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So what do I learn next?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Collective wisdom sought!

I’m about 7 on Inside Out scale, age 50 this year, 178cm/75kg, quite fit. I usually ski one week a year, nearly always with lessons, which I maintain have spent ages trying to get me out of bad habits before I ever started to learn good ones. I'm still in the back seat on steep slopes. I feel my carving is good enough, not really interested in cutting a perfect S down a groomed piste. Last year I took privates in Andorra and basically told the instructor “I don’t want to be scared“. So we did some bumps, some gullies, and finished the week picking our way through a goat track. I loved it. This year went back to Andorra, no lessons as I'm going on another trip and thought I'd save money... and for a couple of days I had a huge sense of anticlimax, I seemed to be far worse than I was. After a crap year at work and home, maybe I'd just been looking forward to it too much? I got 85mm skis in order to cope with the fresh (I've never had so wide, normally 70-76) but I couldn’t use them deeper than 3 inches as I don’t know how - I'd just ski into the shin-deep stuff off piste and slow down and nearly fall over. When I picked up speed I could barely turn. My confidence took a massive knock and it took me half the week to get my mojo back, but finally going down bumps on day 4 I got down them quite well with no falling, I started to feel good again but only nearly at the end of the holiday. It wasn't nice that I'd looked forward to it for so long and felt almost let down.

I'm now going to Canada for two weeks and will make the most of their cheap privates for 1.5hrs per day early in the morning. Any suggestions what I should ask for? I think my bumps are bearable (I've had them felt!), I really need powder if it is there, but wondered about park training also so I don’t panic when I see a jump, and/or skiing backwards. I also look at the tracks down under the lifts between trees with nostalgia, I remember I used to do those, but now I can't even remember if that was with skis or on a board (I've done 6-7 weeks boarding, all lessons, all Canada, brilliant). If anyone wants to accuse me of mid-life crisis and wanting to relive the excitement of my carefree youth - you're absolutely right.

Note I'm going with family including two children ages 9 and 11 and last week we were skiing together all day - this is nice as it's new and it's family, but at times I could tell our different interests were pulling us apart a bit (wife constantly likes to stop for a coffee, one child absolutely hated the thick cloud and got a strop on...). We know that in Canada they'll have Ski Friends to take us out at a level of our choosing and so we won't get bored.

Or do I push the boat out and get even more lessons than just the one a day, does it make sense to invest a lot now to get over a step - if so, which skill(s)? I'm still only likely to do 1-2 weeks per year in future.

All thoughts and ideas gratefully received!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Orange200, shame about how you felt after your week in Andorra. But I think most of us have been in the ‘why am I skiing so rubbish’ camp at one point or other. I’m a big fan of lessons, like you (having started skiing later in life). A couple of thoughts, 85mm is not wide at all. For offpiste I’d be on 100mm ish (I ski on 106cm skis all over the mountain). It will definitely help in the deeper stuff, although turning is a lot more about unweighting (as you can’t just force/ pivot/ turn your skis as you can on the piste without when being surrounded by snow). For lessons I’d just go for a mix all over the mountain. I’ve done park lessons with my 9 year son as he’s very interested in that - after an hour he was doing tail grabs etc, but I didn’t get much from it apart from trying to ‘pop’ more off the jump. To ski backwards you can just watch YouTube and find an empty green or blue.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Orange200, one thing I would say is that the enjoyment/progress is not a linear line. You're going to have some peaks and troughs. And new skis can take a bit of getting used to, though IME the wider skis they make these days don't feel markedly different on piste and do help in the powder. From the description it sounds kind of typical of those 'early days' where you aren't comfortable enough to get some speed up on shallower slopes and then are a bit in the back seat when it gets steeper. You just need to work on that - it comes with time and practice.
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@Orange200, sounds like off piste lessons would be worthwhile if you get the conditions, ie fresh snow even better. However from what you've described some basics around weighting the skis at the right time, being centred and not forcing things could all be practised without fresh snow.

Also if you are still in the back seat on steep slopes, then get the instructor to take you on steep slopes and work on getting centred in your boots.

I'd be very cautious about skiing a 106mm ski, unless you are going for a huge off piste day in knee deep+ fluffy powder!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Orange200, if you're happy with your skiing on piste but are struggling off-piste then perhaps some lessons / guiding in off-piste terrain is the way forward. If it is a lack of tactical and psychological experience which is holding you back (which is often the case when making the transition from piste to off-piste) skiing with an instructor or guide will be able to select the right terrain for you, help you with how to approach skiing that terrain, sets an appropriate speed and line for you, etc. Using a dedicated off-piste ski will also help, perhaps renting a few different models to see what you like.

If there are some weaknesses in your fundamental ski skills which are holding you back then perhaps these are best addressed with more general ski lessons, mostly on piste.
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IMO. As someone who struggled with the same problem - admittedly on 2m skis - I found that just doing it as much as possible with an instructor, eventually paid off. It sort of snapped into place when I made a few adjustments to my timing and balance..and kept trying.
Things I found that helped were:

- The quality of the snow makes a big difference - the dry powdery stuff in the Rockies is great for building confidence.
- Trying to turn too quickly usually trips you up...so patience, while you allow the skis time to turn, is important
- Control speed by holding onto turn longer - requires leg steering.
- Pressuring the d/hill ski, or getting weight too aggressively onto the tips, puts you on your head.
- Speed and a bit more unweighting gets you started.

It's quite possible that some of this is old school....and that really wide skis do away with a lot of it - so I'm quite happy for those with much more experience to correct me if I'm wrong.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Snowboarding Twisted Evil
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I agree with @rob@rar, lessons and guiding off piste seems like the way to go.

My stats are virtually identical to yours, I'm 50 173cm and 73Kg, and have just come back from a week in Andorra, where I had 6 hours of private lessons (I always have some lessons now as I only tend to ski a couple of weeks a year and it helps me get back into it rather than revert to my 80's legs together 'style').

There wasn't any fresh powder however for 4 of the hours we skied off piste (at my request). We skied a variety of snow conditions chalky, crusty and even some powder snow. My style wasn't the best, but with patient tuition I was skiing some difficult conditions with control and really enjoying the challenge. Roll on next time when I will definitely get some more off piste lessons (conditions permitting)

BTW we were followed twice by people who shouldn't of, the first group I am not sure the wife would of spoken to her husband for the rest of the trip as she didn't seem to be enjoying the very narrow pinch point that benefited from some fairly accurate jump turns to negotiate. The other was a single guy who followed us down a gentle slope which lead to a steep slope which again needed better turns than he had in his arsenal...
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@Orange200, at 50 it's about managing the decline, rather than getting better

Accept that, stay fit, stay safe, don't fall Skullie
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
red 27 wrote:
@Orange200, at 50 it's about managing the decline, rather than getting better


Completely disagree, I'm a much better skier at 50 then I was at 40. (with badges to prove it snowHead )
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
At 50 my skiing is still improving, becoming fitter has certainly helped, combined with lessons. I am sure at some point I will decline but not at the moment.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I'm a lot older than 50, but think my skiing is still improving.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Orange200 ...... 50?
You're just a baby but you may have to start shaving soon.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@red 27, at 52 I’m a miles better skier than I was at 50. Thankfully so is Mr P and he will be 58 this year. I’m damned if I’m going to capitulate and plead age as a reason not to do stuff.
@Orange200, agree with everyone else. Get more tuition, especially off piste, as it opens up so many more experiences and sensations.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Strength and fitness generally declines with age, skill and technique don't have to and with a bit of effort can improve.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Orange200,

Core exercises really help to improve my offpiste skiing.


http://youtube.com/v/5TK78g-xXHs

Use it or lose it.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Thanks all.

To be clear, my question was what to learn next, not whether to learn Smile So off-piste is obvious, park apparently is not considered a skill by most of you, and thank you for the point about steeps - I can't believe I overlooked that! I think that would really help me in terms of confidence.

I teach a different sport and I'm more aware than most that muscle and fitness is no substitute for technique, so I'll go with the lessons rather than pumping my body up and using muscles to fight the mountain, which is what I was doing for 20 years (and coming home shattered but thinking I was a good skier) before someone taught me how to slow down without jamming my lower leg into the slope at 40mph.

I can see this complex interaction between psychology, physiology, technique and desperately wanting a "good" holiday in the small period I'm allowed out of my office, within a certain budget, and I'm trying to get the balance right. What is clear is that a month ago I tried a different combination and got the balance very wrong. So if I only have five or six lessons this time, what should they be focusing on?

Further thoughts very welcome Smile
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Orange200, Since you are a teacher for another sport, have you identified what learning style works best for you ?
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I've got a lot out of private lessons, and I get nothing out of youtube or reading the web, if that's what you mean... so I guess I gain confidence with someone watching me and telling me if I'm right or wrong, rather than me trying to figure it out myself. The teachers who say "copy me" but don't explain what I'm doing wrong drive me mad. When I teach I usually show people the wrong way so they can then distinguish between that and the right way. I've survived on slopes for 30 years thinking I'm good, but it was rubbish technique backed up by muscles and balance; that doesn't cut it now.

Not sure my issue is with the teaching style though, it is more that I see myself at a crossroads and am wondering which way to go. (Insert Cheshire Cat directions here, I know!). I guess it is also tied in with the family and trying to be with them, but I'm seen as the leader which means I don't make progress even if they do.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
As you are going to Canada, if the snow is good - get yourself some 100mm+ skis and play in the Backcountry, guided by the instructor.

When I was in Crested Butte (in Jan), the snow was pretty shyte and finding narrow piste skis were virtually impossible....as they all use wide skis due to the (usual) snow quality. I would expect Canada also to have a big selection of Freeride/Powder skis...so it will be a great chance to experiment.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Tue 13-03-18 10:54; edited 1 time in total
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kitenski wrote:
red 27 wrote:
@Orange200, at 50 it's about managing the decline, rather than getting better


Completely disagree, I'm a much better skier at 50 then I was at 40. (with badges to prove it snowHead )


50m swimming badge & cycling proficiency Laughing
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
For me, the obvious answer is to ask you instructor - after all he/she’s the one who will have seen your skiing. They will have their own ideas as to what is important for you and you may both be in for a Rocky Wink ride if you try to force something else on them.

That said, they may be keen to learn your aspirations / perceptions so I’d ask yourself two questions. Pick no more than two items for each.

1) what are my biggest weaknesses?

2) what are my biggest fears?

As I get older I find fewer differences between different aspects of skiing. For example, one of my biggest gains in off-piste skiing was, bizarrely, from lots of carving work. This taught me the importance of tightening up my body and pushing my outside hip and shoulder forwards.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Orange200, Struggling a bit with the logic here. You say:

Quote:
I've survived on slopes for 30 years thinking I'm good, but it was rubbish technique backed up by muscles and balance

and
Quote:
I usually ski one week a year, nearly always with lessons


Can you explain how that has happened - lots of coaching/instruction and ending up with rubbish technique - because it puzzles me? And I am struggling to answer the question given this.

Another thought. If it's a family ski trip then generally park your needs and wants - and look after the wife and kids interests primarily. If you get chance to do something for yourself do it of course. And I speak as someone who wrestles with this myself and has perhaps taken longer to realise it than I should have!
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Sorry. Current rate of skiing is once a year but it wasn't that for 30 years without interruption!

Original lessons were group lessons with ESF, late 80s to mid 90s. I have made no secret of my feelings towards them since. Then some years snowboarding (lessons in Canada - brilliant), then fallow years with young children. Now back to skiing and finding out what real teaching is and how much progress I can make, but as I started by saying, there are several bad habits ingrained and I fight against some still. Getting much better though.

Yes, I am learning that the line between family and self needs to be drawn clearly...
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@Orange200, thanks for the clarification.

On to the next level of puzzlement. The difference between the two Andorra trips. I don't buy need all this instruction. If you were skiing great when with the instructor, you just have to keep skiing the same without. An instructor can't/isn't skiing for you. What it sounds a bit like is that you started doing a bit of off piste (first time?) and quite naturally found it tough. Well, anyone who has done it will tell you that going off piste for the first time is tough. Ironically it doesn't need much technique change, it's just that the feel is different and it takes a while to get used to it. But it's not at all a whole new learning how to ski process. So was that it - did the off piste meander just go t!ts up?

I think I was quite fortunate in skiing off piste from early in the learning process and skiing with better and more experienced skiers quite a lot. I would suggest just going out with a guided group for a couple of big off piste days. If every time it goes a bit awry you head back to the piste with your tail between your legs you'll never learn. It should ultimate help your on piste skiing because it will expose flaws with that technique.
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@Layne, I agree.

I improved simply by going Off piste with the SCGB (back when it wasn't a problem)...haven't been deep into the Off Piste for a while now, so hope technology will make up for rustiness.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Layne, yes it was more or less that. As I hinted above though it was also a psychology game, in that I was on a high at the end of five days' instruction the previous year, left a year, hyped myself up for a couple of months before going, and came crashing down to earth in the first couple of days of this year. Maybe expecting to be magic in thigh-deep stuff when I'd never done it before was over-optimistic. Finally I worked out I wasn't that bad when I went down bumps with little discomfort, as I'd not managed to do that before.

Someone once said there were four stages of learning:
1. You don't know, and you know you don't know.
2. You don't know, but you think you do know (the over-cocky student).
3. You do know, but you think you don't know (able to recognise your mistakes).
4. You do know, and you know you do know.

I guess I was transitioning from 2 to 3, so the knowledge was actually there but the confidence took a hit (aided by the fact that I was trying something I hadn't been taught about). The added problem with skiing is that we learn once a year then take a year to forget it before we use it again.

I'll go for off-piste in Canada, hoping they have some deep stuff left for me...
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Orange200, one thing I've learnt over many years is not to get too pumped. The mountain will make you humble.

God, I sound old.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Layne wrote:
The mountain will make you humble.
So be grateful when it allows you to be great Happy
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
rob@rar wrote:
Layne wrote:
The mountain will make you humble.
So be grateful when it allows you to be great Happy

Indeed Laughing Laughing
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
rob@rar wrote:
Layne wrote:
The mountain will make you humble.
So be grateful when it allows you to be great Happy


Two fantastic comments snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Orange200, there is a coach/instructor terminology for that list, the four stages of competence, Wikipedia source

Unconscious incompetence
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognise the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognise their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

Conscious incompetence
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognise the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

Conscious competence
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Unconscious competence
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@kitenski, but it is a circle is it not? And there can be deviations...

and the ceiling above which one is unconsciously competent can rise...

I had an interesting few moments in Monterosa last week, specifically as we were seeking out steep fun stuff, whereas we are often, day to day, elsewhere with quite mixed groups of friends who would not appreciate that.

Despite them being pitches I have skied many times in many conditions over the years, I had a couple of marginally wobbly moments. E.g. on on a slightly icy patch in the main couloir down from Indren.

I was delighted to notice after a bit of beating and analysis that I’d got sloppy with my shoulders and counter/anticipation. Easily fixed, back to normal.

Phew, I’d thought I was getting old or something.
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thanks @kitenski, but it misses my favourite step 2, where someone has learned a bit and thinks they're great - known in medical circles as "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing"!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@kitenski, I first encountered that list when did management training in my twenties and it has always resonated well with me.

@Orange200, I wonder if you just respond to the confidence you get from an instructor? I haven't had as many lessons as perhaps I should have, but I've noticed that I always up my game if I am out with an instructor and that confidence seems to last after the lesson has finished for a while. Perhaps that's why you didn't do so well when you didn't have a lesson? I've also noticed that I seem to up my game if I go past an instructor with a long ski school, perhaps because I want to try and set a good example (vain hope I know!). There is something about being with an instructor (or even just an experienced skier that is miles better than I am who says "you can do this") that seems to make folks (me at least!) feel a bit more invincible. I bet I could even ski in thick fog with an instructor!
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@iSnowhead, I think you are close to the truth.

Thanks to all of you - my live trip report, including what I learn each day (and I'm loving it), is here:
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=137335
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