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Slow and Steady: Is Terrain-Based Ski Instruction the New Normal?

terrain-based ski instruction

The traditional method of learning how to ski involved getting out there on the slopes. It was a little bit dangerous, but it was also good experience. Today, there’s a new, competing, methodology for learning how to ski – it’s called “terrain-based ski instruction,” and it replaces the slopes with engineered slopes and ski zones to control where an individual can go as well as minimize falls and injuries. But, should this be the new normal?

The Pizza/French Fry Method Gives Way To More Advanced Methods

About 85 percent of skiers ditch the activity after the first try and never want to do it again. It’s understandable. The conceptual model of “french fry,” “pizza” forces people to think about how they’re going to ski, rather than allowing them to ski.

But, in downhill skiing, you don’t want to be thinking, you want to be on autopilot. The ground moves very quickly underneath your feet and, if you’re not already reacting to what’s happening in front of you, you’re toast.

Utah’s finest ski resorts

People who take up Park City rentals by owner get a taste for Utah’s finest ski resorts, and a new method of learning to ski that involves sculpted tunnels and slopes, rather than food-centric analogies. ( Image by Daily Herald )

What’s Behind The New Methods?

Instead of getting people to learn how to ski, the new method of terrain-based skiing gets people to feel skiing. They start out on flat ground to get a feel for the equipment, then they’re guided though slopes that control where they can go and how they turn. It’s easier this way because they can feel what their body is supposed to be doing, and that gets reinforced from the very beginning.

For a “never-ever,” it’s a lot easier to feel what’s supposed to be happening than to understand it, intellectually. Many instructors are noticing dramatic improvements in students, even before they get out to the “bunny slopes.”

Sculpted Tunnels and Slopes

The learning curve, as it were, is basically a series of gently banked turns and rollers that guide students through a “course.” This helps them learn to develop lateral weight-shifting skills – skills they will need out there on the slopes.

With previous methods of instruction, the focus was always defensive. The worst thing you can do is be out of control. And, so, instruction focused on stopping. Terrain-based instruction focuses on “going.”

Most of the time on the slopes is spent moving, even though being able to stop is crucially important.

Another benefit is that is shortens the learning time, and students are generally happier with the method and outcomes. If you’re interested in learning to ski in about 90 minutes, this is the method for you. You won’t be an expert, but you should be able to have at least basic control over your speed, including basic stopping skills. That’s enough to get you out into a “live” scenario without getting hurt, and that’s what it’s all about.

About the Author

Lonnie Graham is a self-admitted ski fanatic. A passionate writer, he likes to share his love of outdoor sports with others on the web. Look for his entertaining and informative articles on a variety of blogs and websites.


Featured Courtesy by HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps

 

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