My daughter invited me to go skiing yesterday with a couple of her friends from college. My office was closed for the day, and Caberfae was less than an hour away, so YES!
Her friends hadn't skied before, so we spent a couple hours getting them comfortable on the slopes. I had an important teaching insight as they improved from "oh, no way I can do this", to "I want to go again!"
Sliding on your feet is something most people try to avoid in normal life and many (most?) sports. While, it's generally a good idea and strategy for safety, learning to ski is about getting comfortable sliding on your feet.
When I'm coaching hockey to new players, teaching them how to hockey stop usually comes up. The way I teach it is to skate backwards while I pull the player by their stick. With both feet facing forward, I have them try to turn one skate slightly sideways with just the slightest pressure so they can feel the blade sliding on the ice without digging in. They look like they are partially pigeon-toed. I keep pulling them until they are able to slide one and then the other skate sideways on the ice without digging in.
Then we move to the next step. I have them skate towards the boards, glide, and then turn one foot slightly sideways. Using the same sliding feeling they learned when I was pulling them, they gently scrape one blade sideways on the ice, adjusting the pressure so they slow under control and come to a stop right at the boards. It works like a charm. A couple more times, and they now trust that they can slide to a stop under control. It changes everything for a new skater.
For these new skiers, learning to stop worked the same magic. My daughter and I would have them head down the smallest hill, toes together, and try to get comfortable with sliding under control. The trips back up the rope tow were chances to practice turning one ski sideways and adjusting the pressure. Like me pulling a new skater, the rope tow pulled the new skiers and let them practice without stopping. Less than 10 runs later, they had the confidence they could control their speed well enough and stop whenever they wanted. We headed to the big hill.
We were all rewarded with a spectacular view from the top, and the trip to the bottom was as slow as they wanted to go. Once they knew how to slide, and how to adjust pressure to dig in and stop, they really had a good time. They were skiing! The snow fell gently around us, and it was a great time.
If a new skater or skier can learn that stopping is about keeping their balance while sliding the ski or skate sideways, they will quickly gain confidence and skill and have a lot of fun.
Hi, I'm Scott Moehring
I'm a designer, teacher, writer, inventor, hockey player, gamer, and lifelong learner. I like to make cool stuff and share it with curious people.