to Ski/Ski Better/Ski My Best"
Choosing an Area to
the Colorado Rockies
EpicMix of Vail
Why and How to Take a Ski Lesson from a Professional
How to Pick a Ski
Bill Jones, Ski
To Reserve a Private Ski Lesson with Bill Jones
Ski Slope Ratings
Skiing as a Career
Lnks to Skiing
Books and Videos
Did you come here from a link on another website? See page bottom for latest version of this page.
"SKIING IS A SLIDING SPORT":
"Congratulations--you have selected skiing as your sport," which is like what you often read when you first open a newly purchased product. The next sentence may be, "Be sure to read the instructions first". And there may even be a disclaimer telling of inherent dangers if you use the product the wrong way.
Those are important advices to heed before and as you start skiing the first time, too.
It is possible to learn to ski without taking lessons, or by taking the advice of friends, or by just trying it on your own. But because skiing uses the human body in unaccustomed ways and in a harsh environment, lessons from a professional allow you to discover efficient and versatile ways you would be unlikely to find on your own. And lessons may even reduce the risk factor--not only to your own body but to those whom you might otherwise run into and possibly injure with corresponding liability for your action. Too, lessons will reduce the need to unlearn a movement or position that does not work well and relearn an effective replacement. Your teacher might say, "I can help you discover things that work."
Consider the frustration: Learning to ski is a process that is more challenging than most people imagine. The first day of skiing is a difficult one, often the hardest ski day one will ever experience. Even though we may not intend to excel at the sport, just gaining competence can take great resolve as we figure out how to get our skis do what we want them to get us to do. If we get hooked on the sport, the frustration can continue: witness the lament of Phil Mahre, one of America's greatest skiers ever: "I still can't make 10 perfect turns in a row...Two or three of them will be perfect, maybe five will be OK, and two of 'em will flat suck." (Ski, Oct 2008). Yet many beginners want results NOW.
Consider the environment. Have clothing in layers so you can add or take off, and with zippers for the same effect. Have head coverings available to preserve warmth and/or to shade bright sunlight. Sun-blocking cream is always required--even on cloudy days, for ultraviolet rays can get through clouds. Or the weather could be cold, dark, and windy. Lip salves are good. Goggles and sunglasses should be available. Ski clothing comes with many pockets to store and retrieve such items. Troublesome altitude effects are possible, as most ski areas are high in the mountains, so at first do not overexert and drink plenty of fluids--but go easy on the caffeine and little or no alcohol.
Consider the equipment. Beginners' skis differ from those suited for intermediate and advanced skiers--beginners use shorter skis that are easier to turn and tip and that are softer so they bend more easily. Too, beginners' boots do not need as much stiffness because at lower speeds there is less force to distort their shape. You should be able to flex your ankles while in your boots so your lower leg goes forward without hurting your shins. Why buy gear first, because you'll need different gear after a few sessions? And avoid using another's skis, which are unlikely to be the right ones for you. Go to a good rental shop and take their advice. They will help you select the right skis for you based on your height, weight, age, and skiing style and will also adjust the ski bindings so they are more likely to release you from the skis when needed. (You might find a better price away from your chosen ski area, but if the rented equipment needs adjustment you will be inconvenienced.
Consider the whole body. Have you done some conditioning before skiing? If so, good! Even if you have, however, many find that the first time out on skis they use their muscles and joints in new ways and are surprised when a body part hurts, hindering its use. Pace yourself so you can last longer. Likely you will learn faster when not tired. It is better to take a break before you get tired so that you won't get tired. Get adequate sleep the night before skiing. Start your first ski day before other activities, not in the middle of or near the end of a busy day. Eat well before and during skiing and keep an energy bar handy in your pocket. Stay hydrated. Take rest room breaks. Use warming huts. Only when our bodies are happy will our minds let us allow what we want our bodies to do.
Consider the legs. Most persons have legs that behave differently. Just as we may be right-handed or left-handed, we are likely also right-legged or left-legged. And your "legged-ness" may differ from your "handed-ness". Find out which leg is dominant for you by doing some simple tests--kicking a ball, standing on one leg and then the other to see which gives you better balance, etc. Then find ways to exercise the lazier leg to make it stronger, more responsive, and more maneuverable. (Twist and tilt the foot with that leg, for instance, and rotate the leg outward against resistance, for instance. Do this long enough before a ski trip to give time to improve performance, for both legs must be used in skiing during turns and a lazy leg can severely hinder progress.
Consider the psyche. Why are you trying the sport? Did the devil make you do it? Did you see those sexy ads in the slick ski magazines? Is apres-ski at the bar your motivation? Do you want to be able to ski with a significant other? find a significant other? with kids? with grandkids? Do you like the stylish clothes? Are you competitive and want to win a race on skis? Are you bored in the winter and want a new activity? Will you be impressing--or keeping even with--others in the office at the proverbial water cooler? Have you been dared? Do you want to enjoy the winter mountain views? Do you want to be a ski instructor?
Consider the mind. Are you a risk-taker? If so, you might learn faster as you try out new positions and movements. But be careful at the same time so you don't become a statistic you don't want to be. Are you cautious? If so, you might slow your progress into the sport's joys and even be a hazard to yourself for not using more daring actions that would actually allow better performance. Think as in the Nike slogan, "Just do it!" and avoid the 4-letter word in this sentence: "I can't." Think about how you like to learn--watcher, thinker, doer--and try to use the method that works best for you, but include the other methods as well for fastest progress. Share your learning-style preference with others helping you learn. Visualize movement patterns rather than static positions: skiing is a sliding sport. Recall the adage that "No decision is a decision", for even if you do not change your body's position as you ski, your skis will take you somewhere. By taking action you may influence what will happen into a desirable outcome.
Consider the lesson. Does your source of learning--instructor, book, video--have credentials and/or experience in the profession? Do you and he/she/it relate? Is the terrain you are on non-threatening so you can focus on learning? Is the lesson long enough so you can learn what you should (this varies by individual; some will need less lesson time to reach goals and others more, depending on their physical and mental makeup plus past activities and more). Is there enough time in the lesson to "groove in" new patterns of actions.
Consider the joy. "Are we having fun yet?" may be a question at first, as the first ski lesson is for most the hardest they will ever take. A long-time ski school director had this index for his success with "never-ever" students: He watched for teeth, revealing the beginnings of smiles, rare at first except from nervousness. Stay with skiing long enough to give the teeth a chance to show and know if it is a sport for you, and you will be more likely to join the millions of others who spend their years looking forward to their next sliding experience on snow.
Consider the future. Now that you have decided to start the sport, and assuming you like it, where will you go with it? Pick any goal you like--to ski the easiest green terrain, to cruise the blue groomed runs, to dive down the black steeps, to navigate the moguls, to taste the powder, to win the races--but note that most skiers advance their goals with time on the snow and the discovery that the better their skills the better their enjoyment and the more they can experience the best of the mountains. Beware: skiing is addictive.
Ski-heil! (a wish for health and happiness: it means long life and good luck; with wholesomeness.)
THE SNOW PLOW
The snow plow, often taught in a first lesson, can be the foundation of one's ski life in a positive or negative way. Bud Heishman on November 25, 2016 in the PSIA forum explains to ski instructors the two ways in his article quoted below: active weight shift versus passive weight shift. The difference matters. Be sure your instructor uses passive weight shift (i.e., your movements allow gravity and the forces developed by turning to put the weight where it belongs. Not all instructors understand this, and that is where having a certified instructor at a higher level is important.
"SKIING IS A SLIDING SPORT"--a skiing web
manual: Skiing Web Manual Contents Why
Read this Skiing Web Manual THAT
FIRST SKIING LESSON A
Little Skiing History Motion
Conventional Skiing Wisdoms
Skier Excuses Fear
in Skiing Conditioning
for Skiing Equipment
to Develop Balance on Skis
A Skiing Turn
Simplified The Final Skiing Skill:
pressure management Tactics for Terrains and Snow
Textures and Racing
Skiing Tips and Tales--a potpourii
Exercises for Developing Skiing Skills
Children and Skiing
Age and Skiing
Gender & Skiing
Culture & Skiing
Skiing Ethics and Slope Survival
Slope Safety Skiing
Videos and Apps
SkiMyBest Website Contents