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The psychology of short slope skiing

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Let's start off at the beginning...
When you're learning to ski, you spend a lot of time on nursery slopes (bunny slopes?). You are on a short slope with a short lift. When you're on the lift, or waiting to get on it, you get to see people coming down the nursery slope.
During your lesson, you see the same people skiing, and the same people see you.
I don't believe at this stage there is much psychology involved.
As you become a better skier, you go onto longer slopes, and the lifts rarely go up beside the slope, so you rarely spend an hour or more in the same area watching the same people, and them watching you.

This is where the fun starts...
What do you think would happen if you, as a more advanced skier, were put on a confined slope where you'd see the same people skiing it, and they would see you, and in the course of a short period of time, you got in several runs, and watched the same people from the lift?

This is something I've noticed at the indoor slopes in Milton Keynes and in Castleford.
When you arrive, you do a couple of runs, but eventually, you start watching others skiing. Some are just beginning, others are doing reasonably well. Some, you wonder, may be instructors, in their civvies, just putting in a few turns.
You spot one or two people who you think are a similar level to you. You watch them ski. On your next run, maybe you try to copy them. Maybe you try to do what they did, but add a bit more, or maybe you do something completely different. It turns into an ego contest between a couple of people who never meet, but who watch each other.
So, he puts in short turns, but he was skidding them a bit, so I'll carve short turns. She lifts her inside ski, so you javelin the turns.
I've spoken to others about this, and they agree that they do it. Maybe it's just a man thing.

post #2 of 16
Wtfh, i think you are definitely on to something here. I too ski at a small mountain where i know essentially all of the regular skiers, instructors, and coaches. Not only is it a friendly more personal atmosphere, but it makes learning very easy and exciting. I have learned most of what i know from watching other racers, coaches, and very good skiers on the hill from the lift. I taught myself to carve on an old pair of straight Rossi slaloms, by watching other people (who were on shaped skis) making very good carved turns. The "I can do that" attitude kicked in and i started making pretty astonishing carves on straight skis, which as of a few seasons ago i was still able to replicate. When you learn something at a small area like this, the people that you regularly see from day to day often notice it in your skiing. My dad and one of the other race parents at Greek had a conversation last year about how much my skiing has changed and evolved in the last 3 or so seasons. The ski area has watched me grow up essentially, and with that have watched my skiing change and improve greatly.

Also i think that being on a smaller hill makes you focus on your skiing, rather than seeking out new terrain. If you constantly ski the same slope over and over, you get pretty bored if youre not working on some aspect of your skiing. People tell me all the time that they get bored if they ski the same trail more than 3 times in a day... but these people are also the same people that i can ski circles around (literally can ski a circle around them on my SLX's). After awhile working on your skiing, people start to notice, and often coachs and instructors will take a few runs with you just to give you some pointers. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesnt, but because they see you out there all the time, it is just automatic for a skier to want to aid you in whatever you are trying to accomplish.


post #3 of 16
Welcome to the midwest! that is about all that happens here. I do actually like it better, As in I'm usually in the top 5% of the skiers out here. I find it quite fun to be able to compete with others without actually competing. The best part is to go out for a few hours in the morning, have all the begginer and intermediate(which makes up about 95% of the skiers) stare at you from the lift, and then hang out at the base and go up the lift with people, and they all act like I'm some sort of superior being and have great powers or something.

post #4 of 16
Most of our Mid-West areas are like that. Tyrol for sure.
It's like dating a school teacher, you do it over until you get it right.
post #5 of 16
The ego bit is a boy thing I think... most of my friends don't seem to think like that...

The small hill bit - works even on slightly bigger hills when you ski a lot of days there ... as I discovered when the race dept guys started asking my instructor what happened one week (my skiing had a hiccup due to ski changes)... he then informed me when I was MOST upset that they would be watching & notice the change that they watch me a lot - they all notice how I ski now & remember how I used to ski... [img]redface.gif[/img] I'm stil struggling to come to terms with that idea... I can deal with one of the instrcutors I know well telling me when I lay down a few nice turns - but the RACE GUYS are a whole nother breed... do I want them watching me at all? nope!

[ October 06, 2003, 03:43 PM: Message edited by: disski ]
post #6 of 16
Fooks you are so right on this one. Did I tell you the one about winning the South Australian Winter Games .... held at an indoor hill with about 80m of "vert". Really funny, my ex entered me because she knew I was hanging out for snow in the god forsaken boondocks of South Oz. Anyway I turn up and meet the "locals". Austrians, Suisse n Polish immigrants and their offspring and we all get put in teams with the locals forming their pre arranged groups and me getting put in with a couple of kids and another Ozite with a few winters under his belt. Hah poor locals they where so pissed we cleaned up BUT the kids on our team where stoked to beat the "poser mafia" local guys [img]smile.gif[/img]

Yeh the thing with little hills and indoor slopes is that good skiers will be there because they are "real" skiers and need the fix, get amongst the competition and train for the big hill.

I spent 7 winters on one of the smallest hills in Oz and next to the main T was a green\blue groomer that EVERYONE would show off their turns. We even had a few SS BBQs where the "sport" was to tuck the whole run and see who could make it over the runnout hill and down the next T ... then the skidos would come out and and the Kassborher guy would make a few kickers and things would get really interesting in the "bravado" stakes.

Funny thing was after that upbringing the rest of the world was easy

Small hills rule. Hey I will be in London around the 15, 16 17th of Jan lets hit your home hill [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 16
Your description pretty much fits the small hill I learned to ski on. There were two ex-olympians who ran the ski school and a number of european stars working for them. There was mucho copycatting going on and everyone wanted to ski like Ruedi and Artur.

This also reminds me of the small hills in Minnesota and Wisconsin where I spent some time. There is something about such environments that really fosters enhtusiasm for learning and improvement. Witness the near fanatical race programs at some of those midwestern hills.
post #8 of 16
Whats wrong with racers? What breed are we? You don't like us...
post #9 of 16
My short slope consists of 800 feet of big steep bumps, and steep trees. On an icy spring morning, I will see (or hear!) the other 4 or 5 skiers and snowboarders over and over. In the afternoon I will see the same 10 -15 people over and over.
post #10 of 16
Your right about the fanatical Midwest racers! Sometime I feel like getting a snow cat to plow them under and grind them up [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
Come 7 o'clock and the few good runs that these places have are all closed off to racers, who's attitude is usually equal to their skiing level. Anyway, just a little pet peeve of mine.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by HeluvaSkier:
Whats wrong with racers? What breed are we? You don't like us...
He-luv-a-skier, ( )
Absolutely nothing wrong with racers.

Not a problem. Might even try to get a few others involved too.

post #12 of 16
Originally posted by HeluvaSkier:
Whats wrong with racers? What breed are we? You don't like us...
It's not the RACERS - it's the RACE DEPT guys... they are just so damn picky!!

Actually I really like these guys - just that they are so demanding about skiing - I've heard them discuss various ski instructor's skiing for years... I get to ride lifts with them a bit...
I really rather preferred it when I was the gumby student most of the place could ignore... being watched makes me nervous...
post #13 of 16
Small hill syndrome. Ahhh, I know it well. Not a problem when there are good role models in the mix, but when ultra narrow-stance, upper-body rotating skiers are the best the hill has, it can be a bit of a hinderance to continued development. Kids (and most adults) emulate what they see, and if all they see is wrong, wrong becomes right. The best thing for a small hill is to have an active race (or freestyle) program that teaches fundamentals from the start. Makes a better educated populace and a safer one as well.

Racing can eat up the real estate, but racers are usually people who spend a lot of time (and money) at the hill.
post #14 of 16
I just wish there were a really good race program at my own local night skiing hill.
post #15 of 16
Why not start one? You can go a long way with a good instuctor working on fundamentals.
That's how our MART(it wasn't called that then) program started at Tyrol in 1976.
post #16 of 16
Marginal race programs become good ones through enthusiastic participation, and good ones become great through the same method. A solid base of enthusiasm attracts good racers and coaches. It builds from there. However, it takes a sustained effort to get these things up and running.

If your hill has NASTAR or town league races, a few of the more serious racers might be willing to form an organization.
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