing is a good day. I get 5 to 7 hours of skiing in each time I go. Chase (my boy) and I ski 16 runs (4 runs then hot chocolate, 4 runs then lunch, 4 runs then hot chocolate, 4 runs then it's time to go home). To me, that's a slow day. Most days, I come off the mountain right in front of the ski patrol that are sweeping. I take 15 minutes for lunch and I don't stand around. So let's be clear. I'm truly a wacko.

Someone said that I get "...personal instruction from SnoKarver..." Wrong. Until this last month, SnoKarver wasn't even certified in PMTS. All winter, all he ever told me was "that narrow stance bugs me". Since he's been certified, when we do ski together I just ask him to validate whatever I'm working on. The rest of the day, we just rip along. I've pretty much taught myself this system, using the books and the videos, and email from the home office. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by SCSA (edited June 01, 2001).]</FONT>
post #10 of 32
>>>I've put in now 120 days in the last two years.<<<

SCSA, how quickly do your think a Florida skier who can only put in 7-10 days a year, and only takes a lesson half those days, would achieve expert status under PMTS?

Or should that skier, or one who skis only once a week for four hours in our six to eight week season, even aspire to be an expert skier?

Isn't it enough for those folks to look at skiing as a recreation that gets them off the couch and into some fresh air during Winter?

You know, to most folks, my neighbors, my social club members, people in general, activites like skiing, bowling, sailing, billiards, what-have-you, are free-time activities that are on an equal with attending a dinner theater, concert or cleaning out the garage.

In other words, no big deal.

post #11 of 32
Correction SCSA, I did not teach you because you wouldn't listen to me unless I put it into PMTS speak. Told you that the open stance bugged me because you were telling me it's the only way to ski.

If I speak English, Warum nicht auf Deutsch?
Does this mean I cannot speak English anymore?

Will continue to learn and cert in PMTS. And I did pay my PSIA dues, again, still. Just decided to spend my personal training $$$ on PMTS, and that was a good decision. PSIA still seems confused by shape skis sometimes.

I did learn a lot, and I have taught you things, especially after I started using your preferred terminology.

And I have kept out of it pretty much. Don't really want to teach you, because you tend to have a closed mind. And were unwilling to experiment. Difficult student.

However, the reality of chasing around the hill with me has taught you as well. I still remember your reaction to my bump skiing this spring at the Basin, as you had really only seen me practicing GS, and weird lines in the bumps, instead of the good-ol zipper line.

I think your getting involved in racing is a very good idea. Although I really wish Masters racing had more slalom, instead of GS and Super G.

About two months ago, after I did the Spring PMTS cert, I did nail movement analysis for you on the release being your SMIM, (single most important movement) to improve your skiing, and you were delighted with that result. And I'll do it again, when asked.

I still appreciate versatility. And an open mind, if not always an open stance.

Check your premises... LOL!

¯¯¯/__ SnoKarver snokarver@excite.com
post #12 of 32
Just being an Objective Realist..

A is A you know, it really is...

¯¯¯/__ SnoKarver snokarver@excite.com
post #13 of 32
>>You know, to most folks, my neighbors, my social club members, people in general, activites like skiing, bowling, sailing, billiards, what-have-you, are free-time activities that are on an equal with attending a dinner theater, concert or cleaning out the garage.<< - Ott

Cleaning out the garage? "Hey hon, should we clean the garage this weekend or go skiing?" Well I guess people like to know how to do that better to. Still, maybe we should sell brooms.
post #14 of 32
Do you think there is a better, faster way to clean the garage that could turn you into an expert garage cleaner in a very short time span?
post #15 of 32
Lift and tip the broom on to its little toe side.
post #16 of 32
Well folks,as much as I hate to bring it up, but most, well over half the dedicated skiers are solo, their wives or significant others do not ski, and they often times resent the skier for wanting to go out on the snow when there is work to be done around the house, or, when on the best snow day, s/he has decided they should go shopping to the mall or to the matinee of the ballet.

And many skiers I mentioned in my last post only go skiing if their chores are done and they have nothing better to do. Even some fairly dedicated skiers I know often forgo skiing for other activites they like.

And so do I...

post #17 of 32
I had an informal pre-nup with my wife about skiing. I am willing to work like a dog during spring, summer, and fall, but my skiing is not negotiable. That's who I am and she knew it before we got married. I usually don't ski both days on the weekend so I don't just disappear. She chooses not to ski most of the time and I respect that.
Some of the guys that have a true passion for skiing, but give in to the pressure need to check their shorts to see what happened to their *alls.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lucky (edited June 01, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 32
LisaMarie made a huge funny.

Anyway, LisMarie, Sex in the City starts again on Sunday. I'll be watching...
post #19 of 32
SnoKarver is probably right.

...I should start paying him instead of my shrink.
post #20 of 32
Mescalero...you do have some "good eyes" down there. Scott Goeller, if you can get him out of the office...Schar Ward, if you can get him off a board...and Larry Schnieder if you can get him off the girls! Say Hi for me...Shorty too if she is back from the Beav! Robin
post #21 of 32
Ott: then you get the spouses like me, who start out not ever wanting to ski, and get more hooked than their husbands. So hooked that they neglect the chores! For Shame!

Wacko: making sexist comments is the one thing that can get you banned from this board. Then what will you do with all that bottled up psychosis?

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #22 of 32
Lisamarie, among instructors at our local hill there are many couples, in some cases both instruct, in others the spouse just skis, free BTW. We seem to gravitate to each other.

And then there are the ones who are solo, all good friends, but we are careful not to ask how their spouse is, or even broach the subject, because this sad, wistfull expresion comes over their face and they tell us how lucky we are to be able to share our skiing fun with a loved one.

And now they have to go home lest their spouse won't speak to them the rest of the night. It is sad that they feel guilty while supposedly enjoying an activity in which they excell.

post #23 of 32
Ott: My husband's EX wife was an avid non skier!
If you read the thread about the Northeast Bears trip, I have taken on the role of being the "bad influence" on Mack's fiance. The fact that I just found out that she attends the gym I teach at, all the better!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #24 of 32
Boy, I am truly blessed. Met my wife shortly before hiring clinic and over 10 seasons watched her (with little help from me) blossom from rookie registered to Lev III, and top 100...now I think sometimes she has a better eye and intuition. As a young buck, I wouldn't even date non-athletic skiers let alone neophytes. Ended up proposing at line-up and married at summit.
Movie rights available through my attorney!
post #25 of 32
Beautiful story Robin! That eye/intuition thing is sometimes a "woman thing". I myself am blessed/cursed with the ability to make technical suggestions to skiers, athletes, dancers who are infintely more skilled than I am.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #26 of 32
Robin was that in the same day?
Johnathan Shefftz went on a skiing honeymoon to Chamonix this year. JohnH's wife is a very good skier too, and there's Ott and Gravity...

As for the other topic, yes you've got the solo skiers but what about all the people with kids? Have really good kids programs and you're going to get people for a few years.
post #27 of 32
Thread Starter 
BobB married this year too but I don't know about the skiing agreement in his marriage.
My wife skis not as fanatical as I but she enjoys it. She is getting better and had a great lesson this year that turns the tide. 2 years ago she had a lesson from hell and it took 2 seasons of looking for the right instructor for her to even try. Now she is open to possibly another lesson.
post #28 of 32
Okay, that settles it. If you come to New England, she has to take a lesson from Todd. He is the best antidote to the "lesson from hell". Worked for me!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #29 of 32

Your ski conversion parallels my wife’s. When we first started dating I was a first year apprentice going for certification. I spent many hours on the slopes with her and she learned some but did not have that passion. We then took a bit of a hiatus from skiing for school and career. A decision that I will regret until the day I die.

Two years ago I got back on the snow, found Epicski, met Pierre eh and others and the rest is history. Anyway, with all the time I spent on the slopes my wife was not going to sit on her butt. She signed up for a lesson package and within the year she was starting to link some nice parallel turns. Anyway, she is now as passionate about skiing as I am. I don’t know why she did feel this way years ago and frankly don’t care. She loves it now!! BTW, she was a little weepy on the closing day of the season.


post #30 of 32
Ed, that's great about your wife.
Tog, we have to find you a ski goddess!
You know its amazing, all those years I spent as a single woman in NYC, {before I met Mark} hanging out to all hours at bars and discos. And the really great guys like you were hiding out to all hours on the internet!
Who knew????

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
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