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Skiing – I hope no one is watching!

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Skiing – I hope no one is watching!

This is my third Blog on skiing.It is not hard to see why! I just love it!

I have to report every so often skiing takes over. It is seductive. No Blogs for two weeks because I have been preoccupied with skiing. My social media colleague did suggest I post for release each week prior to my leaving but ….

For people who live in Brisbane there is an element of pilgrimage about it – not just a learning journey. The physical journey is Brisbane to Queenstown, Queenstown to Wanaka and each day Wanaka to the chosen mountain Treblecone and return.

There is symbolic substance to it. The learning journey? Going to the mountain to discover?…

Why Wanaka? I discovered a ski program call SOFA.

After much thought we decided to enrol with only a couple of days to spare. We were worried that there would be limited snow and our holiday would be a series of day trips to places around Wanaka! As it turns out there was no need to worry. Lots of snow arrived.

The program.

Wanaka a beautiful small NZ town – hiring skis, getting lift passes, booking transport takes the first day. Then the next morning bus trip – circuitous route picking up many – some just late – so we arrive late. It is a rush- no coffee, limited introductions and up the mountain. Early run and then a videoing session. Have only seen myself skiing on video once before. I was very disappointed. What am I going to look like this time?

Back at the TC Cat room for the video analysis and feedback. It’s confirmed my original assessment. I’m worse than I thought.

Before we arrived, Klaus asked us for a self assessment and some thought on where we might improve.

In a moment of indiscretion I actually said:

I currently ski most blue under any conditions (struggle in powder) and have done groomed Black (and some ungrounded Black accidentally!!)

Three things I need to address:

  • Skiing downhill /leaning forward
  • Skis closer together
  • Skiing bumps better
  • Confidence: confidence: confidence!!

What I should have said was:

  • Can ski most runs incompetently but survive!
  • What I need to address – everything!

The video session: very humbling – I need serious help. Back to the mountain to learn the basic drills again:


“Ben I can see very little movement …bend your knees more…don’t sit back…Come right up and over your feet… patient …… let your skis help you do the turn… have ALL your weight on the downhill ski….don’t drop your uphill shoulder …..remember always THE ALPINE POSITION….stay forward always….don’t come down too soon….BEN DON’T SIT BACK, DO THE MOVEMENT, yes there is a little movement. I saw it on your 2nd and 4th turn this time, BEN DON’T SIT BACK, Come up and forward and on and on and on………..

I think I’m exhausting the instructor.

The principles have not changed since I started but I am not applying them well. Maybe I’ve never known them!

I have developed some other more primitive habits. I need to start again.  My skiing needs to be deconstructed.  Hard work and discipline is the basis of any progress. In 20 years I might have done 140 to 160 days skiing on an average of 4 hours a day. A long way form the 10,000 hours that is suggested for any form of mastery. Commitment to learning in a small group of like-minded peers struggling together is an important step. Under the guidance of an instructor who is competent – A European champion; energetic (runs up the mountain in ski boots to save fallen comrades) fun, and inspiring.  Michi gave me some limited insights into the life and struggles of a professional downhill skier – injuries, training, discipline and racing) and a very patient teacher who loves what she does…skiing since she was 2 and racing since she was 4 – an exemplar!

Skiing – I hope no one is watching!

One step at a time, we do the drills on day 1 and early day 2. Then more videos and more analysis. It is confronting. That dream I had about becoming a ski instructor is slipping away! At my rate of learning I will be about 120 before I am ready! If ever! Continue the drills:

  • With poles
  • Without poles
  • Holding polls in front of you parallel with the hill
  • The superman drill
  • Pulling your hip up the hill.

Oh look even the advanced skiers are doing these drills but on the harder terrain.

There is a sense of progress. By day three there is small (infinitesimal) movement in my legs! About time! It is a great day – and for me it could go on forever. BUT MY BOOTS ARE A PROBLEM. Something must be done. So new boots become the project. This is a surprising intervention. Our boot guru guides us through the process. New boots – it must be the answer! If only?

And then a health issue – flattened for a day but to return. The last day was a tough day at the office plenty of snow but visibility is very poor – not one of my great skiing days. I’m falling down.  The challenge is getting up.  I seem to be doing it more often.  I thought my falling over days had finished!! I can’t use my bad habits to keep me stay upright – I have to practise the new. Failure is a stage on the journey to success! It is evidence of incompetence or skiing at the edge in the learning process. I prefer to think of it as the latter. The last run was a challenge – limited visibility. I seemed to revert to type!!

In a week like this there are many highlights.  The major one is the sense of accomplishment at the end. And on the way through there are the moments when it comes together. When your knees actually bend and the control is there. When you master a difficult run and hold the integrity of what you are practicing. Working with others on a shared problem, all with different needs, but working and encouraging each other. That’s what adults do best. There are other highlights – the dinners, the unexpected friends which are a product of a week learning together.

One interesting learning was at the dinner.  Klaus’ video on skiing was a highlight.  He presented as a skier with exaggerated bad habits. These habits are all mine and I thought I was skiing well! Very confronting!

We just might ski Austria again – and coming back to Treblecone is a serious consideration. This was a great experience.

There is no doubt in my mind, to challenge yourself with learning projects, is a great way to build a sense of achievement.

I have written before about the learning hierarchy:

Conscious Competence

Unconscious Competence

Conscious incompetence

Unconscious incompetence

This week I suspect I have achieved the second level – conscious incompetence and while I acknowledge that there may be some unconscious competence in my repertoire, my real learning is in the conscious incompetence arena! There is much more work to be done.

To be able to do this in a community of enthusiastic learners – Phil, Julie, Janette, and Sally (my mate of 40 years) who are all humble enough to ‘know they don’t know’, is always a privilege. To be able to do this with a group of inspiring world class ski instructors led by Klaus and our instructor Michi, is a wonderful experience and to be able to share the experience with my wife is indeed a blessing beyond……. We have done it again!

Not only did I ski with Sally this week she also contributed to this Blog.





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