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Practice Makes Permanent (???)

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Practice Makes Permanent (???)

Postby Williamtele » Fri May 01, 2015 9:06 am

Practice makes permanent

I overheard an alpine examiner at my home mountain make this comment a few weeks ago. My first reaction was “what an annoyingly PSIA thing to say.” His premise was that if you’re doing something, but doing it wrong, the longer you do it wrong the harder it will be to fix. I found the comment stereotypically self-serving.

But it did get me thinking. As I look back on this season my one regret is that, due to weekend instructing commitments, I spent too much time making very similar turns on comfortable terrain. Telemark is great for many reasons and one of the things that sets it apart from alpine is the number of ways that you can do it. Every combination of terrain and snow conditions calls for something different….moguls, trees, steeps, terrain parks, gates, powder, ice, corduroy, blah, blah, blah. There are countless variations of weight transfer, edge release, lead change and pressure tactics that need to be exploited. Lots of opportunities to expand your skill set.

So when I think about what the examiner said, I sort of get it. If you ski the same way all the time, you’re going to ski the same way all the time. Challenge yourself to become more versatile.

How do you challenge yourself when you're out on the hill?
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Re: Practice Makes Permanent (???)

Postby Digger » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:05 pm

Mixing it up. short swing a couple, throw in a couple p turns, play with the edges doing falling leave stuff, to 360's.

Ski like a kid. Find those little 20 yard powder shots, play follow the leader, get off the groomers, don't worry about what anyone else thinks. Biggest smile wins.
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Re: Practice Makes Permanent (???)

Postby Rene-Martin Trudel » Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:20 pm

Hi Will,

I partly agree with you and see your point but I want to talk about the examiners comment that got me to react. Now I don't know the context but...

I have to say that the examiner is preaching I think.

Do we have the Fate that people are ignorant and need guidance. I don't agree.

The same could be said to a PSIA following a clinic by that examiner. You hear a new concept, try it and don't get it. You keep trying to get it, but still don't. Now, what used to work doesn't anymore and you feel that a type of turn/technique you used to master is suddenly all wrong and you are loosing confidence. Because most of the people are not taking lessons every week, a long time could go by before a new exercise or tip is given

You see this happening to professionals all the time. Baseball pitchers, golfers (can't pass to name Tiger Woods), tennis players and so on.

I tell my students the opposite.

Yes you have flaws, yes you can improve and wanting is the first step.
BUT if nothing else work, don't forget that you got where you are with all these «bad» habits.

If for a reason you are not seeing improvements while trying something new, come back to what worked for a bit and try again later.

Also, he is pointing at someone skis the same way over and over again. So what. It has no connection to bad habbits. It relates to changing terrain and going out of your comfort zone.
There is no danger that you will get stuck in that technique.

I like the fact that you point out that there is so many terrain, so many ways.
I actually thinks that telemark instructors, or alpine for that matter are limited by what they have been told is good or bad. And those who are not limited are usually very gifted athletes that are at the top of the ladder, telling people how to do it (preaching).

Moguls is a good example of that. If you follow the Alpine instructors way to ski moguls, chances are you are going to be more mixed up and have very little success.


PS: look at my signature mantra :)
"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right" Henry Ford
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Rene-Martin Trudel
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Re: Practice Makes Permanent (???)

Postby Williamtele » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:37 am

Hi Rene,

I totally agree with you. When I participate in (usually alpine) clinics at my home mountain with high level trainers, I find myself in an almost constant state of anxiety because 1) I'm not a great alpine skier and 2) I feel like I have to conform to a particular way of skiing. Over time I think that robs many instructors of both their individuality and their willingness to step outside their comfort zones. I certainly hope that there never comes a day when we try to teach ONE style of telemark but I tend to believe that many ski schools try to mold their staff instructors to ski the same way.....essentially homogenizing the product that is sold through lessons.

Testing yourself in uncharted terrain or conditions is the pathway to improvement regardless of the discipline (in my mind, anyway). But that is not to say that you have to do it on your own. Regardless of a person's opinion of PSIA, learning new skills under the watchful eye of a certified instructor can speed your progress to mastering bumps, trees or steeps or carving on groomers. That opens up new options for you whether it be in the back country or at a resort. Don't settle for the same-ol', same-ol'. At 60, I still feel like I have so much to learn and I'm not ready to call it a day quite yet.
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Re: Practice Makes Permanent (???)

Postby freedan » Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:14 pm

Just ski everything and ski a lot in all conditions, deep powder, slide for life, death crust, zipper crust, mank, glop, dust on crust, windbuff, windslab, etc, etc... and become a very good skier out of necessity. I like the challenge of skiing conditions that are often considered unskiable. Getting off the groomers and skiing wild snow is the key to becoming a versatile skier. I'm dubious concerning instructors. Some obviously are good but I've met too many who are didactic in their approach virtually quoting the PSIA manual who themselves are quite mediocre skiers and can't ski effectively at all in anything but groomed conditions. Now if you can find an instructor that can teach you to effectively jump/hop turns in death crust or the subtleties of speed and weighting and unweighting skis on dust over crust, there is an instructor worth the money. Many peoples skiing could be improved by ..... skiiing more! Skiing a few days a season and getting a lesson just isn't going to make someone a good skier. Maybe my viewpoint is skewed as a lifelong skier with almost 30 years now on tele and someone who is athletic or maybe I'm a curmudgeonly ass - either/both are probably true :D
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