or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › These Skills Belong to History
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

These Skills Belong to History

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
So. Been thinking a bit about some of the expert oriented threads.

Been reading Skiing, an Art, a Technique, The White Book and Teach yourself to Ski

Heh. Anyone who has participated in any way in the pro/con PSIA stuff in this forum oughta read Joubert's Foreword/Intro in that (Art, Technique) book. If you don't chuckle you'll at least rise an eyebrow.

I have been thinking these ideas for most of this winter, getting older, and having some time into this lousy excuse for a career (but fantastic profession) I have begun to take a much more historical perspective than I ever have. The 'who is an expert' post got me to thinking about it again. And then I started noticing some very strong threads through time, back to Joubert's books.

These threads exist in me as a skier and teacher, as they exist in the mentors who have been so instrumental in not only my development but the developement of many skiers and teachers.

The important fundamentals of skiing, teaching and professionalism go back as far as the history of skiing itself. As I consider the skills I enjoy, I realize that many people took a lot of care to make sure these things made it through time; this huge game of telephone. Interestingly enough, it is these fundamentals, that remain so constant, that make it possible to further and change the sport and teaching of it.

If I could trace the handing down, the transfer and teaching of all of these things, eventually they would lead back to Hannes Schneider himself! Realizing that was a revelation for me. I suddenly had a lot more respect for skiing and teaching fundamentals themselves, that they are to be treasured, cared for, cultivated, and passed on as true to form as possible.

Technique is a transient thing. Constantly changing. It will be different in 10 years. In twenty years people will have nearly forgotten what is so hot now. Twin tracks may go the way of the 'serpent christie' or 'surf carves,' even though some of us can't imagine it so (bet there are some in here who can). But through it all, there will be that thread of history going through the Robins, Bob Barneses, Harald Harbs of the world right on back to the beginning.

One of the points I was figuring on making is that there have always been been 'hubs' throughout time, where these things have been strongly cultivated and passed on to the the staff members who realized what was going on. Then there are other places, that were or are other kinds of hubs, where kooky, ill-fated, ego-centric ideas were/are passed on, bastardizations of those seemingly common-sensical fundamentals.

Good lord, this thread has gone so wrong already. Guess I'll just post it and see what happens...
post #2 of 8
Didn't know anyone read those books anymore. Back in 88 when I was still pursuing Level III(Full) one of the young guys in my group said "who's Joubert?". He passed and I didn't.
The older I get the more I think this is more "art" than anything. I was always inspired by his term "virtuoso skier". I frequently make references to the similarity with playing a violin and "playing" a ski when I teach.
I own, How to Ski the New French Way, Teach Yourself to Ski and Skiing an Art a Techique. I haven't opened one in a long time but I will now. Joubert starts each one with theat same premise.
Thanks for the reminder.
I used to be able to do a pretty good "surf turn".

[ April 22, 2003, 11:17 PM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Basically, in the beginnings of the Art book he points to some of the problems people mention about instructors these days as being current issues then (no surprise) and the French Ski wars sound a helluva lot more intense than ours these days. Wouldn't it be fun to look into these kind of situations in all the skiing nations and see just how combative the relationships instructors have shared have been all through history?
post #4 of 8

Have you seen the video, "The Legends of Skiing?" You should own it.

My favorite classic skiing book is "Invitation to Ski" by Fred Iselin and A.C. Spectorsky (1947).

I think ATM (1980) set a standard PSIA has yet to reach since.
post #5 of 8
Roto--An excellent post! One of the great things about skiing is that it really isn't that old--at least the modern era of skiing as recreation and sport. Archeological records date skiing as a form of transportation back at least 5000 years, but most of the evolution of the sport we know has occured in the last 150 years. The history of skiing as a sport is full of colorful, intrepid, passionate, free spirits, as well as extraordinary athletes, inventors, teachers and technicians. Many of the pioneers of skiing are still alive, carving turns, and telling great stories, many of which aren't even lies!

As far as Joubert is concerned, I am still amazed when I crack open my well-worn copy of SKIING--AN ART...A TECHNIQUE (his most recent book, from 1979) to find how CURRENT so many of his ideas still are! Yes, there's been an evolution in technique since 1979, due to advances in equipment and understanding, but the fundamentals, and certainly the laws of physics, remain the same.

If anything, the biggest change I see is that the new equipment has allowed more skiers to be able to ski the way only the best could ski 20 years ago. What was "right" then for experts only is now right for everyone! And more instructors are finally figuring out what those things are.

A couple weeks ago at the PSIA Spring Fling clinics at Vail, I skied with an old friend who used to teach at Keystone. He was an excellent skier and instructor, but he retired and returned to farming eight years ago, and hadn't skied since. So he showed up at Vail with a "vintage" pair of 200cm RD Coyote skis, in a group of very strong instructors on current equipment, for a "Mountain Challenge" clinic. And HE RIPPED!

Not only could he ski everything we skied, of course, but everything we worked on applied just as well to him as to the rest of us. Flattening, releasing, steering, carving, inside ski activity, "neutral"--all the contemporary ideas of skiing are just as useful on "old" equipment. And, while many like to believe that all these ideas have only come around in the last few years, a careful read of Joubert shows otherwise! In 1979, he was more "current" than many instructors even today.

Perhaps as important is recognizing that there is no such thing as an "obsolete skill." New equipment has brought new opportunities, especially for beginners and intermediates, but it has rendered NOTHING obsolete. Skill is skill--it is ALWAYS a good thing. Some once-common moves are rarely needed, but like an old tool that's been replaced by something new and fancy, sometimes it's still the only thing that works. New skis allow more people to carve more and brake less, but sometimes you still need brakes!

Also interesting--some of the most "obsolete" movements are making a huge comeback on the cutting edge of "new school." Upper body rotation, the foundation of the classic Arlberg Technique, once used to hurl 7-foot skis into skidded turns, is the fundamental movement of throwing spins in the terrain park. It's the antithesis of carving turns, so many skiers and instructors have labled rotation as "obsolete." But those who can't apply this antique technique are way behind the times!

Yes, ALL skiing skills belong to history. But they also belong to today, and to tomorrow. Long live classic skiing skills!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” —Cicero

[ April 23, 2003, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
nolo, I don't have it but certainly would like it. It's easy to be a young skier and believe that what's hot now has never been done and nobody has ever been as cool as the current heroes, but it just ain't so.

And I assume ATM III is different from ATM. ATM III was my Tech. bible for awhile. Most of the ed. material since has sorta been pale in comparison and I hardly even looked at any of it until I had to for training purposes. How about that PSIA Snowboard Skiing manual?? Just by coincidence make an acronym out of the current technical manual. Ha Ha. That is going to cause just a little confusion with people of the right, or wrong, age. "Yah the entire current written test is out of the ATM!!!"


You are so right about the rotation thing. I am very busy pushing it in the park these days, but my carving/racing/instruction background is holding me back! Watching the good...errr...expert... park riders I do see a fairly common stance, and a skiddy rotaty skiing style as well. Busy trying to relate the skiing/air/rail stuff I see them doing into a collection of movement patterns I understand.

But as usual, I have the most fun and ride the park the best when I turn my brain off and go do it. Time for both I guess.

I share your our opinions about Joubert's currentness, though some of the technique discoveries he made puzzle me.. not that I discount them by any means, but some of the skiing positions from the past (that is prior to 1978) he points to as undesirable on modern equipment(in 1978-9) are things we are going back to now!

This winter I had a couple conversations with an instructor who is about to get his 40 year pin. He is a contractor I have worked for, a family friend, and sometimes skiing compadre. He asked me what's 'current' in teaching beginners on the new gear (he still teaches, but not that much and rarely beginners).

Much to my surprise, when I told him what myself and a number of my peers are doing with teaching the wedge as a tool but developing parallel skills and relationships right along from day one as well he proceeded to detail nearly the very same approach, complete with many of the same activities etc. and he started doing that in 1965! And this small cadre of folks I tend to exchange teaching approaches etc. with were all of the same mind...(previously) that the changes we had made in our teaching toward the new gear was to some degree self-discovered! Hah. Now I 'm not so sure. Though none of us can remember going to any sort of training event etc. where we 'learned' or were presented with it. I seems to us that is has been sort of organic to our time, terrain, common knowledge and environment.

It gets more interesting (to me) still. I travel around and do lots of clinics at various NW areas. Upon finishing one I related much of what we had done that day only to be deadpanned by the director (who happens to be very nationally involved w/PSIA and a leader of sorts in these parts)
and told "...we don't do that here..."

"Do what?" I asked

"Direct to parallel."

"Oh, good it's not direct to parallel."

"What is it then?"

"Blah blah wedge blah blah parallel relationship alongside the wedge, blah blah. Basically it's about teaching skills and movements instead of tasks"

That was pretty much where the conversation ended. But not with any change of his demeanor or mine. I may have unintentionally shown that I was wondering if I had just screwed myself with where I am trying to take my skiing career.

So back to that historical perspective...

This older gent ensues to tell me why he never got active in PSIA education circles and remained a simple teacher and trainer in his own shool. In his opinion, experience, whatever you want to call it, he received much resistance from active PSIA trainers examiners etc. to what he was doing/teaching and found himself defending the approach he was using against a strictly wedge based progression!

Go figure

Now I am the last one to complain and moan about PSIA this and PSIA that and party line and robots etc, as I have found the training I have recieved through PSIA and my mentors who are nearly all players (current or former) to be very excellent and liberating etc. On the other hand I have spent a number of years in coaching circles, stuck between the directors of both programs (I was teaching and coaching at the same time 7 days a week on snow wow do I miss that!) whale away at each other about how the other's technique/ideas were all wrong and washed up.

My Ski Scool TD used to get a few beers under his belt and start going off about the stuff we were skiing and movement patterns we were developing at the behest of the head academy coach.

"You should see how it looks!" I can see his red nose and bloodshot eyes...

"You should feel how it works!" I would say.

Anyway. All this has really got me thinking. One thing I became interested in is how much time do people at a high level of function as trainers (Nat. Team, Divisional Teams/Staff, Examiners/TDs etc.) spend teaching beginners? Very little I would bet. In the current state of things how can a trainer, who has been removed from teaching beginners expect to be truly current in what they are doing since ski teaching, like skiing itself, is primarily experiential and primarily learned through experience? ...enter Eintstein.... "Learning is experience, everything else is just information"

To miss out on helping people discover using modern gear is to miss out on some critical experiences in understanding how it can work and how movements can be developed on it, and as you well know (assumption) working with movement patterns at all experience levels is critical to a fully rounded/balanced technical understanding of skiing. I almost see it as a necessity for trainers at all levels to continue to be invloved with our first-time guests on a weekly basis but don't know if that is actually possible.

Hmmm.. well I suppose I have more, but I'll let it rest here for now.

[ April 23, 2003, 12:13 PM: Message edited by: Roto ]
post #7 of 8
All my current, basic shaped ski technique, I learned on a pair of 190cm conventional slaloms (Olin Super DTSLs). Worked good on them, works even better on short shaped skis.
post #8 of 8
To be a really good skier you MUST buy a pair of really FAT skis, if ya cannot get FAT ones then get really SHORT ones .... its the only way to be a ripping skier .... [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › These Skills Belong to History