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Looking forward to skiing this year

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi everybody. Apologies somewhat. A bit of a self indulgent post I'm afraid. I want to talk about what skiing means to me.

I grew up in Montreal Canada and loved the snow and ice skating. Came back to the UK age 13, in 1960 leaving all the snow sports behind which I bitterly regretted. I did not realise at the time that I could have continued with my ice hockey at an indoor rink and in any case I had left all my hockey kit behind. Never mind, I learnt to play rugby and to a lesser extent football and cricket. Hockey had taught me to be very comfortable with body contact and the knowledge of how to use it, which I quickly noted my school mates did not have. This stood me in good stead in other sports. One caveat to that is that my comprehensive school unusually specialised in boxing, and without any instruction or preparation I was thrust into the ring with another boy who had actually been boxing for sometime. And besides, ice skating develops leg muscles, and in my case, at the expense of arm muscles. A couple of PE lessons and I was suffering headaches, so my doctor suggested I didn't box and wrote me a medical note. This was taken by the PE master as a sign of wimpyness, so I had an awful lot to prove, which I set about doing on the rugby field and cross country. Lol, this still rankles.

In the 50's in Canada, (maybe still?) children were to my mind treated with more care and cotton wool than children in England, so for example it was not encouraged for kids under 13 to down hill ski. (no problem with ice hockey for some reason, though!!) Equipment was of course so much cruder in those days and I think they had a point. However, we did a lot of cross country skiing which was great fun. And sledging and tobogganing of course.

Skip forward 25 years, having become a UK secondary school teacher, I was invited on the school ski week. Our lead was excellent in her organisation of the ski week. She had collected together lots of kit for the students and staff to use if they needed to. She had also negotiated a 15% discount at the local ski shop and we ran several evening classes for the kids about what they needed to know for the ski week. But she gained my respect particularly by carefully selecting resorts that had appropriate slopes and pistes and more importantly, lacking in too many night spots to keep the kids out of. She also went over a few weekends before to check every thing would be OK and plan a full itinerary for the kids with activity evenings, again to keep them out of the night clubs. To those of you not in present day teaching, this was in the time when teachers had a lot more time to organise such extra curricular events and the league tables, which only really count academic achievements nowadays, did not exist. And, although this may not find too much sympathy with some, things like ski trips and foreign visits, were allowed to happen within term time. Nowadays it has to be half term. Teachers need half term to catch up on marking and preparation admin and sleep, so if you have a school who organise a ski week for your children you are very lucky or you have your kids at independent school at great cost. Just to add, we did not go free or anything like that, but had to pay for our so called "holiday" all-be-it at the cheap end of the skiing scale.

The other excellent thing that our lead did was to make sure there would be one novice adult with each group of 6 or 7 children to go on the ski lessons. Over the years I have seen some dreadful and I would say, rather unpleasant behaviour by ski instructors which I would not allow any of my own children or grand children to suffer. In part I'm harking back to my introduction of boxing in this. Anyway, that is where I came in, as a novice, getting my first lessons and taste for downhill.

But it was the snow that took me surprise. The very first morning after we had arrived, I got up at about 6am to take my first possible chance to go out into the snow. I did not realise all the knowledge I had of how snow behaves. I walked across the car park where there was the snow that had melted the previous day and froze again overnight and it squeaked as I trod on it. I hadn't heard this noise for 30 years and it brought back such memories! I have to admit to almost bursting into tears. But more importantly I quickly realised I had a lot more skills on snow and ice that I felt others did not seem to. I quickly learnt to ski quite competently with a well developed balance and appreciation of how the snow was going to react, using transferable skills from my ice skating. I also had well developed leg muscles from being on ice skates from the age of 4 years or perhaps less.

Helping with a school ski week is hard work, never mind actually being in charge of one. Full respect to those that still do it. I quickly lost patience with having to work with the children during the ski week. Skiing with them was one thing, but having to deal with the consequences of alcohol and in one case drug taking caused me to sadly withdraw from helping after the next year. I have always been a child centred teacher, but here was something that was mine, maybe selfishly, but still intensively mine, which I had to pursue without the fettering of any responsibilities to anybody else or anything.

At this point two of the grandchildren have just arrived so I will post this now and continue later.
Cheers
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
A short reply to a long and interesting post...
1) I'm glad you're looking forward to skiing. I am too.
2) Mrs Higs is Dutch and did quite a lot of speed skating in her childhood and credits that with helping her pick up skiing quite quickly in her early 20s. She could immediately feel the interaction of the ski, edge and snow.
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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?
I had many group lessons with ESF. I still have the bad habits decades an thousands of euros of private remedial lessons later.

My wife was a good ice skater. She learned to ski in Canada (I took her). She’s had half the lessons I had and (grits teeth) she’s as good as me.

Alcohol is an awful part of British youth culture.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
My self-indulgent post -- part two.

Christmas over and we had a great one. Just been watching Ski Sunday on catchup so a bit enthused at the moment. I am booked up for a week at Easter with one of my sons, his wife and two of our granddaughters, in La Plagne. They are all excellent skiers and I am immensely looking forward to it. This will be the third time I have been with the granddaughters and nothing could be more fun. Particularly with the girls. My son has done all the work in booking up the trip and accommodation and all I have to do is pack and turn up. We will be driving over. Absolutely great! Just enough room in their people carrier and roof top box, though it is a tight fit!

So, I am coming up to 73 this year and still, thankfully, sufficiently fit enough. Although I have a number of everyday aches and pains usual for my age, I still have sufficient muscle strength and coordination to ski pretty much every thing in a typical resort, although I am taking some mild off piste more carefully. My respiration and strength are still good enough to get me regular 30 minute times in 5K Parkruns and I managed two 60 mins (just over) 10K runs last summer and booked up for the same runs again this year. Last year I was still skiing easily at 55MPH as measured by GPS. I am of course worried how much longer this will last, but my attitude is use it or lose it. I used to worry about heart failure or a stroke (family history) and didn't drive myself too hard, but I am now more worried about dementia (I think I am still ok with that, touch wood) so I don't hold back so much on driving myself into breathlessness and high heart rate, nowadays.

I have been lucky with accidents, never suffering knee joint or leg injuries (big touch wood again) but I have broken both shoulders and a wrist in separate falls. The one injury I still shudder about was not from skiing, but from playing hockey as a kid. I tripped up an opponent with my stick and he went head over heels with his skate blades coming up and slicing me a couple of cm below my eye. Protective head gear had not yet come in then. I was so close to losing an eye or maybe even worse, with the blade implanting itself in my head! I remember my coach freaking out when I returned to the bench! It wasn't a deep cut so, combined with the cold, it didn't bleed much, but it has left me with a scar ever since. Hidden by wrinkles nowadays!

My worry has mainly concerned my feet. I have had three sets of boots but have never really been happy with the fittings. Although I have had them adjusted several times, I have still found the need to use various bits of strategically placed padding. My present boots are by far my best fit. However, recently, I have suffered a mild bunion on my left little toe joint. I have had my boot shells stretched to give some room, but I won't know how well this will work until I have spent a couple of days skiing.

I am a big advocate of a helmet, and always wear it. I would like to have an action camera but I certainly wouldn't fit one to my helmet, particularly after poor Michael Schumacher's accident. The best I have done so far is to simply hold my camera in my hand and I have a few good videos moments amongst lots of video of snow or sky passing by. I must try a selfie stick this year.

Part of my enjoyment is to do my own ski servicing. Not to save money, but because it is all part of the fun. I sent my skis in for servicing a few years ago and they were no better than what I can achieve. One problem was that they had reset my ski bindings for my age and weight and not realising that this would happen I had not looked at the setting. Sure enough, hammering down a long blue on the first day, one of my skis pre-released and I went flying. No harm done apart from bruises, but it gave me a bit of a fright at the speed I was going. Tightening my bindings did the trick and no further pre-releasing, although they still came off when I crashed subsequently. Not going fast enough if you never crash!

To be continued.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Talked to a Canadian ski instructor once about his best ever pupil - Former NHL player, said he didn't really need to teach him anything about confidence, balance or edging and angulation, just a few refinements and he could do it naturally.

"You want me to move helped by gravity, balancing on these big wide things while someone isn't trying to knock my head off....no problem"
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Talked to a Canadian ski instructor once about his best ever pupil - Former NHL player, said he didn't really need to teach him anything about confidence, balance or edging and angulation, just a few refinements and he could do it naturally.

"You want me to move helped by gravity, balancing on these big wide things while someone isn't trying to knock my head off....no problem"

Lol. I am not surprised. But I have to say I have often wondered how much of this is the old old question, of "nurture or nature"? Is the hockey player skier capable because he has developed all the muscles, an understanding of how to cope with slippery surfaces and come to terms with flying through the air and landing on their face?

Or is it a natural response to being in love with snow, ice and snow sports and quite prepared to throw (literally) themselves into skiing. The thing I feel I have noticed in successful ski novices is a willingness to "surrender" to the slope and allow themselves to "fall" down the slope.

Of course like all the questions around human character, ability and behaviour, it is going to be a bit of both, I think. I know I have the muscle structure and attitude to skiing, but I know how much I just love being on snow and ice in any way whatsoever.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@TCSC47, being a sprightly 55 (aching knee today) I certainly aspire to skiing at 73! With regard to boots, I had three pairs that never fitted me properly: two needing padding, the third with (moulded foam inners) were too tight: I would undo the bottom two buckles for every lift and not bother to do them up for blues, greens or short reds and they still hurt whenever I wasn't actually skiing. Stretching the shells did not help much at all.
I discovered Fischer "Vacuum"* boots and they solved it instantly. I got a pair for my son and when his were done you could easily see the change in shape when placed side-by-side with a display pair. If you can get a good boot fitter and a pair of Fischers that fit you reasonably well out of the box then, when "vacuum" moulded, they will fit you really well. They can be remoulded up to 5 times (maybe more now), perhaps to deal with your bunion as long as it doesn't get too serious.

*"Vacuum" is a marketing misnomer: the shells are pressure moulded thermoplastic.
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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!
Quote:

My self-indulgent post -- part two.


@TCSC47 great stories so far, I'm looking forward to Part 3...
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Cheers @tsgsh ,My present boots were vacuum moulded bases and they worked ok for one trip. However, I think my feet are changing. In particular the bunion that has appeared on my left little toe joint. That is where I have had my shells stretched. Fingers crossed this will be ok. I think it was my ice skates that developed the bunion, so I have made a decision between skating and skiing recently.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
My boots
In the early days I rented my skis and boots of course. My feet were my problem. The rear entry boots of the day pressed down painfully on my instep. The solution was a strip of unwrapped chewing gum placed in my insteps to spread the pressure. Worked quite well with the chewing gum only needing changing every three days or so. I did this for three or four years quite successfully.

I bought a pair of boots first, but this was not the good move that I had hoped. Not knowing much about it, I bought cheap and had no idea they needed to be fitted. Suffered with these boots for a few years and then bought a second much more expensive pair which I had "fitted". The fitting consisted simply of a preformed insole with an arch which the fitter simply cut with a pair of scissors to fit inside my shells. All for £30 which by today's money would be about £40. I remember thinking, "I could do that"! And in any case, for £250 (£340 today) they could at least have come with the preformed insole already in the boots. Anyway, they were much better.

The problem now, however, were my ankle bones which stick out quite a bit and were painfully pressed by the shells. I had bought the boots in the UK and could not get any adjustments made by the UK ski shop until we returned from the ski week of course. Looking back I could have gone to a fitter in the ski resort but I just didn't think of that at the time. Instead I cut up my sun glasses flexible plastic pouch which looked like it might have the right properties. I initially placed them over my outer ankle bone after cutting a hole in them to fit, but this did not help. However, as the day went on they got better and I realised that they had both moved around to my instep. I think what they were doing was to lift the shell up and away from my ankle bones. The next year I used a 5mm thick mouse mat cut to size which did the job, which I continued with for the remainder of the life of the boots. I did take the boots back in to have them stretched around my ankle bones but this only helped a bit.

So I bought my present pair of boots and decided to have the insoles thermally moulded to my feet (not vacuum fitted as I mistakenly said previously). Not really much improvement. Still problems with the shell pressing on my ankle so I had them stretched again for the following year. This worked but now I was and still am having problems with a bunion on my left little toe joint. I think this is an age thing with me. I just put up with it, but for this coming year, I have had my shells stretched over the bunion and the insole trimmed, which I was told would help. I intend to try them out on a local dry slope but haven’t got around to it yet. Here’s hoping!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Orange200 wrote:


Alcohol is an awful part of British youth culture.


What has that got to do with this post?
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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.
From OP: "but having to deal with the consequences of alcohol and in one case drug taking caused me to sadly withdraw from helping after the next year"
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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
Ah must have missed that
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
fair to say though that it's a sad part of pretty much all youth culture and is definitely not restricted to just the UK.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Interesting history. It is amazing how the human body embeds physical coordination learned in early childhood. At any rate, that is my excuse for not being as good a skier as my daughter.

Alcohol and teenagers was in fact referred to by the @TCSC47 in relation to his first time skiing and why he stopped taking school groups. It is a curious culture. Daughter is sensible with alcohol when with parents (i.e. has fewer glasses of wine) but with her peers there seems to be a macho compulsion to compete. If they are going out they start with "pre-drinks" involving of home made cocktails of lethal strength before heading to the main event; in my day I remember people having "mashed potato parties" to slow down alcohol absorption so they could drink to the bitter end.

Ski boots can be an issue. This year I had a problem with my own left little toe, since I have had the boots for a few years without previous problems it seems to be my feet rather than the boot. However I alleviated the problem by cutting away a little of the insole allow the toe a little more volume and relieve the pressure; seemed to work.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
.
On the alcohol and youth thing, it is certainly something we have to keep an eye on and help and hope our kids manage to get through it safely into becoming responsible adults. For me, I have always felt a bit guilty in giving up helping with school trips and leaving my colleagues to it. A bit of a selfish thing, but I had discovered this magnificent thing linked back to the snow of my youth, of skiing, and there was no way I was going to let anything get in the way of it. That is how emotional my attachment to skiing is. Having to miss a day skiing by taking a couple of kids to the hospital to have their stomachs pumped out was the last straw, I'm afraid.

I quickly add that it is a privilege and great fun with a feeling of great achievement to help kids experience and learn about something that can be such a great thing as skiing. The vast majority of kids are well behaved and benefit greatly from the week. And on a cynical note, if you like, we need kids to want to ski, to keep the ski industry going in the future for all the rest of us to continue to benefit from. Lol! Toofy Grin

So, I hope you all keep this in mind this half term with the lift queues crowded and the school kids running around your hotel making a lot of noise. It is very hard work for the teachers but in all our interests. However, do blame the Ministry of Education in stopping the schools and families from being able to run their ski weeks during term time.
.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
tsgsh wrote:
@TCSC47, ------- I discovered Fischer "Vacuum"* boots and they solved it instantly. I got a pair for my son and when his were done you could easily see the change in shape when placed side-by-side with a display pair. If you can get a good boot fitter and a pair of Fischers that fit you reasonably well out of the box then, when "vacuum" moulded, they will fit you really well. They can be remoulded up to 5 times (maybe more now), perhaps to deal with your bunion as long as it doesn't get too serious.

*"Vacuum" is a marketing misnomer: the shells are pressure moulded thermoplastic.

I have looked at the utubes of this and am seriously thinking about it now.
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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?
@TCSC47

Keep the fitness level up and you should be able to keep going for a good many extra years. You may slow down a bit and take extra "coffee" stops but the rest is up to you

From experience skiing with a retired colonel (ex-Marines) and his wife who were in their early 80's!
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
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Enjoy reading your “indulgent rant” enormously! Very Happy
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
My Skis
I started skiing in the pre-carving days and I remember my delight when I first used carvers. It seemed to me like I had a steering wheel attached to them. Just tilt the skis on their side and, no skidding or anything, they turned with no effort!! First thing in the morning on a wide virgin piste, the memories still flood back as I do large radius carving turns to warm up, ending up pointing back up the hill and stalling. Great fun.

My first carving skis were mid-price Blizzard skis with all sorts of bells and whistles. The chap in the shop sold them to me by telling me they were a special experimental design that Blizzard were trying out and there were only a few. I was hooked.

The bindings were floating relative to the skis so that the skis could flex underneath unhindered by my boots. They were also elevated to assist in the carving. (Never really been sure how that works.) There were three visible damping gizmos. Some sort of rubber /jelly looking lumps attached in front and behind of the bindings and something that looked like nutty putty between the floating bindings and the attachment to the skis. There were numbers and scales up and down the skis making them look very technical. As far as I was concerned they looked the biz!

However, there was something about them that just didn’t seem right. They just seemed a bit dead and not very “bouncy”. Over damped? Also the nutty putty damping grease ended up on my gloves and clothing. And much to my shame, I was not happy about the fact that they were not one of the big makes like race winning Rossignol, Head, Atomic, et al. Childish I know, but there you go.
https://www.fis-ski.com/DB/alpine-skiing/brand-ranking.html

But my present skis are quite frankly just the ticket for me. Head Venturi 95’s all mountain skis.
https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/reviews/snow-sports/all-mountain-skis/head-skis-usa-venturi-95

A few years ago my eldest son went over to the Dark Side and started snowboarding after damaging his calf muscles / tendons from skiing. He took to it rather too well for my liking. At the same time we were getting the change in the snow conditions in the Alps to much fluffier powder. My existing skis could not take me off piste very well, but my Head skis allow me to be able to follow most places my snowboarding son goes.

But what really pleased me was that I found that the piste patrols of the resort I was at a couple of years ago were using them - so they must be OK.

Not only are they good at off-piste, they are excellent at the end of the day when I’m tired and the return pistes are cut up and slushy, the Head Venturis simply cut through all the muck on the piste with little effort on my part. They are not quite as fast as my last skis but fast enough for me at 72 years old. Last year I hit 55 MPH quite easily on a number of occasions as measured by both my GPS and a timing gate set up by the piste patrol. Mind you, only a schuss.

I have had some problems getting used to the longer rear of the skis on well-constructed moguls but that is probably as much to do with me loosing leg muscle tone, as anything to do with the skis. Also as they are twin tipped, I have to justify this by skiing backwards from time to time!

Anyway, time to get on with something else now. Cheers.
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@neildaanderson2223332, @abc, Cheers people.
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