or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Calling All Instructors - Do You Ever Just Ski
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Calling All Instructors - Do You Ever Just Ski

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
This may be a curious question but I was just wondering if instructors ever just ski for fun or are they always measuring how they are skiing. What brought it to mind as I read many of the threads/posts was thinking about a very good friend who quit teaching. He tells me he has never had so much fun skiing since he “dropped” out. No certifications, no clinics, and no one who cares what how he skis. No reason to measure any more just turns for fun. I know I tend to “practice” myself more than just simply make turns. Of course skiing at a mid west ski area will tend to do that to you. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #2 of 46
John. The only time I just ski for me is in a half-pipe or terrain park. When I'm out making turns I'm definitely "working". What sweet torture it is to have to ski all the time and constantly get better! Chain me to the wall, my friend.

To some it seems strange, but I really enjoy the thought that I have to put into my turns. I'm on the path to the Trainers' Certification in the Rocky Mountain Region, so I am chasing a goal. I've taken the exam once and failed, so I really push for that "PSIA" turn all the time... the only time I get bummed is when I start coming down on myself after watching a video of my skiing. I'm a jerk to myself! Why don't I just lighten up? (haha)

Anyway, I think of myself as one of the lucky few who gets to do what he loves for a living. Call me an automotron, a PSIA Robot, a Pro Goob, whatever. I could always be digging a new septic system for the state prison, y'know?

Spag :

[ August 13, 2002, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #3 of 46
Often, even often when leading clinics. We actually ski our best anyways when we just relax, remove our egos from the situation, and tear it up for the sheer joy of it!
post #4 of 46
By all means! I do.

Of course I'm only a part time instructor and have only done it one season so far but like work or any other thing you do, you have to enjoy yourself. Life is just too short to ....
post #5 of 46
Way to go, dchan.

I definately free ski as much as possible. Without worrying how I ski. I sometimes have really stellar runs where I feel extra good, but it's rare to have bad run skiing....wait a minute...I 've heard this before at Alta echoing through the valley on a stormy day: "I've never had a bad day skiing".

Anyone else heard this famous quote?

Answer tomorrow.

Just kidding.....Alf Engen, circa 1960 and it still holds true. Good man, Alf. And what an era to be skiing!

post #6 of 46
Even working six days a week I go out skiing on my day off. I have a ball and rarely am I "working on my skiing". I like to think I am like the proverbial mail man who goes for a long walk on his day off.

ESki, I've heard that and I've modified it a bit. Wishing someone "Have a good day skiing" is redundant. Because, they're all good.

post #7 of 46
I generally work about 5-6 days a week and then travel and ski elsewhere if I can get 2 days off in a row. When "free skiing" I probably work on something at home about 90% of the time, when away maybe about 50%. Being away is great because I can become anonymous again and even if I am not working on something it is great practice to ski on a different mountain, under different conditions (usually harder snow, which we don't get alot of.) It is really amazing how comfortable I can become at home.

The more I free ski the less I feel like doing something else. Though in my early years as an instructor I spent way more time training.
post #8 of 46
I am always free skiing, because the people I work with are good skiers and they tell me that the #1 benefit to skiing with me is skiing with me. The #2 benefit is my ability to come up with good metaphors that give them a word picture that they can turn over in their heads now and later.

I quit skiing constipated a few years ago, when I decided that 10 years as an examiner was enough of that competitive nonsense.
post #9 of 46
Always, in between lessons and clinics I just ski. I should practice more but man there is not much free time and I got to get "my" turns in. If you don't then you begin to forget the joy of skiing and as an instructor that is also an important point to get across to your students.

post #10 of 46
I have taken the last two seasons off from teaching, because I felt that I had lost the ability to have fun in my skiing.I was not conserned with making perfect turns. I made a point of not skiing the perfect turn, skied at my own pace, and let my ski's really go.Now I have found a new joy in my skiing,am returning to teaching this season and plan to free ski every chance I get. Skiing should be fun not work!
post #11 of 46
I'm one of those perfectionists (still trying to get there). I enjoy skiing whether I am teaching, demoing, or training.

When I ski, I go for the "feel". In past years when I went for the "look" I felt that I was working to hard. Now going for the "feel", it is more natural and much more fun!!!
post #12 of 46
Most of the time I am working on something or other in my skiing.
That said, given the chance to ski with the right company and I will be inticed to really let it rip.
post #13 of 46
reminds me of an epic powder day last season - one of the few we get here in the east every year. Everyone's just going wild, off-the-wall-bonkers, hooting and hollering like psycho misfits... except this large group of instructors standing patiently out on the only trail the groomers could get to that morning, clinicing.

All of us on the chair just looked at one another silently and shook our heads.
post #14 of 46
Of course, deciding that is indicitive of the fate that befalls or motivation that underlys EVERYBODY who coaches the sport would be wrong, petty and well . . . *cheap*!

Because, skiing full-time (5-7 days a week) certainly means there are some clinics I've been in/lead when it wasn't where I wanted to be. But for each of those, I promise there were 10 times where I was out ripping the steeps and pow-pow . . . while you were sitting at a desk someplace.

5-7 days a week, 6-8 hours a day is a lot. So please, don't be so quick to judge us!

[ August 14, 2002, 08:09 PM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #15 of 46
My point was, and yes I often seem to fail to get it across (but i'm learning), the "5-7 days a week 6-8 hrs a day" teacher should be able to recognise that there's more to the sport than just perfecting technique.

The question was, "Do you ever just ski?". A phenomenal powder day is one of those times where the answer should be "YES!" regardless of whether you are a professional, or just a hack - especially in the east where pow days are few and far between.

If you get to 'rip it up' I'm glad for you, but my observation was a single instance of many similar observations which have lead me to believe that many instructoral types have VERY different prioritys in skiing than the general public.
post #16 of 46
Gosh, Todd, I've got to agree with Cheap Seats. If you keep to the preordained curriculum on a powder day, you damage professional credibility in two ways:

1. You damage credibility with the trainees, because you violated two key precepts of teaching: grab the opportunities/adapt the lesson plan to the conditions of the day.

2. You damage credibility with the public, by giving them cause to snicker, "Look at the poor instructors having to listen to that blowhard on this bluebird day. Whatta bunch of show poodles they are!"
post #17 of 46
...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."—-Edgar Degas

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!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 46
Gosh . . . Pretty much that IS always what always happens, we toss the regularly scheduled program and go rip and just call it a "clinic" so everybody still gets paid and/or credit.

Of course it is a business, with lawyers and insurance agency watching and there are always those rare exceptions. One extreme example to the contray I can think of is when I was supervising at a resort where we were in the middle of a big snow cycle (read *many weeks* of at least a foot fresh nearly every morning we got there), and we were headed into a busy period - with a bunch of new hires who had no idea of the progression to even teach lower levels.

Damn right we worked on progressions, in a situation like that its either that - or send them out into the busy period with no training on how to teach level 1-2-3's . . . and the ensuing lawsuits just shut the ski area, and even the high and mighty head-shakers wouldn't be able to ski there anymore!

Is that normal? No, pretty much even at a powder mecca ski area, in a good season, where great powder days are really a normal day . . . pretty much any scheduled training is totally tossed out the window for "follow the leader" type ripping in the trees and on the steeps. And again, thats 5-7 days a week for some of us. So please, ditch the ego motivated judgementalism veiled in "concern" and cut us some slack!

Hrrrruummmmphhh! [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ August 15, 2002, 10:05 AM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #19 of 46
>>> which have lead me to believe that many instructoral types have VERY different prioritys in skiing than the general public. <<<

Jeez, Cheaps, those instructors are WORKING. And when you are working you do as the boss says, or else. Some bosses are more understanding and change the clinic for some other time or at least the focus of the clinic.

Clinics are posted days ahead of time on SS boards, long before there was any knowledge that there would be a powder day.

post #20 of 46
Ott, thats a good point. I still think skiing is about fun and if trainers can't recognize this they have no business training.

Just for fun, I punched "ego" into the search function and guess what I found??
..well nothing actually, because I can't get the dumb thing to work, but I'm pretty sure everyone who's been at epic for a while gets my drift.
post #21 of 46
I have given tons of powder day clinics as "the boss"....most of them have addressed the "suck air, blow snow, giggle technique". Breathing is a critcal skill to be addressed on days like this, not only is this a imperative technical session but also addresses risk management issues and employee morale. Remember, again, "suck, blow, giggle" Repeat frequently!
post #22 of 46
Yes, skiing is about fun, and trainers should all recognize this - and all the good ones are a LOT of fun to ski with. On most powder days, most clinics turn in to "powder clinics" where everybody just rips and laughs. People go INTO the profession for fun. Since instructors don't get payed a lot, most of us try to make sure it is very fun -- because thats the whole reason they are doing the jobs, and if they are having fun then our guests are more likely to have fun. Fun is infectious.

And we also seem to be talking in circles here don't we?

Instructors take the job for fun, we make it fun, now and then they work hard, lots of the time they play . . . rinse, wash, repeat.

P.S. Cheap, your suggestion about ego is of not subtle, and being human, it has certainly applied to me, and in fact to most of us at some points. As I grow older, I grow wiser about where ego has led me for better and worse. But if you want to call me names, just do it harsh and openly like the stud you clearly are.

[ August 15, 2002, 03:34 PM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #23 of 46
I practise my "ski instructor turns" when I am teaching. The aim is for the perfect demo. I look at it like I am being paid to practise and the practise only assists me in the long run so get on it.

On days off, in the morning before work, and holiday time I just ski as I feel like or as the pack dictates. I am pretty loose most of the time. Certainly not a "textbook" free skier.

This gives me a good balance between the technical training and the freedom of skiing.

There was a time when the enjoyment was lost due to too much "robot perfection" type skiing. After some time away from the business just travelling and skiing I found that I actually improved my "ski strenght" by becoming more natural again.

I do think that if one wants to become a strong skier the technical "robot" skiing cannot be excluded. After the technical foundation is strong then the fun begins anew.

Work hard and have fun.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ August 16, 2002, 01:31 AM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #24 of 46
This thread raises a question for me:

Can a skier be both "disciplined" and "exciting"?

I tend to think not: "Disciplined excitement"? "Exciting discipline"?

Please advise...I am leaning to a rubric that "first comes discipline, then comes excitement" (for others--for the skier, excitement may come before discipline does...)
post #25 of 46
Originally posted by nolo:
"Exciting discipline"
This would be my choice ... I mean if thats what ya into!

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ August 16, 2002, 06:54 AM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #26 of 46
I don't have it in front of me...but, in Witherall's "Athletic Skier" one of the requisite traits of said devotee was a sense of "playfulness" even "mischief" (on the same page it has a picture of an old bud, Karen Percy with a smile that says it all)...I liked the list of what made an athletic skier....maybe someone who doesn't have the book in a moving van right now could share it!

[ August 16, 2002, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: Robin ]
post #27 of 46
I Ski therefore I ever just Ski.
Before Lesson's Sometimes During Lessons
and Alway's after lessons
But I'snt Free Sking an Expression of Instruction in Motion

I Teach because I Love the Sport
If you can't have fun at a certain Profession then Maybe you shouldn't be in that Profession

If your passion is your Job then everything is allright with the world!

Be Good or Eat Wood!
post #28 of 46
I don't know, Nolo--I'd say you most certainly CAN be both disciplined and exciting.

Discipline sets you free! With discipline, you can ski any way you WANT to. Without it, you ski the only way you CAN.

All else being equal--speed, in particular--the more disciplined skier may be less exciting to watch than the one who appears to be on the ragged edge of disaster. But the disciplined skier has several more gears to shift up to, if he/she chooses. They don't ski "on the edge" as often, because they don't HAVE to. But when they do, that "edge" is so far beyond the capability of the undisciplined hack that the hack cannot even comprehend!

One of my favorite quotes of all time appeared on a torn and faded poster hanging on the office wall of a bushplane base on Baffin Island (northern Canada):

The superior pilot is the one who,
through the use of his superior judgement,
minimizes the need for his superior skill.

Up there, those are words to live by!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 16, 2002, 09:07 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #29 of 46
Nice Bob! And this fits what we experience in martial arts study very well.

When one is sparring, or especially if one were to actually have to defend oneself in 'real life' -- it then going to be VERY exciting and totally "off the cuff", requiring improvisation to match the situation. But the success of that exciting improvisation is based completely on how well trained your muscles/mind are for those manuvers -- which can come only from disciplined training.

When I'm skiing - I'm nearly always very relaxed, having fun, playing . . . and yes even being mischevious (trying to lose those behind me, ducking behind things, doing silly moves in the middle of a "serious" exercise, pushing snow into the faces of 'innocent' co-workers, lobbing the snowball that was hidden in my hand right as I finish the demonstration I was doing . . . etc). But I can only do that, only have that freedom to be able to be "off the cuff" and relaxed in any situation/terrain/snow because of previous disciplined training.

Discipline is not counter to freedom, relaxation and fun. Disciplined training gives one MORE freedom!

[ August 17, 2002, 07:00 AM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #30 of 46
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Robin:
I don't have it in front of me...but, in Witherall's "Athletic Skier" one of the requisite traits of said devotee was a sense of "playfulness" even "mischief" (on the same page it has a picture of an old bud, Karen Percy with a smile that says it all)...I liked the list of what made an athletic skier....maybe someone who doesn't have the book in a moving van right now could share it!

Thank you Robin for being a good straight person and best of luck with your new job. I had a very good friend, unfortunately since passed away from Cancer, who started the ski club at the Air Academy and helped form the patrol at Eldora many years ago and bankruptcies at Eldora.

Warren Witherell has given a lot to our sport and a lot to ski teaching if we would only hear him. I only whish we had a new book. If many instructors do ski for fun when they are not teaching/working do instructors ski for fun when they are teaching/working? I happen to be running on the treadmill yesterday and reading our newest PSIA manual. (Can you say get a life!) Something really hit home with this thread, Warren’s book that came to mind at the time, and the new manual. PASSION, give your students PASSION. Give our students PASSION and then teach/coach or what ever you want to call it, to ski or board. As many of you know Warren’s biggest criticism of ski teaching is the lack of passion. Now that is really a paraphrase because he talks more about over emphasis on correctness of mechanics but really that to me says PASSION.

So where is this going from here. Correctly so instructors are always dissecting ski instruction to learn more of the why’s and where for, and the how to but what about the how to give the student PASSION. I suspect it is not easy or we would hear more about it. I suspect it is not easy or possibly, and I only say possibly, the skier return rate and new skier programs would increase every year.

What about it? Do you teach with PASSION and do you give PASSION to the student! How do instructors teach and give PASSION?

Have a GREAT day.
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 › Calling All Instructors - Do You Ever Just Ski