Senior Ski Lessons – Grow your skills from Instructor – Coach – Consultant – Collaborator

Drop the Scoop and Step Away from the French Fry Machine!

I was speaking with a friend recently who owns a very successful restaurant…..

High end stuff. Everyone in the kitchen wears a white mushroom hat, a blur of perfectly choreographed, artistic synergy. She told me a story about how she went from washing dishes, to waiting tables to vegetable chopper, to Sous Chef, to Head Chef to opening her own highly exclusive restaurant.

kitchen staff

So, I have a question in that vein. Which are you? Instructor, Captain Fun, Consultant, Collaborator, or Co-Conspirator? Can you guess which of these makes more money? Well, good. Continue reading if the idea of more money appeals to you.

The “waitstaff” at her place spend time detailing the “possibilities” with you and your party. There are no menus. I put “waitstaff” in quotations because every person waiting tables is a qualified Sous Chef and they all rotate through the kitchen preparing the meals they designed together with you and they personally supervise the serving of the meal.

The Sous Chefs each develop their own following and schedule their own clients. They are essentially their own restaurant within the restaurant. They have a common building and common prep staff. A common mission and a common goal. Everything in between is all completely customized to each diner’s desires.

perfect meal

.There is no rush to “turn you over”. They get inside your head and help you PLAN a meal that doesn’t just taste good and look good. The meal they design with you SAYS something about YOU.

It makes you feel good about yourself because you were involved in a conspiracy with your personal chef to create the perfect dining experience. It is not just a nice dinner. It is a night in the jet-set life.

burger
Raise your hand if this looks good

It is a universe apart from a lukewarm, pre-prepped burger and cold fries dropped into a bag—without a napkin or a straw— and heaved at you through a window.

Does it cost a lot more? Of course it does. You don’t mind spending the money on the meal, because it is more like spending money ON yourself, spoiling yourself. It is NOT the mere intake of sustenance. It is pampering yourself.

It is immersing yourself in a soul-satisfying, sensory swirl of sights, sounds, flavors and aromas created just for you by your personal Chef. We senior skiers like that idea 🙂

It’s the difference between a two minute morning shower and a weekend at the spa in Napa. It is the difference between a candle lit bath for two with champagne and rose petals in wonderfully hot water..versus washing your hands at a gas station.

tub  bathroom sink

The business of delivering snow sport instruction has this same range of customer experiences.

How do I know? I have seen the instructional version of french fries hurled through a window too many times. I have also seen instructors who are delivering that hot bubble bath.

I have seen the industry studies that say just shy of 70% of people surveyed immediately after a lesson either “would not” or, were “not likely to” recommend taking a lesson to family or friends.

I know there are instructors out there CONSPIRING with their CLIENTS to conquer the mountain together, to not merely ski better than their friends, but to embarrass them 😉

I know there are instructors who suck. I know many who actually know what they are doing but don’t really care. I know a LOT who know what they are doing and work hard to help clients improve but that is just Prep Cook stuff.

People don’t come back to your restaurant because you do a good job slicing their vegetables. I would know this even if I had not seen it. All human behavior operates on a bell shaped curve. Some suck. Some excel. Most fall in between the extremes.

The only question that means anything is, “What can be done to skew the curve in a positive direction. What is the six sigma strategy?”

The attributes and quality of relationships with customers run along a continuum that transcends vertical industries. Snow sport instruction is no different than selling software or food.

used car sales

Some people you deal with will sell you software over the phone and really don’t know much about it. Other sellers of software spend time with you and your company. They know your business almost as well as you do.

They know your problems and might even recommend someone else’s product if they think it is the solution to your business problem.

They have invested themselves in your enterprise.

YOUR success is THEIR success.

The relationship transcends mere seller-buyer. They are co-conspirators. It’s you and them against the world and they are going to help you sneak up on your competitors and club them over the head. It’s tag team , Baby! You and your client vs the Hulk and Al’s Run.

tag team

Most sales people you deal with are there in front of you to solve THEIR problem, their quota. If your next student EVER gets the feeling that you are there with them to “deliver a lesson”, you are toast. Senior skiers are VERY discerning. They have many decades of experience with people trying to bullshit them. Don’t even bother to try!

What IS the product we are selling? Lessons? Nope, selling lessons isn’t any different than the kid who spends the day getting your hot dog off that little Ferris Wheel machine and dropping it in an over-steamed soggy bun.

Is it “proficiency”? Not really, lots of people are insanely proficient at doing things they hate to do.

Is it “fun”? There are too many things that are more fun than ski lessons. DOn’t invite comparisons. Seems like that word, “FUN” is in every other paragraph, in every instructors manual on the planet. Probably Mars & Venus, too.

Lots of people who have fun skiing quit when they start having families. It might be fun but they can’t or won’t spend the money on it. Even if they do, they don’t go often.

 

snowman
from The Falcon & The Snowman

If you are thinking like a drug dealer, you may be on the path to professional perfection. It ain’t about lessons. It ain’t about “proficiency”. It is about giving your clients “a taste”.

Give them that first needle full of snow and you’ll own them. Get them hooked on snow and they will be hanging around the street lamp outside your door at 3am waiting to score another dime.

You aren’t there to “teach” them. You are there to INJECT them with a craving that can never be satisfied. So, stop schlepping around the locker room and go build your own little Psychedelic Shack.

In the next installment we will examine the attributes and behaviors involved in the various levels of relationships and open the discussion of how to move up the snow sport instruction food chain.

We’ll examine why the PGA requires their pros to pass their business curriculum and ask why most bodies who govern snow sports instruction around the globe do not. So, let’s go! Darwin is a busy man so let’s not waste his time…..

 

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.

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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.

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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 Skiing Lessons – What the Heck are you Lookin’ At?

CLICK the video for a sound track while you read!

Or so Mr Morrison told us lo, those many years ago…Fun on the snow was about an empty Bota bag and a nice fat one on the chair ride. These days I don’t even carry a bag-o-booze and the only “fat one” on the chair is me… But, there is no denying the wisdom of keeping your eyes on the road.

I have only a few mantras. Two of them are that, good turns start with the eyes and If you are looking at the next turn, you’re too late

When you are trying a new drill it is entirely natural to look down at your feet and legs and stuff to see if it looks right. I am not saying don’t EVER look at your feet. What I am saying is that just as soon as you can, STOP That!

The farther out in front of your feet your eyes are, the further in front your mind is.

When conditions and terrain get dicey, you need to free your mind to think tactically, to chose the best initiation and transition types that you can for each turn, and for your feet to execute your choices without conscious thought.

Balance is everything.

Your head weighs 14 pounds. When you look down at your feet, your fat head gets forward of your center of balance. If you have 14 pounds of skull hanging forward, to stay in balance, you must move 14 pounds of backside, to the rear. The next thing you know you are overly folded forward at the hips and backward at the knees and that position will wear you out in a hurry.

The problem with seniors skiing groomers is that the two-dimensional snow, and the lack of surprises let you get away with all sorts of bad habits.

The problem with looking at your feet is that you aren’t thinking about the next turn because you can’t see it. A lot of people have the physical skills to ski moguls or trees but they are constantly being surprised and get out of position in a hurry because their minds aren’t far enough out front.

Turns are everything.

Without them it wouldn’t be called “skiing”. It would be called “Flying thru the Lodge Windows”. When we practice, we are so very focused on the movements of initiation and transition that we forget that where the apex of a turn is placed is what keeps us from crashing into things and sets us up for success with subsequent turns.

Remedy..run some gates.

th-16
The Way We Were

Even if you have no ambition to race, gates force you to focus on the apex of the turn.

Gates force you to get your eyes and mind out in front of your feet. Gates force you to plan your line.

If where you ski doesn’t have a fun course set up, stop your run every five or six turns and plan the next five or six turns by picking specific spots on the snow to place the apex of your turns. Look at the spot for your last turn and try to ski the line you picked while focused on the last turn. Perform the drill you are working on while running gates.

“Head up, Eyes up, mind out front, have a plan, execute”

…and remember

…Fat head forward,

Getcha Fat butt back

Fat junk hurts

When you lose your stack

                                                                                Word

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.

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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…