Ski courses for nervous skiers are probably the most needed because so many skiers are nervous about it. Understandably.
The current speed skiing world record is around 160 mph ! BUT ….. I once asked an experienced recreational skier, one who had been skiing for years, why they still felt nervous about their skiing holiday.
Their – from my viewpoint extremely useful – answer was – – ” I think its because I don’t feel in control, I’m scared of going too fast and not being able to stop without falling. I think I’ve probably always felt that. If, regardless of how steep the slope or how fast I was going I was sure that I could stop I’d be OK”
What a dreadful indictment of the ski industry’s provision of ski instruction. This skier wasn’t an outlier, there are hundreds of thousands of skiers in the same boat. How can the industry have left so many skiers so disappointed for so long? It is a testament to just how marvelous and addictive skiing must be, that they keep going.
How should we provide ski courses for nervous skiers?
One disappointing aspect of this conundrum is that it really isn’t difficult. How come that skier didn’t know how to control their speed? After all those years. Why had the ski school / private lessons / so-called “ski academies” all failed them?
My own view is that the industry concentrates on the wrong things. It’s a business of course so profits matter more than anything else, but doing the job better isn’t precluded by that. It concentrates on the “Yee-Ha!” images. The ads are full of skiers you can’t see for powder.
The talk in the bars (backed up by the big-screen movies, and by the instructors and the exaggerators is all about “edges”, “fall lines”, “steeps”, “bottomless powder”. It’s baloney – about 1% of skiers can do all that. Why isn’t controlled skilful skiing what they talk about – and teach?
All the skier who answered my question needed was to be shown what to DO and to be helped, slowly and progressively, to develop the ability to do it. It’s not rocket science! They needed more time on gentler slopes; more time being helped to understand both why and how skis work. Instead, quite possibly, they were taken by skiers slightly better than them onto slopes too steep and too variable, on the basis that “You’ll be fine down here”!
So how do you stop?
We ski on sloping, virtually friction-less surfaces, but we spend our year on horizontal relatively high-friction surfaces. And we spend our year relying on friction. Small wonder then, if nobody told us how the process works, that we get concerned about being able to stop!
It’s because skiing isn’t about friction. Skiing doesn’t need friction. Skiing is controllable in the absence of friction. That’s what makes it so joyful when you can do it.
There’s too much to go into here, but it’s what I coach on my courses. You don’t watch me, I watch you. We do it gently, progressively, at the pace that suits the skier. You don’t build confidence in a few seconds, you have to give it time.
And in addition one does not change outcomes by always doing what you’ve always done. Always do what you’ve always done, and you’ll always get what you always got. The snag is of course that if no-one helps you find the “something different” that works, and helps you practise it you have no alternative.
There is hope folks – more blogs (and videos) soon. I’m working on it.