Golfers who regularly hit their drive long and straight don’t do it by accident. Basketball players who methodically make free throw after free throw aren’t lucky. And tennis players with perfect ground strokes that can be repeated over and over again didn’t come by the skill naturally.
What the big hitter in golf, the high percentage free-throw shooter and the skilled tennis player have in common is knowledge and perseverance. All three have worked hard to perfect their craft, diligently working long hours at their particular sport.
Those same qualities also can be found in expert skiers and snowboarders. No one successfully masters a double black diamond run without possessing solid technique and putting in the time it requires to master more difficult terrain.
To ski extreme terrain, one needs to build confidence over time. One of the main things to remember is patience. Don’t gaze down at an advanced run and say, “I think I’ll try that today.” Build confidence over time and avoid taking unnecessary chances.
“Skiing is counter-intuitive. Our brains tell us to back off when faced with danger,” said Mike Penney, the head instructor at Sierra-at-Tahoe’s ski school. “Expert skiers have reprogrammed their minds to trust that the right techniques will control their movements when skiing tough terrain.”
What many people overlook is taking a lesson. Skiers and snowboarders take a lesson when they start out, so why not take a lesson when trying to make the ascent from good to expect?
Learning without an instructor can be accomplished if patience and practice are part of the formula. Sugar Bowl ski instructor Dan Salem says trial and error is a suitable method as long as it is done with safety in mind.
“It makes me cringe every time I see someone going down an advanced run out of control or doing the radical stuff that they see in ski and snowboard films,” Salem said. “They are being reckless and endangering not only themselves, but other people as well.”
A ski instructor the last 32 years at Sugar Bowl, Salem says entering an expert run at mid-level is one way to ease into tougher terrain. That not only decreases the speed factor, but reduces the number of turns that will need to be executed before getting to the bottom.
“You want to build up to where you are doing the entire run,” Salem said.
Another method is practicing the proper technique, where the skis are always parallel and turns can be quickly executed at fairly high speed, on easier runs instead of expert trails. That helps build confidence, which can be a fragile thing on a difficult run, especially for people who are going at high speed with limited control.
Confidence is important. Skiers need to be focused on what they are supposed to be doing, not thinking about how intimidating the run might be.
An experienced ski instructor, Penney stresses the importance of pole usage when looking to make the jump from good to great skier.
“Your most important and versatile piece of equipment is your pole,” Penney said. “A good pole touch is a box of tricks that encourages timing, balance, good biomechanics, aggression, turning power, tactics and ultimately, a progression to expert terrain.”
To reach that elite level faster, Salem says many people are now opting for private lessons. It is the safest and quickest method to progress.
“Over half the lessons we give now are private ones,” Salem said. “People want a lesson that is geared toward them. But even then it takes time to get it. You have got to practice; it’s a game of repetition.”
Read more modenook.com ski stories:
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- Avalanche kills 3 Washington state skiers near Stevens Pass resort
- New jib pipe unveiled at Squaw Valley ski resort
- Latest storms dumps more than 2 feet of fresh snow at several Lake Tahoe ski resorts
- Snow sets up resorts with new snow heading into President’s Day weekend
- Squaw says its ski-in, ski-out Starbucks the first of its kind worldwide
- Check out the many discount lift tickets offered by Lake Tahoe ski resorts
- Number of people who ski and snowboard on the rise nationwide
- Lindsey Vonn joins select club by capturing 50th World Cup victory
- Head to the backcountry or take lessons from Olympic legend Jonny Moseley
- Shaun White takes Winter X Games with perfect score on Superpipe
- Could Lake Tahoe host the next Winter X Games?
- Tahoe has many family-friendly ski resorts that also feature a friendly price
- Check out Shaun White video on “Conan’ this week. Flying Tomato shows up with new hairstyle — will he cut his hair?
- When is the best time to teach your kids to ski or snowboard?
- Shaun White Superpipe at Northstar ski resort being used by other famed riders — Danny Davis, Elena Hight, Hannah Teter
- Shaun White looks forward to training at his Norhstar 22-foot high superpipe this season
- Environmentalist groups file lawsuit against Homewood expansion
- Mt. Rose ski resort in Lake Tahoe announces expansion plans
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