|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!
1) First and foremost, you really should read “In the Yikes! Zone: A Conversation With Fear” by Mermer Blakeslee -
(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:
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).
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 ]