Sunday 31 January 2016

Leaning to Ski is not Rocket Science

 Basically, skiing is about turning and stopping.  When I learned to ski the first time, there were only wooden skis and the way you turned was either a semi snowplow or a telemark turn. No such thing as steel edges or parabolic shapes. The first big improvement was the addition of steel edges which greatly increased the number of days you could ski. The skill of edging became important and skiing became easier. Over the years our skiing techniques changed mostly as a result of ski equipment improvement. It has always been a challenge to explore and adapt to these changes.  The most significant change recently for recreational skiing has been the parabolic shaped ski. All of a sudden this invention changed the time it takes to learning how to ski from weeks and year to a few hour and days.  Unfortunately, some of the teaching methods are still catching up.

My frustration as a ski instructor was that we are still teaching skiing the way we did 30 years ago. But I couldn't find a better way out until I finally discovered, that the transition from one turn to the next is the most important part of skiing.  It is the end of one turn and the start of the next, and this is where I started.  
My first attempt at a manual was really a collection of notes, about 150 pages. Much too long and disjointed.  I knew that I had all the information and parts but I needed to find the basics of moves and skills.  Mike McPeek  first showed me a rough sketch of the diagram above which I believe is a snapshot of the important first skills to learn and their relationship. If you examine my lessons closely you will see a trend. If you examine even further the lessons mirror the transition between turns. 
There is a progression. The first lesson starts from the outside ring and move directly into very rudimentary core of control skills and blending.   The subsequent lessons then concentrate on embellishing and finessing these skill and are arranged in a sequence of increasing difficulty.  
I'm continuously testing my method to find ways of improving or vindicating that my process is valid.
 Last week I saw a beginner give a most spectacular display of athletics, arms and legs all moving in different directions. What I  really saw was great balance and determination.  I couldn't resist and offered my services. Within 2 hours he was parallel skiing.  When that happens I think I am the most spectacular instructor but in reality it is the student that makes the difference.  In this case the student was a boarder, an quick learner and as I said has great balance and determination.   It is not rocket science.

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