Chapter 1 – To kill the snow plough!!
The first thing you learn in ski school is how to put your skis on and start to ski , I have never seen a ski school start in the class room with a basic lecture of how things work and what you will be learning.
The standard progression on your first day is first walking around with one ski, then two, then side stepping up the hill a little and then doing the 'schuss' (skiing straight), then adding some exercises – touching your toes , lifting one foot etc. Once this is mastered you then learn how to stop with the dreaded snow plough stop and then the snow plough turn, put simply you point your skis in a knocked kneed fashion and slide down the hill, if you lean right your turn left (hurr?) and if you lean left you turn right (err?) and this is where it all starts to go wrong. This instantly gives you some speed control, plus basic turns, and you think you've made it, whoopee I can ski!!
The problem with the snow plough is that it gives a false sense of security, a bit like driving a four wheel drive Jeep on ice. It should work but in reality it doesn't. It's OK on a green bunny slope but useless on a blue, red or black. What are your ambitions – Green or Black?
I have taught literally hundreds of people how to ski and I agree that this method on average works, and I know why it is taught. Put simply it gets the average holiday maker going quickly so that they can enjoy their holiday. If that;s your goal then by all means go down this path, it works. But if you are reading this book then I guess you aren't Mr. or Mrs. average? So I have an alternative plan that takes a little longer at the beginning but will see you on a fast track to becoming an expert skier.
With my plan you will learn first how these very expensive pieces of equipment (skis) actually work. Once you start to really ski the theory of the snow plough quickly falls down. With the plough you lean right to turn left and lean left to turn right, it seems totally unnatural, when you look at an expert skier they seem to lean left when they turn left, a bit like a motorbike going round a corner, or stay central, not moving much at all. So why the difference. Well I’ll tell you, this is by far the quickest way to start skiing, when I say skiing I really mean moving on snow. But it has one huge flaw it creates muscle memory that is hard to shake off later. I have taught so many people that have been snow ploughing for so long they just can’t shake it, so much so that they even rely on it as a comfort position when the going gets tough. Just the wrong thing at the wrong time ‘The dreaded plough’.
There are two ways to learn to ski and two graphs to illustrate your progress: