Originally Posted by tylrwnzl
Athleticism certainly is not a made up thing. Something like reaction time is certainly not something that can be honed with practice, and also something necessary to be an expert skier. The top level skiers can react to a change in the feel of their skis before most--even with practice--can notice something has even changed. Now I'm not saying you have to have insane reaction time to be an expert skier, but to be an elite athlete you do. Look at someone like Bode. There are athletes with much more time devoted to training than him, but he is one of the best skiers in the world because of his pure athletic talent.
You may not be able to create clinically measurable faster reaction times, but with practice you can learn to anticipate better so that the time you have to react is longer. Its called looking ahead. Bode works his derriere off both on and off the snow, as must all skiers that compete at the national and international level. Some do have greater inate skills than others, but that can be overcome. Not to say that anyone that puts his mind to it can be a world champion, but they can improve with training.
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie
I said in the other thread that I guess I would define myself as an expert although I generally dislike that label. I can ski strong lines in almost any conditions at one of the best mountains in North America. I get paid to teach level 7-9 ski lessons at that mountain and make a living at it as my full time job in the winter. I guess that fits the criteria for expert skier. I hear from students and others that I am a very smooth and fluid skier and I suppose that it is true. The truth is that I have been skiing for a long time and have dedicated a large portion of my life to what is a largely useless skill. I know that there are plenty of instructors that I work with, free skiers, and racers who are way better and stronger than I will ever be. I feel like I really should be better than I am for the amount of time and effort that I have expended on this essentially useless skill. Am I better than most skiers in the world, yes I think so when you count them all, but at a big mountain I see people who inspire me every day. I think it's all a matter of perspective. I'm very good at what I do which is alpine and telemark free skiing on tight tree and rock studded lines. I have no experience in the park or the race course and have no serious plans in those directions at this time.
I have become good at nearly everything I've ever applied myself to. IMO This has more to do with my desire to be good and my particular personality flaw that makes me think that my efforts aren't up to my standards even when they are plenty good enough for most other people, than any really inherent talent. I was always one of the smaller kids in school and one of the last ones picked for most sports, yet I became an "expert" whitewater boater and skier once given enough time, practice, and exposure to people who where better than myself to emulate. Probably not everyone can become an expert and certainly not everyone has the ability to become truly elite no matter how hard they try, but if I can do it then a lot of others can as well. I just laugh when people say things like "you make it look so easy" or "it's easy for you". They should have seen me hiking up Teton Pass and crashing and burning on nearly every turn all the way to the bottom trying to learn to ski powder in the early 90s. Everything is easy once you know how and for the time and energy I have invested in skiing, it's about time that it feels easy, but I really should be a lot better than I am.
Originally Posted by Stranger
Everyone comes to the hill with different strengths and weaknesses. If the skier has reasonable physical aptitude and balance (no blown eardrums of excessive vertigo missing limbs are not a dis-qualifier anymore) they can get there. They just have to be willing to pay the entry fees for expertise.
several 100 days on skis in every kind of weather and snow.
spending lots of time with skiers better than you are. (access to decent coaching or training is a big help here)
the ability to ski through or come back from injuries.
the opportunity to ski lots of different terrain.
an evolving mind set that will allow you to ski increasingly aggressive lines and terrain.
The self control to realize that you probably won't fly with the eagles in the morning if you are up with the owls too often.
The ability to pay the monetary costs.
Realize that if you give up the quest for an extended period of time you probably will never come back at the same level.
Do these things and your chances are good. Is it worth it, you have to answer that for yourself.
I am always in awe when I watch the disabled ski team at Aspen running the Masters DH and SG. Those guys (most in sit skis) overcome extreme challenges and excel. When they wreck, they eschew help, get up and point 'em down the hill. They have determination and desire that overcomes physical limits. They are remarkable!
Originally Posted by nolo
No advocates of starting young to become an expert skier? On most sporting fields, taking up the sport as a youth is an important factor in one's continued success. Can anyone who starts from scratch as an adult ever make it to expert?
How about background: where geographically you grew up and live now, whether your parent(s)/family are skiers, and whether you had the money to ski as a youngster (or oldster). I'm sure these are great advantages--how would one fare without them?
More time spent on skis and starting as early as possible are absolutely advantages. Youth knows no fear and is uninhibited. Kids naturally figure out what works and what doesn't because they aren't over-analizing the situation, but rather just going for it and learning by trial and error. In my case, just trying to keep up, then stay ahead of my buds.
I started at five, was suppoted by my family and a local ski program. I skied all the time, practically daily all season long, until I was 19. I have no doubt that had a great deal to do with my success. Yet there were friends and fellow athletes that tried as hard, had as much time on skis and more $ for better gear, yet I beat them. Was it natural talent? A desire to win? Who knows? I did my best, so did they. We all were winners in our own way.
Originally Posted by L&AirC
1) They better be able to or I should just quit trying now! I'm 50 and started at 45. I did ski a little bit in high school but I assure you the few times I went and the condition I was in (it was the '70's) did nothing to give me any advantage when I picked it up again. I think this also delves into "What is an expert?" You have to agree on the goal to know how long it is going to take to get there. Do you have to make it to the WC to be considered an expert? If so, starting young probably is a requirement. For Recreational Skiing, I don't think that's the requirement to be considered an expert.
2) This has more to do with it but each thing can be overcome too. I think it would be incredibly challenging to overcome all of them. Where would Bode be if he grew up in Kansas? He grew up poor and that was over come. The best skier I know personally grew up here in NH but could never afford a lesson and even as a kid worked all summer long so he could by used ski gear the following year. He said he would always watch what the really good skiers did and would try doing that (This makes him great at movement analysis by the way). He was always a student of the sport but I don't think he ever took a lesson until his late 40's and that was at a race camp. He started at 5 y/o and is now 56. I love skiing with him but hate being in the lift lines with him..."You ski so beautifully." "I wish I could ski like you." "You make it look so easy." "I was watching you ski and couldn't take my eyes off you". It's very annoying . His only advantage was location and an incredible desire to master this sport. His desire had him find a way to overcome his finances. Not sure how he would have overcome his location if it was different.
Desire seems to be the greatest factor in excelling at skiing. Aim to learn and improve.
The size of the smile, to me, is the greatest factor in judging success in skiing. My girlfriend still keeps her weight too far inside but she is determined to improve and can't wait for the next opportunity to go skiing. She always has a great time when she is skiing.
The attempt to label what an expert is seems kind of silly. What matters is whether you can ski to the level that you want to. And if you can't, then are you willing to take the effort to learn and improve. If you are, then great.