The Evolution of a Skier
Progress in any pursuit can at times seem glacial or it can be surprisingly quick with a quantum leap of understanding that unlocks the mystery that had been bedeviling you. The skier’s evolution is no different.
The huge startup cost of skiing is probably what keeps people away from this most sublime of sports. It all looks so romantic: the imagery firmly planted in your mind’s eye – effortlessly cruising down the hill, sunny days, making beautiful and purposeful arcs – and then there is the reality. The whole ‘ordeal’ of skiing to the beginner can be daunting. Thankfully this is the time for skilled ski professionals to do their job and bring you onboard not only from a skill perspective but on what is possible with your efforts.
Conquering the chairlift phobia, taking a few spills (yes this is an acquired skill), and slowly putting together turns and successfully navigating those green runs is worth the battle. The chance for rapid improvement actually exists at this stage and it is one worth celebrating. The good news is that beginner skiers actually have Eureka moments pretty frequently. Once you make those wide and increasingly less tentative ski turns on those green hills, link even some somewhat wedged turns, understand and apply the notion of weighting and unweighting skis you are a Level I beginning skier.
Congratulations the ‘worst’ is over.
Now, welcome to the much more rewarding world of intermediate skiing. Linking turns, comfortably navigating blue runs in a parallel skiing fashion, even tackling some mild bumps on occasion, and being comfortable enough to ski down black runs if they are wide and groomed defines the good of the intermediate skier. It's also the world where most people who ski with some frequency reside. If your ski journey is to reach its apogee as unapologetic intermediate skier then point ‘em downhill and huzzah to you. It’s all good.
…but if you wish to reach beyond and extend into advanced or even elite status you have to cross a threshold and ski in a completely different manner than the intermediate skier. At the margin, breaking out of the ‘intermediate rut’ is probably the biggest leap one can make because it entails a philosophical crossover that many do not possess or may not wish to invest the time and effort. What separates the merely good from the expert? Lito Tejada Flores, on what constitutes the truly expert skier:
“The mysteries of expert skiing are distilled into three key steps:
- Learning to ride the outside ski of the turn in clean round arcs.
- Developing a bombproof parallel start through early weight shift; and finally,
- Mastering short linked turns, straight down the slope, by practicing dynamic anticipation - a movement pattern where the skier's legs and feet turn from side to side, but the upper body does not.”
In essence Lito’s philosophies center on trusting the ski to do its work (arcing), early weight shift, and active legs under a quiet upper body. By following this dynamic consistently “any terrain, any steepness, and any condition” are available to the expert skier and from there the vistas for the skier are clear and unencumbered. You are an expert skier and nothing is now outside the realm of possibilities – a skier’s evolution indeed!
For more information please see Lito’s great website http://www.breakthroughonskis.com/
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