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Lesson recommendations for progressing from greens to blues?
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Updated 5 months ago
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5 months ago

I’m headed up to the Laurel Highlands for Presidents‘ Day weekend and I’m hoping to use the 3-4 days on the slopes to build my skills and advance from beginner to intermediate. Last year I felt confident on the blues at Bryce but couldn’t quite handle the blues later at Wisp. Are the group lessons at 7S, HV, or LM good for this type of skill building, and if so, any recommendations on which one to hit up for lessons? The group workshop at 7S seems to be what I’m looking for but I’m guessing LM and HV will be less mobbed and perhaps easier to avoid scores of fearless tweens zooming by me.

Thanks!

5 months ago

Lessons help, but this is really a time and mileage sport. A bit of speed makes turning esier and certainly less tiring, but speed is scarry to a beginner. Only time on the hill helps you get used to a bit of speed. If you stick with it, you’ll learn to love some speed. You have to become proficieient at edging and angulation, and while lessons certainly help with those concepts, it’s time on the hill that helps you perfect them. Welcome to a geat sport, and keep at it.

5 months ago

What would you suggest to Mike, besides taking a lesson, to help him become more proficient at edging and angulation?

Mike, there are lots of things that can make the blues “harder to Handle”. Snow conditions vary from day to day, the pitch on the blues vary from resort to resort, trail width can make a difference. You only have a few opportunities to learn things right in the beginning. You have three or four days on the slopes, i suggest you spend the first day getting your legs back under you, make some turns and have some fun. Schedule a private lesson with a level 2 or 3 instructor. You will get coaching directed specifically to you. Biggest bang for the buck.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

Punk Wonk Mike wrote:

I’m headed up to the Laurel Highlands for Presidents‘ Day weekend and I’m hoping to use the 3-4 days on the slopes to build my skills and advance from beginner to intermediate. Last year I felt confident on the blues at Bryce but couldn’t quite handle the blues later at Wisp. Are the group lessons at 7S, HV, or LM good for this type of skill building, and if so, any recommendations on which one to hit up for lessons? The group workshop at 7S seems to be what I’m looking for but I’m guessing LM and HV will be less mobbed and perhaps easier to avoid scores of fearless tweens zooming by me.

Thanks!

Good for you for considering lessons to get to the intermediate stage sooner rather than later.  What days of the week are you skiing?  In general, group lessons midweek or in the evenings can work out better because fewer adults past the never-ever stage even think about taking a lesson.

It could be worth calling each ski school and see what they have to say in terms of what day/time might be better.  Also to ask whether intermediate lessons are taught by PSIA Level 2 or Level 3 instructors.  While there are Level 1 instructors (or the equivalent experience) who have been teaching long enough to be pretty good instructors, someone who has gone thru the process of achieving Level 2 certification usually has more ideas about how to help an advance beginner or intermediate skier improve based on a relatively short time in a lesson.

What you want to come away with from a lesson is an understanding of a couple of fundamental skills and how to practice them correctly on easy terrain.  Mileage certainly makes a difference, but mileage while skiing the hard way can mean having to unlearn bad habits later on.  You are not likely to ingrain good technique skiing fast on blue and black trails before you know what edging and angulation mean.

I have a friend who started learning with her kids at Massanutten several seasons ago.  She was only getting 4-5 days of skiing during the two holiday weekends each season.  But she took at least one group lesson every time.  And practiced on greens or the easy blue at Massanutten every chance she got, including going out for a few more runs in the late afternoon after the rest of our group was done for the day.  End result was that in her 4th season, she was able to ski the easier blues at Alta during a spring break trip during her first group lesson at Alta (late season, solo lesson, L3 instructor).  I don’t mean she just down those blues, I mean she skied them with nice round turns in complete control and no need to stop after 10 turns because she was tired or needed to regroup.

FYI, I’m not an instructor.  I’ve learned a lot from instructors in the last five years because I started taking lessons regularly after rehabbing a knee injury (not skiing related).  Also tend to read threads by beginners and intermediates on ski forums.

5 months ago

Lessons and mileage both help.

But if your mileage ingrains bad habits, it will take you 10x longer to unlearn the bad habits and to re-learn the correct habits.

Speed and gravity acceptance are critical to good skiing. However, if you can’t execute proper turn technique at low speeds, your form is off. And you are masking poor technique. Making a turn a relatively higher speed is easier, because you can do it with bad technique. And it can be more dangerous. To you and others.

Take a lesson. Or two or three. Private or group, I don’t think it really matters. There are a lot of very good local instructors. The longer the lesson, the better. But, you are correct, make certain it is at an uncrowded area (at the time of the lesson.)

 

5 months ago

Lessons from a good instructor help ensure that the first movements learned are proper movements. A good instructor will steer the you away from movements that will work in the short run but ultimately are a learning dead end. These movement, like a braking wedge (skis tips pointed to make a wedge and both skis turn up on their inside edges), work to slow, turn, and stop but in the long run they are not appropriate to higher level skills. When would you use a braking wedge except to panic stop? The problem with so many beginners is they learn to rely on a set of movement that do not work on more difficult terrain and must now be “unlearned” to make progress. Wedge turns are an appropriate method to begin with but a proper wedge turn for a beginner on easy terrain should involve mostly pointing the skis in the direction you want to go. Edging will be introduced on one ski to make a turn and turn shape (completing the turn all the way across the fall line) is used to control speed and stop, no dual edged braking for normal skiing. As JohnL said, bad movements take time to unlearn or as an instructor to said to me, the old adage that practice makes perfect is flawed. Perfect practice makes perfect. Learn it right first and spare yourself what could be years of frustration trying to unlearn bad habits. Another instructor also told me that it takes about 300 repetitions to “own” a move but it takes 1000 reps to unlearn a bad move. 

Laurel will be lest crowded and chances are if you ask for an intermediate group lesson you might be the only one in the class. Laurel’s Innsbruck or Broadway combined with Deer Path will give you almost a mile of upper novice/lower intermediate trail. You won’t find that at Hidden Valley. That type of terrain does exist at Seven Springs, trails like Lost Boy and Lost Girl for long green trails and Boulder Trail for intermediate terrain are found on the North Face side of the mountain but these trail along with Fawn Lane and Philips on the front side are often crowded and usually the grooming gets skied off to very hard pack by mid-day, especially on a holiday weekend.

If you do decide to take a lesson at Laurel and you want to pay for a private, ask for Lee Price. I know Lee, he is a Professional Ski Instructor of America (PSIA) certified Level 3 instructor. All three places have many well qualified instructors but I would ask for nothing less than a Level 2 instructor. 

Buy a Highland ticket that gives you access to all three mountains. You’ll have to drive yourself as there are no shuttles between the resorts but if you find that you are not liking where you start out you can always try another resort, even on the same day.

Hidden Valley would be my close second suggestion because it does offer a little more varied intermediate terrain but the hill is not tall so the trails are short.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

Laurel will be lest crowded and chances are if you ask for an intermediate group lesson you might be the only one in the class. Laurel’s Innsbruck or Broadway combined with Deer Path will give you almost a mile of upper novice/lower intermediate trail. You won’t find that at Hidden Valley. That type of terrain does exist at Seven Springs, trails like Lost Boy and Lost Girl for long green trails and Boulder Trail for intermediate terrain are found on the North Face side of the mountain but these trail along with Fawn Lane and Philips on the front side are often crowded and usually the grooming gets skied off to very hard pack by mid-day, especially on a holiday weekend.

If you do decide to take a lesson at Laurel and you want to pay for a private, ask for Lee Price. I know Lee, he is a Professional Ski Instructor of America (PSIA) certified Level 3 instructor. All three places have many well qualified instructors but I would ask for nothing less than a Level 2 instructor. 

What I’ve found is that if you don’t know a name, asking for a Level 3 instructor is useful.  Even if one is not available, more likely to get an instructor with 10+ years of experience.  Level 1 certification technically qualifies someone to teach beginners, not intermediates.  But there are many reasons that an instructor who has been teaching for 5+ years might not have higher certification yet.

I’ve worked with over a dozen Level 3 instructors, both in the Mid-Atlantic and out west.  Every lesson has been very useful.  I usually do a 2-hour lesson but sometimes extend to 2.5 or 3.0 hours.  Doing the lesson as a semi-private with a friend is optimal to decrease the cost a bit but more importantly I learn a lot when the instructor teaches the other skier.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

… As JohnL said, bad movements take time to unlearn or as an instructor to said to me, the old adage that practice makes perfect is flawed. Perfect practice makes perfect. Learn it right first and spare yourself what could be years of frustration trying to unlearn bad habits. Another instructor also told me that it takes about 300 repetitions to “own” a move but it takes 1000 reps to unlearn a bad move.  …

+1

Hadn’t read the 300/1000 reps idea before.  Makes perfect sense.

5 months ago

I can attest to the necessity for lessons being a perpetual intermediate skier for the past couple of years!  For me, I am still unlearning a lot of my bad habits from my early foray into skiing where I tried to save money and not pay for lessons and save time by getting more miles skiing with my friends.  It was disheartening for me to ski at Jackson Hole a couple of years ago, pay full ticket price, only to ski a blue trail once and spent the rest of the day in their beginning area because I just couldn’t make a turn to save my life.  I paid for a half-day lesson the next day and I was able to access more of the mountain as a result.  Looking back, I wasted a day at Jackson Hole had I prepared myself better at our local ski resorts.  Pay money now, so you can save your money, ego, and time later!

 

5 months ago

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

As JohnL said, bad movements take time to unlearn or as an instructor to said to me, the old adage that practice makes perfect is flawed. Perfect practice makes perfect. Learn it right first and spare yourself what could be years of frustration trying to unlearn bad habits. Another instructor also told me that it takes about 300 repetitions to “own” a move but it takes 1000 reps to unlearn a bad move.

There is research on this, independendent of the particular sport. My ice hocky power skate trainer mentioned similar numbers - but I think higher. You need to train the muscle memory pathways to your brain. I think the PSIA folks could post a link and representative numbers? I tried Googling Tuesday night and didn’t find the results I wanted.

This is a fundamental and essential point.

5 months ago

Professionally speaking, I know of Ski Patrol candidates who were passed over jobs - they were established skiers with established bad ski habits. And well-certified in the medical fields. They were passed over for newbies who could be trained in skiiing at lower cost.

 

5 months ago

This entire discussion evolves around learning the correct movements on skis.  I do suggest taking a lesson from a level 2 or 3 cert,  Why? Because they do have more experience and teicks in their quiver for the student.  It’s easy to have a new skier learn the proper stance and movements to become a prallell skier on green terrain.  It’s when the skier ventures into blue terrain that the parallel leaves them if noty given the proper movements to use. Most skiers will eventually get it but may develop bad habits to be unlearned in the process.  My suggestion to any student who wants to progress to blues after being parallel on greens is to do the greens correctly again and again and after becoming bored with the greens get another lesson to help them learn the new movements required for blues.  It’s a progression.   

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

kwillg6 wrote:

This entire discussion evolves around learning the correct movements on skis.  I do suggest taking a lesson from a level 2 or 3 cert,  Why? Because they do have more experience and teicks in their quiver for the student.  It’s easy to have a new skier learn the proper stance and movements to become a prallell skier on green terrain.  It’s when the skier ventures into blue terrain that the parallel leaves them if noty given the proper movements to use. Most skiers will eventually get it but may develop bad habits to be unlearned in the process.  My suggestion to any student who wants to progress to blues after being parallel on greens is to do the greens correctly again and again and after becoming bored with the greens get another lesson to help them learn the new movements required for blues.  It’s a progression.   

+1

Over MLK weekend, I got to observe my Level 3 coach at Massanutten teach a group of never-ever skiers.  He had 7 out of 8 doing good turns and stops with pretty decent confidence in under an hour.  The corrections and suggestions he made included comments I’ve heard him mention to intermediates in the past.  He was setting them up for a future by talking about “shins to the boot” from the start.  Even though they were all in rental boots that were clearly at least one size too large.

Have also observed him trying to address long-time bad habits in a 2-hour clinic for skiers over 50.  One woman had learned to ski as a young adult following hard chargers down steeps at Jackson Hole.  Took him over an hour to get her out of a “death wedge” on a green (Geronimo).  Another time there was a man who couldn’t do a basic drill on the blue so we ended up on the green.  I found out after the lesson was over that his idea of an ideal ski day was when he’d done Diamond Jim fast all day long and he could barely walk to his car in the afternoon.  He couldn’t grasp the concept that with good technique, quads do not have to hurt.  He just figured he was getting older so it would hurt more in the future.  The instructor told him point blank during the lesson, but nicely, that there are easier and more fun ways to make skis turn so older skiers could enjoy skiing more.

5 months ago

marzNC wrote:

One woman had learned to ski as a young adult following hard chargers down steeps at Jackson Hole.  Took him over an hour to get her out of a “death wedge” on a green (Geronimo).  

That seems like a pretty extreme example. How can someone ski in a wedge their whole life and not realize that something was wrong? People never cease to amaze me.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

wgo wrote:

marzNC wrote:

One woman had learned to ski as a young adult following hard chargers down steeps at Jackson Hole.  Took him over an hour to get her out of a “death wedge” on a green (Geronimo).  

That seems like a pretty extreme example. How can someone ski in a wedge their whole life and not realize that something was wrong? People never cease to amaze me.

Agree that she is not typical.  My impression is that she didn’t continue skiing.  Was with a husband who was an older man who hadn’t skied since straight skis were the norm.  So it was as if they had recently decided to get back on the slopes.  Hard to say how long they had been married.

My point is that it’s quite possible to be over-terrained to the point of developing bad habits that are very hard to break.  Much less likely to happen if lessons happen before someone skis challenging terrain at a big mountain.  Or even blacks in the Mid-Atlantic in the first or second season.

5 months ago

marzNC wrote:

wgo wrote:

marzNC wrote:

One woman had learned to ski as a young adult following hard chargers down steeps at Jackson Hole.  Took him over an hour to get her out of a “death wedge” on a green (Geronimo).  

That seems like a pretty extreme example. How can someone ski in a wedge their whole life and not realize that something was wrong? People never cease to amaze me.

Agree that she is not typical.  My impression is that she didn’t continue skiing.  Was with a husband who was an older man who hadn’t skied since straight skis were the norm.  So it was as if they had recently decided to get back on the slopes.  Hard to say how long they had been married.

😆

5 months ago

JohnL wrote:

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

As JohnL said, bad movements take time to unlearn or as an instructor to said to me, the old adage that practice makes perfect is flawed. Perfect practice makes perfect. Learn it right first and spare yourself what could be years of frustration trying to unlearn bad habits. Another instructor also told me that it takes about 300 repetitions to “own” a move but it takes 1000 reps to unlearn a bad move.

There is research on this, independendent of the particular sport. My ice hocky power skate trainer mentioned similar numbers - but I think higher. You need to train the muscle memory pathways to your brain. I think the PSIA folks could post a link and representative numbers? I tried Googling Tuesday night and didn’t find the results I wanted.

This is a fundamental and essential point.

I’m not sure if I got the numbers right.  Nolo was my instructor for 2003 EpicSki Academy. She told be about muscle memory and the difficulty of unlearning bad movements. Nolo made it to the highest level of national PSIA administration in addition to examiner status on the snow/teaching. I don’t think she was on the national D-team but she has a doctorate in education.  All my flaws in skiing are due to the fact that I took so few lessons early. I am still trying to unlearn bad habits. My brief time in Laurel’s instructor clinics and the ESAs I attended really improved my skiing and began to set me on the right path.

5 months ago

Your numbers seem very low from past recall. But the main thing is that unlearning takes a lot longer than learning.

5 months ago

Thanks for the tips everyone! I’ll definitely spring for a lesson next weekend, but I wouldn’t have known what to ask for without the advice here, much appreciated.

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