What level of risk are you prepared to take when you’re skiing? Are you a risk averse, fair weather slider or driven by the adrenaline of skiing fast and steep? It takes all sorts and at TDC we ski with a huge range of performers and that is part of the attraction of this wonderful job. One of the great fascinations is observing, and sometimes influencing, how people approach learning and seeing how learning and risk interact. In order to learn one has to risk attempting something new. It may be a small step and a small risk but it needs to be there nevertheless. Without it the dreaded plateau beckons, and at worst – decline.
For some the very mention of risk is enough to set knees trembling yet most people want to get better at skiing. Fortunately it is not the level of actual risk but the level of perceived risk that is central to learning. For a nervous intermediate who feels frightened of pointing the ski downhill on a blue run, the perceived risk of doing so is potentially greater than that experienced by an expert skier who descends a steep, rock-filled couloir. The actual risk of failure is indeed greater in the couloir but because the performer is within their comfort zone and perceives minimal risk there is likely to be minimal learning. By overcoming a greater likelihood of failure we access a more significant learning episode. So who is in fact the risk taker in this example; the extreme skier or the nervous intermediate?
At TDC we frequently reflect as a group on the way we coach and upon how we build relationships with our clients. A common point of discussion is how to manage the expert skier who books lessons with the intention of improving. It is difficult for adult learners to relinquish old habits and accept the risk of failing at something new. More often than not a change in performance necessitates unfamiliar sensations, and a certain vulnerability as motor programmes adjust, proprioception recalibrates and expectations are reframed. Here progress depends on two factors;
A willingness to embrace perceptions of risk
The relationship forged between coach and learner.
Most people when asked “what do you wish to achieve during this lesson” will focus on success, however, it is openness to failure that sets the really successful learners apart.
TDC ski coaches are on the hill practically every day of the season; it’s fair to say that we see our fair share of nonsense, please enjoy these 5 of Kieran’s pet hates!
Parents of small children, taking them down a steep red/black run when they are clearly too small and inexperienced to cope! Small children have big heads, add a big helmet to that, and I think that’s why most little ones ski in the ‘back seat’. There is no rush to get a 4 or 5 year old to ski steep slopes, let alone when they still have a big pizza! Keep them safe, make it fun, and they will learn, trust us, we know!
If I have just spent the morning with a nervous skier, I will have been working hard to build confidence; confidence in themselves, and confidence in their ability to control their speed and direction. Skiing therefore becomes enjoyable, rather than a stressful experience where they fear they will hurt themselves. It’s a Holiday! Having just had a hugely successful breakthrough in a morning session. What happens after lunch? The other half (usually the boyfriend/husband!) says “come ski with me, you will be fine!” By 4pm the same person is now in bits, confidence ruined, and has un-learned the whole morning. Very frustrating when you have to start again the next morning. (Not to mention the arguments it can cause!)
Skiers who ski at a speed way beyond there capability – this is probably my biggest pet hate of them all! It never ceases to amaze me how many skiers hurtle down the hill, with no awareness, consideration for others, or just general safety common sense. You can probably picture the type – usually male, 15-40 years old, off balance, jacket undone, goggles all squinty, in a racing snow plough with no turns, doing about 50 mph!! When these people get close to us ski instructors and our lessons (especially little ones) we get infuriated! And boy, if we catch them on the lift, we sure let them know, politely and professionally of course, which is rather difficult! FIS ski code/rules
Skiers or snowboarders off piste with no safety equipment – Transceiver, shovel, probe is the minimum. When I am coaching my groups in off piste private lessons or off piste clinics, I often see others near us with absolutely no safety equipment. They are usually thrashing around all over the place, all on the same slope at the same time, charging over convexities and showing absolutely zero off piste safety knowledge or etiquette. It infuriates instructors and mountain guides when we see these people! The main reason for this is that they may start something (ie an avalanche) above you, and put your group in danger. As coaches we are very aware of this, we always try to ensure we are never placed in this position.
Massive ski school groups snaking across the piste!! We have all seen it, an instructor, with about 10-15 people snaking down behind them (sometimes even more!) taking up the entire piste. There is nothing wrong with skiers following an instructor down a run, as they may be working on line, or turn shape, or speed control, but 15 people! How can anyone in a group this size receive any individual attention or feedback, it is practically impossible for the instructor to develop peoples performance in groups this big. At TDC, we never take more than 6 people in a group, maximum feedback, development, safety and enjoyment per person!
Kieran is normally an entirely positive guy and absolutely loves: Really big dogs, Savoyade Food, Good Whisky, Powder Snow and Working lots of hours. [ed]
We all strive for awesomeness on the slopes, however not all success can be attributed to these on snow endeavours. Here are 5 simple and effective ways to improve your skiing…. without even skiing!
Get your skis serviced.This means taking them to a shop where the staff will sharpen the metal edges, grind down the bases slightly to flatten them; getting rid of unwanted rock gauges, and then add some wax to keep the base healthy. It was a pretty tough December here in Val d’Isere, and some of the TDC coaches’ skis took a hammering on rocks. I took my skis into SnowBerry here in town and got them back good as new! Now going into mid-January, we have some icy piste conditions, and my edges are gripping and working well for me. Making me better at skiing!
Get your boots fitted properly with a good footbed.We at TDC all feel that the support of your boots is paramount to your ability to ski well. A moulded footbed will ensure that when your brain wants to influence the skis, there is no slack between your foots command and the skis reaction. Whatever movement your foot makes is transferred directly to the ski. Many of the TDC team have their feet computer analysed and custom soles made by SureFoot in Val d’Isere.
Watch a Ski Movie and be inspired.There are many incredible ski films available, and we can all argue about the best. A great one to cut your teeth on is “Claim”. With big mountain powder scenes, acrobatic freestyle segments and a huge dosage of charisma, this film is a great way to spark inspiration and motivation to get better. Sometimes this bit of motivation is all it takes to become a better skier. (To take on the bigger cliff drops maybe think about getting one of us to teach you…! Off Piste Adventure Courses )
Drink some water, and eat more bananas.Altitude naturally dehydrates you, and I’ve heard Bananas are good for you. This will prevent cramp, and assist recovery. A great short term preparation before hitting the slopes. Simples
Off-Piste prep: Do some transceiver searching and watch this video.Many of our courses and lessons at TDC revolve around the amazing off-piste in the area. To personally improve your ability to ski with others in that terrain, you must work hard and practice. Having confidence in your avalanche knowledge and transceiver craft will allow you to concentrate more on the tactical aspects of your skiing and be mindful of any technical improvements you could make. You can search for transceivers around the house, in the garden, or out in bracken and bilberry fields. All good fun learning.
Terry prides himself on being able to improve peoples skiing, without skiing. With on snow coaching too – a definite recipe for success!
We all say that we love skiing, and we have a passion for the sport, and have a passion for teaching people to take part in the sport. But what does that really mean?
We decided that we needed to ask a few of the TDCski coaches to see what they said.
What the Coaches said…do you agree?
Here is a summary of some very common reason about why we love skiing…
Being Outdoors – There is for sure a definite feeling of freedom in the mountains. When you are skiing, that perfect day with the ridiculously blue sky, the white snow, the fresh air. Nothing can beat it. Being outside was a big factor for all the coaches.
But we realise that it is not always a perfect day. Skiing allows us to get out there even when the weather is challenging, and then at the end of the challenge there is the feeling that you have done something to “deserve your lunch.”
Exhilaration – release the child inside. At the end of the day we are all sliding down a hill on two planks. The worlds trouble are forgotten and for that fleeting second or two (which lasts for minutes and hours) we are released. We are flying, we are going fast but with control, we are all big kids again. Love it!
You can alway get better – no matter what level you are. Each individual can set the level of their own challenge, there is always something to work on. Every turn is different. It is as if we are always searching for the “perfect turn” but we know we will never find it, it is the searching that is fun. Your personal goal might be technical, it might be in the mind, it might be a physical thing, but everyone can have their own little goal, and achieving that goal is a lot of fun.
It is an individual sport done in a group! – Whatever your own personal objectives are when skiing you can be working on your own things, enjoying it your way, while everyone else does their thing, and then every now and again we all get back together and ride a chairlift, or stop for a hot chocolate or lunch. The group element of skiing (apart from just safety) gives every day a purpose, but the pleasure of skiing comes from the individual.
Skiing has to be one of the few sports that all the family can do together, where each member of the family might be doing their best – what other sport do you find dad doing his very best to keep up with his 8 year old daughter?
Apart from the above reasons to Love Skiing, the TDC coaches had a few more “unusual” reasons to love it…
“I like being able to come home and wear my thermal underwear around the house for hours at the end of the day.”
“On a beach I once got asked by a stranger “are you a ski instructor?” – I replied “yes, but how did you know?” The stranger said “because you are wear ridiculous looking sunglasses, and you have a Match Stick Tan – a red head on top of a skinny white body!”
“I am yet to see a hollywood movie that doesn’t make skiing look really cheesey. I don’t think filmmakers can capture what it is that makes skiing so much fun.”
We would love to share our passion for skiing this season.
We hope we can.
Established before time began, The Development Centre run the finest BASI prep courses in the Universe. If you are looking to develop your skiing towards qualification, then only the barking mad would overlook this intergalactic award winning program.
We use coaches who are chiseled from solid gold and each one must have won at least two Nobel prizes. The terrain in the Espace Killy is second to none, and on top of that we send our coaches up the mountain at night to hand craft each piste that we might use.
Occasionally our candidates explode with delight, but those that survive are sure to have had the most extraordinary and superlative week of their lives.
Improve your skiing and enjoy the mountains more than ever before
We all know that feeling – the mountains, the snow, the freedom!
When it all comes together there is no better feeling – we love it!
Improve your skiing and that love and enjoyment just keeps growing.
Below are 5 simple things that you can do in order to maximise your improvements, and therefore maximise your fun and enjoyment of the mountains.
TDCski coaches look at 5 ways that you can improve your skiing
Over the years the TDCski coaches have seen lots of people who under their guidance have taken their skiing from basic, to advanced, to expert.
How was this achieved?
The ways to improve are not complicated, it can be a simple ongoing task.
Here are 5 rules to follow.
1) Have a Goal
Having a goal doesn’t need to be an overly complicated or technical thing.
Your goal could be as simple as you want to ski relaxed, or you want to ski without worrying what is round the next corner.
Alternatively you could have a more specific goal. You might want to be able to ski a certain challenging run or you want to be able to “ski the bumps”.
Whatever it is, having a goal means that you will be able to move towards it.
In every ski lesson that we will ever take out, at some point at the beginning of your lesson whether you realise it is happening or not, the coach/instructor will negotiate a goal for that lesson with you. This will give you a target and as you move forward towards that target it is enjoyable. Achieving the little milestones will give you a satisfaction – a sense of achievement – it makes it fun!
2) Have a Focus
One of the greatest things about skiing is that it allows you to NOT focus on the regular days to day things that we all have to deal with in daily life.
If however you DO have a simple focus about your skiing, then it will allow you to keep your mind on the job at hand – enjoying yourself and getting that wonderful feeling of mountains, snow and freedom!
If you focus on absolutely nothing then it is very easy for the job at hand to go wayward.
Keeping a simple focus will allow you to monitor and measure what you are doing and if the job at hand is going wayward, you can adjust, change or even stop and start again.
A skiing focus does not have to be complicated; it can be as simple as making rhythmical turns or focusing on balancing on the outside ski.
Setting a focus is the pathway to achieving your goal. You need a more specific focus to achieve your wider goal. – see above!
3) Understand that Focus
It is a really good thing to understand WHY you are focusing on something, don’t just take someones word for it. Take ownership of what you are doing and try to understand the reasoning behind what you are focusing on.
Skiing is a blend of different skills so as you are skiing around the mountain there will be many times when you need to adjust the blend of what you are doing in order to adapt to a different situation – it might get steeper, or bumpy, or there is fresh snow.
If you understand WHY you are doing something and understand what skill it is that you are practicing/developing then you will be able to take that skill with you into any different situation.
4) It’s Not Just all about Technique
It is a really common misconception that getting better is just about what you are doing technically. There is more to improving your performance than just doing “x” with your little toe, or doing “y” with your hands.
Quite often you might take what we call a Tactical approach – where it the best place to turn, should I turn quickly, what line should I take? A good tactical approach to any given situation allows you to maximise the technical skills that you have at that time.
Skiing like any sport has its up and downs. Some days you feel really confident and some days….not so much. It is times like this that maybe we have to take a Psychological approach. Work out what it is that is not working today – is it in the mind? Maybe the weather has changed or there are lots of people around. The actual movements required to ski are the same – but it is how our mind is viewing it.
Being able to understand these things and tap into them will give you far greater success when you get down to the job of sliding down a hill and enjoying yourself.
5) Challenge Yourself
“Challenge” – this word I think means different things to different people, but whatever way you look at it, challenging yourself is a very enjoyable, rewarding thing to do and it will allow you to realise your best.
To some it means that you take on something that is harder than normal. Then you dig deep, you focus and you overcome, you rise up and take on the challenge.
To others this idea of increasing the level of difficulty is in itself very off putting. If this is how you feel, then your “challenge” is to keep the task the same, keep skiing on the same run, keep skiing at the same speed, but make sure that you set a challenge that means you do have to be more accurate, more precise with what you are doing. e.g. do all of your turns balancing on the outside ski early, don’t only do half and then start thinking about what’s for lunch.
Whichever way you look at the idea of “challenging yourself”, by giving yourself little challenges you will set yourself on a path for improvement that will be lasting, enjoyable and it will be fun!
These are some of the principles that TDCski use to develop skiers to their full potential.
We invite you to achieve that feeling with TDCski this winter.
TDC are proud to annouce that for the 2011/12 season there are going to be a few new faces in the TDC Jacket….
Jamie – Meribel, Joe – Val d’Isere and Sarah, Rorie, Mark and Rab – Tignes
Jamie Deamer – Meribel
Jamie’s passion for winter sports started at an early age playing ice hockey for his home town team Chelmsford at every level from juniors through to the first team who played their matches in English league division one.
It wasn’t until he was 13 that he first put skis on and he quickly caught the bug. He was a regular visitor to the Alps whilst working as a printer around London in the 1990’s.
A career change was needed to further his passion and in 2001 he set off on a ski trip that saw him work his way around the world via Canada and New Zealand ending up in the Aosta valley in Italy where he met his wife Lucy.
Twelve winter seasons later and Jamie is now a BASI level 4 instructor with full French
equivalence. He spends his summers working at golf courses in the UK as a greenkeeper
struggling to lower his handicap !
This coming winter will be Jamie’s 6th in the 3 valleys and his first with the
all new TDC Meribel.
Joe Harkess – Val d’Isere
TDC are proud to welcome Joe on to the TDC Val d’Isere team.
Growing up in the south of Germany, Joe has been skiing since the age of 6. Driving to the Alps on a Friday after school to squeeze in a weekends skiing was the norm.
It wasn’t until the age of 16, being back in the UK and reduced to one or two weeks a season, Joe realized how much he loved and missed those quick ski trips. Since then a gap year has turned into a lifestyle and career, spending winters in the Alps and summers in the southern hemisphere or the glaciers and snowdomes of Europe.
Competing in Freeride, Freestyle and Giant Slalom events Joe has built up a strong platform and adaptability discovering how the very different disciplines compliment each other and create a well-rounded skier. After spending the past 6 years based in Austria while training towards his qualifications, Joe joins the team as a BASI ISTD with French equivalence and Freestyle coach.
Sarah Musson – Tignes
Sarah started skiing at the age of 15 on a School ski trip. By her second holiday she knew skiing had changed her life forever and her goal was to train to be a ski instructor.
At the age of 18 she moved to Tignes and with a brief year out in Verbier and has been in what she calls home for the last 10 years.
She has the highest BASI Level 4, with French Equivalence and with 10 years under her belt in Tignes knows the resort like the back of her hand. Whether performance skiing, bumps, gates or deep powder she is no happier than when she has skis on her feet.
In the summer Sarah runs a lakeside Hotel and Restaurant in Tignes waiting patiently for the snow to arrive and kick start the new winter season.
Having taught in Tignes for 7 years before, 2012 is Sarah’s first year for TDC. The rest of the team have long been wondering whether the Escape Killy is big enough to contain her excitement and enthusiasm for ski teaching.
We look forward to finding out…
Rorie Scott – Tignes
It was 10 years ago Rorie handed his notice in to his boss at a reputable firm of financial advisers with the dream of becoming a ski instructor in Tignes. With his career pathway written by a friend on a scrap of paper, Rorie attained his goal four years later.
Joining TDC this year, Rorie is delighted to be providing to such high quality and can’t wait to see you on the slopes.
Rorie holds the prestigious BASI ISTD with full equivalence, Canadian ISIA and is a level 2 race coach.
Mark Lees – Tignes
2011/12 is Mark’s first winter with TDC and he can not wait to ski and coach in the Espace Killy. His passion for skiing started on a 80m plastic slope and gave growth to a 11 year career in ski teaching. This passion and drive for great skiing is something that Mark delivers to his clients with every lesson.
Mark´s time in the mountains has spanned the globe from the Alps, the US and Chile. A fully qualified British BASI Level 4 instructor. He has spent his career working with children, adults, instructors and elite athletes. From teaching under 9yr ski school groups to coaching the British mens senior ski team for 5 years on the European and world cup circuits.
Mark is also a experienced personal trainer and delivers fitness training in his home city of Glasgow and online. He is currently studying a degree in Sport Science, Physiology and sport nutrition at Glasgow University and and is very much looking forward to joining the TDC team this season.
Rab Bickerdike – Tignes
Rab has been skiing since he can remember and was brought up on the “character building” slopes of Scotland. He was told he started with plastic skis and welly boots in Aviemore. So it was only obvious that he’d run away to the Alps as soon as he could.
Since 1999 he’s been doing seasons in Pila, Chamonix, Les Gets, Verbier, was based in Aosta, Italy, and now Tignes for it’s “good vibe and massive off piste possibilities”.
After 12 seasons of teaching and coaching experience under his belt, Rab still loves to pass on his love and knowledge of the sport, whilst respecting and enjoying the mountain as much and as often as possible.
Rab very honestly admits to his park and pipe background, and at any given chance will be upside down or back to front. He is just as happy on the piste or off piste on skis or even one of those snowboard thingies.
In summer Rab is happiest on his Downhill Mountain bike. Racing and coaching his local Italian team, and is currently sponsored by G.T. bikes.
He also finds writing about himself in the third person very difficult and Steve Peat is the man!?