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 Poster: A snowHead
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From his infancy I taught the Grom everything I knew about skiing. He spent time with elite athletes as well as ten per cent of each year in snow. This year, with him at 16 years of age, it was clear that the flow of advice was coming in the other direction and really improving my skiing. And at the end of the season we managed to get two weeks in the Valais. We really threw ourselves into long days on the hill and I progressed hugely on the last four days, which made me puzzled. I had applied the technique ideas from Alex at SMS and they had helped a lot, particularly his advice about shoulder inclination replicating the angle of the slope. I had applied the Grom’s advice about where to look (…just do what you told me when mountain biking, stop looking at your skis…) which had improved my position hugely. And ‘be dynamic all of the time…poised and active…’. But there was a mysterious quantum leap in my skiing at the close of the second week. And it got me thinking, we know that diagnosis and advice and then practice is essential - moving things from unconscious incompetence, to conscious incompetence, and then into conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. We know that the 10,000 hour rule is not entirely right, but it does reflect the importance of practice, doing the right things repeatedly, so skills develop and integrate into accomplished performance. Unlike many, we relish doing the same slopes over and over. Laps at Vercorin, the Grom floating through the trees and me repeatedly leaving and joining him on each lap as I tackled the powder-on-boiler-plate steeps, were simply golden days this Easter. Then laps on the 200m wide blue at Aminona…the best carving slope we have experienced - state of elevanate for sure - checking your tracks from the chair as you go up for another go. It seems to me that two weeks was a key. Ski - analyse - apply - practice. It was in the second week which things really came together - and we’d had two weeks at Christmas as usual, but this was punctuated, interrupted family skiing, not two people analysing the hell out of each others’ skiing and practising, Then practicing some more. Then having a coffee, then practising some more. One week and then perhaps another does not seem to be the same as two solid, intense weeks on the snow.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Interesting. I was lucky enough to get a fair amount of skiing in this winter but I started the EOSB far from top gear thanks to a now confirmed broken wrist. The enforced groomer skiing meant I skied fairly slow and steady and concentrated on what ( in my own mind) was doing basics moderately well though I did manage to unaccountably high side myself to face plough once. Result was by Fun Fursday and Friday I really kicked up a gear and had a few runs satisfyingly blowing the doors off.
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I'm sure two weeks are better than one, other things being equal. But one week of thoughtful skiing with a useful partner (at any level) would be better than two weeks of mindless blasting around.
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@pam w, absolutely - I emphasised the ‘analysis’ and then apply bit … that’s indeed essential … but then the duration of application and consolidation seems to be crucial ..:
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@valais2, I don't think 2 weeks is necessary, but obviously better than 1 week. Reasonable intensity, well directed practice and feedback however ...
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Whether over two weeks or five minutes it is super fun to learn something from your kid, and I bet they get a big charge out of it as well.
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@Scooter in Seattle, …yes…it’s great that the process is now a very mutual one…

…this year his explanation of why looking down is bad and of looking ahead was compelling, and indeed changed my skiing…

‘…when you look down you actually change your balance, in fact your balance goes to sh*t and you are no longer in a prepared for anything position…you need to look ahead, let your peripheral vision work on things near you, and focus on what you are going to deal with in a couple of seconds…so look up and ahead….’

VERY good advice….
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
A lot of snow heads like to downplay time needed on snow to really improve. Many only have 1 or 2 weeks skiing a year and nobody wants to think they are not particularly good. As myself and others have said before you'd be laughed at in any other skill (e.g. golf, or piano) if you said you were going to really improve practicing only 1 week per year or taking a month off between your two weeks! So yes duration is absolutely crucial.

Even when I was doing back to back seasons, I found it took at least 2 weeks to get back something close to where I was the season before. The real sharpness and confidence took even longer, and I think is something that really can only come through more time on snow.

In terms of your example it's hard to say if the focus on "deliberate practice" or the duration of 2 weeks was the main factor. They clearly both play a role. Also there is a concept of learning thresholds, which is basically when it "clicks together" and you make a large jump in ability. It may just be that you experienced that and it just happened to come in the 2nd week.
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@boarder2020, just for the avoidance of doubt, my comment was really only that 1 vs 2 weeks in and of itself isn't a key.
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@under a new name, I think 2 weeks is a much better than 1 week, it's 50% more practice! I'd say 14 days in a row is better than two 7 days with a gap (the caveat being they have the fitness for it, some people are dead after a week and probably better off recovering). During the gap you will certainly lose a little, meaning your first day back is maybe more getting into the swing of things again, rather than continuous improvement potential of 14 day trip. That said I don't think it's a huge difference, perhaps not even significant in some cases.
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I've no evidence to back this up, but I'm with @boarder2020 re learning thresholds - my take on this is that, beyond decent intermediate level, this is moving something for conscious to subconscious behaviour. I reckon the timeframe is variable, but I suspect the more advanced you get, the longer it takes to fully adopt new skills, probably from a combination of the skill taking longer to master, and that you may have more habits to unlearn (e.g. looking down, which is something I'm still working to eliminate when skiing, whereas I don't have that problem boarding). So the bad (or maybe good) news is that next time it may take, say, 3 continuous weeks for the next jump
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Quote:

I think 2 weeks is a much better than 1 week, it's 50% more practice!

Isn't that 100% more practice?
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I don't understand the "looking down" thing. Surely nobody skis looking down at their skis?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

Surely nobody skis looking down at their skis?

Probably not, but it's more about whether you're looking at the ground in near proximity (maybe 2 to 10 metres ahead), or further than that. My understanding is there are 2 issues with near proximity:
1. if you're scanning between 2m and 10m ahead, the variation in angle is significantly greater than between 10m and, say, 100m. I don't know how much of this scanning is done by moving the head v. moving the eyeballs, but I suspect that a significant part is the head, so this overall moving more body mass that you need to
2. If you're reacting based on vision in near proximity, you're more likely to be going through conscious processing. If you've already scanned the terrain when it was, say 20m ahead, and then looking another 20m ahead, you're letting your body's subconscious processing deal with the terrain underfoot. Assuming you're well trained, the subconscious processing should be much more efficient

I've no idea on the respective importance of these effects
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@pam w, regret to say that it’s a bad habit that can developed through certain drills or preoccupations. It’s actually very common, and I picked it up whilst focussing on the width of my stance and reducing A framing.
Once established it just stuck with me - very frequently glancing down and messing up my balance - ‘stop being a nodding dog’ said my partner but I only broke the habit when the Grom explained why it was so bad….
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
viv wrote:
...I reckon the timeframe is variable, but I suspect the more advanced you get, the longer it takes to fully adopt new skills, probably from a combination of the skill taking longer to master, and that you may have more habits to unlearn (e.g. looking down, which is something I'm still working to eliminate when skiing, whereas I don't have that problem boarding). So the bad (or maybe good) news is that next time it may take, say, 3 continuous weeks for the next jump


When you are a beginner you make big improvements relatively quickly. As you get more proficient gains are much more difficult and slow. This kind of diminished returns is pretty normal when learning any skill. If you take it to the extreme points of the spectrum a complete beginner will improve a lot over a week, whereas a pro downhill racer might spend a year training to take less than a second off his time. Eventually you reach a point where 1 or even 2 weeks of instruction per season is not going to be enough to significantly improve (probably sums up what is commonly referred to as "intermediate plateau").

Quote:

there are 2 issues with near proximity


3rd issue - you are missing out on all those sweet side hits snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@viv, excellent explanation re central and peripheral vision. This is picked up in ‘Joy of bike’ - the short lived but excellent mountain bike skills development website by Alex Bugosky


http://youtube.com/v/XEc3VspPvsM

It’s well known in mountain biking that ‘…look at the tree…hit the hit…’ is a real thing - aka ‘magnetic rock syndrome’. Alex B correctly relates the function in peripheral vision to brain function. Also see:

https://www.neurotrackerx.com/post/sports-vision-situational-awareness-part-2

In skiing I think it’s even more important - not only for micro-route finding in contexts like moguls - look where you want to be and let your peripheral vision process the immediate stuff and stuff around you - having your focus on the place you want to be means you can always maintain the correct stance - glancing down and checking your skis or the metre in front of you curves your spine out, changes your c of g, and makes the control of skis more conscious and less automatic. As the Grom said ‘…it wrecks your balance…’. Where you look and how you look is a very important thing … and I knew that from decades of mountain biking but it took the Grom’s strong reminder to get me to kick the ingrained habit.
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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?
pam w wrote:
I don't understand the "looking down" thing. Surely nobody skis looking down at their skis?

Actually, many do, especially beginners.

If you look at peeps on the green runs that are used by beginners, you may be shocked at the percentage of peeps skiing with their heads down. Picture this, beginners slowly ploughing their way from one side of the piste to the other, heads down. Only occasionally raise their head to glance at their surroundings.

Thankfully, most get out of that habit soon enough as they get more proficient with their feet. But as soon as the snow surface gets a little less than perfectly flat, many revert back to looking at the tip of their ski. I suppose they want to see exactly where the skis go...?

I also noticed the same when I see a lesson group go by. Just about all the students are spending a lot of time looking down at the skis!!! Shocked I’m guessing it’s a natural reaction, when the instructor talk at length of what your skis “should be” doing, you want to look to confirm?
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Yep looking at skis or the micro terrain immediately ahead is the reason that beginners and intermediates often lack any sort of situational awareness on the slopes. Whereas more advanced skiers ( at least those skiing for self preservation) are trying to map not only the slope but triangulate the movements of everyone on it.

Which itself is why you can drive improvement by repeated laps on the same quiet slope even if not actively drilling as you know where you'll turn, where the potential slick patches are and how to navigate away from traffic and thus have more headspace to think about the mechanics of skiing.
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abc wrote:
pam w wrote:
I don't understand the "looking down" thing. Surely nobody skis looking down at their skis?

Actually, many do, especially beginners.
.
.
.
I also noticed the same when I see a lesson group go by. Just about all the students are spending a lot of time looking down at the skis!!! Shocked I’m guessing it’s a natural reaction, when the instructor talk at length of what your skis “should be” doing, you want to look to confirm?


It's something we actively try to address, but yes, many students do try to see what their skis are doing, rather than feeling them. Unless we can break them of this habit they'll never be able to progress.

On a related note, keeping the head up can lead on to keeping it pointing in the overall direction of travel, rather then the way the skis are pointing at any given moment. The heads-down attitude means that there can be virtually no rotational separation, so I'll use exercises that combine the two elements, particularly on short turns, where keeping the head and shoulders up and pointing down the hill can sometimes bring something of a quantum leap for adult skiers stuck in a rut.
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@valais2, Interesting post,
I get the feeling that you had a light bulb epiphany the other week.
I dont know who Grom is and SMS means "Short Message Service" to me.
But... whatever it is it sounds great.
I'm looking forward to my granddaughter giving me a few pointers that help me to the next level, where ever that takes me.
Here and now, that the season is over, I can look back and feel realy good about my last day of skiing...
It may well have been the best day ever of skiing...
"Perfect day", everything came together, I dont ski as fast as I used to 30 years ago..
But I feel that even though I look down the steep bits with trepidation, I'm skiing better than I have ever done with more skill and style than ever before. (or I would like to think so)
Rounded off with a visit to the closing party of The Folie Douce where I danced my cloggs off before piloting my skis down through the slushy bumps to the Oxalys.

To Next Season, and even better!
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@DrLawn, indeed….let’s hope that things look up from here, and by next season the Ukraine conflict will be over, and economic issues have eased…

Grom = youngster (originally from surfing some say)
SMS = Swiss Mountain Sports - skiing and DH and other sports - owned by the brilliant Yves Caillet
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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!
boarder2020 wrote:
A lot of snow heads like to downplay time needed on snow to really improve. Many only have 1 or 2 weeks skiing a year and nobody wants to think they are not particularly good. As myself and others have said before you'd be laughed at in any other skill (e.g. golf, or piano) if you said you were going to really improve practicing only 1 week per year or taking a month off between your two weeks! So yes duration is absolutely crucial.

Even when I was doing back to back seasons, I found it took at least 2 weeks to get back something close to where I was the season before. The real sharpness and confidence took even longer, and I think is something that really can only come through more time on snow.

In terms of your example it's hard to say if the focus on "deliberate practice" or the duration of 2 weeks was the main factor. They clearly both play a role. Also there is a concept of learning thresholds, which is basically when it "clicks together" and you make a large jump in ability. It may just be that you experienced that and it just happened to come in the 2nd week.


Volume is good but deliberate practice is the key thing.

Most of us have done loads of driving but stopped getting better years ago. The reason is that we just drive rather than deliberately focus on doing things better.
I did get better at driving a 10-15 years ago. It was in the early years of cycle commuting when I learned a lot more about road position and hazard awareness through cycling which transferred to driving.

I've done quite a lot of skiing and still find that a couple of days of deliberate practice on something useful can make a useful change. This season I got a lot out of the idea of contraction of the inner leg to initiate turns and alter turn shape. Didn't take that much focused attention to build it in to my skiing.
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In golf we are advised to "practice how we play", meaning to have a specific purpose rather than just randomly hitting balls. Same here: skiing isn't practicing skiing. And practice isn't necessarily fun...it can be, or it can merely build satisfaction and confidence from you keeping your saw sharp. Still good stuff.
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jedster wrote:
boarder2020 wrote:
A lot of snow heads like to downplay time needed on snow to really improve. Many only have 1 or 2 weeks skiing a year and nobody wants to think they are not particularly good. As myself and others have said before you'd be laughed at in any other skill (e.g. golf, or piano) if you said you were going to really improve practicing only 1 week per year or taking a month off between your two weeks! So yes duration is absolutely crucial.

Even when I was doing back to back seasons, I found it took at least 2 weeks to get back something close to where I was the season before. The real sharpness and confidence took even longer, and I think is something that really can only come through more time on snow.

In terms of your example it's hard to say if the focus on "deliberate practice" or the duration of 2 weeks was the main factor. They clearly both play a role. Also there is a concept of learning thresholds, which is basically when it "clicks together" and you make a large jump in ability. It may just be that you experienced that and it just happened to come in the 2nd week.


Volume is good but deliberate practice is the key thing.

Most of us have done loads of driving but stopped getting better years ago. The reason is that we just drive rather than deliberately focus on doing things better.
I did get better at driving a 10-15 years ago. It was in the early years of cycle commuting when I learned a lot more about road position and hazard awareness through cycling which transferred to driving.

I've done quite a lot of skiing and still find that a couple of days of deliberate practice on something useful can make a useful change. This season I got a lot out of the idea of contraction of the inner leg to initiate turns and alter turn shape. Didn't take that much focused attention to build it in to my skiing.


Of course if your skiing is just pootling around with no real focus you are not going to improve much if at all regardless of volume, I don't think anyone would deny this.

If you want to be a good skier (of course this is quite subjective) volume is key. That's not to say you can't get to a decent level or make improvements with 1-2 weeks skiing a year and some good instruction. But your ceiling is always going to be pretty low. Anecdotally I've seen people improve massively while doing a season even without formal tuition, way more than you can hope to achieve in years doing only 2 weeks with even the best tuition. I myself went from beginner with 2 weeks of snowboarding to way better than my 2 weeks per year friends who had been riding 10+ years and had plenty of instruction in my first full season with no formal tuition (of course I was actively trying to improve).

I really don't think this idea of volume being very important is particularly controversial. In fact it's only skiing where anyone seems to think you can get good at something while doing it so little. Go to any tennis/golf instructor and tell them you want to get to a decent level but only practice 14 days a year and they will simply laugh and say don't waste your time.
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Quote:

I really don't think this idea of volume being very important is particularly controversial. In fact it's only skiing where anyone seems to think you can get good at something while doing it so little. Go to any tennis/golf instructor and tell them you want to get to a decent level but only practice 14 days a year and they will simply laugh and say don't waste your time.


I don't think anyone is saying that volume doesn't matter.
My season was key to getting to any kind of standard. But I had done less than 6 weeks before it so was very inexperienced.
By half way through the season people would tell me that I skied like someone who had done multiple seasons. I'm not a talented athlete - very much a "scrape into the school team with hard work" kind of talent. The reason was DELIBERATE PRACTICE.
I skied with people during my season who had done 4+ seasons and were still pretty rubbish.

One of my regular ski buddies skis at a similar standard to me (not quite but close). He IS a more talented athlete. But although he has been skiing since he went on school trips I reckon he has rarely skied more than 10 days a season. How has he managed to get to his level? DELIBERATE PRACTICE. He appears in my Les C Sidecountry trip report in the offpiste section. Now if he had done a ski season he would be better - no doubt. But with some aptitude and deliberate practice you can get to a good standard with 1-2 weeks a year. He's proven it!
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

it's only skiing where anyone seems to think you can get good at something while doing it so little.

Skiing is the only "sport" where you need to put in so much effort even to be on snow!

You can play tennis by walking down to the court. You can play golf by cycling to the greens. You can play football just outside your patio door!

There's still the cost of lift pass even if you live near skiable terrain!

The lack of opportunity has a lot to do with that.
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Quote:

Now if he had done a ski season he would be better no doubt.


Which is my point. We all have different ceilings of what we can achieve based on a bunch of factors (biology, natural "talent", previous sporting experience etc.). If you are only doing 1-2 weeks per year you are massively lowering your potential ceiling. Good holiday skier < good skier that started doing seasons as an adult < good skier that grew up in a ski resort, of course some exceptions and overlap but good look finding all the Olympians/guides/top instructors that only started skiing at 18 and never did a full season snowHead

Quote:

Skiing is the only "sport" where you need to put in so much effort even to be on snow!... The lack of opportunity has a lot to do with that.


Which is why those living in/near resorts are at a much bigger advantage. But it doesn't change reality. I don't live near any where I can ice climb and rarely get to do it, that doesn't mean I can somehow magically get good at it in 1-2 weeks per year. Instead I set my aspirations more realistically, you can still enjoy something and have fun doing it without getting good - in fact it can be quite liberating realising "I'm never going to be much good at this, so let's just enjoy it rather than stressing out about trying to improve".

It's probably now harder than ever to do a ski season with rising costs and lack of opportunities to work in Europe (for Brits at least). However, it's not as impossible as some make out. Plenty of completely normal people, myself included manage to make it happen. If you really want to make it happen you can - it doesn't have to cost the earth, but many want to prioritise different things. (Yes it's much harder if you are married and especially if you have children, but at some point we all pay for our bad decisions snowHead ).
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You know it makes sense.
Degrees of "being good" at skiing are almost all relative to others in respective peer groups. I can be among the best paying punters relative to others in a snowdome, better than most holidaymakers on a Blue cruiser in La Plagne and still be bottom quartile against locals at Red Mtn or down Mt Fort bumps or on KT22. The gulf between joes and top pros remains vast and usually the pros aren't even getting as much snow time as they would like and are crusing in a low gear by the time you even get to to compare yourself to them.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

you can still enjoy something and have fun doing it without getting good - it can be quite liberating realising "I'm never going to be much good at this, so let's just enjoy it rather than stressing out about trying to improve".

I think that describes majority of holiday skiers!

The one thing that actually makes a difference is accepting you're rubbish by the standard of what you could possibly achieve. Basically, removing the "stressing out" part of trying to improve. Trying to improve should be part of the fun, not part of the stress.

I used to participate in another forum, which shall remain unnamed, on which a substantial number of participants obsess about improvement, to the point of being "stress out". I just couldn't stand the self-inflicted mental anguish drama any more and end up stop participating. (I still reads occasionally for anything else interesting, but had to resist opening most "improvement related" topics)


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Mon 9-05-22 23:54; edited 1 time in total
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Degrees of "being good" at skiing are almost all relative to others in respective peer groups. I can be among the best paying punters relative to others in a snowdome, better than most holidaymakers on a Blue cruiser in La Plagne and still be bottom quartile against locals at Red Mtn or down Mt Fort bumps or on KT22. The gulf between joes and top pros remains vast and usually the pros aren't even getting as much snow time as they would like and are crusing in a low gear by the time you even get to to compare yourself to them.


So true. I have a friend who's seriously good (stood on the podium at a FWT 2* contest), but the pros are on a whole other level. Once saw logan pehota step off first gondola with zero warmup and pretty average conditions and throw a huge 360 down a 20ft cliff like it was nothing. Nobody was even filming it and he was actually skiing a contest later that day it was just a complete throwaway trick. Have seen turdell ski a few times and it's like watching a different sport - the fluidity and control you know straight away it's a pro

Did a season at red, yep those locals can ski! Junior free ski contest their is pretty humbling - watching a bunch of 12 year olds that are already better than you can ever dream of getting.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I've posted a link to skate to ski which may inspire some people in the off season to work on their skills

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=4970808#4970808

boarder2020 wrote:

Even when I was doing back to back seasons, I found it took at least 2 weeks to get back something close to where I was the season before. The real sharpness and confidence took even longer, and I think is something that really can only come through more time on snow.


That surprises me. I pack my skis away in May (after winding down at the end of April) and get them out when it begins snowing again - so lets say 5 months break and don't really feel I need any time to get back to where I was but you are maybe skiing at a much higher level than I am (marginal gains and all that). Mentally it is nice to spend a summer doing other stuff like cycling, MTBing, swimming in the lakes etc.
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Really good thread with some lovely insights and thoughtful comments.
What is it about skiing that makes the bulk of us want to be "better"! Two personal scenarios.
A couple of friends would take expensive tuition with a British ski school in Val d'isere, the improvements they made were zero!! They were in the "stressed" area about learning and improving and consequently couldn't open up and talk freely. The attitude was clearly you are not Basi 4 therefore you can not contribute anything meaningful! Sadly these two are friends "no more"!
The complete opposite of that scenario has taken place during the last 5 or so seasons with a ex pat mate living in Grindelwald. Here was a guy by his own admission limited intermediate.
No experience off-piste but very keen to develop in the powder. Neither my wife or I have any qualifications in teaching but have always taken interest in the technical aspects of the sport.
We know enough to identify good posture from poor posture. Good hand, arm position and use of poles etc, etc. We would take our mate into safe off-piste and encourage some simple and basic strategy. Each run, without exception, we would get comment, feed back and another question....
I would never profess to have "taught" anything I am sure my wife would say the same.
Our good friend is now skiing off-piste like a Swiss.
So two completely polar opposite scenarios which in my view go a long way to demonstrating the complexity of this game of getting better.
One personal observation regarding helping a fellow skier, it encourages self assessment to a great depth. "Am I really in the front of my boots, where is my weight through the turn??
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@Rogerdodger, I was going to post something similar yesterday but lost the post.

No value judgements involved because this is just how people are and their characters and means of learning.

My observation is that some people are instruction addicts and will do everything they can to do everything "by the book". This can lead to frustration when using different instructors who focus on different things and a less versatile approach to skiing (at the extreme if they haven't been coached on a particular terrain or condition they lack ability to try things and improvise).

At the other extreme are visual learners and mimics who like to chase others around and learn by doing. The obvious flaw is that they may not be learning the right things, achieving a visual "look" through sub optimal movement patterns, or plainly improvising hack technique. At the extreme these can be those that horrify "BASI skiers" and feed the "practice makes permanent" memes. And no doubt anyone who can't be bothered with lessons or dislikes the format is part of this bucket among most terminal intermediate backseaters.

Probably the best approach blends elements of both - a degree of solid technical foundation layered with mileage and improvisation/stretch adaption. The latter elements are however hard to teach in a structured way. Maybe repeat lessons over time (years) with known individuals instructors like on bashes is not a bad way of approaching it.
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Quote:

some people are instruction addicts and will do everything they can to do everything "by the book". This can lead to frustration when using different instructors who focus on different things and a less versatile approach to skiing (at the extreme if they haven't been coached on a particular terrain or condition they lack ability to try things and improvise).
They haven't gotten very good instructions!

"By the book" can be perfectly good way of teaching and learning, as long as "the book" includes how to apply the basic principle at varied settings.

One of my best breakthrough came when on the last day of a 4 day clinic, we were specifically told we were to spend the day "apply our skills to varied terrains"!
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Quote:

will do everything they can to do everything "by the book"


I think this is one of the problems with skiing. There is too much emphasis on "perfect" technique. In every other sport performance is dictated by outcome, in skiing many are more concerned about how it looks visually.

Case in point skinning up Rogers pass with a friend who likes to think of himself as a bit of a ski technique connoisseur. We watch a guy ski a really nice line with a big back flip. My friend "nice line but he's way too backseat and his technique is horrible. Later found out the skier was tanner hall.

Another friend has spent loads of time getting instruction and now has beautiful technique. However get her off a mellow groomer and she goes to pieces. Her goals (be able to ski backcountry lines with her bf and his friends) would have been much better met by learning some survival ski skills (side slipping/jump turns etc.) than spending ages developing the perfect carve.

In sport we see so many technical outliers e.g. Usain bolt's technique would be considered inferior to many other sprinters, Jim furyk became a top golf pro with a very unorthodox swing. We also see the best athletes have way more variability between attempts than the "good" athletes, even in closed sports/activities like triple jump and piano playing.

It's not hard to see why huge amounts of flexibility would be much more ideal for skiers who have to deal with constantly changing conditions than a fixed "hardwired" technique that shouldn't be strayed from.

This isn't to say that sometimes moving from what's generally considered "poor" technique to a more standard one isnt often a good option or that instruction doesn't work. But if someone finds something that works for them based on their individual biology/skillset and can consistently reproduce it achieving a good outcome there needs to be a better reason to change it than simply "that's not how it looks in whatever book an instructor is trained to teach".
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

will do everything they can to do everything "by the book"


I think this is one of the problems with skiing. There is too much emphasis on "perfect" technique. In every other sport performance is dictated by outcome, in skiing many are more concerned about how it looks visually.

Problem with skiing? Or just problem with BASI? ('too much emphasis on "perfect" technique')

I learned to ski in north America. I didn't experienced much of "prefect" technique emphasis. We all hacked our way down the mountain (mind you, mountain, not piste). Only a very small percentage of skiers take tuition past their first winter! It's actually something the instructors moan about over here, that people don't seem to take lessons to "improve". I've taken some ad hoc lessons/clinics above intermediate level. Rarely there was "too much emphasis" on technique. Much emphasis were put on "how to handle this or that terrain/condition". That's how lesson takers perceive lessons, and that's how the instructions were packaged/delivered.
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abc wrote:
I learned to ski in north America. I didn't experienced much of "prefect" technique emphasis. We all hacked our way down the mountain (mind you, mountain, not piste). Only a very small percentage of skiers take tuition past their first winter! It's actually something the instructors moan about over here, that people don't seem to take lessons to "improve". I've taken some ad hoc lessons/clinics above intermediate level. Rarely there was "too much emphasis" on technique. Much emphasis were put on "how to handle this or that terrain/condition". That's how lesson takers perceive lessons, and that's how the instructions were packaged/delivered.


The US ski instruction market has its own challenges not least the sheer number of retired/hobbyist instructors and lack of drive of anyone to instigate repeat/recurring or even multiday tuition with the same instructor outside of extortionate private lessons. It's not so different to Europe though except for the fact that lots of Euros went through multiple weeks of classes as kids and the rise of independent ski schools that offer a more coached/ongoing relationship. I do think because of the avalanche thing the Euro attitude is learn on a piste first which leads lots of skiers to define themselves as a "piste skier" whereas it would be stranger in the US and Canada where lessons covered varied terrain. I always contrast prospective BASI L2 candidates search for the "right" ski with Canada's run what you brung approach - we'll be skiing all over the mountain eh!

If you haven't billygoated through a (small) cliff band because you went with friends or followed an instructor it's hard to know how to use your perfect piste short turns in that environment Laughing
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@abc, probably more of a euro thing, but I've met enough North Americans with technique obsessions to know it's not unheard of there either. The idea of learning how to handle specific terrain is a much better approach imo.

@Dave of the Marmottes, there is something to be said for ending up in terrain way over your head and having to survival ski. While it's not something you want to be doing too often it's a valuable skill.

I think the set up of n America resorts with inbounds off piste and ability to safely ski a much wider range of terrain definitely speeds up the learning process.
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Our instructor in France believes that we should be able to ski any slope on any ski and in any condition. He doesn’t really go into the technical side at all, just puts us in situations where we are out of our comfort zone and therefore forced to improve over time.
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