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My Best Ski Lesson Ever!!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I found my ski instructor on the internet. His name is Todd Murchison, and he teaches at Mount Snow. Colorado, eat your heart out! We're not giving him back!! Todd posts on this board sometimes, but I'm not sure I'm supposed to reveal his user name.
I first discovered him through a series of atricles on http://www.snotech.com. Todd likes to speak of a natural, uncontrived way of skiing, and much of what he said changed my view of what skiing is about. So I had been a "cyber protege" for a time, before I realized that he was posting on message boards. Then it was like "wow, I can like, actually talk to him!"

So yesterday, I finally got to take a lesson with him. I will not trivialize Todd by calling him a ski instructor. Ski Mentor is more like it. His class is not just about technique, its about a philosophy of skiing that goes beyond ego and affectation, and finding the things WITHIN you that make it yours, while gently chasing away the things OUTSIDE you that make it phony and contrived.

There's a book, I know he's read called Illusions. In an earlier chapter, the main character, takes a little girl, who's terrified of heights and flying, up in an airplane, while her g randfather watches in disbelief. When she comes down, she shouts "Grandfather, I'm not afraid to fly anymore, I'm going to be a pilot!"
In this lesson, I have never been so unafraid, while doing so many scary, crazy things. When I got to the slopes this morning, I did my WARMUP run on the steepest blue in the area, and did not bother with any greens for the rest of the day.
Its a rare that an instructor can inspire so much confidence in me. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited January 28, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 16
Lisamarie, I'm so happy that Todd showed you the way, we knew he could as for a number of years, Bob Barnes, Wigs and I, as well as a several others here, go back with Todd to the old CIS ski forum and he was greatly respected then as now.

I hope your realise the gravity of your discovery

..Ott<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Ott Gangl (edited January 28, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 16
Thank you so much for the positive feedback Lisa!

The same book you quote - "Illusions" by Richard Bach has another quote I love "We teach best what we most need to learn".

Anytime I come away from a great lesson with thoughtful people who ask good questions . . . I invariably walk away from the lesson at least as enriched as those I coached!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Gravity (edited January 28, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 16
Congrats Lisamarie and Todd.
Well put as far as instructor/mentor.. I bet if more instructors had that kind of presence, (now that I think back on my tag-along lessons with Lyle he was like a mentor to the rest of our group) we would have a lot more people with good experiences in lessons and lots of much better and happier skiers.
Thanks for the great feedback.
post #5 of 16
Unfortunately, my lesson today did not leave me so enthused. Actually, it left me rather discouraged about further skiing instruction.
The instructor pointed out my narrow stance and worked on dynamic wedging to widen it, which was fine with me. Of course, it will take me years to overcome that habit fully. She also focused a lot on flexing the ankles and looking into the turn. I understand that she was trying to instill a more centered stance, but the result was a more pronounced lean into the hill which my previous lesson (and subsequent practice) had almost eliminated.
In all fairness to the instructor, it was just a hour session, so I'm sure the pressure was on her to "produce" results in the quickest manner possible. However, I'm kinda dense and need things explained from several different angles until I find the one that works for me. Anyone know what the instructor was talking about and another way to explain it?
post #6 of 16

Try putting together the things you learned in both lessons. Go back to what you learned in the previous lesson, that helped reduce how much you lean into the hill, then work it in to what you learned in the last lesson, so that you get the benefit of both, not just one or the other.

Generally, unless asked to do something else by the student, the instructor will work on the part of your skiing that needs the most work. So I'm guessing that your latest instructor didn't notice much of a problem with how much you lean. Did you mention to her that you had just learned to reduce the amount of lean, and that the exercises she had you doing made you feel like you were leaning again?

I think your best bet right now, is to go and ski some, and work on the stuff you learned in both lessons. Then maybe take another lesson to have someone check to see if both are working properly, or if you need to revisit what you learned in a previous lesson.
post #7 of 16
Al. Mike.
Maybe you should start a new thread for your lesson feedback. you might get more help in your own thread. I'll put my $.02 in there if you do that.
JohnH has a good point about what did you ask for in your 1hour lesson. (that is a short time for evaluation and instruction) I'm not an instructor but when I take lessons, unless I want general evaluation, I will present what I want to the instructor up front. Even several days in advanced. With my private at The Canyons, I told the director of the ski school 3 weeks in advanced what I was looking for so he could select an instructor that matched my needs.
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited January 29, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 16

It's great to hear that you got a good lesson! And from Todd at that! I was wondering where he went. If you get to ski with him again, be sure to say hi from Wigs.
post #9 of 16
Hey Wigs! I enjoy reading your posts wherever I run across them in Cyberspace. Hope all is well with you up at Snowmass - great snow and no politics! <g> (Thats all of our dreams in this industry eh?).

After the trauma of being a SS Director underneath the devil last year in CO - I'm having a great season. Mt. Snow has really given me a great deal of freedom to structure my own day . . . but as per my request, no electronic leash (radio) <g>.

Cheers bud!
~Todd M.
post #10 of 16

Did you participate in the Master's Academy at Mt Snow this past December? I'm wondering if I skied with you that week. I skied with Terry Barbour. ????

post #11 of 16

Nope - it was going on all around us, but I was helping do new-hire evaluation and training. I never go to PSIA events on my own mountain anyway, much more interesting to travel!

Did you guys have a good time?

~Todd M.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
DChan, have you thought about becoming an instructor, yourself? It sounds like you have the right attitude, and as you can see from this post, my intuition about these things is usually pretty acurate.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #13 of 16
Thanks for the compliment.
I thought about it but I'm having too much fun just free skiing and working on my movement patterns. I also probably don't have the patience to work with people on the slopes one on one. I get frustrated when things don't move as fast as I think they should. I have very seriously considered taking some instructors clinics and am working on learning movement evaluation and am willing to give tips/minor instruction to those I ski with but.....

That's it. Thanks again.
post #14 of 16
Alaska Mike --
I know how you feel about an unproductive lesson. I highly recommend these videos and books. They're not as good as a multi-day clinic, but they're sure more available.
http://www.breakthroughonskis.com/Pages/video.html Video I & III (Vid II if you want)

As I've indicated, I prefer Lito's videos and Harald's book. Lito needs to update his otherwise excellent book. Harald's video is very good, but Lito's are better (but you need 1 & 3). I'd buy one of these instead of the money for another short lesson. Then, DO the exercises, all of them, even the simple ones. You need to start over and not build on present bad habits.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Dchan: Those you ski with are indeed lucky!

What I find interesting , is that right now , I think I am at the point where skiing becomes very exciting. Some of the basic fears have been eliminated, and I am now free to explore a Warren Witherell type of playful and imaginative skiing. I may ski one run, with a visual image of Weems, kind of like water flowing down the mountain. Then, in a class on Sunday, I once again found my inner competitive b--ch, and made the other girl in class "eat my dust". Or doing the "Falling Leaf" , which is like ski ballet.

But sadly, not many people take class at this level, which is somwhere between 4&5. Perhaps discovery makes people uncomfortable? Let me explain. Todd likes to quote the Mahre brothers "If you don't feel strange, you didn't change". Although Todd is quite gentle about taking people out of their comfort zone, you definitely do feel a bit strange. I didn't realize the effects of his teaching until the next day. All of a sudden it was, "Yeah , edge simultaneously, not sequentially, quit muscleing the turn, now get your weight off the inside leg" etc. Then, I just took off. And even my choice of a slightly steeper more narrow blue as a warmup run is a breakthrough for me, who usually needs to find the easiest, widest green on the mountain to warm up on.

I wonder how many people stop at the point of feeling strange, never allowing the change to happen?

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #16 of 16
Thanks again,
I'm both flattered and embarrassed. I don't think I'm that good of a skier. That's why I keep taking lessons.
Too bad I didn't think to bring my gear with me when I came to Boston in December to visit my in-laws. Maybe next year or if you get out to my neck of the woods we can make some turns together.. No promises of great mentoring but I will ski with anyone who shows any passion for skiing what ever the level.
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