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Skiing Pretty - Page 2

post #31 of 111
I used to be a pretty skier, but now I'm old so I'm just good.
post #32 of 111
your still Boot iful to me
post #33 of 111
 That's sweet!  
post #34 of 111
Originally Posted by onyxjl View Post

If you aren't skiing pretty on the blue runs, you probably aren't skiing pretty anywhere else either. I tend to think most people associate skiing pretty as often as not with a controlled upper body more than the kind of footwork that is the hallmark of modern expert skiing.

I think that the "prettiest" skiers are probably going to have the best footwork. It all starts down there, and being subtle is what will make the "pretty" skier succeed.
post #35 of 111
Originally Posted by epic View Post
I think that the "prettiest" skiers are probably going to have the best footwork. It all starts down there, and being subtle is what will make the "pretty" skier succeed.

I agree with this^.  "Form follows Function",  the question is, can you sell it as such.
post #36 of 111
It all depends on what you find pretty.  Often, or at least in my experience, many of the skiers who ski gracefully and "pretty" on blues and easy blacks, really possess key flaws in their skiing that most likely limited them on more advanced terrain. 
post #37 of 111
What a great discussion topic.  

Last week I received an unexpected comment from a racing buddy (male) who enthusiastically told me "you ski like a man."  I was left wondering how to respond.....  I knew he meant it as praise, but it left me feeling very uncomfortable.  What a put-down for other women, and for me as well since the thing he was praising had to do with me escaping my supposed destiny.  Was I skiing pretty?  

I once heard a stranger on a chairlift describe another skier he had just seen as "poetry in motion."  Now there's a compliment that has none of the baggage of uneven gender identities.  He was describing an elderly man skiing large icy bumps at Killington.  That comment stayed with me, and has formed my goal for my own skiing.  If one day someone says something like that about me, then I'll have learned to ski pretty and I'll be very happy about it.  
post #38 of 111
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

The other day a male friend, a strong athletic skier, confided that he was puzzled about something his wife had said--that she'd like to become a better skier but she doesn't want to ski like him.
I think I know exactly what she means: she wants to dance with the mountain, not shred it, rip it, or otherwise dominate it.... She wants to be Ginger Rogers and the skis Fred Astaire. She wants to learn how to finesse the skis and feel like her turns are smooth and flowing. She wants to ski pretty.
A lot of women are in this group, and so are many older men who need to ski with less impact on the joints.
My question is, can skiing pretty be a kind of good skiing, or is it just good intermediate skiing, since it's done mostly on groomed runs? 
Its natural for humans to put value judgements on as much as possible. So there is 'good' skiing and whatever the opposite is. Is 'beginning' = bad skiing? Not if one considers the thrill and excitement of doing something new.
So maybe 'good' is what you get out of it. As long as it doesn't impact on others negatively...
Dancing with the Mtn acknowledges that the Mtn really controls 95% of that relationship. I/the skier bring only what I can to blend with The Mtn terrain, weather , snow and the process of moving downhill.
If her definition of "Dancing with the Mtn" is a flatish groomer, then it certainly isn't 'The Mtn'. Only a very narrow, mostly artificial relationship. Sortta like doing a box step with a dance partner with 2 left feet - very limiting.
Even so, one can have an extremely fine time on blue groomers, appreciate the scenery, the weather, sliding down, clarify oneself. Value is placed where desired. No need for 'good' or other judgement.
As I understand it, Intermediate, advanced and so on, were always intended to designate sone level of terrain difficulty, not a level of 'goodness'. So Blue, Green, Black are all good if they fill your needs and desires.
The broader the communing with the Mtn, the less the limitations.
Most Ski Instruction is about 'process'. Taking it to some higher level of consciousness is generally not in most curriculums - up to the skier to find their zen of Mtn and movement.
Just teaching some reasonable 'process' often seems daunting enough.
Skiing requires athleticism, Fred and Ginger were athletic, they just made it seem cerebral.
If, in fact, the woman wishes to ski like Ginger and Fred danced, then its very likely she might exceed her husband's athleticism.
Honestly, thinking otherwise is delusional.
post #39 of 111
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

The question for instructors is, can you adjust your values to meet this person's wants and needs, or are you going to lose her after one lesson?

I would say that I have and do meet the wants and needs of my students as demonstrated by the high percentage of my students who return for more lessons, book me for privates, and/or tip me.  In the end people will vote with their wallets.  The best part for me is that I don't need to "adjust my values", because I truly want my students to have the best experience possible.  For me it's about safety, fun, and learning.
post #40 of 111
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the discussion, folks. My take-away is that skiing pretty is a valid goal in skiing, and maybe even mandatory for us as we age and need to ski softer on the joints. Skiing pretty is not "skiing like a girl," it's just good skiing.
post #41 of 111
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

it is probably easier for the average ski to develop better technique than more strength.

That's it! I need a ski that has better technique! Then I'll be able to ski pretty, if I can just buy the right ski.

I know it was a typo, but it is, in truth, a common misconception.
post #42 of 111
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

To sharpedges,

I would be curious how we would model the instruction on WC racing and mirror the Dancer's vision of something better. 

I believe sharpedges is suggesting that the fundamentals, the roots, the basics of WC racing technique and the Dancer's vision are actually the same. Which you knew.

Rhythm and flow still requires moving to and through balance, rolling from edge to edge, managing forces - everything the racer must do, albeit with vastly different DIRT.

Power and grace. Apply as desired.
post #43 of 111
Thread Starter 
the basics of WC racing technique and the Dancer's vision are actually the same. Which you knew.

I will grant you that the fundamentals are the same, what I don't know is if images from the race course provide the same "poetry in motion" that LiquidFeet mentions and our focus group aspires to. I suspect not, and I suspect this disconnect is what my friend's wife meant by saying, "I don't want to ski like you."
post #44 of 111
As  teachers we need to offer them the options to help them choose from to define their skiing. They are the customer .

We can teach balance and all the other factors that go into good skiing but it's the skier that defines their style.
I have a friend who lurks here and she skis very well, always in balance in all terrain. Her skiing has a lot of rotary but it's coming low and her stance is beautiful and serves her so well. She skis with passion and style but doesn't show a lot of dynamic edging. She dances on the snow  and looks so strong because  her balance is seemingly unshakable. From me she likes my edging ,from her I love her ability to work the middle of the ski in balance and rhythm

Does she ski well   ? Absolutely.  Does she try to attack ? Not really . She  rides the terrain in style and balance and looks for more bumps ,trees and powder. A  great example of dancing on the snow in harmony and rhythm.

There's more than one way to get down the hill.  Way to get after it Connie
post #45 of 111
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

I understand what you're saying, TPJ, but let's try to understand what the Wife is saying. Hubby makes fast dynamic parallel turns in all terrain and conditions. She doesn't want to do that, but she still wants to ski well. Is it possible to ski well at slower speeds on groomed blue terrain, or are the values Fast / Steep / Gnarly exclusive to good skiing? 

Mudfoot, could it be that modeling our skiing and instruction on WC racing is missing a large segment of the population?

Great skiing is about balance, quality movements and economy of motion.  Great skiers use the same fundamental movements regardless of speed.  In fact, slow is where it is at for becoming a great skier.  You can't truly become great until you do your time perfecting your movements on green groomers (or even flats) at slow speeds.  And this isn't a one shot deal. Maintaining those movements requires continued work at slow speeds. 

It is relatively easy to ski fast.  Speed masks flaws and lets you cheat with both movements and balance.  Anybody can ski fast and there are plenty of folks who can look pretty good doing it.  But as soon as you slow them down, their flaws and limitations are readily exposed.

Dynamic?  Usually when that word comes to mind it means whoever I'm watching is using way too much energy.  I was laughing about this very thing the other day with a very good skier who also happens to be an instructor.  We were watching some people skiing bumps very athletically, but they were killing themselves to do it.  The instructor's comment was "You know, I could do nothing but ski those same bumps all day long and I'd never have to stop."  I believe him.  I've been working on that very thing and it is flat out amazing how little effort you need in the bumps when you apply the right technique.

Rythm and flow?  Now we're talking. But that gets back to movements.  The slower you go, the better you have to be.  Take away every last ounce of energy from the turn, and that is like shining a spotlight on your movements.  You know you can release when the only thing you need is a little gravity to get it done.  You know you can tip when you've got no forces to balance against yet you can still carve a clean turn.

Of course the wife can become a great skier.  Watch a World Cup skier out doing slow drills sometime.  They are as awe-inspiring at slow speeds as they are when they are flying.  They are a model of precision and efficiency.  The fact that quality movements scale up to any speed and any terrain doesn't mean that you have to go there.  That said, once people learn how little work is really required, taking those movements off-piste becomes a much stronger temptation.

I would also argue that the wife has a very real chance of surpassing her husband in terms of technical skill.  Because she is not tied to an image of skiing that is counterproductive to her ability to learn, she will have an easier time doing so.  She will have no problem skiing slowly on easy terrain, and she will have far less baggage than the typical aggressive male because she hasn't spent most of her time hacking her way down terrain that is over her head.  If you combine that with motivation to get better, she should be an instructor's dream.
post #46 of 111

I have watched skier who can do all kinds of drills. The problem is the skiing in not pretty and not very attractive to me.  Does good technique translate to pretty skiing?

post #47 of 111
Originally Posted by shortturns View Post

Bushwackerin = clueless

I'm surprised that Snowbird kept you as long as they did.

Skiing is an individual sport. We each get out of it what we want, and we strive to improve  in areas that expand our comfort zone.

There are an infinite number of reasons why a skier doesn't want to ski off piste. When you begin to understand this, you will hopefully become an instructor.


About as clueless as a L3 fulltime instructor can be bud. Which alot of people posting here will never accomplish. 

Who are you again? what have you done? do you even coach people?  Its funny what one can say behind an alias but would never say if their name was known. 

I have no want to coach people who are good enough to ski off piste but choose not to. If i get assigned I have no choice in that matter and will try my best to make that guest happy but.... Usually my enthusiam sway them to my side no matter how old or young or what gender they are.

Now groomers are great to learn things but its not my passion. My passion is skiing everywhere and anywhere. I ski everyday all day long, I am out there for the love of it and to make people love it. 

My real point is there is no reason that a 'pretty" skier cannt be pretty everywhere on the mountain.  balance and grace can be carried everywhere at slow speed with out much effort if your good enough. Im good enough to do that but in my own freeskiing I push the limits to much to be that pretty.
post #48 of 111
There is a myth that people who can not ski with power, aggression and dynamism like to perpetuate.  The myth is that there are two mutually exclusive styles of skiing one involving power and the other involving finesse.  The truth is that they are not mutually exclusive.  You can have either one without the other.  You don't need either one, but you can also have both. 
post #49 of 111
Maybe He just skis in a style she doesn't aspire to. Not necessarily the dynamics of it.

"It's this constant search for balance in life"
-Kasha Rigby
go to 2:28
post #50 of 111
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

she wants to dance with the mountain, not shred it, rip it, or otherwise dominate it. She doesn't want to ski bumps, steeps, or feel exposed to danger. She wants to be Ginger Rogers and the skis Fred Astaire. She wants to learn how to finesse the skis and feel like her turns are smooth and flowing. She wants to ski pretty.

Having just come out of ESA Stowe not too long ago, when I read this I drew an almost instant correlation to how Dan Egan skis and how Robin Barnes skis. Dan shreds, rips, dominates, etc., and Robin does the same, but she does so just so smoothly it looks like butter. Indeed, when we were in class Dan was the first to point out how balanced and controlled her skiing is. It did indeed look "pretty." He also pointed out to us how smoothly his brother Mike skis compared to himself, even over the choppy stuff. All three skiers are world-class, of course, but they each had their own style coming down the slopes

I'm having a little trouble finding videos of Robin and Mike, but I'm sure there are countless other examples of this kind of skiing that would be good for the wife in nolo's OP to study and watch.

The dance comparison makes me think, though. If she wants to ski pretty, which in my opinion is an awesome thing to aspire to, she's going to have to work twice as hard to get there, but the benefits will be tenfold. When you see world-class ballet dancers or ballroom dancers or ice skaters or gymnasts, their skill lies in the fact that they've perfected this challenging technique so much that it only *looks* easy. If the wife *does* work hard and put in the time and effort to learn to ski pretty, I imagine she'll be smoking the husband in no time.

Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Rick, the only thing I have to say to this is wow 

post #51 of 111
Quote (Nolo, post # 30):
I would be curious how we would model the instruction on WC racing and mirror the Dancer's vision of something better.

Well, I concur with SE on this one. While aesthetics are certainly in the eye of the beholder, I believe that World Cup technique--fundamentally--is the route to the most elegant, graceful, flowing, smooth, balanced, and overall "pretty" skiing possible. Certainly, the image of a top athlete going all-out, taking great risks and skiing on the razor-edge of his or her athletic capability to shave microseconds off the clock may not be the image of "pretty-ness" that comes to mind for most people. But the essence of those movements--the efficiency, smoothness, flow, and conservation of energy--combined with what I have always described as the number one attribute of all great skiers: the "GO! Factor"--the offensive intent to control direction, not speed, with technique (and to control speed with tactics and line)--these are the attributes behind graceful, "pretty" skiing.

Of course, the efficiency and cutting edge control needed for a World Cup race are rarely needed in recreational skiing. So we can, by choice, "relax" the edge angles a little, let 'em drift, and ease the stress of mega-G-force high-speed carved turns. I'll never forget Dr. Franz Hoppichler, then director of skiing at Austria's famed Bundessportheim, saying that, as instructors, "we must have many christies in our pockets." Probably well into his 70's or even 80's at the time, he spoke eloquently of what he called the "comfort christie"--a turn I envisioned as how a top World Cup athlete might ski if he was just freeskiing alone, relaxed and dead tired. It would still involve all of the skill, efficiency, precision, and economy of motion the racer is capable of in a race course, but edge angles would be softer, the skis would drift a bit, and the tactics would not require the energy and effort needed to ski gates at top speed.

Not everyone savors G-forces. I suspect that these "comfort christies" might be just the turns our friend's wife is looking for. They're less work to do--but require no less skill--than a racer's turns.

Of course, an alternate possibility is simply that the "wife" would love to learn to ski better, but isn't desiring to devote the obsessive effort, time, and discipline her husband puts into perfecting his own skiing ability. A lighter approach to skiing improvement than she perceives motivates her husband, may be all she is looking for.

Best regards,
post #52 of 111
LS is capable of being a "pretty skier" It makes it look effortless and flow smooth from move to move, having said this there isnt much she will not and can not ski and it still looks smooth as glass.
Kindda makes me wanna take a lesson!! ( and no I am not biased LOL)
post #53 of 111
OOPs just saw this post.Look at my post above and if you think Im like off base with my thinking , come ski at the gathering with us all and you will think differently afterwords. ( I would goat more people into comming if I can figgure out how LOL )

Originally Posted by eastskier44 View Post

It all depends on what you find pretty.  Often, or at least in my experience, many of the skiers who ski gracefully and "pretty" on blues and easy blacks, really possess key flaws in their skiing that most likely limited them on more advanced terrain. 
post #54 of 111
Okay, I'll admit it.  For the first 3 years I taught skiing I was constantly stopped when out free skiing to be told, Wow, you ski pretty.  I had really good skiers ( I remember Stew the awesome skier ski patroller who went on to be CSIA and teach all over the world, and skied far better then I did), used to chase me down the hill and say, teach me to ski like you do.  Interestingly, as someone mentioned above, I was somewhat of a gymnast through school, only to an area meet level, though I had coaches ask my parents to send me to Olympic camp as a child and they said no.  They were very overprotective.  My goal was to look like the person teaching me and I was succeeding.

That being my background, I started skiing at 17 and was teaching it by 21 with two full years off to have children in that time.  It did come very natural to me.  I had not gone on very many black runs, I had never skied a bump run but I had been taught to ski by instructors (most of Old Boots friends were instructors at the time and they taught me).  After skiing a couple years people would come up to me and say, you should be an instructor, you ski so pretty.  So I did the course and I copied everything they said to do (I'm a very visual learner), I'd listen carefully and I had been taught by instructors so I explained things how they had taught me and low and behold, somehow I passed my level 1.

Strangely enough, Old Boot has learned old Austrian style, skied very differently then me and when he went for his he did not pass at first, he had to change his style from glue the feet together etc and learn to ski CSIA style which did not come naturally to him and after a couple years he went and passed his also.  He could ski far more terrain then me, in far more conditions and did not have the fear I had of steep pitches and bumps.  I never, NEVER, wanted to feel the least out of control, I had to be able to slow down and stop on a dime, with a feeling of complete comfort and control.  You can't learn bumps and feel like that.

Finally after two years of teaching and awing people with my pretty style I switched ski schools and the Level 4 director took me aside one day and said.  I want you spend the year out of sessions.  Go ski. If you want to get better you have go to break this demo mode you have.  Free skiing should be free.  Hit every bump run as often as you can,  start taking the gates, aim for an arced, edged ski when on flat terrain, ski every double diamond you can and when you go west ski the terrain that scares you.  Sounded scary and fun at the same time so I took his advice and started to do that.  How could I ever truly teach if I could not relate to experience of my intermediate skiers who had been everywhere.  I spent the next 3 to 4 years and really to this day, doing just that.  I developed a nice dynamic skiing, on edge, loved the bumps (CSIA style), and worried a whole lot less about if I felt a little awkward or off balance in them and realized this was more or less a normal feeling when riding over the top of hard moguls.  My goal was and is to keep a smooth height, absorb the bump and turn when I want to.

I went on to do my level 2 CSIA and score very high marks on the high end skiing, I never did my level 3.  I still tend to look a little pretty when I ski (but it's only the occasional comment, not the only comment), but imo, Old Boot is really biased with his post above and is putting undo and unreal pressures on me to perform with those comments.  I have had many women ask to ski like me when I make demo intermediate paralell turns and that is what they want.  They want to look good, ski in control and don't want to experience the adrenalin rush that guys get out of the get aggressive and go for it.  I still have occasional bouts of fear when I stop to think of just how fast I am skiing when on edge, having a perfect run and people are whistling from the chair as I cruise by underneath (yes that really happens), and think, "I must be crazy to be skiing like this at 45", then I decide that I am in control and all is fine in my world and tell my self to get down, hold that edge, move those feet, wow yourself and enjoy the ride.  I really liked the safety of skiing pretty and I do believe many women like that sense of security or knowing you can ski really well, are totally in control, and don't have to be afraid.

That's how I think of it.
Edited by lady_Salina - 1/24/10 at 11:37am
post #55 of 111
Thread Starter 
World Cup technique--fundamentally--is the route to the most elegant, graceful, flowing, smooth, balanced, and overall "pretty" skiing possible.
It's hard to picture Bode Miller competing on Dancing with the Stars, but I suppose it's just a matter of time. 

Not everyone savors G-forces. I suspect that these "comfort christies" might be just the turns our friend's wife is looking for. They're less work to do--but require no less skill--than a racer's turns.
This answers my question about the possibility of doing expert turns on intermediate terrain. 
post #56 of 111
Developing a broad set of refined balance and edging skills,,, that's all it's really about.  With those skills you can ski as elegantly or as dynamically as you want.  Both destinations travel the same road.  

Once the skills are developed, and skiing gentle is a piece of cake, skiers often find delving into lands that were before viewed as scary, suddenly becomes fun.  Speeds often increase, without really even noticing.  They look to the side of the trail and notice with surprise that the trees seem to be passing by at a faster clip than they used to.  The tracks they leave in their wake are curiously narrower.  The comfort level they feel on their skis is actually more so than when they were lesser skilled and skiing slower.   It's just byproducts of the evolutionary process of the skier who strives to improve their skills.  

Timid of skiers of today don't yet have a concept of what constitutes fun will look like tomorrow, because the transformation in their skill base hasn't yet happened.  Just smile to yourself when they express their current perspective, and continue to lead them down the road, knowing where it's going to take them.   Enjoy the look on their face as their road rounds each bend, and they get a look at the wondrous new vistas they expose.  
post #57 of 111
Hi Ya Nolo,

Good to see that you are still making people ponder!  Great thread.

My two cents worth.  Once, many years ago I had the privilege to ski Deer Valley at the same time that Stein Erickson was on the slopes.  It was pointed out to me (by my PSIA III buddy) that Stein was not skiing technically correct by our current teaching standards (locked stance and all), but got to tell you -- his skiing was about as fluid and "pretty" as anything I'd ever seen then or now!
post #58 of 111
Thread Starter 
Hi Sitz! How the taters treatin' ya?

You know what they say, the one with the gold medals makes the rules!
post #59 of 111
Wish the heck I could sell a few more of those taters! 

Yup, a gold medal or two does wonders for credability!
post #60 of 111
Thread Starter 
Another thought: Jean-Claude Killy on Sybervision caused some dissonance in professional instructor circles too. He didn't ski like Chris Ryman and Jens Husted, but just flowed down the hill loose-limbed like a natural force. It was very pretty to see but not at all doctrinaire.
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