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How are beginner skiers like Olympic champions?

LiquidFeet

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I like reading Jackson Hogan's essays on skiing. One can find them here:
One of his essays just appeared in my email. I thought beginners and others reading here might enjoy reading and commenting on this part of what he said.

Edit: Sorry folks, but the content posted is behind a paywall at realskiers and can not be reposted here.
 
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vindibona1

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Jackson has written some good pieces. And as good as they are, they can be a little "etherial". But in terms of answering the question that the title of your topic beckons to be answered; if one can identify those similarities in actual skiing skills, one is or on their way to becoming a top-notch instructor (or at least skier).
 
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LiquidFeet

LiquidFeet

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Yes. But but... Jackson Hogan's call to see beginners and Olympians as similar isn't related to similar skiing skills. It's that "both are willing themselves to the edge of control, knowing that if they can just manage to keep pressure on the envelope of their ability they will break through to a higher level."

It was this focus that I enjoyed thinking about, prompting me to start this thread. I get tired of trying to find the golden nugget that runs through all skiing skills from level zeros to level elevens or whatever. We argue about that too often. We act as if The One True Way To Ski Right is the golden grail and if we find it we win big. Some people think they have found it. Have they won big?
 
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jmills115

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Thanks for sharing. I appreciated this
The consequences of failure always lie just below the surface of any ski day and are occasionally brought vividly to life; they are not so much ignored as respected”
 
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mdf

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That is great. I don't think all skiers approach skiing that way, though. I'm not even sure it is a majority.

I had a discussion about this with another student in my class at Taos. (In the context of me being the only one in favor of skiing Stauffenberg.)
 
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LiquidFeet

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Bretton Woods, where I teach, is a great teaching hill. That's because it has lots of low-pitch groomers with no double falls line in sight. Our mountain is known for its great grooming. We have good beginner terrain separated from the main mountain. We have bump runs and glades that progress from stupid easy to I-won't-ski-them. For these reasons we are inundated with beginners and intermediates of all ages. Lots of beginners and novices and lower intermediates take lessons from our ski school.

Any chair ride offers a view of multiple adult beginners, novices and lower intermediates making their way down what feels to them like dangerous terrain ... aka green groomers with freshly groomed snow. These skiers blow out if they have wobbly bodies, or if their skis act chaotic and send them down the hill gaining speed. They fall, laugh, get up, and go at it again. Their wobbly or tense and contorted adult bodies tell how they are dealing with this new experience. They are working very hard. They will never forget this day, as their emotional engagement is high. I enjoy watching them from the chair. Their intensity is intoxicating.

The adult beginner is a hero in the making. Let's celebrate these folks for doing something worthy of admiration, for taking up this crazy enterprise despite or even because of the presence of danger and the challenge of mastering it. Hogan calls their mindset "the freedom to dare."

I like that.
 
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beginnerskier96

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As a adult beginner I fully agree. There is only so much videos can actually teach you. At some point you will have to have some proper lessons at a good ski resort with a qualified skilled instructor. Thanks for sharing.
Skiing is like driving. You have to master all of the basic skills first then learn the more difficult ones. All hail adult novices too. This is why ski lessons are so important if you want to build up your confidence levels and hone your technique as well.
 

Wendy

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Bretton Woods, where I teach, is a great teaching hill. That's because it has lots of low-pitch groomers with no double falls line in sight. Our mountain is known for its great grooming. We have good beginner terrain separated from the main mountain. We have bump runs and glades that progress from stupid easy to I-won't-ski-them. For these reasons we are inundated with beginners and intermediates of all ages. Lots of beginners and novices and lower intermediates take lessons from our ski school.

Any chair ride offers a view of multiple adult beginners, novices and lower intermediates making their way down what feels to them like dangerous terrain ... aka green groomers with freshly groomed snow. These skiers blow out if they have wobbly bodies, or if their skis act chaotic and send them down the hill gaining speed. They fall, laugh, get up, and go at it again. Their wobbly or tense and contorted adult bodies tell how they are dealing with this new experience. They are working very hard. They will never forget this day, as their emotional engagement is high. I enjoy watching them from the chair. Their intensity is intoxicating.

The adult beginner is a hero in the making. Let's celebrate these folks for doing something worthy of admiration, for taking up this crazy enterprise despite or even because of the presence of danger and the challenge of mastering it. Hogan calls their mindset "the freedom to dare."

I like that.
Bretton Woods is delightful. You’re lucky. :)
 

Wendy

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As a adult beginner I fully agree. There is only so much videos can actually teach you. At some point you will have to have some proper lessons at a good ski resort with a qualified skilled instructor. Thanks for sharing.
Skiing is like driving. You have to master all of the basic skills first then learn the more difficult ones. All hail adult novices too. This is why ski lessons are so important if you want to build up your confidence levels and hone your technique as well.
Keep at it! I learned as an adult, and it’s hard. Kids have a much easier time, and adults who grew up skiing from an early age can have a hard time understanding the difficulties adults face in making new movements.
 

crabjoe

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They are working very hard. They will never forget this day, as their emotional engagement is high.

Can't remember my exact age, but I think I was 13 or 14 when I 1st went. I know it had to be a funny sight watching me.

I remember thinking how the bunny slope was so shallow, that I could, in summer, ride my bike up the hill. Then I put my rentals on and skated to the lift without a hitch. Made it to the top and got off the lift.. no problem.. Then the problem started. I realized I didn't know how to stop.

My 1st stop was by running into the trail map. I fell over got up then move to the hill. And they I saw it from the top. It looks crazy steep and way longer than how it looked from the bottom. My friends took off, so I did too. Next thing I remember is thinking I'm going too fast, how do I slow down or stop. I was probably barely moving.. And I screamed "How do you stop these things" and the reply came back "Snow Plow, Snow Plow! This care the crap out of me.. because I'm thinking it was one of those groomers heading towards me.. I took what felt like a fall from the intro to the old Wide World of Sports TV show.

After the fall and me jumping up asking where's the snow plow? Everyone got a good laugh then told me what snow plowing was. The rest of the evening, I spent a lot of time on my butt trying to figure it this ski thing and was hooked.. Even tried the intermediate trail a couple times that night. Sure, it took me forever to get down and fell a gazillion times, but I loved every min of it.

BTW, that bunny trail... After a few trips skiing, it looked just as flat from the top as it did from the bottom. LOL
 

cantunamunch

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Yes. But but... Jackson Hogan's call to see beginners and Olympians as similar isn't related to similar skiing skills. It's that "both are willing themselves to the edge of control, knowing that if they can just manage to keep pressure on the envelope of their ability they will break through to a higher level."

But neither the motivation nor the internal dialogue are the same.


Not a useful tenet. To demonstrate how not useful it is (playing devils' advocate here), that sentence is also true of the guys who sit and drink on their SISO porches at Snowshoe until they're brave enough to tackle a blue.

Their intensity is intoxicating.

I guess ;)


It was this focus that I enjoyed thinking about, prompting me to start this thread. I get tired of trying to find the golden nugget that runs through all skiing skills from level zeros to level elevens or whatever.

You do tend to want to pan the entire floodplain, not surprised you get tired.

. We act as if The One True Way To Ski Right is the golden grail and if we find it we win big. Some people think they have found it. Have they won big?

I submit that the principles of the first two paragraphs in Jackson Hogen's Golden Age of Incrementalism essay also apply to technique.
Thus:

"still strives to innovate, but almost all of what is touted as new is an extension of an existing "

"embodies a slight
<snip> tweak that doesn’t quite merit the “all-new!” hyperbole."

"I’m not alleging that minor changes can’t result in palpable upticks in performance, and gradually extending a proven
(change technology to technique) <snip> is standard practice when rolling out new concepts. "
 
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capecodbeachfront

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20 years ago I could ski 'the whole mountain", now 20+ years later I am back to get a grandson skiing. Not sure I can ski the whole mountain anymore, or want to. What I favor now are the lifts that get me out of the true beginner area but not into an area where I feel endangered. Or an area where I feel I am endangering others. I wish more mountains had what I call 'a lower mountain" ticket. I know there are 'slow' areas but too often the areas are really just intersections or the bottom areas of more advanced trails. I want my "green area" with a no brainer lift just for us easy skiers. And add a designated 'ski ranger' to politely reprimand the hot shots who belong elsewhere. In my dreams right? Fingers crossed the Sunway area to the left at Gore will fit the bill.
 

cantunamunch

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20 years ago I could ski 'the whole mountain", now 20+ years later I am back to get a grandson skiing. Not sure I can ski the whole mountain anymore, or want to. What I favor now are the lifts that get me out of the true beginner area but not into an area where I feel endangered. Or an area where I feel I am endangering others.

A lot of mountains have this, one just has to find it. Bigger mountains are better for this than small ones.

Or just pick a small mountain that's near a big one (Bromley, Pico, Bolton, Silver Creek come to mind here - I know you're in NY)
 

KingGrump

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I want my "green area" with a no brainer lift just for us easy skiers. And add a designated 'ski ranger' to politely reprimand the hot shots who belong elsewhere. In my dreams right?

If you have an Ikon pass, give Stratton a try. The slow Tamarack chair serves an decent sized beginner pod that is isolated from the rest of the mountain.
 

capecodbeachfront

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pick a small mountain that's near a big one (Bromley, Pico, Bolton, Silver Creek come to mind here - I know you're in NY)
I am up by Saratoga. West Mt is closest, strong snow making, and night skiing. BUT the entire mountain funnels into "The Face" which would be the equivalent of lower mountain. Actually the top of the mountain trails are the most casual and relaxed, but as I said you end up all going to the face area to get to the lifts. With terrain park, a semi permanent racing setup, and lift towers what was once a 'big' area has gotten condensed a lot. A busy area that I am not confident in, yet. That leaves the beginner slope which is often crowded with group lessons and is the furthest from the lodge. The old, closer beginner slope is now a tubing park. Gore Mt has the Sunway chair and possibly a new BearCub(?) quad which only has green trails. Fine for me... short easy runs that I can do over and over until I get some confidence back. But it is more than an hour away so you want to be sure of the conditions before booking your ticket. Big push to buy online, load on your RF card...
 

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