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Teaching a Timid Skier

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by josseph:
Thank you very much, Nolo, PM Tom, & dchan for your interpretations and application of "intent" and "aim" to the case of a long term wedger who is having great difficulty overcoming her fears of anything steeper than a mild blue.
Indeed this situation is real, and the woman is my wife... Any more suggestions and insights are most welcome!
Joe – I’m sorry to hear that your wife had those setbacks in her skiing. I have a bunch of suggestions, but I don’t want to hijack Dave's examiner thread any more than has already happened, so this is the new thread that I started.

1) First and foremost, you really should read “In the Yikes! Zone: A Conversation With Fear” by Mermer Blakeslee -
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...00954?v=glance
(PS - Thanks to Nolo for first bringing this book to my attention.)

2) From your location, it sounds like you are within a few hours drive of Mermer’s home resort, Ski Windham (in the Catskills). If possible, email or call her and set up some private lessons with her for your wife:
http://www.bergiesbest.com/selectors_2.php3?inID=27

If your wife prefers a group setting, Mermer also offers these at Windham:
http://www.skiwindham.com/html/les_adult.php (and scroll down to Women’s programs).
http://www.skilikeawoman.com/NY18.htm

3) Finally, my own thoughts on this. IMHO, what you are describing about your wife could be said about almost all skiers, the only difference being quantitative, namely, at what threshold of speed, slope angle, traffic density, trail narrowness, degree of objective danger (e.g., falling off a cliff), etc. does fear raise its head. IMHO, to overcome her unusually low threshold of fear, you do the same sort of things you would do for a higher level skier, adjusted appropriately.

IMHO, first and foremost, like any other ski student, she first has to want to progress – not just to please you, to eliminate embarrassment, or for other “negative” reasons, but for positive reasons like she thinks it *really* will be fun, or skiing that well “looks cool” and is something she has always wanted to do, or, it will allow her to stay out longer without getting tired, skiing with friends, etc., etc. So, your first job is to understand and reinforce her motivations.

Second, she has to feel absolutely safe. ( You know, good old Maslow, and all that … ) . Achieving this includes the development of the necessary fundamental skills, an appropriate pacing of the learning experience (ie, the time spent and the terrain used at each level along her way), and someone she can implicitly trust to coach her safely and non-critically. It sounds like some of the instructors she had failed miserably in these aspects of coaching. You may not even be the best instructor for her because she may feel she is “holding you back” and will be conflicted and attempt to push herself harder and faster than she should, and this will eventually backfire on her.

One trick that I have heard that works is similar situations is whenever the opportunity presents itself, let her be in charge of lesser skiers (eg, taking the beginner kids in your group that need a bathroom break down a green back to the lodge.) This will give her the “go-ahead” to go as slowly and as safely as she wants on easy terrain, and not feel bad while still putting miles under her skis. Even more to the point, she will be worried about the safety of others and not concentrating on her own problems. She will also get to experience other skiers looking up to her. This probably is rare for her and can be quite important in the development of her own skiing self-esteem.

Although you obviously know this, seriously “under-terrain-ing” her is undoubtedly the best way to go. As she gets used to the sensations at one level, she should be moved up to the next level of difficulty very slowly, be it in terms of snow conditions, traffic, slope angle, trail width, weather, or whatever. For example, if she is completely happy making short radius turns on a constant pitch green groomer, find a very light blue that has a few rollers so that she can experience areas of steeper pitch but only has to do so for small distances. Start her by first going around such rollers, say, half way down their faces. You can then work up to skiing over the tops of them, and finally, making turns down their steepest sides.

Anyway, just some thoughts from this end of the peanut gallery.

Tom / PM

[ April 07, 2004, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #2 of 40
I don't think your wife needs any more lessons right now, Josseph. What she needs is to go to the flattest slope at whatever area you frequent and just keep skiing there until she gets bored with it. Bored enough to DESIRE a little more steepness. When she gets bored with the second slope, she should consider another lesson. That might be a good time to take Pman's advice about the Blakeslee program.
post #3 of 40
I agree with Kneale. Last year, my ski instructor/boyfriend took me some places that scared the heck out of me. I reverted to the lovely stem turns that pop up when I get on stuff that is steeper than I care for. This year I focused on good technique on terrain that I was very comfortable on. I gradually started progressing to steeper stuff. Last week I skied my first double black terrain and it did not bother me at all. I attribute that to the hard work I did on the flatter terrain. I think I had the physical skills to do some of the stuff last year but mentally was not ready.
Nancy
post #4 of 40
Doesn't your learning curve remain steep so long as the actual ski slope remains relatively shallow?
post #5 of 40
In the 1963 edition of the PSIA manual there is a line about teaching methods which is applicable here:

"The student should have sufficient confidence to be willing to shuss the practice slope".

If the only thing the student can think about is getting to the bottom of the slope alive, they won't learn anything (except fear).
post #6 of 40
Thank you all, especially Tom/PM, who took the time to dwell into this issue!

My wife and I only met 3 - 4 years ago. The first time we went skiing together, I also made the mistake of getting her in over her head. After hearing that she has been skiing for 10 years prior, I mistakenly assummed that intermediate runs were okay. Not.

She actually really likes skiing. Something in her psyche, however, prevented her from progressing beyond the wedge phase on green slopes, however.

Kneale said, "I don't think your wife needs any more lessons right now, Josseph. What she needs is to go to the flattest slope at whatever area you frequent and just keep skiing there until she gets bored with it. " In fact, that was exactly what we did all year this year. She got bored, then she began exploring blues. With the coaching of a good Lvl 3 friend, she was gaining confidence day by day, and having a great time. Then came the disastrous trek to BC and the not too helpful instructors there. Now she is back at square one.

While there in BC, I began to recognize that perhaps the focus of her skiing has been too much on technique. Perhaps some adjustments in the mental aspects of skiing might be more beneficial. Hence the "intent" thing. Emphasis on finishing the turns, no matter how the turns are accomplished, is one thing that will definitely help. She could be experiencing additional complications of analysis paralysis.

Also, I have been making a point not to instruct her, and let other more qualified guys be her instructor. Better for marital relations. About the only thing I say when we ski together might be an occassional reminder about keeping her head up or an encouragement when I see her do something especially well. After the B.C. experience, she was asking if I could work with her instead of more formal lessons. I am not sure, however.

Tom, thank you for the book suggestion. We'll definitely have a look at it. Ah yes, Ski Windham. Done a clinic or two there, though it is more than a few hours away.

David/Dchan's suggestion about the bopping the weasel might just be something we could try to take her mind off the mechanics and into finishing turns the natural way.

Surely some others among you have had really difficult fear cases like this?
post #7 of 40
Ditto to Kneale. I was a very timid skier and my "friends" took me to a blue at Break on my 3rd day before I was ready. I dead headed back down the lift because in my mind I did not see how I could turn or stop at that steepness.

I could see this working against a student's progress or in the case of a spouse, reluctance to go on a ski trip anymore if they are going to feel "pushed" where they are not comfortable.

When boredom seeps in - the student is ready for the next thrill.

patience

on a PS note

Kneale - Nice meeting you on the slopes. I had the pleasure of sharing some turns on my brother-in-law's (15 years younger than I) first ever ski day at Nubs Nob with Kneale on Monday. Warren is not quite bored with easy blues yet, but enjoys sking them now. He told me it was one of the most fun days of his life.

I may be back with my son Friday and Saturday. If that's the case and you or anyone else is there, we can ski anywhere there. I won't be with a relative on their first day of skiing this time. Nubs Nob is actually going to be below freezing each night up to the weekend so it should be pretty sweet for their closing weekend.

Nubs is having 25 dollar spring ticket specials and the rooms at the Comfort Inn are only 31.45. All in all, some cheap turns for this stuck in flatland Hoosier.

end of PS
post #8 of 40
josseph, I empathize with your concern. Please do not interpret my reaction as minimizing your wife's fears, but she isn't unusual, nor does she sound like "a difficult case." A great many of my clients arrive with issues/past experiences like hers. Bad instruction, overterraining by well-meaning loved ones/peers, external imposition of values, goals and expectations, prior injuries, scary experiences... as said so well by PhysicsMan above, these issues are skiers' issues.

Since she has been skiing for fourteen years now, I am curious about her perspective on her learning process. Knowing a little more would help me answer you.
What does she love about skiing? Why does she continue despite her bad experiences? Is she self-driven to ski more difficult terrain, to ski parallel, to ski faster? Who sets learning goals and lesson expectations for her -her instructors, you, and/or herself? Has she ever learned another sport? What if she never skied anything beyond a mild blue, and never got out of the wedge? Would it still be worth doing to her?
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by vera:
What does she love about skiing? Why does she continue despite her bad experiences? Is she self-driven to ski more difficult terrain, to ski parallel, to ski faster? Who sets learning goals and lesson expectations for her -her instructors, you, and/or herself? Has she ever learned another sport? What if she never skied anything beyond a mild blue, and never got out of the wedge? Would it still be worth doing to her?
Excellent questions, Vera. Many of these, only Mrs. Josseph can truly answer. Over the course of this summer, I will certain broach the subject and perhaps get her to explore her real motivations. This much I do know. She really, really, really wants to overcome this fear thing and ski better. And she really likes skiing.

She started skiing when her two sons started ski racing. While they were racing/training, she would ski a bit. Her sons are 20 and 22 now, so this gives you an idea of how long she has been skiing.

She said she likes the lifestyle, e.g. spending weekend days centered around skiing, socializing. She says she really enjoys being outdoors sliding on the snow.

Her principle goal this past year was to parallel. In fact, she was almost manic in wanting to achieve that. I think she was driven more by her desire for style than for what "parallel" can do for her skiing. In that regard, she was the one who initially expressed the thought that she wants to progress beyond the greens at the beginning of this year. The motivator here is probably borne out of wanting to see more of a resort than the green slopes on the bottom when we do go away to places and to ski with others than alone most of the time. In this vein, she repeated expressed that she would feel bad if I or the sons would hang out with her on the green slopes too long. In fact, I don't really mind (and I quite enjoy skiing with her) for half days at a time as long as I have the opportunity to venture where I want to go for the other half days.

Mrs. Josseph is in good physical shape, works out in a gym several times a week. She is also an excellent equestrian. This is the part I don't get. It is far scarier (at least to me), to be on top of this huge animal cantering at full tilt, or worse, while it is hurdling over fences.

Personally I would be okay with it if she stayed at the green level but I don't think she herself would be happy at it. She knows she has the athetic ability and the natural balance (from her horse riding) to allow her to do this on skis. She simply has not been able to figure out what's stopping her.

Hope that is some insight. Any thoughts?
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
Joe - How well does your wife handle riding high chairlifts, hiking on mountains with precipitous drop-offs, going up on ladders, etc.? Is she ever subject to vertigo? How would she react if you took her to the top of a short black run (empty, so no embarrassment factor) and asked her to sidestep her way down it?

If she would sidestep it but (for example) doesn’t want to sideslip or ski it, you probably can isolate her anxiety to a lack of confidence in her technique. Similarly, if her level of anxiety on an easy blue trail depends on the snow conditions, I think this tells us that she actually has developed an intuitive sense what she can do on skis, and feels she has limitations in her technique that shouldn’t be pushed.

OTOH, if she wouldn't even sidestep the black run, gets really tense when hiking on switchbacked mountain trails with steep drop-offs, riding in high chairs, etc, then it sounds like a classic fear of heights problem that doesn't manifest itself until a certain angle or vertical threshold is exceeded.

Distinguishing between the above two possibilities is important in helping her overcome this barrier to her progress. Lack of confidence in technique is the domain of expertise of many people on Epic and is dealt with one way. A general fear of heights (exposure, steepness, whatever) is dealt with by psychologists with their bag of tools (identifying and verbalizing the problem, desensitization, etc.).

Tom / PM

PS - I like to tell stories, so here’s one related to your wife’s situation that shows how hard it can be to predict the onset of overwhelming fear: One evening, two 25-ish y.o. women show up for an evening lesson and want to stay together. If I remember correctly, #1 has only skied once or twice before, but is doing extremely well, is very athletic, confident, rollerblades, etc. #2 has apparently skied dozens of times before (her boyfriend may be a former patroller), but is not as athletic. #2 has been out skiing all day including on some of our blue runs.

Just to be safe, I take them for a run down our bunny hill, and #1 looks like a level 3, #2 looks like a 4. The bunny hill is trivial for them and they want to move up to our main serious green slope. We get to the top and #1 does fine, but #2 gets this glazed, deer-in-the-headlights look in her eyes and comments in a flat, deadpan voice, “The lights … they are so far away.”

To make a long story short, #2 is freaked out by some aspect of the view from the top at night, even though she had just skied this same slope multiple times earlier in the day. Coaxing, giving her a close point to focus on, traverses and bullfighter turns, etc. don’t work. After descending a couple of hundred vert feet, she sits down in the middle of a bullfighter turn, and still staring at the lights, complains almost inaudibly that her knee hurts, and refuses to move. Eventually, I have no other option but to call a sled to take her down. After the sled leaves, I get her friend down the hill just fine. Talking to #2’s boyfriend at the base, I learn that she has done this to him as well and they were hoping that a lesson would help. The only problem is that no one ever said anything about this to me before the lesson. My take-home message was that fear is indeed a serious, potentially disabling issue and should be dealt with carefully, professionally and using appropriate techniques (ie, not suddenly finding oneself in the situation that provokes fear in the other person).
post #11 of 40
Ooo!

You didn't mention she's a horse back rider!

Have her think about this during the summer and take her horse down some pitches. As she does this have her stand up in the stirrup and lead the horse down the hill in a series of "s" turns. Make sure she leads the horse by leaning down the hill and reaching out with her leading hand (down the hill) Have her imagine being on skis doing this. Then next season reverse the image. Being on skis, have her imagine she is leading the horse down the hill, being sure to lean out and reach out with her down hill hand. Also make sure she is imagining standing up in the stirrups. the feeling of moving or leaning across the horse will facilitate a pressuring of the up hill foot as you push off to lean to the other side. I find it also gets them to almost edge their skis correctly because as you push down on the uphill stirrup you almost have to pronate your foot as the stirrup moves away from the horse.

post #12 of 40
Aw shoot, Josseph, if I'd known she rode horseback I would have mentioned the Cowboy Move for getting a horse to cut cows out of the bunch. If I want my horse to cut left, I have to open my left knee to the left and press my right knee to the left against the horse--the left knee gives the horse space to move into and the right knee presses it to go that way. The left foot will dorsiflex and the right foot will pronate in in the stirrups. How long you "urge to go left" depends on the nag. This all transfers nicely to skiing. How long you continue left or right depends on the steepness of the slope, the width of the slope, and one's tolerance for speed.

The Cowboy is probably the single most popular tactic I teach for getting a turn going.
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
If I want my horse to cut left, I have to open my left knee to the left and press my right knee to the left against the horse--the left knee gives the horse space to move into and the right knee presses it to go that way. The left foot will dorsiflex and the right foot will pronate in in the stirrups. How long you "urge to go left" depends on the nag. This all transfers nicely to skiing.
You're right of course Nolo, One thing I've found about kids riding, and often recreational adult riders, however is they often don't understand the mechanics of the riding the way you describe, just that they need to lead the horse. Just the act of trying to lead the horse will get all those actions happening. Since I've been trying to simplify my explainations on the hill I usually just tell them to lead the horse down the hill. I leave it up to them to figure out how. If they ask, then the explaination comes out.

My earlier description would not have taken place on the hill as I'm sure depending on your situation with a student the same would apply.

[ April 07, 2004, 12:12 PM: Message edited by: dchan ]
post #14 of 40
it took me 2 years to learn how to hockey stop-i drove my husband crazy always doing the snowplow. i just let everyone ski without me and i would meet up somewhere designated. we ALL had a much better time.they did not have to watch me come painfully slowly down the mountain and i did not have to see small specks at the bottom knowing they were watching. i had a ball going where i wanted to go. once i got that i could stop when i wanted a whole new world opened up for me!!!
post #15 of 40
Shoot, Nolo and David/Dchan! I didn't realize there are all these horsey people here!! And what great input, guys!!

The analogy of horse riding is perfect. Though I ridden quite a bit in my younger days, I never thought to use horse riding imagery in skiing! I bet it hits home with equestrians. And that's another thing, many more women like riding horses and men. Usually women skiers are the ones more susceptible to the fear issue. So the horsey comparison should come in really useful.

I usually resort to comparison of riding a mountain bike in a tight twisty single track or, better, a downhill slalom course. Of course, this imagery draws blanks unless the student has done serious off road bicycling. I certainly didn't expect the mountain bike analogy to work with Mrs. Josseph since she prefers her horse over a bicycle.

The steering of a horse with knees, Nolo, is brilliant!! And so too is the analogy of standing on stirrups while riding downhill switchbacks, dchan!

To answer your questions, Tom/PM
"How well does your wife handle riding high chairlifts, hiking on mountains with precipitous drop-offs, going up on ladders, etc.? Is she ever subject to vertigo? How would she react if you took her to the top of a short black run (empty, so no embarrassment factor) and asked her to sidestep her way down it?"
She handles high chairlifts just fine, as long as the safety bar is down. No problems there. She does have a fear of heights, though, but only in some instances. She doesn't usually need to go up ladders because she is really good at getting me to do it for her. Precipitous drop-offs, however, are a different story; she doesn't like them at all. Now here is the catcher. Last year while at Lake Louise in the summer, we went on a long horse trail ride, which took us up and down narrow trails with sheer drop-offs on one side. I thought she would absolutely freak out. To my utter surprise, she was perfectly okay with it as long as she didn't look at the cliff. She said she trusted the horse she was on. And she actually had fun. Go figure. So that incident is what gives me hope that her timid skiing is not insurmountable. Put her on skis on a black slope? Forget it. She'd freeze almost every time, like that deer in headlight look you describe, Tom. First she would inch along in a huge wedge, weight and CM almost completely on the uphill ski. Then she would try a very timid commitment to turn, resulting with her in a wedge pointing straight down the fall line. At that point, she would get so scared that she could not make her body complete the turn. She was never very good at side stepping, now that you mentioned it. Perhaps one of the technical priorities in her learning process now is to equip her with better survival skiing skills like side slipping, side stepping, and hockey stops (thanks Nancy2k)?
post #16 of 40
I am not sure from reading this whether Mrs Josseph actually wants to ski steep stuff, after all skiing is not a mandatory progression towards cliffjumping - there are plenty of folk who are happy enough on terrain rather nearer the car park than the cliff. Is their pleasure somehow inferior?
post #17 of 40
I sure didn't advocate making her ski steep stuff. just to start using some of those "other skills" she has to enhance her skiing. Where she takes it is up to her.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by daslider:
I am not sure from reading this whether Mrs Josseph actually wants to ski steep stuff, after all skiing is not a mandatory progression towards cliffjumping -
Das, Mrs Josseph has zero desire to ski the steep stuff, and that is plenty okay with me. What she does have a strong desire is to be able to handle blues confidently and have fun. Her main motivator is that she can elevate her skiing repertoire so that she can go to any resort, hit a blue run, have fun, and not worry about being stuck there. I personally think that is a very worthwhile goal.
post #19 of 40
Thread Starter 
From what Joe said, it sure sounds like his wife truly would at least like to be able to see more of the mountains that they visit, eg, maybe up to easy black runs (which are obviously a far cry from seriously steep terrain).

Tom / PM

PS - Whoops. Joe posted his response while I was typing the above. It looks like I wasn't too far off the mark.
post #20 of 40
Mrs. Josseph sounds like an ideal Academy candidate.
post #21 of 40
First, I need to assure you that this may not be terminal. I find it somewhat astonishing that this topic has been up for a few days, but I perceived it as being something I could not relate to. WOW, have things changed! My first 2 years of posting on epic were characterized by an obsession with fear. I was so sensitive about it that it caused a few unfortunate flame wars. I was even interviewed by a sports writer from the globe for an article on women's fear of skiing!

Yet now, the topic seems irelevant. What's up with that?

Insight; If your wife is into fitness, chances are she is very "body aware." In some cases, her fear may be an inate awareness of something that is just not right.

In my few fearful episodes this year, I soonn found out that I was on the verge of frost bite, was experience altitude sickness, and the worst: realizing that after all these many years, I may actually need glasses. The best thing to do is to figure out what the heck is going on, acknowledge and take care of it, even if it means getting off the slopes. Otherwise, she will spend the day practicing defensive skiing.

A word about hockey stops. while they can be great for emmergency situations, Ydnar spent 2 days breaking delta888 and me of that habit. The problem: It can become integrated in your skiing style, causing you to ski in a jerky, defensive style. This actually feels more frightening than connecting turns smoothly down the hill. Slower is not always safer.

Weems had a great way of helping us achieve more confidence. We practiced some skills on a very easy slope. Then, we would try the same skills on a slightly more challenging slope. Weems advised us against evaluating our technique. Expect it to be less proficient. Then go back to the easier slope. She will see a marked improvement.

Everybody has the own learning style. While I am not criticizing it, personally, I am totally immune to new age type pscho babble. the Yikes Zone and Inner Skiing did nothing for me. My first black diamond was skied with an instructor who reminded me of technical pointers all the way down. I don't need that all the time, but emotional fear needs to be intercepted by logic.
Good luck, and be careful what you wish for!
post #22 of 40
Thanks Joe

I wasn't suggesting for a moment that Mrs J was another victim of the macho tendency in skiing which does assume things need to get steeper and hairier and that otherwise there is no worthwhile progress. I agree there is a happy medium where one needs the confidence to negotiate the typical easier runs on any particular mountain and without the attendant skills any such visit will have its black moments. The gist of the advice given seems to be of the 'learn new motor skills with as few distractions as possible' type and to many that seems like common sense - how many of us learnt to swim in the deep end?

I think there is a pressure on people to use skiing as a fear managment exercise where they are continually expected to push their envelope out further. The problem with 'further' is it's unattainable.

Now while Epic wouldn't exist without the widespread interest in this aspect of selfdiscovery, for many skiers it is just a recreation and they would be as confounded by this apparent need to improve skiing as they would be by someone returning from a beach holiday disappointed that their swimming hadn't improved more.

I used to subscribe to Skiing magazine, but actually got bored of the pervasive Huck, Hit, Zap stuff as if it were just a grownup comic. But in the same way that most beachgoers don't buy Extreme Swimming monthly, I suppose any skiing mag will be targetted at the more geekish amongst us!
post #23 of 40
I read In The Yikes Zone , LM, and I thought it had some really good stuff in it. I did get the cojones to ski Roberto's Chute this year, and some of that bravado came from that. I am always finding tougher stuff to ski, given my current comfort zone.


Fear is a real, almost tangible thing in some people. A great lesson, or set of lessons, can lessen that fear and get you mobile again.

Academy. :
post #24 of 40
Sport psychology, which is where you would catalogue Mermer Blakeslee's and Timothy Gallwey's books, is not hocus-pocus but a valid approach to athletic development and amping up performance (unless you believe the body and mind are disconnected).

"If you believe you can or you believe you can't, you're probably right." (I forget who said that, if any of you can supply the source I would be most appreciative...)
post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
Sport psychology, which is where you would catalogue Mermer Blakeslee's and Timothy Gallwey's books, is not hocus-pocus but a valid approach to athletic development and amping up performance (unless you believe the body and mind are disconnected).
So true, Nolo! Too much fear holds back the ability of the body to perform. Not enough fear, you do stupid things and get injured. Injured body does not perform well. If only there is a simple dial in the back of your head that you can adjust for appropriate level of fear.

I used to play tennis competitively. The mind game was a big one for me. I've beaten better technical players because I messed with their minds. I've also gotten trounced by lesser players because they got me thinking too much.
post #26 of 40
Having played many different sports including softball and basketball at the college level, I totally agree with Nolo. I am 38 and just started skiing 2 years ago. I had an ACL injury from basketball and knew enought that I did not want any more knee surgeries. I started skiing with some inherent fears. I also loved skiing from the very first day and was determined to learn. My boyfriend is an instructor and he has been very patient with me and taught me quite a bit. We have discussed the fear issue and what he tells me is that he just does not understand why I am afraid of steeps etc. Sometimes it is difficult to indentify what exactly the fear is directed towards. All I know is that I would be standing at the top of a run that appeared steep and the switch in my brain would go off. My legs would not move and that was it. There really was no rhyme or reason. In some cases, I had skied steeper stuff at other times. Sometimes it may be the perspective of how the particular run looks. This has happened to some of my friends as well.

The answer for me is to back off and do things that I am comfortable with and then go back and do it again. I also don't think it is appropriate to equate your ski ability with the difficulty of runs that you do. People can get down difficult terrain without great skills.

It is important to take a step back and ask yourself or your student - What is your goal?
What do you want to do? Why? If a person has no desire to do different or more difficult, then the question is answered. If they do want to progress, then determine the best way to get there.
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by skier31:
I started skiing with some inherent fears. I also loved skiing from the very first day and was determined to learn. ......All I know is that I would be standing at the top of a run that appeared steep and the switch in my brain would go off. My legs would not move and that was it.
What you said is very interesting, Sk31. Your love for skiing is definitely shared by my wife, and ditto the fear thing. Once, at our home mountain, we were skiing in the fog on a gentle blue run that she knows very well, has done many, many times, and felt very comfortable on it. There was some congestion in the middle, so with Mrs. behind me, we skied over to the side where a series of black diamond bump runs diverge at 90 degree angles. Upon seeing those black diamond signs at such close proximity, her legs froze up and could not execute a single move. In order to get her down, I had to ski right next to her on the side of the diamond runs, and I promised her that I will physically block any chance of her going off those runs. That experience was weird because 1)we are at our home area, and she knows the place and exactly where she was at, and 2)the immobilizing fear was elicited when she ventured about 20 or 30 yards outside of the path she normally takes on that blue run.

Any insight into this?
post #28 of 40
Skier31

very good post. Empathy is probably one of the biggest obstacles to good teaching particularly skiing. If a teacher can't understand that something frightens you, that very fact probably makes it worse as the pupil feels doubly foolish managing their own incompetence and the teacher's disdain. You just have to keep backtracking until you find that comfort zone where Witherell's dictum of 'skiing the slow line fast' really can be realised and that for many, many people is way flatter terrain than they pretend to 'do' as of habit. Afterall going downhill in itself isn't really the problem for most weighted objects.

I think much of the problem is the way the industry gears itself to instant gratification 'four hours to parallel' nonsense, combine that with the much quicker apparent learning curve of snowboarders, and the poor old skier, unless they are a real natural, is tempted into running well before they can walk properly. The goal becomes 'parallel' before that term has any useful meaning and then you have to 'do blacks' etc, probably as proficiently as the proverbial sack of potatoes would do when dropped at the top of the lift. These are not sensible goals in the sense I think you mean.
post #29 of 40
That's intersting, skier 31. In my experience, this is how women often react to fear in skiing. They just freeze up, and it's a nasty feeling, and it's dangerous too.
For this kind of fear, I think you have to nibble away at it, rather than try to "crash through". When this fear is strong, often there can be no Crash Through. You just have to gradually build confidence, and when the heart is up, tackle those things that are just slightly in the fear zone.
post #30 of 40
Yeah ant - you've seen me ski now - hard to imagine I was once so horrid my instruictor refused to take me to Merrits until the snow & weather & my attitude were all good at the same time...

Many small steps worked well - any attempt to force the issue resulted in freezing, tears, "parkinsonsism"(frozen except for head shaking) etc etc
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