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Help! Still plowing after 8 Years!!!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I would like some advice from our expert Snowheads. We ski twice a year for a week at a time in various Alpine resorts.
The problem is my dear other half who is a VERY timid skier. She loves the mountains and the whole skiing experience but cannot get out of the snowplough habit.
When it comes to any slope verging on a steepish blue she resorts to a very wide 'pizza' and sometimes freezes resulting on a lot of exertion on my part having to hike up and retrieve her goodself and the skis Sad
Obviously this is very limiting for her regarding the whole mountain experience as she (and myself when I am with her) is always limited to a selected small number of pistes in the resort.
Lessons don't help as she usually aborts after around the 3rd day on the premise that the instructor is too strict or they have now advanced to too difficult terrain!
Any form of advice from myself or attempt at simple drills is usually dismissed as me interfering with a rebuff such as ' let me do it my way, - it's too difficult your way'.
Any constructive help would be most appreciated.
Thanks in advance from a new Snowheads poster.
snow report     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@GURNEY_SLADE, welcome to snowheads. I guarantee you will get loads of "lessons" answers....and from me. Does she abort group lessons? in whcih case book private lessons so the instructor can go at her pace. Ask for recommended instructors on here.

Beyond that, let her do what she wants if she is happy being limited. I used to be similar and sit it out in huts with a book till MrHL came back...but then I got good lessons wink
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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?
Welcome to SHs, @GURNEY_SLADE, That's a sad first post. Sad To be frank, my response would be that there are some people for whom skiing will never be a pleasure, and it sounds as if your wife is one of them. If you love skiing then the question is whether you give up skiing too or go with friends or relatives (or Snowheads on a bash, perhaps) whilst your wife does something she enjoys more. I know lots of people who have favourite hobbies their partner doesn't share (e.g. one quilting, fishing, hockey, tennis, tinkering round with old motorbikes, sailing, etc etc etc). It's not the end of the world!
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@GURNEY_SLADE, you say she loves the mountains and the whole skiing experience, so fundamentally, what's wrong? If she prefers to pootle along slowly on gentle pistes using a snowplough to control her speed, she's not doing anything wrong. Yes of course she could have lessons, maybe private, but she simply might not want to and prefer to stay at the level she is at. It doesn't sound as though she is a danger to herself or others, so I don't see a problem.

You may just need to choose your destinations carefully to satisfy her desire for easy terrain. Cervinia springs to mind, although it is high and bleak in bad weather.
snow report     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@GURNEY_SLADE, commiserations. Have seen this happen a lot over time. Even if you had the patience of a Saint it probably wouldn't work you trying to teach her. There are two solutions if she wants to carry on skiing... 1 Throw money at the problem and get her one to one lessons so she can work things out at her own pace 2 Invite someone along who is equally reticent as a snow buddy for her and they can plod along at their own pace with you able to rendevous for food breaks and apres. It's not very satisfactory but no one ends up enjoying a week where one person is held up and bored (you) and the other is stressed and tired (her).
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And there are plenty of things to do, other than skiing. My daughter in law decided she doesn't want to ski - she enjoys watching the kids, meeting them after lessons, having some spa treatment herself, sitting in a cosy café with a book.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Snowboarding Twisted Evil
snow conditions     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Yes, private lessons is the way forward for your better half @gurney_slade. My wife is also stuck between the absolute beginners and those that progress onto blues and start parallels. She’s overwhelmingly positive about private lessons but not so groups. Well worth the extra cash.
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Wecome @GURNEY_SLADE,

I have been skiing for over 40 years, and times past had several weeks every year in the Alps skiing. Yet there are still occasions when I freak out and snowplough, and have a go (unfairly usually) at my husband for leading me somewhere I don`t like rolling eyes Laughing

I have an excuse now, as age and health issues have made skiing more difficult for me, but the real problem is the fear.

What has helped me most is having one to one tuition (group lessons never worked for all the reasons your wife gives) with an understanding tutor (not my husband!!! ) and staying on the same slope (one that I like) and skiing it over and over again. No terror that there will be a bit coming up that I don`t like because I`ve done it before. I hate drops over the side of runs, and I hate narrow runs, and I hate icy runs, so not one of those Laughing Once I`m happy on the slope I can learn and practice new techniques.

My favourite resort is Les Saisies because it has a lovely big bowl which you can ski in many different ways, you can see pretty much everywhere in that bowl and its all easy. Because you can see so much of it you can choose which way down, and if practising for example side slipping on a steeper bit and you panic, you can just ski straight across to a shallower bit, if that makes sense?

In spite of my fear, I have skied black runs, (wouldn`t try now though) though admittedly only in good snow conditions, and I no longer baulk just because a run is labelled red, but I still send out scouts to do a run before I`ll try it and if there are any of the things I know I don`t like I don`t do that run! (All my family are really good at knowing what freaks Mum out Laughing )

The key for me was/is an understanding tutor. I`m not a good skier, I`m told I have all the skills in place to be just that, but I have accepted I will never completely loose that 'fear'. It has not stopped me enjoying many skiing holidays. I think that these days there are special courses run for those like me that truly love skiing when it really works but are often paralysed by a 'panic' reaction.

I hope it all works out for you.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@GURNEY_SLADE, Your dilemma is far more common than you might think and something I experienced with my young lady. She reverted to a snowplough at the slightest hint of a blue slope, becoming very defensive, tense and not enjoying the experience. The answer was quite a few good-quality private lessons (no group pressure to move on to steeper terrain) and careful resort selection. It was no good considering Val D'Isere or St Anton with their crowded home runs; I opted for the likes of Alpbach, Cervinia, Heavenly and Nendaz - loads of gentle cruising.

Mrs LOTA is now much more confident, has come down reds with a little bit of style although still baulks a little at steep pitches and crowded pistes.

However, I always try to remember that it's a holiday not an assault course - nothing wrong with some gentle cruising interrupted by the odd tea or coffee stop!

Good luck...
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Lady F could not learn in Group lessons. It was only with very patient, One to One instruction, that got her going. She is now a decent advanced skier.

The best instructors I've come across have been British/American/Canadian Australian/NZ....using native English speakers is a great help.

Ask for recommendations on here......I can only help with Val D'isere.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Thu 24-01-19 17:24; edited 2 times in total
snow conditions     
 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.
And there's something about skiing - what is it? You never hear (at least I've never heard ) someone say "My partner learnt to swim years ago and still does that pathetic breast stroke which avoids their hair getting wet and won't even dive off the 1 metre board". I had one friend (an ex- professional diver who had been in the Marines - no wimp) who just couldn't cope with skiing - despite having done it in Norway with the Marines. He had some good private lessons and, in between times, I tried to help him. At one point I asked him whether he was gripping the bottom of his ski boots with his toes. He looked at me, very surprised, and said "Yes!" Skiing just wasn't him. He became exhausted very quickly despite being fit (he runs an irrigation company and digs a lot of trenches....). His brain just wasn't in the right place, though he loves hill walking and can tramp all day. His somewhat overweight, not very sporty, wife did far better, listened to their instructor, did what she was told and laughed a lot.
snow conditions     
 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
Another vote for private lessons from an experienced instructor - particularly if you can find one who is recommended for nervous skiers. It is so comforting to be able to tell an instructor what you are scared of and to get real reassurance that you will be looked after. It involves a certain type of personality. I think once the trust is there, it’s so much easier to make progress.
Or she could try a course for nervous skiers..see this link (http://inspiredtoski.com/ski-courses/novice-and-nervous/
I suppose the question remains, does she want to get beyond this? I hope she does. Snowploughing everywhere is exhausting, adding to the nervous energy already expended (been there myself) plus “domestic tensions” arising from one’s spouse’s efforts to ‘help’. She will may say she is quite happy as she is, but that is likely to mask a fear of the unknown. If she loves the whole skiing and mountain experience it would be a great shame to remain stuck at this level. Good luck!
snow report     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
It's tough - contained above is a variety of good advice but there is no one magic trick. If you're afraid of the sliding out of control thing then it needs a lot of positive experience of being in control (or more exactly regaining control at will) to counter it. And snowploughing is a particularly exhausting way to get about

I'd go

1 Honest conversation - does she want to try to broaden her experience
2 Any alternative e.g. snow shoeing etc that would be equally fun for her
3 Private lessons - no pressure or expectation - just to see if she can find instructor that will ggel
4 Re-evaluate

Honesty about your needs and wants probably will help. If you make it clear you're quite happy going on hols on your own etc might produce a different answer to her trying for your sake.
ski holidays     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@GURNEY_SLADE, Is it just the two of you that go on skiing holidays?

If it is, then maybe look into the possibility of going away with some friends/other couple(s), with at least one total beginner. Being able to ski with a friend, who will likely be at the same ability level after a day or three, might be beneficial.
snow conditions     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@GURNEY_SLADE,
She doesn't have to ski, especially if she loves being in the mountains. Mrs M does a bit of cross country, a bit of snow shoeing, a bit of of winter walking ... and lots of shopping and sampling local cakes.
snow report     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Another possibility is that you take up snowboarding (assuming you'd be a complete beginner). That would help you empathize with quite a lot of your wife's concerns.



...and give her a laugh
snow conditions     
 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?
pam w wrote:
To be frank, my response would be that there are some people for whom skiing will never be a pleasure, and it sounds as if your wife is one of them.


it does appear to be the case... there's always cross country skiing if she "enjoys" snow-ploughing down timid slopes.
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Nah, it's far harder snow-ploughing on skinny skis with free heels and no edges. Raquettes, maybe.
snow conditions     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Agree with the private lesson advice above. Success at skiing requires us to blow past our fears, and that is difficult for many and impossible for some. A way of thinking about how to move forward that I tried on my sister-in-law with some success was this: speed is actually your friend. Everything that is difficult at low speeds, like turning, is easier at speed. Success builds on itself from there. If they are old enough to remember, an analogy that helps is driving a car without power steering.....almost impossible to turn the wheel while stationary, much easier once underway.
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Unfortunately for me, I met my now wife a few years too late when it came to skiing. Sad She won't go a near another mountain because she injured herself by being pushed into going "too high, too soon" by more experienced friends who got bored before we met Evil or Very Mad

Not all bad, As Pam mentions, I just go with the lads instead which she has no problems with... and I'm going twice over the next couple of months Cool
Skiing isn't for everyone and if the "fear" is taking hold to an extent that it ruins the holiday for you both twice a year for 8 years!, maybe she should take look at doing something else... I'll let you mention that to her Laughing
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Scooter in Seattle, +1 Excellent post.

1 or 2 weeks pa is not very much. Definitely needs time indoors to practice before heading to a mountain.
ski holidays     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
dode wrote:
If it is, then maybe look into the possibility of going away with some friends/other couple(s), with at least one total beginner. Being able to ski with a friend, who will likely be at the same ability level after a day or three, might be beneficial.


That could go the other way though. If said friend picks it up quickly and is zipping around by the end of the week then she may lose confidence (and it doesn't sound like she's got much).

It sounds to me that she likes the mountains but possibly not the skiing. As others have suggested, it may be worth suggesting something like snowshoeing on the next trip (both of you for the day, so it doesn't seem like you're ditching her) and see how that takes.

I'm afraid that I can't offer much advice for the timid thing as I adopt a more "just do it" approach.
snow conditions     
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
speed is actually your friend. Everything that is difficult at low speeds, like turning, is easier at speed.


Absolutely, but even knowing that, and when comfortable on a slope actually embracing it and enjoying it, but if the 'fear' hits ... all logic, knowledge and years of experience happily fly off into the wind!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Take up snowboarding.

Only 1 plank.

It is 50% easier.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@GURNEY_SLADE, how does she feel about this? Is she quite happy skiing a few runs near home? If so, does she have any reason to want to get better and ski harder runs?

Is the problem that you want to ski harder runs, and you'd like her to be there with you keeping up? If so, then it might make sense for her to have lessons, but she would be doing it as a favour to you, rather than because it's something she wants for herself.

Or as others have suggested, is she even that into skiing at all? Does she just come on the trip to keep you happy?

There's lots of good advice in the posts above, but I think you need to start with an honest conversation about what you both want to get out of your skiing trips.
snow report     
 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.
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and advice.
I think that if she can make that quantum leap into parallel skiing that will be the breakthrough and she probable does need one to one lessons with an understanding coach to get there.
It is definitely a confidence thing because on gentle slopes she has no problem with a reasonable speed. On steeper terrain I advise her to keep a reasonable speed and flow in the turns but to no avail as alas the 90 degree wedge once again rears its head Sad . She admits that she wants to advance so that she can experience more of the mountain with me and travel across different areas on the map. At the moment I pre-explore the area and judge which runs she can manage and sometimes get it wrong if the conditions become icy or bumpy or flat light etc etc.
Thanks also to Scooter in Seattle for the power steering analogy Very Happy
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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
@GURNEY_SLADE, not sure where you are but could this be something she can book some private lessons to work on over the summer in either a fridge or a dry ski slope near you?

The private lessons at the right time on my local ski slope are an absolute bargain over the summer and so I expect you will get similar at other places. Those environments are controlled and predictable and hence good for working on technique.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@GURNEY_SLADE, I was that person!

The turning point for me was private lessons with the right instructor. In my case it was Lynne Stainbrook in Flaine. Lynne (American and male) teaches almost entirely on a gentle green slope and focuses on technique, then you go and practice what he has taught you. Most lessons are just an hour in length, which helps with costs.

In my early days, most of the practice took place on the same green slope, then I gradually made it onto blues, but at my own pace. Throughout, I was never pushed in any way, I made the decisions about when and how to progress to a steeper slope. It also helped that Lynne is a psychologist and understands that the ability to control what is happening is key - learning as an adult puts you out of your comfort zone far more than learning as a child.

A few years down the line, I am a passionate skier and ski 50+ days per season. That would never have happened without the right instructor.
snow conditions     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
pam w wrote:
Nah, it's far harder snow-ploughing on skinny skis with free heels and no edges. Raquettes, maybe.


can you snow plough on raquettes?
latest report     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Old Fartbag wrote:
Lady F could not learn in Group lessons. It was only with very patient, One to One instruction, that got her going. She is now a decent advanced skier.

The best instructors I've come across have been British/American/Canadian Australian/NZ....using native English speakers is a great help.

Ask here for recommendations on here......I can only help with Val D'isere.


You've got a point there. Same in my experience. Whilst I've come across some Alpine nationals that are good instructors my perception is the best have always been from English speaking countries.

My thoughts are that its a combination of the fluency of the language and understanding of the psyche that just makes things work better and also that for folks from the Alps learning to ski as an adult is not a 'normal' thing and they subconciously struggle to relate to it and thus to their pupil(s)?

Could be talking a lot of cr4p of course... rolling eyes
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Does she have her own ski boots ?

Getting a decent pair of well fitted boots helped my wife's confidence a lot...she could begin to feel the technique better in her feet .

Hire boots are generally terrible (too loose).

Also find an area with plenty of long blue runs (with no nasty pitches) and easy home runs?

- the where to ski books now have a mark out of 5 called true blue (Austria and France now available - Italy and Switzerland coming later).
ski holidays     
 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?
Lots of good advice on here.

I learned to ski at 47. I was not a natural. I cried at the side of reds- having the typical ‘why did you bring me up here??’ rant to my husband.

We went to Canada. Empty wide pistes. Native English speaking one to one lessons. Lightbulb was switched on. I remember the day I thought ‘I think I can enjoy this!’

Fast forward. I am 62. We spend between 10 and 12 weeks skiing each season. It is the main focus of our lives. I am so pleased I persevered- but it had to be at my pace in the right environment.

Also, being fit helps. There is a certain amount of core strength needed to cope with more challenging terrain/conditions.

I hope it clicks for her. But whatever the solution, she needs to find the place in her where it is fun.
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pam w wrote:
And there's something about skiing - what is it? You never hear (at least I've never heard ) someone say "My partner learnt to swim years ago and still does that pathetic breast stroke which avoids their hair getting wet and won't even dive off the 1 metre board". I had one friend (an ex- professional diver who had been in the Marines - no wimp) who just couldn't cope with skiing - despite having done it in Norway with the Marines. He had some good private lessons and, in between times, I tried to help him. At one point I asked him whether he was gripping the bottom of his ski boots with his toes. He looked at me, very surprised, and said "Yes!" Skiing just wasn't him. He became exhausted very quickly despite being fit (he runs an irrigation company and digs a lot of trenches....). His brain just wasn't in the right place, though he loves hill walking and can tramp all day. His somewhat overweight, not very sporty, wife did far better, listened to their instructor, did what she was told and laughed a lot.


@pam w nailed it! I realised I was doing that only when my arch muscles completely gave up and couldn't do it anymore, and it actually made my skiing better. I assume it comes from the instinct of shifting onto the toes to maintain balance, which is perfectly logical for most of the umpteen million years of human evolution, but highly problematic for skiing.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@GURNEY_SLADE, at the beginning of the turn there is one key movement which determines whether the turn will start with a snowplough or will be a parallel turn. I would guess that your wife subconsciously makes the movement to push her skis in to a snowplough shape, although there is a chance this is a deliberate tactic when she is looking to control her speed on terrain she is anxious on.

If she is making that move subconsciously I think it is very difficult to simply stop doing it, no matter what good advice she receives to be confident and to keep her skis parallel. I think it is much better to provide a more positive movement that she can consciously focus on, which will defeat the instinct to snowplough but will continue to give her the speed control she is looking for. I think that actively focusing on a good habit is a far more successful ploy that trying to stop a subconscious bad habit.

Worth noting that a very wide snowplough (as you mentioned your wife does) is not a terribly effective tactic for speed control. The further your feet are from your hips the bigger the edge angle the ski is tipped to. A ski on a big edge angle is more difficult to rotate (the key movement for snowplough turns) and is more likely to simply run along its edge without slowing down too much.
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thelem wrote:
@GURNEY_SLADE, how does she feel about this? Is she quite happy skiing a few runs near home? If so, does she have any reason to want to get better and ski harder runs?

Is the problem that you want to ski harder runs, and you'd like her to be there with you keeping up? If so, then it might make sense for her to have lessons, but she would be doing it as a favour to you, rather than because it's something she wants for herself.

Or as others have suggested, is she even that into skiing at all? Does she just come on the trip to keep you happy?

There's lots of good advice in the posts above, but I think you need to start with an honest conversation about what you both want to get out of your skiing trips.


This.
You can throw as many lessons (private or otherwise) as you like at the situation but unless she wants to change it’s not going to happen IMO.
If she’s still the same after 8 years then I’d say she’s not bothered and happy enough doing what she does and there’s nothing wrong with that-it’s just frustrating for you.
Test the water and see what she says about you going off skiing on your own-she might be glad of it! I just wonder if she goes skiing because you want to go. It sounds to me that whilst she enjoys the mountains, the views etc (who doesn’t?) she’s just not that into it.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
GURNEY_SLADE[/b], I can only suggest you don’t ski with your better half, you may be part of the problem - private lessons are probably required, good instructors are part psychologists and that’s what she needs [b]@
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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’m still a relative beginner, but it amazes me why instructors don’t teach hockey stops as soon as someone can snowplough. In fact, even before you can snow plough. What allowed me to attempt reds on my first time on a mountain was the knowledge that if things started to run away from me or I was starting to go slightly faster than I was comfortable; I could put in a hockey stop. This allowed me to regain my composure, reassess what was in front of me and carry on.

There’s no way I can stop myself with a snow plough when the speed gets beyond a certain point, or where the slope is steep. But knowing I can hockey stop gives me more confidence and helps overcomes my fears. But that’s just me. Confused
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Awdbugga wrote:
I’m still a relative beginner, but it amazes me why instructors don’t teach hockey stops as soon as someone can snowplough.
It teaches bad habits, which can easily become an instinctive move which is unhelpful later on in the skiing career. It's also a much more difficult thing to do well, and if a skier is nervous it can be more than they are capable of to pivot their skis up to 90 degrees in a very short period of time, and then blend in sufficient edge angle to bring themselves to a controlled stop.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Sun 27-01-19 11:17; edited 1 time in total
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Many tourist skiers get very lazy when it comes to skiing easy blue pistes. Instead of using these as an opportunity to work on their technique, they cruise these slopes without thinking much about trying to improve. My advice to these people would be to work hard on improving their body position, turns, edging, etc. on these types of runs to really perfect their technique. Then, hopefully, when it comes to more difficult runs, they can carry their technique onto these, without thinking that they’ve got to treat them somehow differently. Trying to do something different, and perhaps harder, on steeper pistes is a recipe for disaster.
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