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Advanced Ski Instruction – Why?
Blake from SkivoAcademy trains people to become ski instructors to the highest levels. He runs his ski instructor training programme in Courchevel and most of the instructors in this area that come through the system have done at least some of their training with Skivo Academy. We caught up with Blake and got his thoughts on why you should consider getting instruction as an advanced skier.
Why get Ski Instruction as an Advanced Skier?
Honestly you can probably continue doing what you’re doing, probably not what you were expecting me to say, you can make your way around the mountain already, you can ski where you want to ski, you may even have aspirations to become a ski instructor, why bother getting any more lessons? Seems stupid…but it’s not… I can think of lots of reasons, but here are the first three that come into my head.
It is likely that despite being able to “ski anywhere you want” you have not even scratched the surface. Ever fancied going where no lifts can take you to? Ski off-piste and not see anyone for miles. It doesn’t have to be the couloirs at the top of Saulire, it could be adventures in Les Avals or Itinerary routes in Orelle or if you want to get more serious you can put skins on your skis and walk off into the mountains.
You can do all of these and it’s perfectly feasible but before you can do this you will need to be able to ski off-piste. But what does that actually mean? Most people think off-piste is just powder but actually it’s anywhere not on the piste, sounds obvious! But what this means is that it’s not just lovely light powder that you are going to be skiing, it’s likely going to be a variety of snow conditions.
So do you want to go on some adventures a little further afield? We don’t necessarily mean hiking for miles, we could mean popping into hidden valleys and using the whole mountain as our playground rather than just the piste. If you want to, you’ll need to be comfortable skiing all conditions because it can’t always be the hero powder that you see the magazine photos of, you may need to learn to also ski some crud, breakable crust, ice, frozen slush, spring snow etc. Perhaps you need to use a retraction turn, feather the turn, pick the ski up in the snowpack… All of these different conditions require adjustments in your technique but how on earth would you know how to ski them effectively and enjoy them unless someone is there to give you a few nudges in the right direction.
Pistes probably cover about 20% of the mountain (that’s a complete guess, I don’t know the actually % for Courchevel) but the point is that there is much more of the mountain to explore. This isn’t something to be done on your own as this can be dangerous if you don’t know where are going or if snow conditions are unstable. Get yourself some advanced lessons, explore the mountains, take some adventures.
It can be tempting when you are gaining confidence to ski faster and faster and this is natural and completely fine, but there is only so fast that the basic parallel skiing technique can safely go and it’s not that fast!
If you want to ski at higher speeds it is essential that you learn to carve. Skis turn in a similar way to a bike. At lower speeds you will turn the handlebars of a bike the direction that you want to go, at higher speeds you will tilt the whole bike over to turn. There are similarities with skiing, at the lower speeds we turn our skis the direction we want to go but at higher speeds we need to tilt our skis over.
Simplistically that is it, however doing it and staying in balance at speed requires a little more thought and practise. Skiing to many people is counter intuitive, if you want to carve well you will need someone to tell you how to do it effectively and I guarantee you that carving better equals more fun.
Learn to be able to improve yourself
As you become better and better you start to be able to listen to what the skis are telling you. Sounds spiritual! Perhaps they feel like they aren’t gripping so well, or they keep diving down in the snowpack. These feelings should start to trigger responses, but it will only happen if you can really understand what the skis are doing and you know how to manipulate the ski.
These are things that can be explained by experienced ski instructors and they can give you the toolkit to solve any problems that you may have. The more advanced you get the less it is about pure technique and the more we need to think adjustments, tactics or the psychology of our performance.
There we go, 3 little snippets, but I think that the better you become at skiing the more you enjoy it! There are plenty of expert ski instructors that will be able to help you with advanced ski lessons, the instructors love to do this sort of work!
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be patient with a response as most of the day I’ll be out coaching but equally if you never hear back feel free to give me another nudge.
All the best, Blake