just blabbin'One thing the youngsters got in epic proportion are heavy doses of agility and muscles. As one gets older, he can no longer rely as heavily on these props to support his skiing. He must seek balance.
How old can we continue to improve physically? By that I mean, how long can we continue to increase strength and agility? 30? 40? 50? More?
Like it or not, at some point we all gotta admit that things are going a little backwards. We can slow it down, but aging is inevitable. Happens to everyone.
My first recommendation is to stop working as soon as possible and devote your life to the pursuit of truth in skiing. "Because if you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do".
As we age, we are all prone to think of the days when we were "young and foolish". We just don't do the things we used to. Because we've grown smarter? Or do we just instinctively "know" that our bodies are just not up to the challenge of certain manueveres? Agility is directly linked to the subject's level of committment. Committment can be described as the steadfast belief that you can DO what you are trying to do. If an instructor asks you to try something and, deep down inside, you just plain don't believe you can do it, your chances are obviously not good. Committment = faith in your ability.
So how can you train your mind this thoroughly and deeply without resorting to a trip to India to burn some incense and hang with the Maharishi?
Like it or not, at least some of you have to admit that you keep a little mental scorecard as you watch your skiing buddies and fellow slope sliding warriors. "I'm better than that guy, she's better than me... c'mon, admit it... you DO that! We have Level this and level that, but the real rating system is the one described above. And many of the criteria don't really match what the skill-based, logical doctrines speak of.
A skier might be considered "better" than his buddy by virtue of being the fastest down the South Puckered Poo Chutes. Didn't matter that his turns weren't "completed" or that he didn't angulate as much as he should have on the 4th turn from the top... he got down first. He won.
True, not everyone looks at skiing in this competitive way. Most probably don't. There are many other reasons to ski besides being the first back to the lift.
But, it is our innate human drive that compels every one of us to imagine skiing that steep chute over there, or tackling those steep icy moguls. Whatever challenges lie just a little out of reach to way out of reach, we think of them. We are always seeking challenge, or at least imagining ourselves in the challenge. And yes, that drive weakens with age. There we find a crossroad, where our level of committment decreases and our agility and muscle power begin to decline. More and more we only imagine the challenge instead of doing it. This is where balance must step in.
When you learn to balance throughout a turn, you can maintain or even continue to increase your level of committment as you grow older. In the presence of balance, you need not rely so much on agility and muscle strength to prop up technical shortcomings.
I skied the other day with one of Canada's top instructors. In CSIA lingo, Level IV is top dog... or is that god? This guy TEACHES the Level IV's.
I am lucky to be able to ski with him quite often. He hasn't reached old fart status yet, not even close, but he's close to 10 years my senior. I've always thought his skiing was little "boring". Same speed, same turns, all the time. Like the stereotypical ski instructor "clone". Smooooooooth.
The other day was a little different. We visiting one of the neighboring areas where the terrain is very much different from my home hill. Hair-raising steep is available in quantity, and there was lots of new snow, choppy and challenging. FUN! We skied the steep stuff all morning. Pretty tough stuff.
He still looked like the "stereotypical" ski instructor clone. Smooooooth.
The rest of us took that difficult skiing and (while we are kind of "OK" in our own right) made that difficult skiing look... well, difficult.
Why the difference? Balance. Our mentor this day was in "perfect" balance throughout every turn. In short, that means he was in control of every part of every turn. Darn close anyway. No "pop" of restrained pressure to throw him from one turn midway into the next. No "freefall" between turns. Just a regulated steering effort that directed the skis both INTO and out of the turn.
I emphasize "into" because most of us focus only on steering the skis out of the turn, not into it. In every turn, there is a period of "out-of-controlness". If we are in control, we are in balance. To build trust in your ability to ski, whatever skill level you're building from, you must minimize that portion of your turn that is "out of control".
The guru's teaching to us that day? "Ski softly".
By managing pressure throughout the arc, you can achieve and maintain balance, because by managing pressure, you reduce the portion of the turn that is out of control.
Sure, it's fun to store up that pressure under your edges and let it fire you from turn to turn. POP,POP,POP! But remember, you's gettin' older and unless you improve your technical skills and balance, the agility and muscle that lets you get away with such daring moves will one day begin to let you down.
OK, my mind is still going, but I've subjected you guys to enough punishment. If you read this far, thanks! See, we are having our first major dump in a long while and I am STOKED. Couldn't sleep, so tried to write myself to dreamland. I think it's working. Oooooh, we gonna have fun tomorrow!