Ski Instruction tells you the wrong things.

Ski tows push.

Simon Trueman, the Waggoner at “The Victorian Farm” demonstrating an important skiing principle.

In most Ski Schools the Ski instruction uses bad language.  I don’t mean swearing, I mean they describe very badly what you need to do to improve your skiing.

Words are the keystrokes with which we programme our minds.  Use an incorrect or inappropriate word to describe something and you put the wrong idea, an incorrect understanding, into peoples’ minds.

I am going to write in more detail about this in another blog shortly, but for the time being I will just use this one example.

Many people dislike “T”-bars and ski button lifts.  Perhaps you do.  They feel very insecure on them.  And a key reason for this is that they misunderstand what these ski lifts do.  When I worked in ski instruction in schools I observed that none of the ski instructors were able to find a satisfactorily helpful way of explaining what goes on, when you are on a ski-tow.  They would often say something like “Don’t worry, it will pull you up!”

Folk feel nervous about using them, especially if they have a bit of a “jump” start as many do.  So you have a tendency to rather “sit down” on them, hold onto the pole and “hang-on”.  Even though you do this the whole process feels extremely unstable and likely to go wrong.

That is because it is!  And that is because of the way you are using it.  And that is either because of your own inwardly-generated perceptions of it, or the perception the ski instruction has implanted.

Why horses are great at ski instruction.

If I ask you what the shire horses in the picture are doing with the plough Simon is guiding, you will probably reply “pulling it”.   Obvious, but WRONG!

That is only what they appear to be doing.  Horses are very badly designed for pulling anything at all.  About the only way they could do it would be by holding it in their teeth and walking backwards.

Look at the picture.  Look at where the power is.  It is all at the back.  Horses are designed to push.  The front legs are only there to keep their chests off the ground.  Simon’s horses are pushing.

Around their necks are relatively softly padded collars, which are held back by the traces attaching them to the plough.  In order to move forward his horses have to push hard against the collars, using the power of their back legs to drive forward.

Now think of your “T” bar.  The clue is in the name “T” bar.  It is the bar that does the work.  It pushes.  Look what happens when there is nothing to push you.

Early-stage ski instruction.

Early ski instruction

Basically a “T” bar without a “T”. Nothing for it but to “hang” on.

Hanging on like these early ski instruction beginners on a rope tow, when you are on a “T” bar or button lift (the button does the pushing ) will result as this picture shows, in singular instability,  terrible strain on your arms and back, and a considerable risk of falling off.

Now compare this to this picture of a ski instructor, relaxed and letting the bar do all the work with only the lightest touch on the pole in case he needs at some point to gently and briefly steady himself.

Ski instruction / instructor

Relax. Let your legs hold you up and let the bar do the pushing

So all you need to do is to NOT “sit down”.  Just stay standing up and let the “T” bar push you up the slope.  If you sit down, you stop it doing that and you will end up hanging on to the pole for dear life, making things worse.  It is not a chair.

Next time someone in ski instruction tells you it is going to pull you up the slope – tell ’em you know better.

More anon…….

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