|...except this large group of instructors...
Cheaps--I'd have shaken my head on that one too. A real powder day is almost always a good reason to change at least the focus of a clinic. In rare (fortunately) cases, a clinic topic is of such pressing importance to the ski school or the resort, that it must go on regardless. Teaching skiing is a job, after all. There are LOTS of people who still have to do their jobs on powder days--not just ski instructors!
But I don't think this is really the issue John brought up anyway. Of COURSE there are times we can't go out and rip it up because of other priorities. Most of the time instructors are in uniform, they are NOT free-skiing. And those uniforms can be as restrictive as prison clothing. At the very least, you're always conscious that you're being watched, and that you're representing the ski school and the resort. Many resorts won't even LET their staff "rip" in uniform. So we wear civilian clothes to free ski in cognito
. So when you see a group of non-instructors out ripping it up, don't be surprised if it isn't actually a group of instructors after all!
Anyway, the real issue is--do instructors EVER "just play"? I HOPE the answer for most instructors is YES. But I do think that many instructors are SO conscious of their techniques, and so committed to improving them, that they sometimes forget to actually reap the benefits of what they've already accomplished. I agree that, ultimately, technique should be a means to an end--a means to enjoy the sport of skiing more. But for many, technique has become an end in itself. I OFTEN find myself reminding instructors, when they're reluctant to ski some particular terrain, that skiers of far less ability than theirs are skiing it, and having a great time!
I remember the first season in which I had no particular goal for my skiing--no certification exam upcoming. It was REALLY different! Formerly, whenever I stood at the top of a run, I ALWAYS thought, at least sub-conconsciously, "what should I work on this time?" Without the goal, I could just "ski" it--and it was fun, like a big weight lifted from my shoulders! I remember laughing when I realized "I don't have to work on anything!" It was a revelation, and I realized how much I HAD gotten into the habit of always working on my skiing.
And yes--I did learn from that. I learned to play again!
But I must admit, the joy of "just playing," for ME, was short-lived. I quickly discovered that I HAD to mix play and work, and that I HAD to feel like I was measurably improving, in order to have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I learned to switch off the "instructor mode" when appropriate and just savor the experience for itself--to play--and to know when to work as well.
I learned also that skiing without some sort of goal was not actually so ultimately rewarding (for ME). I need the "edge" that I get only when there's something at stake. Whether it's an exam, a race, or something self-imposed, if I don't have a target, I get lazy and sloppy. (I also know that there's a time for lazy and sloppy!) Remember, as in a previous discussion we had here, there really is no challenge, and no satisfaction, in just SURVIVING a run anymore. I KNOW I can get to the bottom. So I have to have a "higher" goal--some vision of "ideal" that I measure myself against.
Interestingly, though, that "ideal," at this point, entails skiing "out of my mind"--"in the zone"--not self-consciously.
I HATE skiing "like a ski instructor"--hate how it feels, and hate how it looks. I know now that the best skiing I do, and the skiing that gives me the most enjoyment, IS when I "just ski," let loose, and discover that my body can perform EVEN BETTER without my conscious direction. They're the runs where I get to the bottom and THEN realize how well I had just skied. DURING the run, there was no self-consciousness, no self-critique, just awareness, bliss, heightened sensitivity, action, and reaction. I would think about where to go, and perhaps WHAT to do, and my body would determine HOW to do it "on its own."
THAT is fun!"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do."
Skiing is like painting. The higher your ideal, the less satisfying it is to perform below it. In that sense, the technical expertise of instructors is both a handicap to their enjoyment of the sport, AND the key to true enjoyment at a level that others will NEVER experience! A good turn is like fine wine. Most people will never experience it, never miss it, and don't even appreciate when they taste it! But those who DO appreciate it will go to great lengths, at great cost, to attain it. And it will be worth it!
That one perfect, elusive turn is worth more than a full day of mediocrity!