El Hombre de Esqui! Senior Ski Lessons – International

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!

Carlos Castillo

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.

Here are his books and links to them.

APRENDER A ESQUIAR – UNA PUERTA ABIERTA AL MUNDO DE LA NIEVE”  

ESQUÍ, RENDIMIENTO Y EMOCIÓN

ESQUIAR CON LOS PIES

ESQUÍ MODERNO APLICADO A LA MONTAÑA –TÉCNICA DE DESCENSO EN NIEVES NO TRATADAS”

You can catch up on his blog articles here…

Y ahora, aqui es Carlos…

“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…

 

Gracias, Carlos!

 

 

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Senior Skiers Sound Off – Vail…Beauty or, the Beast?

There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in how folks view the Vail Resorts (VR) phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands buy the Epic Pass every year. Others bemoan VR as “corporate skiing” or “Big Skiing”. Our take on it is that the truth usually can be found somewhere in the middle.

THE BEAUTY

There isn’t much new to be said about the Epic Pass or its affect on the industry. It has been an epic success by any set of metrics. Even folks who don’t visit a VR venue now have the MAXpass, Mountain Collective and other multi-resort ticket options and prices have come down for pass products. That makes people who ski a lot, happy.

                                                vail disney

Many people who utilize a ski area acquired by VR will tell you that VR put a LOT of money into upgrades on everything from lifts to restaurants. The place looks better, the lifts are faster, and there are more customers. Everything is upscale and up-market.

There is more to do and more to see and all of that glam is now available 12 months of the year, Disney Land in mountain-minature. The actual ski experience and the price of the pass is the center for the onion. Every layer you peel through to be there has a price and it is usually not cheap.

THE BEAST

The numbers in the snow sport industry have not changed in two decades in a way that is statistically significant. 12 Million participants per year deliver 60 million visits. That’s an average of five visits per participant. The End.

kotke-demographics

Now that the resort related real estate boom is waning, If you want to grow the bottom line you have to take market share from a competitor. Then you have to  find a way to get those same numbers of people to spend more per visit.

The problem with the EpicPass and it’s competitors is that AVERAGE VISIT number…five (5). Many thousands of people use those passes to ski a LOT more than five days per year. Many of these resorts on these passes have insane prices for daily tickets.

Consider this, to hit that average of five visits, for every person with a pass who skis 100 days a season you have to have 24 people who only ski one day a year. And who exactly are those people who only ski once?

They are those people who belong to another interesting statistical grouping. They are part of the 82% who try snow sports once and never come back. Why?

For them the “value proposition” just isn’t cutting it. They paid $200 for a day of trying to hack their way around on the snow, in the snow, scattered all over the snow. Often they flail away on the bunny hill in plain sight of the school. Ever see someone walk out of the school and go over to that potential life long customer and try to close that deal, create a new life long client..Not often.

Only 10% of visit/days result in the sale of a ski school product. For many years, industry surveys reported that “self-perception of low proficiency” was a major reason that people don’t stick with it.

They quit because they suck at it and at $900 per day, lessons are ridiculously expensive.

People DO NOT plan to spend thousands of dollars on their weekends and vacations to go do things they suck at, period. When you consider that proficiency is a major factor in industry growth, you can only scratch your head and move on.

Part of this dynamic is that the lesson industry in general has the same problem with instructors that it has with participants. It is getting harder and harder to find and KEEP new instructors and the attrition in the Boomer generation of instructors is starting to gain momentum.

From the stand point of supply & demand, as the supply of instructors dwindles the price is bound to go up no matter how detrimental that maybe in the long view. But, that is a subject for an entire article so check back here for that.

In a meaningful way, the industry has trouble with growth because it indulges in strategies and tactics too short-term in nature. In effect, these antics indicate a willingness to sacrifice next year’s clients to subsidize this year’s clients. Ski school profits, in the form of high prices and low wages, are more important than long term customer “conversion” and retention.

Big Skiing…Bullseye

While the new upholstery at VR resorts is stunning, they are just deck chairs on the same old boat.

To boot, the bigger VR becomes the more likely it will become a political target. In this day and age, people want to revile “Big This” and “Big That”. No doubt, Vail is rapidly becoming the face of “Big Snow Sports”.

While the industry is full of green news and those efforts are laudable, you can’t plan for climate change. No one can accurately predict what the affects might be, or when they will arrive. You just can’t write a business plan around that.

It is far more likely the industry faces something like a “perfect storm” from an unexpected quarter. While the focus seems to be on a looming lack of snow, the greater and more predictable danger from “climate change” for lift served snow sports is a change in political climate.

It is hard to conceive of any other individual recreational sport with a larger carbon footprint. Everyday millions of people pile onto buses and trains and planes and cars and travel to ski. The places they ski consume massive amounts of electricity. Between the lift motors and the millions of twinkling lights for ambiance, the power consumption per participant is monstrous.

vail at nite
Courtesy of Wildwood Art Studio

Monsters attract attention and VR is rapidly assuming the proportions of Godzilla. VR makes a juicy target for the millions of environmentalists who DO NOT participate in snow sports and who do believe resorts in general to be an environmental blight.

The problem with VR’s size is that before with so many much smaller targets it was hard for anti-ski folks to have any impact. They would have to mount legal attacks on hundreds of individual ski areas. Now, there is one BIG target out there. The threat of the application of both environmental law and regulations, and potential legal attacks based on anti-trust law are real but, a few years down the road.

                             godzilla

To top it all off, The National Ski Area Association, and the two labor organizations, PSIA_AASI and the National Ski patrol, share the same address. With VR as the large visible target and the underlining interlocked labor associations the whole thing is based on 19th century Taylorism.

Some VR patrollers have already unionized and a Facebook page calling for the unionization of ski instructors has more than 600 followers. Ski school operational models haven’t change since Arlberg, nearly one hundred years.

                                                  hot dogs

Tone deaf to the market, proficiency is offered to the customer with the same philosophy as a candy machine. You walk up, put your money in and pull a handle and ski instructor action-figure falls to the tray.

action figure

The only competitive tool that is applied is discounting and packaging. When price is your only tool, it’s tough to make headway. Never one thought is given to redesigning the product. Creating a proficiency product that is designed by the demand side of the market, rather than top down… “Here is what we care to offer, take it or leave it” …products offered over a cash register.

To add to that problem, a growing and significant portion of :lessons: sold are really just day care and the gang of 5 year olds in a group lesson for 4 hours may or may not be there on a voluntary basis.

                                       kid school

There are other numbers plying the pistes. They, too, have not changed in a very long time. The numbers of people 24 and younger coming into the sport have been either flat or declining slightly over the last 15 years

Then, people start to quit the sport in their mid to late 30s. Some return years later, others never return. (we will address the various myths surrounding seniors skiing in a future article)

The Silent Generation is all but gone. Boomers are the industry’s only bright spot. Their participation is nearly 20% of the total visits each year. But 10 years from now that bubble of shrinking visits from those less than 24 years old today is going to hit their “core” years at the same time massive numbers of current “seniors” will be”aging-out of snowsports.

In the current vernacular of social justice, Vail Resorts may well be the last bastion of rich, white, male privilege. Skiing has always been white-male dominated. Diversity is a major concern in the years ahead.

How many potential clients are out there who will not become participants for political reasons? Hard to say but the impact of social fashion could do far more damage to the industry than climate change and in a more predictable way.

Snow sports have been in a slump. The fact that profitability may be up is immaterial to the question of whether or not that trend is sustainable. Without a steadily growing total market all this business is really just taking the same old dollars out of some other operator’s pocket and depositing in a VR account. That  doesn’t change the demographics in a positive way. It just has them spending the same dollars in a different place.

Add to all that a shrinking middle class, as the blue collar roots of the market slip away and with no successful conversion/retention efforts, and politcial/legal pressure all landing in the same 4-5 year window the failure of such a large enterprise would devastating to the entire industry.

With the Sedentary Generation on the looming horizon, new young participant may be harder and harder to find and keep., how does skiing replace the joy of sitting warmly at home and engaging the world with a smartphone?

For a many years the number of people 24 and under entering the market has been shrinking and beginning in their late 30s people begin to quit the sport all together. Those two issues could combine to produce an unprecedented loss in participation days right smack in the middle of the “core” demographic. Throw in a couple of low-snow winters in the midst of this bubble and it could spell real trouble.

Numbers haven’t changed for 20 years. In this modern world, if you aren’t growing, you are dying. The industry isn’t growing and while Vail has upgraded the deck chairs, is it an industry ship that is quietly, inexorably, sinking?

There will be more to come as we take a deeper dive into some of the issue. SUBSCRIBE and StayTuned!

D-I-Y Instruction Support Plan for Senior Skiing!

 

Here’s a sound track while you read!

Get yourself some Building Blocks

I’ve said it before. It doesn’t matter if lessons on the snow are better than DIY Instruction.

Millions of senior skiers try to learn from books and video and phone apps.

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?

th-40
Just try managing the “split” on this bunny hill!

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?

bb One Foot Skiing Montage (1)

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.

BB Hip angulation2

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 Blocks comes 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.

th-30
The Grand Daddy Grab

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.

WC racer

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 learn HOW 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.

BB transitions

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.

Congratulations!

chef on skis

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.

Nurture Your Inner Skiing Geezer….

 

 

Growing older is a goal we ALL share.

Wouldn’t it be nice that when you reach 40..50…60…70…80…90 , the snow sport industry would still be interested in you senior skiers as an active participant? You may not consider yourself a senior skier now but you WILL be one day. Why wait until the last minute to insist the industry will want you around?

In the 1940s and 50s, from coast to coast an idea sprang from the mountains. My father’s generation returned from WW II in Europe with a notion and built the American ski areas. My generation, baby, our generation, built the industry as we know it today. Yet, if you pick up nearly any ski-related periodical or surf the web, you might get the notion that skiing is illegal for anyone over the age of 25

                                                 .th-52

According to the AARP, seniors control 70 percent of the world’s wealth. That makes seniors the third largest economy behind the US and China. In the US alone, the 100 million seniors represent $200 billion dollars in disposable income. They spend 20 percent—that’s $40-billion—of that on their kids and grand kids. Seniors who ski or board spend a lot of money on their families!

We take our families on winter vacations, pay for their lodging, buy the lift tickets and often, rent or buy their equipment. In the immortal words of Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, “We are going to be spending an obscene amount of money in here. So, we’re going to need a lot more help sucking up to us…’cause that’s what we really like.”

It turns out the seniors skiing is worth a lot to the industry!

kotke-demographics
Which demographic is trending up? Yep…Seniors          Credit:NSAA

( for more analysis, go to: The Wrinkled Irrelevants?

As an age group, we spend 27 percent more time on the mountain each season than any other group. By 2030, there will be 34 percent more people in the 50-plus age group than there are now. Nielson calls us, “the most valuable generation in the history of marketing” but also say less than five percent of all advertising targets our age group. HEY! Ski industry! Time to get in a little practice on seniors skiing, maybe?

 

Ever since the unfortunate industry report that the senior skiers who built and supported the  industry for the last four decades would be dying off in large numbers, the industry has treated the senior skiing segment as a lost cause. As if we are the last seniors to walk the Earth.

cropped-th-72.jpg

Their focus on the 24-40 year-old segment may appear to make sense from an economic perspective, but the industry is being more than a bit short-sighted.

Barring an Extinction Level Event, those young whippersnappers are aging, too. Time for the industry to gain some valuable experience in hanging on to the one demographic that will always control the bulk of disposable income. Yep, you would think so, wouldn’t ya? You would be wrong

(for more on skiing for cheap, go to: Skiing on the Cheap

hippy sit in

Take heart, active, sporting Boomer skiing souls! All is not lost. If you could take over the Student Union in 1968, you can handle a few ski bums. In the upcoming series of articles, we’ll take a look at resorts with successful senior-focused operations in “Right This Way Ma’am, Happy to See You Again”. We’ll show you how to handle a resort deaf and blind to the needs of seniors with “A Girl Scout Could Handle this Outfit”. Once you have your mountain under control, we’ll show how to wring the last ounce of joy from the slopes with “How to Shred for the Nearly Dead”. See ya up the road a piece. Talkin ’bout my generation…Peace….

Small Muscle Conditioning for Senior Skiers

Devil is in the Details (so think small)

If you love snow sports, this is always the time of year you start thinking about other stuff. Still, in the back of your mind is that voice, “If I had just been in a bit better shape….”. Perhaps All Things are not possible anymore, but Better Things are. So, at this age, the question becomes, “How do I wring that last little bit of fitness out of the old carcass?”

Three things come to mind: strength, flexibility, small muscle control.

exercis2

Something like yoga or Tai Chi or old fashioned gym-class stretching handles the flexibility issue.

For you men new to yoga…unlike women, no one really wants to see you in your yoga pants at the grocery store. OK? It’s  that whole Speedo-smuggling olives to the beach thing…don’t do it.

Strength? Most gym exercises and machines focus on building those big attractive muscle groups. The big muscles are important to senior skiing. They hold us up. They help us resist the forces that build at the bottom of the turn. Hit the slopes with weak quads or abs, and you will suffer.

exercise

What machine designers and exercise gurus often miss is that it’s the small muscles and the minute adjustments they make that keep us feeling balanced, comfortable, confident and in control. If you want to control your edges like a surgeon wields a scalpel you are going to have to target the small muscles around the joints.

There’s also fun.

 

Gym routines and running and biking will hit these small muscles by default but not always in a focused way that will benefit your skiing or riding. So, Mike, oh postulator of unscientific theory, you ask, “Whatever shall we do?” So glad you asked…

My own personal off-season regimen is to simply keep doing what I was doing.

Skiing effectively involves blending the skills of Pressure, Edge Control, and Rotational Movements (PER), lots of small movements in feet, ankles, knees, and hips. While the big muscles hold us up. The tiny ones are constantly making all the micro-adjustments that keep us feeling stable, and happy, and avoiding solid objects.

Many exercise regimes don’t really provide enough focus on small muscles to do you much good on the hill. Additionally, sitting in a machine, or on one, doesn’t fine tune your subconscious reactions to minute changes in balance that are so important to skiing effectively.

Start thinking NOW about your fitness program for the non-snow season.

Personally, I detest organized exercise. Classes and machines and routines leave me cold. But, fear not, Where There is a Hill There is a Way. It is no harder than going for a walk. What?!

Really, it’s easy. Walk backwards up a hill.

Walk in circles on a side-hill. Vary the width and depth of your stride.

Hop from foot to foot as you walk backwards or forwards while widening your landing zone.

Take a run up and down a dry stream bed from rock to rock. Feel how angulation and inclination come into play.

stream bed

Walk the top of a curb on your street.

Do some slack-line work

When you have all that mastered, add some weight to your ruck and start over.

What I am saying is get out and PLAY! Make getting fit all about having fun out of doors.

You don’t need a mat or stretchy pants or a membership.

Just go PLAY.

Give some thought to the things that give you trouble in the snow (remember the PER model—Pressure, Edge Control, Rotation) and devise some form of play that incorporates those same movements.

Play isn’t just about physical fitness. It’s FUN and FUN is good for the mind and spirit, too!

Being ready for the 2015-16 season doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, nor dull. . So, while you twiddle your thumbs waiting for the next snow season, go have some fun, would ya?!  Just Sayin…

Skiing on the Cheap

 

So, my erstwhile editor forwards an email to me from one or another of Montana’s legion of “tourist” promoting organizations…Do you want to write a story about one of these dude ranches/senior ski resorts? That was the proposition…entirely up to you, old boy…stiff upper lip, what?

A smart person once said one ought to write about things with which one is familiar..as if “one” ain’t the same guy as “me”… any-who… recognizing the social importance of being earnest/ine, I sally forth..

Etymology: “Ski Resort” – A Proto-Norse phrase for “Costs Many Furs”

If you prefer its more modern root, “Ski Resort” means, “If you want to Ski, you must Resort to paying a lot of money.”

stick-up

Way, way….waaaaay back in the day, in a time when snowflakes outnumbered resort employees and there was a difference, it became popular for sick city folks from..let’s say..Moscow.. to travel to Switzerland, or elsewhere equally upscale, to “take the waters”.

This implies, of course, that if you live in the city and you don’t feel well, try drinking water from someplace far removed from the place where folks empty their chamber pots. Everyone knows that the more you pay for water, the better it is for you.

Then it became about the air. Don’t feel well? Go someplace where the air isn’t laden with the drifting, sulfurous detritus of coal-powered living. Still today, living in cities makes people ill in one way or another. The evidence to support such a conclusion might be present in either stool or ballot box. Keep faith. There is a cure. Step into my office. Dr. Mike is in..

doctor

Eventually, man’s never-ending search for places healthier than cities led to a social movement (as opposed to the aforementioned movements) we know as “camping”, a craze where humans celebrated their dwindling dependence on outdoor skills by going off in the outdoors and starting fires.

Some were successfully extinguished, many, sadly, were not. The “camping” fad reached it’s zenith in 1945 when nearly 12 million Americans were out camping in all kinds of countries.

Then came the infatuation with the healthy and romantic life of the “American Cowboy”, an occupation whose romance is embraced by sleeping in mud, eating beans, breathing dust, and separating boy-cows from their boy-parts.

Then, decades later, a movie, ”City Slickers” marks that point in American economics when ranchers realized that selling cattle was for chumps. You can make ten times more money letting city folk come play with your cows for a few days...the modern “dude” ranch was born.

dude-ranch

Now, keep in mind, “dude” isn’t the sort of “dude”, as in, “Doooood” that was a gnarly Cork, STOMP!”. No, today’s “Dude Ranch” has a split personality. In the summer, these are Dude Ranches where you get to play with cows.

In the winter they become ”Dooood Ranches” where you get to play the be-dreaded, tie-dyed, senior skiing snow-hippie you know you were or wanted to be. They are that filmy, haze-ridden, Vaseline-thumb-on-the-lense, reality-enhanced world of Ski-Jacoooz-Booze-Snooze where all that mattered is that you may recount the days but cannot recall the nights…at least in the presence of your mate.

jacuzzi

The bottom line is that the more closely you remain allied to your youth, the fewer furs you will have to trap in Central Park to go skiing. Sometimes going “down-market” can be “Up Lifting” ..spirit-wise AND chair-wise and if, when you get home, you still want to buy a mink or a diamond or a $200 sirloin dinner..you will have the cash.

So, saddle up Buckaroos and ride with me as I explore the best-cheap ways for senior skiers to roll out your bedroll, grab ya some grub, and ride some Montana Coldsmoke next winter. We’ll meet some snow-freak characters who are livin’ it for real and for-cheap.

th-52

Try not to forget who STARTED all this skiing hippie business in the first place..hmmm?

D-I-Y Instruction – Horse Training Secrets for Senior Skiers

DIY TRAINING RULE ONE:

“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, where you 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 movements before you ratchet up the speed.

bunny-hill

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 visualize yourself making the new movement exactly that way.

boot-fitter

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.

ski-tuning

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

Happy Trails, Pardner!

roy-rogers

 

D-I-Y Senior Ski Lessons – Your Skiing Sucks?

Time to un-suck it!

DO IT YOURSELF INSTRUCTION                    Can I?   Should I?… and How

Perhaps the real question is “Can you do it yourself?”. The answer is, absolutely you can!

I am living proof. Like many senior skiers, I had taken a long hiatus from the sport. While I was gone, some clever person invented the parabolic ski. The technology created new opportunities on the snow but, how to learn about these wonderful possibilities? I went online. I got lucky. I found some websites and videos and people willing to help from faraway places. My skiing improved.

SHOULD YOU? A lot of people say no, take senior ski lessons. In a ski lesson, the instructor watches you ski and picks out something that needs work. They show you an exercise and help you get the exercise right, they pat you on the head and send you on your way (gratuities are welcomed)                          

Great Grandpa Rocked it on lumber, dude!

In the time you are not with an instructor, YOU are your teacher. You are deciding if you are still doing it right. The truth is, sharpening your self-teaching skills is imperative and makes the perfect companion to the occasional live lesson.

Practice makes Perfect? I am here to tell you, tain’t so pilgrim.

Practice makes permanent. If your practice isn’t perfect all you will do is become really proficient at doing things wrong. When I launched into teaching this old dog the new tricks, it became immediately apparent that what I needed was a lesson plan and some support. Decide what you want to accomplish before you do anything else. If you can, get a friend to join you in the process.

It’s  handy to have some support in case you’re stuck

WARNING WILL ROBINSON WARNING!!!

Don’t tell yourself, “I want to be a better mogul skier.” or trees or whatever. It’s a trap. Whatever is wrong with your mogul skiing is wrong with your groomer skiing. Bumps or crud or what-have-you just make it obvious.

You might start with a wedge but let’s not take it to extremes, hmmmm?

At the beginning I looked at video “tips” on Youtube. The problem is the videos show you how to do a drill but don’t tell you the ways you can do the drill incorrectly. Too, “tips” are not organized into a lesson plan.

If the videos you are using are not organized into a serialized, logical process for improvement, find something else.

If the videos don’t take the time to educate you on terminology and the physical mechanics of the exercises, find something else.

If you are going to teach yourself, you need to learn that mechanical lingo! It will help you to analyze your own performance and better communicate with an instructor if you do buy a lesson. The PSIA book “Alpine Technical Manual” is a good resource for learning the language and is available on their website.

You can’t make it real if you ain’t got the feel, When you hit a golf ball or a tennis ball or baseball cleanly, you really don’t feel the ball. You did everything just right….BAM…

Same deal with skiing. When you do it right it feels right. Only you can observe the sensations you have while skiing. Pay attention to them, ESPECIALLY the bottoms of your feet. Your feet are loaded with cells to provide the brain with all kinds of interesting and useful information.

Too many of us ignore feet and ankles because we lock them up in boots and they can’t really move, right? Wrong.

All expert skiing begins at the soles of your feet. Your feet carry you around your daily life. You walk and run and even skip from rock to rock without giving a single thought to inclination or angulation or centrifugal force or metatarsals. You just do it because your feet KNOW what to do. They’re smart. Listen to them.

At some point you stop doing drills and just ski but, please, still pause once in a while and decide if the sensations you had while free skiing indicate if the drill is still working and fully incorporated into your personal style.

Learning can be stressful. Take a break once in awhile!

You are your own coach so you need to be able to look at your skiing and determine what you need to do next in your journey. Because you have been studying videos, you have already begun to develop an eye for what looks right and what doesn’t. The next step is to have some video taken of your skiing and begin to apply your self to movement analysis.

Thanks to smart phone technology it is really easy to get started. I use a phone app called Coach’s Eye. It will accept video from your phone or GoPro and a host of other sources. You can do slow motion, stop motion, progressive still shot series, reverse playback and draw lines and circles and record voice-over analysis. It’s everything a hired coach should be doing and it is very easy to learn and its fun to do with friends…Give it a go.

ALWAYS review! Say you spent a morning working on a new skill. Always start your training sessions with a drill you feel you have already mastered, always end on the new skill so when you start free skiing, the new sensations will be fresh in your mind and, your feet.

The last bit of advice is to use videos from people who provide remote assistance. If you are having issues and can either describe them textually or, better yet, send them some video to be analyzed, you will have a better chance of getting things right.

Look here ya’ll, skiing isn’t really a big mystery. There are a finite number of bones, and muscles and there are only so many ways to arrange the pieces. If you truly master the basic skills you will be able to ski any terrain in any conditions proficiently no matter what kind of skis you are on.

Grandpa and Grandma went crazy LONG before parks and GoPro!

If you have a plan, books, DVDs and streamed video, you can do this. Whether you are conscious of it or not, every time you ski you are teaching yourself to move body parts around. So, teach yourself the RIGHT things.

You are coaching yourself all the time so, bring it to the front of your mind, get a plan, grab a partner and go for it.

Have Senior Skiers Been Abandoned? The Wrinkled Irrelevants…

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You just gotta give this picture a Like and a Share!

My fellow Geezers, we brought this on ourselves. Back in the Hey Days of the 70s and 80s, we represented the youthful exuberance that was the core of the sport. To this day, thanks in part to us, The Industry still sees itself as youthfully exuberant. In the following quote from Snowsports Industries America (SIA), they write seniors skiing off and turn to face a youthful market.

“… Nowadays, they (Boomers) are encouraging grandchildren to ski and snowboard and are buying snowsports gear for the family. Although as participants, they were once prolific; as a target audience today their roles as elders in the family are most likely more important than their personal participation behavior in snow sports….”

That is a bold statement in light of the findings of the National Ski Area Association’s study represented in the chart below. The Industry still expects you will encourage young people to participate, buy their gear, and pay for their winter vacations.

They just aren’t encouraging YOU, the senor skier, to participate. You’re done, washed up. The Wrinkled Irrelevant. And yet, we ride an average of 26.7% more days per season than The Industry average.

The ongoing issue is the way in which the industry chooses to define itself, by “generation”. A handy pigeon hole perhaps, but it is strategically misguided.

The SIA DCIP document identifies senior skier/riders over 55 as making up 10% of the total market. Yet, when drawing their conclusions, they say that Boomers make up only 5% of the “downhill” market. Which is it, 5% or 10%? Don’t confuse yourself. This ain’t Common Core. It’s Common Sense.

The chart shows the 55+ market segment is holding 16.7% of the market. That is significantly more than SIA’s 10%. I would go with the NSAA numbers because the ticket window gives them the best view of the market.

The chart also shows that the only segment that has grown over the last 10 years is…Geezers. The SIA’s ballyhooed youth under 25 have declined 5%. That suggests SIA’s assumption that seniors are bringing their grandkids to the sport may only be wishful thinking.

kotke-demographics
On the other end of the spectrum, folks 55 and older have increased 5.5%. It is significant that the average age of snowsports participants continued to rise to 38.4. Most importantly, the total market is comprised of individuals who are all continually aging. Here is a senior skier in all of use just waiting to emerge!

The Industry loses nearly 20% of its market between 45 and 55 years of age. I would call that a “magic moment” for a marketing opportunity!

Studying the chart, The Industry loses 19% of its customers between 45 and 54. Physical, psychological and economic issues related to aging have a dramatic effect on the senior skier’s decision to remain in our sport. We get promoted. We sit behind desks. The kids need cars and tuition for college. It piles up and the sport loses a customer.

This severe drop out happens 20 years before The Industry is willing to tell itself that aging is a business problem and address it.

When you do reach the magic age of 55, The Industry is willing to tell itself that seniors skiing isn’t relevant? I will suggest that with advancements in equipment, technique, medicine, and health maintenance, a 45-year old skier has 30 years or more of participation left. Is The Industry willing to write off senior skiers with 30 or more years left as customers? The evidence is clear that it is.

The Industry is working hard to bring fewer and fewer young people into the sport only to glibly let them slip away as they age. That is strikingly, irrevocably myopic.

Continue reading Have Senior Skiers Been Abandoned? The Wrinkled Irrelevants…