SkiMyBest.com: "Learn to Ski/Ski Better/Ski
My Best" Synopsis Contents/Search Choosing an Area to Ski Skiing the
Colorado Rockies EpicMix of Vail
Resorts Ski Slope Ratings Skier Skill Lesson-Levels 1-9 Skiing as a Career Skiing Websites The Colorado Winter Outdoors Books/Videos/Apps Skiing Humor Dedication
Why and How to Take a Ski Lesson from a Professonal Ski Instructor How to Pick a Ski Instructor
Bill Jones/Ski Instructor Contact Bill Jones How To Reserve a Private Ski Lesson with Bill Jones
"SKIING IS A SLIDING SPORT"--a skiing web manual: contents (topics at page bottoms of manual)
SKI LETTER 2016-2017 FROM BILL JONES--October
Certified Professional Ski Instructor, Level III
(PSIA Registration #110478)
private ski lessons at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin, other areas
Here in Summit County, Colorado, winter symptoms appear: aspen and cottonwood trees, after giving great color this fall (why go to New England for that?), are now bare, streams are running low, brown trout are spawning, first snows have fallen (and mostly melted but with mountain summits showing “confectionary sugar”) as below, night-time temperatures as low as 16 degrees Fahrenheit are occurring, bull elk are bugling, firewood is being stacked, snow is being made on ski runs, and ski schools are gathering instructors’ schedules for another season.
Skiing is beginning (Arapahoe Basin is already open): Keystone will be first of the Vail Resorts to open, November 4th this year. Soon to follow will be Breckenridge on November 11, then Vail on the 18th. Beaver Creek opens on the 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving this year.
Although many skiers anxiously await first tracks of the season (and I will be out there soon), early conditions may not be all you would like. That is, unless there is continued cold weather to make plenty of snow or a solid snowstorm dump (and I have skied 3 feet of powder on October 31!). However, often the runs that are open at first may be limited and not at full width, snow depths may be shallow, and moguls missing. I am amused by the fellow in the cartoon here who has solved this problem. If you must limit your ski times, consider that winter does not officially begin until December 21 and by then here in Colorado with its high altitudes and colder climates, most resorts are usually in great shape. But if you can come to ski often, then come early, late, and in between. That’s what I do. You can contact me, too, for an update of current conditions. Or go to Vail Resorts’ epicmix.com for “mountain conditions” with webcams.
Booking a private lesson: This winter I will again be based out of Keystone and can accept requests for private lessons there and at all other Vail resorts including Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek plus Arapahoe Basin. (Theoretically the list also includes resorts in other states and soon even Canada at Whistler/Blackcomb as the Vail Resorts parent company expands.) Because I have worked at all of the local Vail resorts I can find the slopes at each that will work best for your learning—and/or help guide you around.
Reservations for private lessons are now being accepted, so it is time to make your own plans if we are to be able to ski together and you are to get your preferred dates. (As always, if there is a conflict with availability, let me know; although requests are first come/first served, there are sometimes opportunities to adjust.)
Cost-saving: Early word is that best prices will be available on lessons for any time of the winter if they are booked online before November 15. This can be done at www.keystoneresort.com and follow the links “Ski and Ride School”, “Private Lessons”, “Click for Private Lessons—Ski”, and “Learn More” or “Book Now”. You will see that half day and all day lessons are available at $555 or $745, respectively, but can include up to 6 persons. (It is important for all in the session to be able to ski on the same slopes or willing to ski on the slopes suitable for the lowest skill level. An alternative is to split the lesson to fit the learners, for instance some skiing in the morning and the rest in the afternoon.) The $745 all-day price is also available through the Keystone Ski and Ride School to book me for a session at Breckenridge, although it would cost $815 to book a Breckenridge instructor through Breckenridge. Price at Vail or Beaver Creek to book me through Keystone is $845 compared to a Vail or Beaver Creek instructor booked through either of those ski schools at $925. Confirm prices when booking.
“Learn to Ski/Ski Better/Ski My Best”: Those who have skied with me before may be used to my annual ski letters, like this one. I give ideas about skiing gleaned from various sources. On the included pages are this year’s crop of ideas to make your skiing more interesting and fun. Check out fat skis versus narrower ones, the amazing PSIman, a backward-steering bicycle, my skiing family, and more.
You can also review my “Learn to Ski/Ski Better/Ski My Best” website at www.skimybest.com for more cost-savings tips and ideas on taking lessons as well as view skiing tips on the site’s included online skiing manual, “Skiing is a Sliding Sport”.
Send me any questions you have relating to ski trips and skiing, but recall the final answer to all questions ski and skiing is, “It depends”.
Thanks for skiing with me in the past.I hope to have the privilege this winter, too
Professional Ski Instructors of America—
(Registration #110478), Certified Level 3 (Gold)
website of Bill Jones: www.SkiMyBest.com
home phone: 970/468-7673 (may leave message)
cell phone: 970/390-8821 (if no answer also call home phone & leave message both phones)
home address: 637 Blue Ridge Rd., Silverthorne, CO 80498 USA
To book a private session with Bill Jones at Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek/Arrowhead, Breckenridge, or Vail, call the Keystone Ski School: 1/800-255-3715 any day 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MST.
“Skiing is a Sliding Sport”
Check out “PSIMAN—The Movie” from Bob Barnes https://vimeo.com/9872613 (about a minute long). Bob at one time was the training director at Keystone. In this short video PSIman shows how little one has to do to make ski turns. A little stick figure with a swinging PSIA shield for a torso is started down a slope on shaped skis (narrowest underfoot). Gravity with ski design causes him to make turns, with PSIman just along for the ride. It’s entertaining, instructive, and short, revealing how little (anything at all?) we must do to make skis turn. The wise skier said, "In skiing, there are things (positions, movements, pressures) that we create and things that we allow; we should not create those things we could and should allow."
Backwards-steering bicycle: In this, steering is geared in reverse so that when you turn the handlebars to the left the bicycle goes to the right, and vice versa. Because we have all learned to ride with regular-steering handlebars it would seem that, once we were told to do the steering opposite we could easily do so. But watch the folks in this video try that and fail at https://youtu.be/MFzDaBzBlL0 (about 7 minutes but you’ll soon get the idea). Their dilemma shows how hard it is to change a habit and therefore how important it is to get the habit right at first. The experiment shows that to do a task takes more than understanding how to perform it; instead, to learn the task, such knowledge has to be coupled with doing the task repeatedly. In the video you’ll also see the videomaker struggling to ride the backwards-steering bike. He succeeds but only after months of trying. Importantly, his struggles go with no or little progress until a sudden success, an “aha moment”. Thus the frustrating advice given to skiers to “Fail until you succeed” is appropriate. It also shows the wisdom of the adage, “Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect”, for to practice wrongly does not give success. And after finally riding the strange bicycle, he then struggles again to relearn to ride a regular-steering bicycle. Hopefully in learning better skiing movements, we instructors can facilitate the process not only by providing understanding but with drills, coaching, and guided practice. The “aha” moments skiers get upon acquiring a new skill can be sweet indeed to the learner and fulfilling to the coach.
How to select skis: Some skiers consider length as the most important factor to consider in ski selection. some old-timers remember the index once used of raising your hand above your head with a ski alongside. In this, the tip of the ski was to be at the base of your thumb. Earlier still, some skis were ten or twelve feet long, like those once used by Yellowstone rangers on backcountry winter patrols, where the snow was so soft and deep the extra ski surface helped keep them
higher in the snow rather than slogging through its depth. Nowadays skis are designed in a variety of ways to meet different purposes.
Some skis are designed for speed, some for quick turning, some for hard snow and some for soft snow. Some are designed for easier Early ski outing near Dillon, Colorado
learning or easier skiing. Some are designed to work in most conditions. Their overall physical characteristics thus not only include length, weight, and width but also how these factors vary in different areas of the skis. Modern skis are typically narrower in their middles, which creates an arc along the skis’ sides. This arc varies with the dimensions at tip, waist, and tail. And it is this arc that, when the ski is tipped with our weight on it and while moving, can cause us to turn. But this can only happen if the ski has an upward bend in the middle so that when tipped the arc can develop. And this upward bend can be a little or a lot and the ski can be made springy or soft in this. But if one skis a lot of deep powder one may want a ski that bends downward in the middle sot that the ski will be planing upward and keeping us afloat while we are moving. So many factors! So, how to choose your skis? First decide the purpose of the ski you want (race, powder, ice, bumps, etc.) and the conditions you want to ski. Perhaps you’ll want more than one pair of skis. For me, I compromise and seek a more general-purpose ski. Find a knowledgeable ski shop that carries a variety of skis or look up ratings in ski magazines. Of course skis for given purposes also come in different lengths, with longer lengths generally being more stable at speed and shorter lengths being easier to turn. A compromise is to note the lengths available for a given model, evaluate your own height and weight relative to that of other skiers and then choose the length that correlates to where you come in this range.
Fat Skis/Narrow skis: Skis seen on the slopes have been getting fatter in recent years, that is wider all along but especially at their tips and tails. That allows us to float higher in powder, having more surface area to spread our weight. And, floating higher, there is less resistance from the snow when we try to turn them using rotation. But because we also turn by positioning the base of the ski at varying angles on or in the snow, a wider ski takes a bit more time and effort to reposition, making it harder for us to make quicker turns on firmer snow. This ski instructor has known this all along and now the fat ski fad is fading say the ski manufacturers and sales of narrower ones are rising. After all, most of us spend most of our ski time on firmer snow. Still, those who have invested (or will) in fatter skis are ahead of the game, for they will have good powder skis available when the powder is up. I’ll have mine.
Tip it: Modern skis have flex; when pushed down in their middles, they bend. They also are generally narrower underfoot, so that if tipped on a surface and pushed down at their middles, they will describe an arc; this arc causes moving skiers to turn. So, to use a modern ski effectively we must tip it so its base is angled to the snow surface. We can do this because our ski boots are stiff laterally. Such tipping, however, makes us off balance unless just the right amount of some force--like that developed in turning--holds us up. But what can we do to tip the skis? And with which of our body parts? There are three ways: We can tip our whole body, perhaps by rising up on one leg and/or down a bit on the other, or by relaxing the muscles at our core on one side. This way of tipping produces hardly any rotation of the upper leg in the hip socket and therefore hardly any rotational force on the skis; good for most racing turns). We can also tip our legs from the pelvis down by amplifying the same movements as in the first c ase. This produces just a bit more rotation of the femur in the hip socket, and therefore also a bit more rotational force on our skis. If our boots allow us to bend our ankles and therefore our knees so that our lower legs tip forward in such a way that we stay balanced on our feet, we can then move our knees sideways to tip the skis, producing still more rotation in the hip socket. (Technically, when we “bend our knees sideways” it is the plane containing our legs that we move as the knee joint does not move sideways.) Thus in all three methods of tipping our skis, we get different rotational effects. If we tip our whole bodies with our legs straighter, our bones are carrying more of the load than our muscles. But as we tip more with the lower body, the muscles of our legs come into positons where our muscle strength is greater. (Test this by having a friend hold your foot while you are seated with leg first straight and then bent.) Yet a leg that is bent more creates more strain at the knee joint. So is there a best way to tip? …It depends on what you want to have happen.
Feet: We are attached to the skis with our feet, so what do our feet have to do with skiing? That depends on how our boots fit and flex. If the boots are so tight that our feet are held rigidly we cannot use them to fine tune their interactions with the skis, flexing toes upward or downward for instance to change where more pressure goes. If the boots do not flex forward, we cannot stay in balance while moving our knees forward so we can tilt our legs to the side and tip our skis that way. Therefore there is value to having boots that are comfortable and snug but not tight and overly stiff (stiffness being relative to a static state but how much force we develop in our skiing due to speed, steepness, etc.). We also need to have our feet, ankles, and lower legs trained to do what we want—and to be strong enough to make it happen. You can start this before skiing. Balance on one foot, flex the ankle to raise and lower the whole body, rotate the foot at the ankle joint but not at the knee, etc. Balance on a “see-saw” type board. In these exercises, locate your mind with the working body part to help raise awareness of how to manage it. And emphasize your least responsive side, for we are usually right- or left-legged.
Conventional Skiing Wisdom # 33 (see more at www.skimybest.com/skiconv.htm): “Always ski in balance”
Surely all will agree this skier has his upper body positioned behind his boots. So is he out of control or does he have a purpose? Likely he will next extend his legs for a landing. But he still may wish to stay a bit back, for when his skis land in the snow they will sink into it a bit and slow up, with his body then continuing forward until he is again in a balanced position. It's the same reason that--when we ride on an accelerating or decelerating bus or train--we move opposite the direction of acceleration or deceleration until we are moving at the same speed as the bus or train and then we stand vertically.
SHOULD WE EVER BE OUT OF BALANCE?
"No!" says conventional wisdom. But consider how we learn to walk: moving a foot forward does not get us to walk; we have to also tip forward as the foot is moved forward, starting to fall while at the same time swinging the leg so the foot gets under where the weight is going, thus moving a support forward so we don't fall. With practice we got so good at this most have forgotten how this works but we can watch toddlers to remind us how we walk. At first, beginning walkers may swing a foot and its leg forward without first tipping their tops forward, causing them to fall backwards. Watch runners: their upper bodies are ahead of their lower bodies and they are tilted forward, with their legs rapidly moving ahead from behind--especially true as they accelerate, less so when they are at speed. On skis, therefore, if we simply remain balanced against all the forces upon us--gravity, deflection of skis against snow, and perhaps wind--our skis will keep doing what they have been and so will we keep doing what we have been. To change our direction or speed, we must rearrange the forces on our skis by changing the rotary force we apply to the skis and/or how we tilt or pressure them. We make these changes ourselves. If we do not make the changes, the ski will respond to whatever other forces, tilts, and pressures occur anyway and we may be surprised at results. As our skill to do this rearranging increases, so also does our ability to manage ourselves on various ski slopes and snow textures.
And consider this advice from Dave McCoy, founder of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California, once a race coach, and father of several Olympians. He is telling how he coached Jean Saubert (at the time a would-be Olympian and later an Olympian): "...we taught her how to ski on all parts of the ski...forward for better control, better cutting and braking...and on her centers for extra balance and precision on rapid turns...on the backs to accelerate, shoot the skis out of turns and away from the gate, yet still catch her balance..."--Skiing Heritage, July-August 2015, page 26. [Editor--Jean Saubert raced on different skis than the ones we use today, but we can still get similar effect from modern skis by repositioning our balance proactively. We do this by repositioning our weight, levering against the skis in our stiff ski boots by using our muscles in the feet, legs, and core or even moving a hand(s) and/or arm(s) and/or head forward or back or to the side. Your editor once skied in a race camp with Jean when she was returning to her sport and even beat her-but only after she had been out of the sport for years.]
Finale: Skis are complex. Joints are complex. Psyches are complex. Snow conditions are complex. And on and on, making successfully communicating these topics by writing about them without being able to demonstrate actions in situations is challenging or even improbable. Let’s go ski and see.
Family: I recently came across a photo of my son Russell winning a downhill ski race in his youth (He went on to be a professional ski racer but by now has raised his own former Junior Olympian.) While going fast is not for everyone, in the insert you can see his joy. What a thrill to be able to use one’s body to create such actions and sensations—the heart of athletics. This is the same sensation many skiers feel, a pleasurable one. When we feel such pleasure, our body/mental system retains the accompanying sensations so that we can readily recall them when we need or want to.
Bill's grandson Riley, at left at age 21, as of late 2016, 3rd nationally in giant slalom racing for his age (29th in the world). He is 5th nationally in slalom racing for his age (46th in the world).
And here is Riley at age 8, at right. Note the similarities of style in the two photos of Riley at different ages, especially the tilt of the body angled at the waist, width of stance, and that the outside (right) leg appears “bent” at the knee with inside thigh higher and more “bend” at knee than the other leg.
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Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. William R Jones.