I especially thank the men and women of the highway crew who do an AMAZING job of making the road up to the mountain safe for us to travel. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is 3 feet of January powder or, a half inch of March ice they make sure we can get there by staying up all night.
Even when my pants are clean, I always hoist my first glass of apres in thanks to the hundreds of people who made the day possible.
It takes a helluva lot of people to make Happy Pants! 🙂
A heartfelt handshake and a thank-you go a long way. If you saw their pay stub, a hefty tip at season’s end goes a fair distance. A beer, or a bowl, whatever suits your style of thanks-giving…..
For our poor and snow-deprived friends in the southern hemisphere, it is hard to imagine skiing whilst floating about a pool in 99 degree heat. OK..no…it isn’t that hard.
But, as every year before, I start wondering what that first run of the season will be like. It’s like that first tee shot in the spring. It might go down the middle of the fairway or it might well fly into the woods, ricochet off a gopher and roll into the men’s water closet. No doubt, some practice sessions will be required.
Here is an article from Derek Tate of the Irish Snowsports Instructors Assoc. on how to make your practice sessions more productive. Last winter I put up a series of articles on a few things I do to be more productive.
I know many of senior skiers prefer to teach themselves. Even if you do take lessons, remember..you are not with your coach every day. Most days, YOU are your own coach. Having the skills to structure your own learning sessions is absolutely essential to effortless, effective…FUN!
About the author, Derek Tate holds a postgraduate diploma in Sports Coaching and has completed the first year of the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). He holds the BASI International Ski Teacher Diploma and the IASI Alpine Level 4 Euro Ski Pro. He is a former trainer of ski instructors for the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and current Head of Education for the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors (IASI). He lives near Chamonix, in France where he is director of British Alpine Ski Schools (BASS) in Chamonix and Megeve.
The man knows what he is talking about. Here’s Derek…
Statements such as ‘correct practice makes perfect’ and ‘practice makes permanent’ are commonly used in relation to improving skills and there is no doubt that without sufficient practice you cannot expect to develop your skills to a high level let alone achieve mastery.
But practice needs to be more sophisticated than simple repetition. It needs to be purposeful and if possible deliberate.
In this lesson I will look at what purposeful and deliberate practice are and how you can ensure that the time you spend developing your skiing skills is time well spent. I will also look at what ‘mastery’ is and how you can remain motivated to achieve such high skill levels. What is purposeful practice? Anders Ericsson (2016) differentiates purposeful practice from ‘naive practice’ in that the latter is where you simply do something repeatedly expecting that the repetition alone will improve your performance.
Purposeful practice, on the other hand, is thoughtful, structured and focused.
There are several key aspects to purposeful practice;
Well defined specific goals, focus on the task in hand, ongoing and immediate feedback and getting outside of one’s comfort zone .Goal setting is vital in so many areas of life and the acronyms SMART and SMARTER (Lockerbie & Tate, 2012) are well established pathways to both setting and achieving your goals. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, broken down into chunks of time, create enthusiasm and have some kind of benefit or reward.
Focusing on the task in hand was covered in detail in the first lesson titled ‘Focus Your Attention’ (Tate, 2017) and by developing this skill you can ensure full engagement on skills that you are practicing.
Without feedback there is no way of measuring your progress or knowing how you are doing. Essentially, feedback can come from an extrinsic source, such as a teacher or watching video playback, or an intrinsic source i.e. from you, as you are doing the task. The latter is very important especially as the skill becomes more reflexive and ultimately is more likely to lead to optimal experience (flow).
Getting outside of one’s comfort zone “ is perhaps the most important part of purposeful practice” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016 p.17). It is too easy to stick with what is familiar and comfortable but in order to improve you need to challenge yourself beyond what you can already do.
There is a clear link here with the ‘challenge skills balance’ aspect of flow (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). What is important is that the challenge is just enough to stretch your performance rather than push beyond your limits. Which areas of your performance do you need to practice most?
Can you allocate sufficient time to this practice?
Will you practice with others or alone? What makes practice deliberate rather than just purposeful?
Deliberate practice includes all the components of purposeful practice plus the following; guidance from a teacher or coach, rigorous formal training methods, a well developed field with experts who have achieved mastery and effective mental representations
Guidance from a teacher or coach can not only help you to learn what and how to practice but also helps to ensure you learn the correct fundamental movement patterns from early on, reducing the need to unlearn bad habits.
For this reason finding a good teacher is important. One of the suggested defining outcomes of deliberate practice is, that because it demands rigorous formal training methods, it is not always fun! You are often required to work outside of your comfort zone and at “near maximal effort” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016 p.99).
July, 2017 by Optimal Snowsports & Parallel Dreams Coaching 2
“The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016)
Deliberate practice also requires a well developed field with experts who have achieved mastery. A sport like Alpine skiing clearly has such a field with experts who perform to an exceptional level across a number of disciplines.
Finally, deliberate practice needs effective and sophisticated mental representations that are developed over time to correspond to external reality. In skiing this takes the form of mental imagery and forming these mental pictures comes from a combination of knowledge, understanding, seeing and feeling.
Higher level performers often use mental imagery as an integral part of their practice.
What is Mastery and where does talent fit into the equation?
It has been widely publicized that to reach mastery in any domain takes around 10,000 hours of quality practice (ideally deliberate practice). The actual number of hours required is difficult to nail down but suffice to say “nobody develops extraordinary abilities without putting in tremendous amounts of practice” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016 p.96).
Mastery can be defined as comprehensive knowledge and/or skill in a particular domain.
For us, in skiing, this translates to ‘expert performance’. The are many examples of expert performers but one that springs to mind is the American slalom specialist, Mikaela Shiffrin who also epitomises the importance of deliberate practice. See 7 Keys to Drill Mastery https://youtu.be/96VN_Brmnz0.
The nature vs nurture debate often comes up when discussing ‘talent’. The best description that I have found on talent is by Scott Barry Kaufman who says, “Instead of treating talent as an ‘innate ability’, with all the knowledge and skills fully present at birth, I think talent is more accurately defined as a predisposition and passion to master the rules of a domain (2013, p. 247).
So, the good news is that no matter where you start you can get better with purposeful practice.
How do you maintain motivation?
It’s been established that to become an expert performer requires a great deal of quality practice, but how do you maintain motivation? Once again goal setting is all important here.
If you follow the SMARTER process then you are more likely to maintain interest and it is interest that shapes your motivation. Understanding your learning style will also have a positive impact on how you structure your practice and even better if you can build learning flexibility where you move through the learning cycle using all nine ways of learning (see Peterson & Kolb, 2017 for more information).
Developing ‘Grit’ can benefit your ability to keep practicing and pursuing your goals.The components of grit are passion and perseverance over the long term despite set backs and failure (Kaufman & Duckworth, 2015).
Ultimately falling in love with the activity will fuel your motivation and help give you grit. Remember: Learn it, Love it, Live it.
Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0 to find out more. http:// learningfromexperience.com
About the author Derek Tate holds a postgraduate diploma in Sports Coaching and has completed the first year of the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). He holds the BASI International Ski Teacher Diploma and the IASI Alpine Level 4 Euro Ski Pro. He is a former trainer of ski instructors for the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and current Head of Education for the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors (IASI). He lives near Chamonix, in France where he is director of British Alpine Ski Schools (BASS) in Chamonix and Megeve.
Want to improve your performance this winter and learn how to practice more purposefully? Then book a lesson with Derek at BASS. To find out more go to http://basschamonix.com/ lessons2
Below is a reply I posted on the “Harb” thread. Over the coming months I will be tackling some of these questions one at a time and doing a deeper dive regarding the inconsistencies in ski school services.
Here is one question to get you thinking…Obviously according to the original comment, Aspen is doing things differently and they DO have a reputation of having a great school. SO, In light of the size of Vail Resorts and now, ASPEN/KSL, what happens to the relevancy of PSIA if either or both of those behemoths decides to create their own in-house certification programs and not require their instructors to become PSIA certified?
One immediate answer is clear. Between the two corporations they employ many thousands of instructors. At the moment, PSIA’s long term survival is more dependent on how well they serve those two companies than it is on its membership.
On discussions of bio-mechanics…I have spent enough time on EpicSKi (R.I.P) and many other online forums to know that there is no such thing as consensus amongst instructors.
On generalizations…mine, based on observed behavior at 17 resorts are no less valid than yours based on observations at one resort. There are some very real studies that indicate something is deeply wrong.
1) Only 10% of visit-days result in the sale of a school “product”
2) 70% of people just finishing a lesson either were “not likely to” or “would not” recommend lessons to friends or family
3) Membership surveys show that older instructors are accepting of the role PSIA plays but not necessarily enthusiastic or engaged. The younger the instructor, the more dissatisfied they are, on some questions, 2.5 out of a max of 5.
These aren’t good numbers. The problem is there are many studies asking “what” is happening but they don’t get to the bottom of “why” it is happening.
Surely, some of the customer’s dissatisfaction comes from some expectations based on the price. There is no reason to conclude that an L2 at Vail gives a better lesson than an L2 at Snowbowl, but the difference in price of those identical products is $900 versus $180.
I am also intrigued by the information that PSIA has been involved in the development of software based Do-It-Yourself lessons. For the long term health of the industry, I think it’s a good thing. Proficiency surely plays a role when a customer is making the decision to continue skiing or quit and take up knitting. DIY learning tools offer proficiency at a MUCH lower price point than even the cheapest school lesson.
Compare these two messages…
1) “Take multiple PSIA lessons over 4 years at $300 each to reach level A proficiency”
2) “Buy this combination of hardware/software with PSIA lessons embedded and have the same 4 years worth of lessons for $250.
One has to be curious why an organization, that has resisted codifying a concrete progression for it’s members, would do that for the open consumer market first.
This is “personal” only in an indirect way. I have a ton of friends and acquaintances who pay their dues and teach and do a great job. they are getting the shaft but are afraid to speak out. So, I do what I can for them.
There are many questions and very few answers and THAT combination always piques my interest.
Later this summer I will be putting up an article on the astonishing new thing the OSV in Austria has done with their program. IN a nutshell, they went out and ASKED the public what THEY wanted to learn. That simple step triggered a brand new 528 page manual and the statement that “carving is out and elegance is in”
For many decades, a relative handful of “experts” have decided what the customer SHOULD learn without ever once asking the public what they wanted. It took some courage for the OSV to do that.
Nationalist snow sport organizations have a long history in reacting to market changes at a very glacial pace. How many years between the introduction of snow boards and the first certification of a snowboard instructor? How many decades passed between the first freestyle world championship and the first certification of a freestyle instructor?
In part, the poor market penetration and high levels of customer dissatisfaction can be blamed on an ongoing, major chasm between what the skiing public wants and what experts are willing to offer.
While I find the embedding of PSIA teaching in a software product as a step in the right direction, the Austrian market study may prove that the “carving lessons in a can” may still not be what the public wants.
In the end the long term value of that effort may accrue to the PSIA brand and to the resorts but not to the membership. What happens to how a customer sees YOU, the instructor, when they show up with this PSIA branded technology and ask “I am stuck on Lesson 4.2 and need some help” ..and you have NO IDEA what they are talking about?
Hey Senior Skier Network fans! I want to introduce you to Europe’s best selling author of Spanish language ski books, Carlos G. Castillo.
I want to share with you a Senior Skiers Network exclusive preview of his new book – “Bailar – Esquiar – Fluir” (Dance-Ski-Flow). The excerpt is in the original language and I have included a machine translation to English as well. There is a translation button at the top of the right hand column of the blog page.
I like the way he describes skiing as entering a “state of fluency” 🙂
Movements are like words. The more patterns of movement you know the more fully and completely you can express yourself on the snow. The more you know -The more you will FLOW!
Señores y señoras de atención!
Demos la bienvenida a Carlos a la Senior Skiers’ Network!
With four ski books published since 2003, Carlos is the best selling author of Spanish language alpine skiing manuals in the world.
He has thirty years’ experience as a ski instructor and coach. Born in Spain in 1966, Carlos has worked in the instructional profession in Spain, Austria, the USA, and Argentina.
When he isn’t busy cranking out books, Carlos works for the Vocational Training Institutes of Ski-Technicians in Spain, collaborating with many other ski schools and federations related to winter sports.
He is also an active blogger and works with the leading Spanish snow sports website NevaSport.com, a channel with more than seventy million page views per year.
“Fluir en el esquí y, como ya lleva unos años en “un cajón”, hoy lo saco a que respire un poco. Espero poder meterle mano y terminarlo de una vez, juas, mientras tanto, he aquí un extracto…
Si hay una actividad humana donde sea sencillo fluir, o adivinar que los demás están sumidos en un estado de fluencia, es la danza. Lo bueno de ella, además, es que no hay que dominarla para poder disfrutarla. Ni saber para ver cuando alguien baila bien. Bailar nos puede enseñar a esquiar mejor si nos fijamos en cómo seguimos y nos sumergimos en el ritmo de la música. También puede enseñarnos a practicar el esquí como una experiencia autotélica que, a su vez, nos da pistas sobre otros aprendizajes vitales.
Percibimos la música a través del sentido del oído y, utilizando nuestra capacidad de abstracción espacial y temporal, movemos el cuerpo al compás de ese estímulo sugestivo que sentimos. El ritmo está presente tanto en el esquí como en el baile y, bajo el punto de vista de las cualidades perceptivo-motrices, se entiende con toda la facilidad de su árida explicación: llanamente, el ritmo es la capacidad de predecir y organizar el movimiento para adaptarnos a los estímulos regulares del entorno. Ese foco en algo que, además, me resulta agradable, produce un estado de auto-atención en el que percibimos, a la vez, conectados, nuestro cuerpo y el medio estimulante. Entramos así en un estado de fluencia que nos induce a ensimismarnos aún más en la actividad.
En ese estado “fluyente” del baile, muchos nos conformaremos con un sencillo movimiento rítmico y, otros, se sentirán estimulados a probar un paso nuevo, algún movimiento más complicado dándole su toque personal atlético, artístico o incluso cómico; y lo mismo ocurrirá, de forma individual o compartida, con una o varias parejas. Esa pulsión natural de enriquecer la experiencia, aumentando la dificultad o la complejidad, propicia más oportunidades de diversión pero, también, favorece estados de fluencia aún más frecuentes y profundos, pues el desafío atrayente y accesible induce a esa auto-atención disfrutada, tan cercana a la felicidad mientras se experimenta.
En el esquí, como al bailar, también percibimos el entorno a través de los sentidos, principalmente el del tacto y el del propio movimiento: el sentido cinestésico. Si hacemos como con la música, y prestamos atención a esas sensaciones del tacto bajo los pies, la aceleración, la gravedad… interactuaremos con esa información externa hasta fundirnos con ellas en el entorno. Esos patrones repetidos una y otra vez, lo que sentimos circularmente, nos permitirá predecir, organizar y regular los movimientos con precisión y armonía, haciéndonos esquiar con eficiencia. Así, al igual que llegamos a convertirnos en una extensión humana de la música que escuchamos, si nos centramos en los estímulos sensoriales del esquí podemos confundirnos con el entorno por el que descendemos, como un elemento más en danza con la naturaleza que nos invita a su baile.
Al igual que con la danza, si vamos añadiendo a nuestro esquí ligeras complicaciones, pequeñas mejoras y pequeños desafíos, no sólo enriqueceremos nuestro repertorio de destrezas y la competencia global con la que esquiamos, sino que aumentaremos la frecuencia y la calidad de esos estados de auto-atención perfectos en los que todo parece fluir. Las personas que mejor esquían suelen decir que en su deporte nunca se termina de aprender. Y es verdad. Por eso, en el esquí, ya que siempre tendremos oportunidades de encontrar un desafío un poco mayor y proporcionado a nuestras habilidades, de introducir variaciones según nuestro estilo y de practicar solos o en compañía de otras personas – exactamente igual que con la música – continuamente encontraremos ocasiones de entrar y gozar esos estados de fluencia, de disfrutar mientras nos preparamos para ellos, y de recrear luego con satisfacción, en la memoria, los que hemos experimentado.”
Translated by Bing….
Today I share one of the chapters of a little book that, due to personal circumstances, I have not yet been able to finish. It will be called, I believe, Flow in the ski and, as it has been a few years in “a drawer”, today I take it to breathe a little. I hope I can put a hand in it and finish it once and for all, in the meantime, here is an excerpt …
If there is a human activity where it is easy to flow, or to guess that others are in a state of fluency, it is dance. The good thing about it, besides, is that you do not have to dominate it to enjoy it. Not even know to see when someone dances well. Dancing can teach us to ski better if we look at how we follow and we immerse ourselves in the rhythm of music. It can also teach us to practice skiing as an autotelic experience which, in turn, gives us clues about other vital learning.
We perceive music through the sense of hearing and, using our capacity for spatial and temporal abstraction, move the body to the compass of that suggestive stimulus we feel. Rhythm is present both in skiing and in dance, and from the point of view of perceptive-motor qualities it is understood with all the ease of its arid explanation: flatness, rhythm is the ability to predict and organize movement To adapt to the regular stimuli of the environment. That focus on something that, moreover, pleases me, produces a state of self-care in which we perceive, at the same time, connected, our body and the stimulating environment. We thus enter into a state of flux that induces us to become more deeply involved in activity.
In this “flowing” state of dance, many will settle for a simple rhythmic movement, and others will feel stimulated to try a new step, some more complicated movement giving their personal athletic, artistic or even comical touch; And the same will happen, individually or in a shared way, with one or more partners. This natural drive to enrich the experience, increasing difficulty or complexity, provides more opportunities for fun, but also favors even more frequent and deep states of flux, because the attractive and accessible challenge induces that self-care enjoyed, so close To happiness while experiencing.
In skiing, as in dancing, we also perceive the environment through the senses, especially the touch and the movement itself: the kinesthetic sense. If we do as with music, and pay attention to those sensations of touch underfoot, acceleration, gravity … we will interact with that external information until we merge with them in the environment. Those patterns repeated over and over, what we feel circularly, will allow us to predict, organize and regulate movements with precision and harmony, making us ski with efficiency. Thus, just as we become a human extension of the music we hear, if we focus on the sensory stimuli of skiing we can confuse ourselves with the environment through which we descend, as an element in dance with nature that invites us to your dance.
As with dance, if we add to our skiing slight complications, small improvements and small challenges, we will not only enrich our repertoire of skills and the global competition with which we ski, but increase the frequency and quality of those states. Perfect self- attention in which everything seems to flow. People who ski better often say that in their sport, they never stop learning. And it’s true. That is why in skiing, since we will always have opportunities to find a challenge that is a little bigger and proportioned to our abilities, to introduce variations according to our style and to practice alone or in the company of other people – just like with music – continuously We will find occasions to enter and enjoy these states of fluency…
If I have learned anything after a couple months of blogging it is this…Writing about controversial subjects is a bit like being the mole in the Wack-a-mole game at CHuckie Cheese. Stick your head out of the hole on some subjects and by-golly someone is bound to take a poke at it!
There is likely not a single person in all the world of American ski instruction more controversial nor more loved and hated, than Harald Harb and his “PMTS” system of learning. The western style range-wars over PMTS on the EPIC forums are, well, …epic. The posts and comments about PMTS there are at one turn excoriating and the next, adoration. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground in how people feel about him and his method.
Part of my duties as the Senior Skiing Crash-Test-Dummy is to go out into the ether online and track down useful Do-It_Yourself learning tools. I actually work at using the learning tools exactly as described by their authors and evaluate whether or not a person can actually improve their performance using them.
Part of the disconnect between the skiing public and the standard ski school fare is that customers expect that after all these decades, learning to ski should be formulaic. I tend to agree with them.
Making competent parallel turns really isn’t very difficult…unless…you started out learning in a snowplow and then “moved up” to stemmed turns. To make a decent parallel turn you really have to “unlearn” all the stuff you were taught as a beginner.
When Harb introduced his “direct-to-parallel” methods back in the 90s he was immediately set upon by the instructional establishment. He was branded a heretic for parting with the accepted establishment pedagogy and considered by some to be a traitor to his US Demo Team roots. Perhaps,the worst thing about PMTS was that it worked. It worked then and it still does today.
With several hundred instructors certified in his methods and some ski schools accredited to teach it, his persistence has paid off. You don’t have to like the guy, but you have to admit his “direct-to-parallel” methods are effective.
His methods may not jibe with traditional ski school dogma, but who cares about that? Let’s all pretend like the customer is the most important person in the equation.
If a particular method gets beginners making competent parallel turns during the first lesson, we need to embrace them for the customer’s sake..and our own. It delivers to that customer expectation that learning should be formulaic.
The point is to simply things and not make them seem impossibly complicated..if for no other reason than…they are NOT all that complicated from the perspective of the average recreational skier. You know? Those people who PAY for lessons?
With the stage set, let’s begin…I started with this video on YouTube…If you have the athleticism and the persistence, eventually your skiing will look like this…
But, you have to start somewhere….
I watched that video several times about his “phantom move” with the inside ski and then watched the one about the “Super Phantom” a dozen times. Then I took it to the snow.
I got off the chair and there at the top is a 200 yard long section that is almost flat. I was cruising along on flat skis, intending to just ride down to the steeper part of the run before I started. Typical of me, I was ready to get started with this new stuff so, I figured, what the heck, let’s just try that Super-Phantom thing.
I picked up the tail of my left ski and tipped it to the left…BAM! I turned left so fast it almost threw me over the handlebars to the right. I was only going 3-4 mph. If you have been having trouble with short radius quick turns..This is a move that will help you past that plateau.
If any of you had been following me on a another on-line magazine, you would know that in the 2014-15 season I had donated my body to science and went chest deep into learning Clendenin Method Skiing. I recently revisited that experiment on this blog (read more).
That effort woke me up to the tremendous value of the inside ski in controlling speed and shaping turns. Once I knew what I was looking for, you can see the beginning of this concept in the skiing of Jean Claude Killy inthe late 1960s. Ingmar Stenmark used the inside ski to dominate World Cup racingi the 70s and become the winning-est racer in history.
Even my school director in 1978 had us teaching students in a wedge to turn left, not by leaning on the right ski but, by picking up the left ski. Seems like a small differentiation, but it is monstrously important in your progress toward advanced skiing.
The only thing that changes more slowly than a glacier is “ski instruction”. Stenmark made clear use of his inside ski in the 70s. Only recently, has the instructional establishment made grudging references to the inside ski…after 40 years of chanting a mantra ..”outside ski…ommm…outside ski…ommmm…outside ski”.
After 20 years of the shaped-ski driven carving craze, the OSV, the organization that develops the standards for ski instructors in Austria, has declared “carving” to be a niche skill rather than the be-all-end-all of skiing. (More on that here)
They came to that conclusion by actually going out and ASKING recreational skiers what they wanted to learn. Go figure…imagine actually asking a customer what they want…but…I digress.
My personal battle-cry is “Two Feet – Four Edges”. Basically I am a cheapskate. I PAID for two boots, and two skis with four edges so by-gum, I am determined to use them all at anytime, anywhere, in any conditions to execute my intention for any turn.
I am sure they would both say they are entirely different, but my feet tell me otherwise. The basic difference between Harb and Clendenin is a matter of edge angle and WHEN you use the Little-Toe-Edge of the inside ski.
Clendenin Method leads to a steered-smeared “drifted” turn at low edge angles and Harb Systems leads to a high edge angle turn. Clendenin Method is a “go-slow” method and Harb Systems is a “go-fast” method. Both are useful and both lead to a level of control over turn shape that a singular focus on the outside ski simply cannot provide…ever…period.
In general terms, the free Youtube (here)videos on the Harb System are not effectively serialized so you may have to study them all and decide when each one is appropriate to tackle next..or just buy the organized materials here. Harb Ski Systems
The product values are ho-hum. I don’t care for long explanations about why it’s better than someone else’s method nor why what is being taught is going to be really hard to master. I am that “Just shut up and show me person”
So, if you want to amp up your performance of high speed, high edge angle, carved turns, you owe it to yourself to study Harb System skiing. Even if it doesn’t fix everything, it gives you a kit full of new tools and that is ALWAYS a good thing.
Don’t worry about the high-angst declarations of “experts” on either side of the public argument. By studying methods outside the establishment dogma you are educating your feet and body to do things other skiers can’t for no better reason than they haven’t been exposed to it.
That, too, is ALWAYS a good thing. Especially when it’s free (or less than a day’s lesson fees).
So Geezer Guys & Gals, senior skiers aren’t any different than our younger counterparts. We want to be in control, have fun and look good doing it! To accomplish these goals, it might be a good idea to schlep off for a specialized senior skiing lesson lesson once in awhile or, apply ourselves the process of self-coaching. It isn’t as difficult as some folks think to teach old dogs, new tricks.
But whoa Nelly! Not every ski school out there has certified Senior Specialists. PSIA-AASI is the organization that develops standards for instructors and administers proficiency testing. Actually, PSIA-AASI is 10 separate companies, one “national” company and nine regional divisions.
Each has its own tweaks to the standards and to top that off, on-resort training staff may add to or modify some aspects of the training process. The idea of “standards” in that environment has to be loosely interpreted.
Only the Western and Northwestern divisions have programs that certify “Senior Specialists”.
The Northern Rocky Mountains division has been using examiners from the Northwestern division to certify people in their division.
I have attempted to make contact with clinicians and education staff members at division levels and the national organization in regard to senior-focused programs, with no response.
Whatever it is they offer to senior skiers seems to be a closely guarded secret. If you want to know what it is, you have to pay for the lessons. I recommend you call ahead to the snow sport school where you will being skiing and ask them what they have.
The manuals can be summarized this way; “Senior skiers are risk averse, mentally and physically challenged and tend to get cold easily” There is almost nothing in the manuals about how to modify movement patterns for someone who experiences joint or back pain when they ski.
Some ski areas have instructors who operate clinics especially for senior skiers but these clinics aren’t standardized. It is not clear if they offer anything new or different, in terms of movement patterns, from the usual ski school fare. Many of these clinics are simply social in nature, a chance to ski and learn with people your own age.
The problem is this, many of us have sore parts.Skiing can be hard on your back, hips, knees, and ankles.
It is important to have an instructor who knows how to modify standard ski school methods to alleviate the aches and pains.
Back in 2015, I was fortunate to chat with some folks from The Over the Hill Gang (OTHG) at Steamboat Springs in Colorado.. In 24 hours, 35 of them had snapped up all the slots in two camps put on by the coaches from the Clendenin Method ™ organization. After the camps were completed, they were uniformly giddy about the transformation in their skiing. So, what sets CM ™ apart from any other method out there? John Clendenin.
Clendenin Method offers a way for seniors to ski smoothly and comfortably.
John Clendenin is not your ordinary senior skiing instructor. He is a two-time World Freestyle Champion, winning back-to-back in 1973 and 1974. In April of last year, he was inducted into the US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. John knows a thing or two about skiing.
The mogul competitions in those days were wild, edge of insanity affairs. The body takes a lot of abuse skiing that way. John told me, “I realized that if I was going to keep skiing later into life, I had to find a way to take the THUMP out of skiing. We all have a finite number of THUMPS and mine were all used up.”
John studied the masters, Killy, Stenmark, Brooksbanks, Mosely, Plake and many others and distilled the essence of their styles into his trademarked CM. He opened his own school in 1994, and is still headquartered in Aspen. He now offers camps in Aspen, Steamboat, Park City, Beaver Creek, Portillo, Chile and Val d’Isere..
The skiing method he created is totally, visually unique.
In an industry full of gorilla-shaped images carving arcs with knees crooked and hips dragging through the snow at breakneck speed, CM stands out.
It is controlled, graceful, upright, and effortless, exactly what we senior skiers are looking for!
His method has been distilled and simplified into a formulaic progression comprised of four key words and 9 drills. If you master them you will master the method. No more mysteries or millions of moving parts that require endless, pricey trips to school.
It can take you anywhere on the mountain, on-piste or off and in any kind of conditions.
Most mogul clinics focus on tactics, but without the unique skiing method, moguls will still wear you out.
According to Tom Saddlemire of the OTHG, “What amazed me is how easy it is to learn. There are 4 Words ™ and 9 Keys-to-the-Kingdom™ and you don’t need an doctorate in anatomy to understand it. In over 1000 days of skiing, I have taken 50 days of instruction and none of them transformed (he used that word a lot) my skiing the way that 3 day camp has.” That is a pretty strong recommendation, and it is echoed by every CM graduate I have spoken with. Their 50 percent return rate speaks for itself.
I can make a high recommendation that you get the book and DVD and give it a try. As part of my role as your Crash-Test-Dummy, I spent the whole of the 2014-15 season focused on learning this method.
Over the previous two seasons I had begun to develop pain in my knees by mid day. I am happy to report that CM ™ has put an end to that pain AND made more of the mountain available to me.
Clendenin Method is unique in DIY senior ski lesson arena in that he has a book, a DVD, multiple ski camps you can attend, and he also offers remote video coaching. Send in a short video of your skiing and he will analyze it using the latest in movement analysis software, overlay his voice recommendations and send it back to you.
So, a few days ago I posted this sample ad on several ski industry groups on LinkedIn
“Instructors Wanted : Wages are $80 to $240 per hour.”
Immediately and predictably someone commented with the usual stuff about Forest Service leases and monopolies and getting arrested…yada yada blah bla blah. PIRATES! POACHERS!! That is just so very inside-the-box. Inside-the-box for so many decades that few are even aware the box HAS an outside. SO Cap’n Mike is going to shoot the locks off the treasure chest for you Yo HO!
Or, a Genie-in-a-Bottle with the ability to render borders and monopolies and insular, national organizations asunder? I contend it is the later.
Imagine! The PSIA D team and USSA racers in your boots, on your phone and in your ears!
With 3D accelerometers, 3D gyro-sensors and an insole that maps pressure changes on the bottom of your foot, we can now see what is going on inside your boots. If you couple that with an inexpensive phone app that has a full progression of video lessons, drill videos AND, a voice that coaches you WHILE YOU ARE SKIING!!! ..if you are doing it right or not…well…live ski instruction has a very serious competitor.
Why? Live instructors cannot see inside your boot/ This gizmo can. So why is this something you need to take seriously? Read on dear Reader..Read on…
What does a ski instructor do? They watch you ski and try to pick out that one thing they can work on that might give you a break through. It might be a flat-light day and the snow is blowing. Seeing exactly what is up with your skiing can be tough sometimes.
Good skiing starts with the feet. The one thing NO instructor can do on the snow is look inside your boot and see what is happening…UNTIL NOW..and the fun part is that this technology separates you from the need to be in the presence of the client.
Your coach can be on the other side of the world and look into your boots. You send them a video and they can do a much better analysis OFF the mountain than they could ever do in the snow.
How?? So glad you asked!
The skiing modeled in the Carv app is PSIAstyle skiing. According to their CEO, the skiing modeled in their software is the direct result of joint development with PSIA and USSA. This includes Freestyle skiing and being able to evaluation your best jumps, grabs…everything including the height in the air.
The voice their users will hear in their ear is, for all practical purposes, the voice of the PSIA Demonstration Team..shhhhh! It’s sort of a secret.
So what, you say?
Because…the app and hard-technology can be in ANYONE’S boots. From ANY country, at ANY time, from ANY where in the worldthe client is having issues, to where YOU, their favorite instructor, happens to be.
From Chile to Canada. From the Alps to Australia. From Vail Resorts to Aspen. There are senior skiers everywhere, year-round..Artificial barriers that have locked customers into the ski school at the resort they are currently skiing..NO…Longer…Exist.
A French ski coach in Megeve can now reach out and work EFFECTIVELY with a client anywhere in the world.
A lot of people are skeptical on the value of technology and remote coaching, but it has already started and products like this are the kind of techno that seniors love to load up on and they have the do-re-mi..
I had a couple of senior skiers, a guy and his wife from New Zealand, in a lesson a few years ago and was able to do them some good…It rolled like this…..
Mr And Mrs NZ : “…(praise) yada yada..wish we could take you home with us..blah..blah”
Me: “Yes well so do I. It has been a pleasure spending the day with you.”
M& M NZ: “Why don’t we send you some video once in a while and you can look at it and see what you can do with it….”
Me : “Umm….sure..OK…”
So, we trade email addresses and phone numbers (something you should do with every client) and I thought that was the end of it… until a week later when I got an email from them with an attachment. It was a video of their skiing…with the Matterhorn in the background! I was frying eggs in Montana 5,072 nautical miles away.
M&M NZ: “We are having fits with the heavy deep crud here..HELP!”
My thought was that without being able to show them what was wrong it would be hard to help. A simple voice-over would not be much help. So, I went a-Googling and found a cheap phone app called Coach’s Eye that allowed me to do the voice over plus slow motion, stop action, montage. draw lines and circles and boxes and more. So, I loaded their video into the tool and did the analysis. It took about 15 minutes. I sent them the Movement Analysis and a link to an old Youtube video of a drill that would help.
They were beyond happy. They sent me an email asking for my snail mail address and I didn’t think much of that so, I sent it to them. I was thinking I was going to get a postcard from Switzerland or maybe a box of Toberlone..To my surprise, I got a small box with …a postcard, two sticks of Toberlone and a check for $200.00.15 minutes…$200 you do the math. That was late March of 2014
Over the course of the summer, I got videos, postcards, candy and money from them in Australia, NZ and Chile. I also got requests from them to help a friend here, a friend there. Friends Here and There sent me postcards, candy and checks.
I now have Paypal and Hubspot and 3 dozen happy seniors skiing all over the planet. At $20 a pop for five minutes work,it can add up fast. A session can take 5 to 15 minutes. That’s $80 to $240 an hour.
Some might view the Carv product as a direct competitor but I don’t believe that is the case. They will be going to market with the consumer model in November 2017 to be followed in the Spring of 2018 with a “coaches version” that will hopefully include an embedded Movement Analysis tool and a rudimentary Customer Relationship Management app (CRM). AT least that’s what I suggested to them. If they don’t, other tools are readily available and very affordable
This suite of tools would give you everything you need to help your clients no matter where in the world they are. You will stop being just an “instructor”. You become their ski consultant. A collaborator conspiring with them to take on any mountain, anywhere.
About 90% of the folks out there either use DVDs, books or free Youtube videos to teach themselves.
Even if they don’t buy the boot hardware, the phone app provides a set of tools and a common progression of lessons that can be used to structure their practice and your relationship with a client. Maintain contact, direct their progress, get them through hard times and you have a customer for life.
When they are away they can send you a 30 second video and a note like “Having trouble with Exercise 21.b #crap” (or whatever) and you will know immediately and exactly what they are talking about and how to approach the Movement Analysis of the video clip.
If your senior skier does have the boot product then you are home free. The data from the boot sensors give you a highly detailed look at what is going on over there half way around the world. Sync the video with the data and BAM!
Carv could be a threat to on-snow coaching or it could be the best thing that ever happened to your wallet. You might as well get on the band wagon or, some more enterprising snow coach in Chile or Oz or NZ just might be poaching your regular client from you with these tools!
Technology like Carv give you the opportunity to maintain contact with your clients when they aren’t with you. It will help you to CONSPIRE with them to take their game through the roof! And, when you both feel it is time for some in-person work, you guide them to make that decision together with you. That’s a world away from saying good bye and hope they come back someday.
No,Carv isn’t a competitive product. It can be the best thing that ever happened to your coaching career. It can mean the difference in struggling with cash through each season to
Living large Coaching-from-Your-Couch
If that sounds like a good deal to you, SUBSCRIBE to this blog and Share it with other instructors. There will be a series of articles over the summer showing you exactly how to build your client base, and use software tools, and social media marketing.
Sometimes teaching senior skiers takes some serious creativity to engage your audience. Tell us what you have done, that is truly on-point with skiing but humorous, to really reach out, relieve some anxiety and, draw your clients to you and get their attention?
For the good of our sport and our own wallets, we had better find ways to both support and leverage alternate means of delivering proficient skiing and riding to a much larger audience.
There are only enough instructors to hit about 10% of the participants out there every season. Technology can be a “force multiplier” AND you can use it to make a lot more money….you DO like money don’t you?
For many seniors’ skiing techniques are habits ingrained over decades. Breaking those habits is tough so you need a plan. To read more about plans go to – Your Skiing Sucks?
If you don’t really know how to create a learning plan for senior ski lessons I found this six DVD set that has the plan and all the drills presented in the proper order. For a lousy $175.00 you can put a professional coach in your pocket. So, why wouldn’t you?
The problem with trying to teach your old-dog-self some new tricks using videos is that you tend to adopt “positions” when mimicking the skiing on the video.
Just because you wound up in a similar position doesn’t mean you moved things in the right order to get there. Remember, all good skiing starts with the feet. If you move them first, you will always be on the right track.
If the video you are using doesn’t explain the bio-mechanical details, STOP..and find a video that does. A great source of reading on mechanics is the PSIA Alpine Technical Manual available at, http://www.thesnowpros.org/
Senior Ski lessons can be like a religious event. You either believe the instructor is a demigod or you don’t. If you don’t want to ski exactly the way they do, you are a fool…Enter our hero de jure, Rick Schnellmann, and his “Building Blocks” DVD set.
The fun part, the relaxing part, is that it is entirely secular. No matter what you believe constitutes “good skiing”, Building Blocks will make you better at it. You can go to his store here
Building Blockscomes in the box with the learning plan built-in. It takes you from Basic Balance to Basic Edging, on to Advanced Balance to Advanced Edging then, to Transitions and Angulation.
If you follow the progression and really give it a shot, I guarantee that you that you will become a better skier.
Too many times I have seen people trying to go straight from the wedge to carved turns, completely skipping over steered turns.
Ever since the parabolic ski came out, we have been promised that all you have to do is tip the ski on edge and it will turn. Of course, you can produce a turn by tipping the ski and putting some pressure on it but, that type of turn is not appropriate for all combinations of terrain & conditions.
Carving turns is a go-fast method! If it wasn’t, racers wouldn’t do it.
If you want to slow down you had better learn to back off those edges and steer your turns.The first four DVDs on Balance and Edging focus on just that, building a high level of finesse at blending edge angles with pressure and steering movements to shape turns and control speed…like this
The Transitions DVD is especially good. Sometimes ski school lessons can be a little too dogmatic about pushing one kind of turn. On this DVD he tells you about 3 types of turn initiations and 9 types of transitions. You learn a matrix of 27 different turn-types!
There are dozens of different ways to turn on skis and each is appropriate for a certain combination of terrain & conditions. The more you combinations you know the more effectively you will ski, on more of the mountain. Who can’t love THAT?!
I first stumbled over a website called SkierVillage.com about 6 years ago. Rick also hosts a Facebook page by the same name and that is darned handy!
If you are having issues, help is only a couple clicks away.
I hadn’t been able to ski much in the previous decade and wanted to learn more about new technique. What I found at Skier Village was a lot of non-ego-driven help in sorting out my game and getting on a fast track to better skiing.
If you log into online forums about ski instruction, you will quickly get the impression that if that dude hadn’t shot the Arch Duke, WW One would have been started between ski instructors in the Alps.
Everyone wants to be THE ONE who figured all out and made skiing easier. Truth to tell, if you really want to improve, it is time to learn some of the details about the bio-mechanics of skiing for yourself and learnHOW to be your own coach.
Rick breaks it down into some simple steps. If you engage in exercises that improve the basic skills of balance, edging, pressure management and transitions, you get better and you don’t have to even KNOW you have a First Metatarsal let alone worry about it while you ski. These aren’t just a bunch of quick tips. It is a complete system of education.
If you are a ski instructor just starting out, there really aren’t many manuals available that tell you exactly what to teach people or how to put a client on a lesson plan so they will come back to you. You pick it up as you go along from clinics and in-house training staff.
In this DVD set, the lesson plan is all laid out along with all the drills. If you turn your clients on to this, they will REMEMBER you and sing your praises every time they use it.
If you have their contact information, you can email them once in a while (don’t over do this) to check on their progress and if need be invite them back for another session on the snow, without having to reassess what kind of skier they are. They just tell you where they got stuck in the DVDs and you go to work helping them.
You have just gone from being just another lowly L1 “instructor” to being a Senior Skiing Improvement CONSULTANT, a collaborator, a partner in a conspiracy with your customer. You are no longer a pimple-faced french fry cook.
You just became Le Chef Cordon Bleu du Ski!
Rick Schnellmann is a former FIS racer and has been coaching racers for 30 years.
“MAKE DOING THE RIGHT THING EASY AND DOING THE WRONG THING DIFFICULT”
Far too many people on the DIY path do exactly the opposite. They make doing the right thing hard and the wrong thing easy.
I’ve trained horses, dogs, cats, kids and, even a squirrel. No matter what creature you may try to train, RULE ONE ALWAYS APPLIES. It’s a broad concept so, let me unpack it for you.
Before you ever get close to the mountain think about what it is you want to accomplish and set everything up so that being successful in that session is easy. Also, think about things you could do to make failure difficult.
Before you start a DIY session, have a plan. If you haven’t decided what you want to practice, whereyou will practice, when you will practice, who you need with you at practice, how you will practice or, what parameters define success. WHOA! Hold it right there! DON”T MAKE DOING THE RIGHT THING DIFFICULT.
Stick to your plan and MAKE DOING THE RIGHT THING EASY
WHAT to Practice? Remember, in a previous article, when I said you should have a Lesson Plan? That wasn’t just to give you busy work. Does the exercise you want to work on next fit into your lesson plan? If it doesn’t STOP. Stick to your Lesson Plan. The plan is there to build you from the feet up and in the right sequence.
WHERE you are going to practice? And I will make this one REALLY easy for you. If you start a new exercise on anything but a Green run,you are about to MAKE DOING THE RIGHT THING DIFFICULT.
If you can do it at low speed it, you can do it at any speed. Speed masks a lot of really bad habits. So slow down. Be a surgeon. Think slow, steady highly precise movementsbefore you ratchet up the speed.
HOW will you practice? You have to get out of the vertical-feet-per-hour frame of mind and think more about maximizing repetitions per run. It takes about 300 PERFECT repetitions of a movement before perfect movements are embedded in your core memory. That’s after who-knows- how-many repetitions it takes to first perfect the movement.
Make EVERY turn in your drill at 90 degrees across the fall line. Shallow angle turns don’t force you to implement the new movement to its fullest range. If you can do it at 90 degrees to the fall line, you can do it at 5 degrees.MAKE DOING THE RIGHT THING EASY.
WHO are you going to practice with? If you have a friend who has mastered the drill, you need them with you! If nothing else, skiing with a friend is more fun and it’s always good to get 30-60 seconds of video here and there to make sure you have the movement right.
Only YOU can decide what equals success with a session. Refer to the goals you have for your Senior Lesson Plan and set goals for each session and then decide how you will know when you have succeeded then, VISUALIZE success. If you have a video of an expert, study it, then visualizeyourself making the new movement exactly that way.
If you haven’t taken you and your boots to a master fitter, DO IT!! Trust me. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in your performance.
Finally, always..ALWAYS keep your bases and edges tuned and have THE RIGHT WAX for the conditions of the day. Nothing makes learning more difficult than edges that won’t grip or skis that stick to the snow. Why? Class? Bueller? Bueller?
MAKE DOING THE RIGHT THING EASY AND THE WRONG THING HARD.
Here’s a link to a SWIX ski tuning video that will take you to a whole series of videos on ski tuning, care, repair and maintenance. https://youtu.be/CaovoNdVN04