Did How You Learn Help Or Hinder Your Current Technique?

Hannes Schneider brought Austrian “technique” to the US in early 30s.

I remember taking couple of lessons when I started skiing in the mid-60s. Lessons were based on the snow-plow, stem christie, christie school.  Very Austrian. It served me well over the years I skied up to the time my Alpine career went on hiatus.

When I came back to skiing about 15 years ago with new short skis, new boots, I was trapped in the world of my early technique: still stem christies from time to time, narrow stance a la Stein Ericksen, actually trying to “wedlen” under the lifts. Boy, that didn’t seem to work. And actually still gets in the way.

So I took a lesson and tried to adapt. Better but not easy; old habits die hard.

Which leads us to our question for you this week:

What ski school method was used when you learned to ski? Or did you even take a lesson? How has your “Ur-technique”—the fundamentals from decades ago—impact how you ski today? Help? Hinder? What did you have to unlearn? How did you do that?

Please let us know what your experience has been. Make a comment in Leave A Reply in the box below.

Ski School, Austria, 1930s.



  1. Dean Vosler says:

    I started skiing at 18. First cross country, trial and error, then alpine, trial and error. At lot of watching other skiers and imitation. Reading multiple books. A couple of ski lessons thrown in the mix that didn’t seem to help much. Then I picked up tips from a ski patrol friend that helped a lot and when my two sons started skiing at 2 yrs old my technique didn’t change much until I read the book “break through on skis for intermediates”. So that’s how they do it? My skiing went to new skill and so did my son’s. My wife not so much, you know husbands don’t know anything and her lessons didn’t seem to help. Then the video came out and fat skis. I essentially quit skiing when my wife couldn’t ski due to bone cancer. The last 6 years I’ve skied 50 days or more a year, which is tough in Central Michigan.

  2. Skied in the 60s so yes, snow plow, stem christie, and parallel. Then Jean Claude Killy hit and jet turns with jet sticks were the rage / technique. We also took a hiatus for 10 years and bought new “shaped” equipment 4 years ago. Until adapting to a wider stance, barely any unweighting to start a turn, and really driving forward my poor tips got pretty beat up from crossing them. Perseverance paid off and this purchased a pair of Head e-Rally Super Shapes. Luv them yet they keep your attention. While technique changes, snow feel and balance remain. Decades of skiing have honed this aspect!

    • Does anyone else remember the Shell gas sponsored 1 minute ski lessons broadcast in the USA on Weekends with Jean/Claude Killy giving the basics, how to snow plow & Stem Christie’s?

      I paid a great deal of attention to them when they were broadcasted on the late 1960’s and when I started skiing in 1978 my memory of them paid dividends!

  3. Kelli Majiros says:

    I learned by taking beginner group lessons in the morning and then working on the things I learned the rest of the day. I did that every weekend of my first year. After that I took a few lessons each year (occasionally private) and then became a ski instructor. As an instructor, I took all the training that was offered. Some worked and stuck and some didn’t. Now I just take advanced clinics on occasion to find something new to try…same thing: some works for me and some doesn’t. Key thing for me is to hear the same material from different people in different ways and occasionally a gem of a tip will emerge.

  4. Michele R Skeele says:

    I learned in the Montafon region of the Austrian Alps at the age of 18 in 1976/77 with the help of my Austrian classmates, many of whom were ski instructors. Classic snow-plow. They often had me ski in between their skis, common for small children. Since returning to the east coast, most of my skiing occurs in Western NC. I don’t think I’ve advanced much past those early days, and have recently considered taking a lesson or two to up my game. I’d like to improve my technique and style!

  5. Jordan Pauker says:

    Can’t recall a formal lesson but do recall the late fall, juice inducing , live narrated movies of John Jay and then, of course, Warren Miller. Skiing like Stein whose boot I brushed against with my marker long thong strap at Sugarbush became the ultimate goal.

  6. Norb Chehak says:

    So I skied for 45 years, then became a ski instructor. Now I know how to ski using the ideal, more efficient skills. The ideal skills allow gravity and the skis to “work” for the skier. Efficient skiing conserves energy allowing for the use of less muscle. Conserving this at 70 plus years of age is important.

  7. Started when I was 29 in 1983 with a group lesson that did little to help learn. I kept at it on my own and met a retiree at Eldora who taught me some things he probably learned around 1930. I started skiing off-piste around 1985 and learned a few things from my ski buddy. Switched to shorter, randonee skies at that time which forced me into a new technique. I have no idea what “style” my skiing represents. I ski around a pole plant, shoulders facing downhill, with a little dip and rise during turns. On steeper stuff or crud, I will aggressively unweight the downhill ski. I do try to use the ski and work at getting my knees into the hill and get on edge. I can ski most things but avoid moguls. Would like to take a lesson but never get around to it. The new skies sure do help. I taught my kids and never bothered with a snow plow for them. Waste of time and energy and a good way to build frustration in kids.

  8. Rich Spritz says:

    I started skiing in 1961 at age 10, and I think I had two lessons and read lots of books. Snow-plow > stem turn > stem christie > parallel. Straight wood skis with cable bindings and leather lace boots. Six decades later, I’m an instructor at Breckenridge, I take maybe 20 instructor clinics per year, and I’m still battling to ski with a wider stance. Damn you, Stein and Jean-Claude!

  9. Folks started taking me skiing on Mt Rainier and Snoqualmie Pass in the mid-50’s at the ripe old age of 5. No real lessons till the mid 60’s, when there was a ski week, a race camp, and the beginning of 100 day seasons. High school through college and beyond I was teaching and lucky enough to work clinic and ski with some really talented people (Austrian, French, Italian Academy trained folks, some that went on to National Demo teams). At close to 30 life got in the way, family, career, injuries, and all the other stuff. Then about 20 years ago the itch came back, and skied as much as life and locations allowed. This year it is back to being a part time rookie instructor again 🙂

  10. Ted Blacklidge says:

    Started skiing in 50’s at Boyne Mtn., Michigan. Have old films of Stein actually putting wax on my wooden skis. Very good memories. Knee, back and shoulder have finally done me in. Skied last year at Caberfae and lasted 4 runs. 50 years of good memories.

  11. Stewart Kriss says:

    I learned at killing ton Vermont using GLM graduated length method. Start on very short skis move to longer week during the week. No snowplow no stem. I bought my own clif taylor wood short skis and used them for quite a while. Downside is I never learned snowplow!!

  12. I learned when I was 16 from the French-Swiss Ski College at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock, NC,. This ski school is still in operation today. We were taught to unweight/lift and compress. Snow plowing and stemming wasn’t part of the repertoire. With newer skis, which I had starting in the 90’s, I kept the unweighting/lifting and compressing concept to some degree; however, the stem christie did infiltrate. Taking lessons in Steamboat and Aspen over the past several years (more recently for bumps) have helped in getting rid of the stem christie altogether.

  13. Normand L. Reynolds says:

    I don’t remember learning to ski. It was late 1940’s, and I was 4 or 5. I never had any instruction until I became an instructor. I feel there are two very good reasons to teach people the wedge, or snowplow. One is to get through lift lines, and the other is to insure beginners that they can slow down or stop whenever they want. Skiing is 90% mental and the other 10% is all in your head! Once beginners aren’t afraid, they can shift weight, tip onto edges, steer with inside ski, etc, and they don’t get anywhere near as tired as they do from snowplowing all day.

  14. Keith Wentzel says:

    In 1977 at the age of 26, my future wife (who was a skier) suggested I take up skiing. I am fairly athletic and thought it was a good idea to take up a winter outdoor sport since we lived in Michigan. The Detroit Free Press had teamed up with Mt. Holly outside of Detroit in Southeast Michigan to offer a Learn to Ski program. You could get a lift ticket, rental equipment and a lesson for $10 and ski on the icy nighttime vertical of 350 feet. My first time down the mountain I went flying down semi out of control and somehow managed to stop a few feet from the base lodge but I was hooked. We’ve lived in New England now for 36 years and have enjoyed skiing the bigger mountains although conditions can be very similar to those in Michigan. Our adult kids became avid skiers by learning at Bradford Ski area in Haverhill, MA and most winter school breaks were spent at Sunday River in Maine. Now that we’re retired and with the kids gone, we have the time to go out west each year and get in about 15 days of skiing out there in addition to another 10-15 days each year in New England. As for which “technique” I was taught, I have no idea, let’s just call it the “Detroit Demolition”. It served me well as a base and I’ve found that I improve my skiing by just getting out on the slopes more often.

  15. Nancy Verber says:

    My progression in ski technique began with a physical education course in 1965 at The Ohio State University. We learned the snowplow and stem christie on Mt. Golf Ball, a small bump on the OSU golf course with a rope tow. We used wood skis with metal edges, cable bindings and double laced boots. The culmination of the class was to take a bus trip to Snow Trails, a local ski area in Ohio, for night skiing. Enthralled with the sport (and the cool clothing), I joined the Columbus ski club and took lessons one night a week from the founding ski instructor, Walter Neuron, in the traditional Austrian method. My first trip West was to Snowmass with the Ski Club, where I thought I had died and gone to heaven while skiing in the sunshine for the first time!

    Later in life, after marriage and while in graduate school, my husband and I joined a student trip to Steamboat Springs. We took lessons with a veteran ski instructor in a program called “Smell the Roses,” introducing us to techniques that helped us lessen the impact of fatigue on our aging bodies. What a pleasant discovery!

    The next stage in the saga of my skiing happened after my husband passed away and I began annual weekly ski trips with Elderhostel. There, we usually had lessons in the morning and then free skiing in the afternoon, allowing us to practice whatever we learned in the morning. The week-long lessons emphasized use of the newer variety of shaped skis, making us older folks remember to keep our skis apart after all those years of trying to keep them together.

    While continuing to travel West with my ski club on an annual basis, my aging midwestern body is no longer capable of skiing all day long, every day. I often take a couple of days off to snowshoe in the mountains and usually try to practice my skiing technique on sunny days.

    Fast forward to COVID-19 restrictions. I’ve come full circle, skiing one day a week at a local ski area. The good thing is that I’m now retired and can ski in the daylight!

  16. Started Skiing 1972 while living in IRAN (Air Force assignment). Mostly by Trial and Error method with no instruction. Came back to California with very no knowledge about using a chairlift or avoiding trees. Moved to Colorado took lessons @ Copper Mt.. Later stationed in Germany ‘guided’ lessons in Austria and Switzerland during ski weeks over five years. Moved to Washington DC and joined Ski Patrol in the Poconos. Now retired and spending Winters in Colorado. 10+ years of skiing with a group called Over the Hill Group (OHG) @ Copper Mt. This is a guided-group-lesson geared for those who are a bit older than the general skiing population.

  17. Started skiing in 1955 after seeing Stein on TV. Never took a lesson so on my first ski area trip with a church youth group. I broke my ankle at Mt. Snow. Went right back to skiing the next winter, sold my guitar and worked a paper route to pay for skiing. First lesson was a clinic and tryout as a ski instructor at Loveland Basin my first year in college (1968). Got the job and continued my lessons through certifications. Now I am a recently retired Vail ski instructor and 52 year member of PSIA. I still take lessons and the last one I took taught me how to use the most recent techniques to save my knees. I still know how to use all of the old techniques: rotation, counter rotation, avalement (jet sticks era), racing, etc. My strong suggestion to everyone is to maximize your fun meter-keep taking lessons!

  18. Richard Kavey says:

    I first put in skis when I was 5 or 6 in a friends back yard in Scarsdale, NY – about 20 miles from the center of NYC. It was live at first sight! Fortunately for me my parents started skiing and opportunities for me …

    The first instruction I remember was ski weeks every Christmas at the legendary Gray Rocks Inn where so many learned. I loved it. And, watching then World Champion Lucille Wheeler and her friends train slalom before the lifts opened. I wanted to ski like them! To a young child they were my idols. To my surprise, they were nice to me, and encouraging. The Wheelers have become life long friends.

    Trips to Europe. The ski school at Zurs heavily influenced by Hannes Schneider. And Roger Machet in Val D’Isere. All great basics.

    Then Jr ski racing in NYS and the east. Didn’t have great coaching at this point but learned from participating.

    Off to college. McGill University. Great coach – former US Ski team Dr. John Corson and even better team mates some who’ve become lifelong friends. While I learned from Dr. John, I learned more from following my team mates – the first five where Canadian National Team including World Cup, Europa Cup and CanAm Cup. I learned from following them. I found I learned the most when I followed as closely as possible, placing my skis exactly in the marks they made. If they made a better turn they pulled ahead. If I made a better turn (rarely) , I caught up. And I just had to copy them. Easy but not. I learned so much!!!

    Then off to medical school in NYC. Not much time for much else except winter vacations to where the snow and hills were deeper and steeper than the canyons of NYC.

    My last year or two in medical school I had free weekends and was invited to restart a the ski racing program at Vernon Valley, NJ which had come to a full stop with the tragic death of its founder who was impaled by a broken bamboo pole.

    I learned a lot from teaching. During my time in medical school there was a saying: “See one, do one, teach one”. It works in skiing to. If you want to learn, try teaching it. At this point I had no formal training as a coach and utilized what I had learned about coaching and skiing. I did not adopt the yell at the sweat hogs approach I had occasionally encountered.

    I continued to ski as much as my post grad medical training allowed when I moved back to Montreal and McGill. My skills and understanding were reasonable at this point but room for lotsa improvement.

    Fred Grunwald. My parents age, Austrian, a friend and mentor since my childhood. Legendary ski mountaineer, instructor of the 10th Mt Division who invited me on many trips to Stowe and ski mountaineering on Mt. Washington, NH where As a 14 year old I learned what steep was – e.g. the top 200’ of the Left Gully. Ski and learn! Then yearly trips to CMH Monashees with Free and the group of accomplished wilderness skiers he put together including Bob and Jean Smith (goggles) and others. The Monashees receives a yearly average of 40 M (120’) of snow. The vertical are up to over 5K, but the best is in the forest and a 2-3 K. I learned to avoid tree wells – including one terrifying experience face down in one – basic avalanche safety, to use a beacon, and how to ski conditions ranging from incredibly great to terrifyingly awful – eg skiing down the top of a fallen pine tree to get across a deep ravine with a stream and boulders beneath. And how to ski incredibly deep snow on the narrow skis of the day. It became much easier with the first wide skis in the 1990’s – The Fat Boy Atomic Powder Plus.

    And then I got more lucky. While riding the Snowbird Tram I bumped into Olle Larsson who became a friend on spring college trips to Whistler. Olle invited me to be a sports psychologist consultant with his newly started Rowmark Ski Academy in SLC, Utah.

    There is no one better at analyzing ski technique as it evolves than Olle. And no one better at coaching it. The coaches included former World Cup skiers. Every summer Olle invited a distinguished guest coach for a Mt Hood Camp including head coaches of the Norwegian Alpine Team, strength and conditioning coaches, etc. What an incredible opportunity for me to learn. And I did. So much. About skiing, coaching, psychological conundrums and life.

    Now living near Syracuse, NY and near 4 ski areas I took my first formal coaching courses and got my level I. Then 40 years of coaching at all three of the areas at different times. Coaching, skiing and learning. If you’re not learning you’re not engaged. I discovered new self teaching methods eg having my athletes side step up the incredibly steep, icy snow making mounds, traversing across the top, a d the. Side stepping down. Teaches balanced stance, engagement and balance on downhill and uphill edges, and side slipping on a flat ski in a balanced stance. The 8-10 year olds learned so much and lived the drill. At first it was terrifying for many of them while being quite safe. By the end of a week of this they were racing each other to the top. The excercise is self teaching, don’t do it right and you fall and slide harmlessly to the bottom of the mound which I dubbed Mound Everest. Although it was a different mound every year.

    This year I’m not coaching or alpine skiing. At 74 the risk of Covid is too great for me to accept.

    I am Nordic Skiing and fortunate to live 10 minutes from an old railroad bed converted to a trail above a trout stream. While I have Nordic skied since graduating college, I haven’t done it often and have had zero formal instruction. But skis are skis and the balance points remain unchanged from alpine to Nordic.

    So, listen to your skis and your balance. You will learn and be intrigued for life!

  19. Richard Kavey says:

    Please forgive the spelling mistakes and the errors from the annoying spell check. I didn’t proof it before submitting. Also, the mound Everest drill concludes with side slipping, not side stepping down. Thanks spell check! Not!

  20. Interesting question. I first skied at age 19, in 1968 when French technique was a fresh idea. No lessons then — I just watched and imitated. In 1970 I took a two week trip to Steamboat and had lessons every day. Pete Gorrel taught down-unweighting, leading to extension-retraction turns — a true breakthru in skiing efficiency, especially in bumps. I found that most beginners were still going thru the Arlberg progression: wedge, wedge christie, skidded parallel. That made absolutely no sense to me: why would you teach a bunch of bad habits (stemming, up-unweighting) which would only have to be unlearned to achieve expertise? I discovered that Hannes Schneider evolved the Arlberg progression when he taught thousands of Austrian troopers to ski during WWI — it was a lowest-common-denominator progression suitable for non-athletic people. In the late ’30s the French and Swiss, notably Emile Allais, understood this and began the alpine progression with a parallel christie. When I began teaching skiing (1984) I saw that when they get nervous, many intermediate skiers revert to the first thing they learned, the wedge. It’s useless to try to stop with a wedge on steep ice — much safer if your panic-stop is a skidded parallel. So I began to teach christies first, and wedging only in lift lines and narrow roads. This works well for reasonably athletic people, though some non-athletes (typically people who don’t even ride a bicycle) feel safe ONLY in a wedge. I also realized that traditional Arlberg pays little or no heed the the opportunities of terrain unweighting and shaping turns to the terrain. When shaped skis came in all of this thinking coalesced into a greatly simplified approach to my own skiing, especially after my ACL surgery when I figured out how to take most of the torque off my knees and hips. This then evolved into a much-simplified progression that works miracles with 90% of my students. Talking to other veteran instructors I found that many of them had evolved a similar high-efficiency teaching progression thru their own processes. Fully described at skiyoungernow.com

    • Rereading this I realize it’s incomplete. Before skiing I knew how to skate, which is a huge advantage — I heartily recommend it. Beginning in 1972 I had the chance to ski 80 or 90 days each winter and to follow around behind a lot of excellent skiers — pro patrollers, coaches, and later some retired World Cuppers.

  21. I took my grandchildren to a local ski area that only had rope tows ( 4 Lakes, Lisle ,) and had them count the number of turns(arks) that they could do on the beginner slope.

  22. Sherm White says:

    I learned to ski around 1955, in my backyard and at Northeast Slopes in Northern Vt. I had probably an Austrian influence a couple years later when I skied at the Dartmouth Skiway with Simon Mayer their longtime director. I also began my ski teaching career in 1971 at Sugarbush with Sigi Grottendorfer. I’m still learning how to ski every day, even though I have my PSIA alpine level 3, and spent time on the Ed. staff of PSIA-Eastern. If you go skiing and don’t learn something, you’re not trying hard enough.

  23. Patti Farkas says:

    Wow! All these different methods, books, etc.! I first skied at Suicide Six in Vermont in an ice storm at age 44 after marrying a skiing husband. One lesson (seemed a lot like ice skating use of edges to me). For the next 30 years we spent up to 10 weeks a year skiing in Utah, with VERY patient husband skiing behind me giving instructions (he is a very experienced and beautiful skier, now age 87); some years were better than others, but I usually had some sort of improvement in some area each year. For a few years, we were able to enjoy skiing from one end of a resort to the other, before age caught up with us. Now we have a few runs each day at our favorite place (where over 80s ski free!), and still enjoy the scenery and the snow and the fact that we can still do it!

  24. I learned mostly by doing it and by copying what I saw others do around me, including my PE instructor and also by watching world cup skiers on TV.

    I was 13 in 1965, when I first got on skis for a short time, on a winter trip with a bunch of other school kids. Memory is very hazy, but I think an adult showed us how to snowplow and then we were left on our own to practice and have fun.

    At the age of 15, in 1967, I went on another school related ski trip, this time for a whole week. They took us to a ski hill in the middle of nowhere, with not a single ski lift, not even a rope tow.

    It was a large group of kids, over 100 of us, and we had several ski instructors who were actually PE teachers from different schools. They asked us to ski down a short incline and show them what we can do. I executed a few snowplow turns, so I was sent to an “intermediate” group of kids.

    Our instructor simply said: “Follow me”, and off he went walking on skis across the flats and then into a forest. We climbed through the forest in a zig-zag fashion. No words were exchanged. We learned through simply doing it. We discovered right away that we need to dig our ski edges in and keep our skis at right angles to the slope in order to prevent sliding backwards. We learned to never cross either the tips or the tails of our skis. The instructor took us into a small but relatively deep gully and then we climbed out the other side. All this was good learning. I am glad we did it that way.

    But, when we eventually climbed to the top of this hill, the instructor let us loose and just said, “OK, now ski down.” Well that was a bit premature. The ski hill was actually quite long and quite steep. The top of the hill was rounded and mellow, and the bottom flattened out gradually. But a section in the middle was really quite steep for a beginner. I made some good turns at the top, but eventually, on the steeper part, my skis started picking up more and more speed. At some point, I was going too fast and froze, too afraid to make any moves. Luckily, I didn’t hit anyone else. It was a very large wide meadow and the flat section at the bottom of the hill brought me to a complete stop. But one other kid fell and twisted and broke his leg. We were all skiing on borrowed old-fashioned wooden skis with bear-trap bindings.

    Most of that week of skiing was like that. Just follow the instructor. I remember only one particular day when we stopped at this one spot on the hill to practice our first parallel turn. Just a left turn. Go straight, then plant your left pole and at the same time swing the tails of your skis into a kind of hockey stop. Then climb back up again, get in line, and do it all over again.

    A day or two later, I remember that at lunch time, all the kids took their skis off, sat down on them and had a sandwich. But I was eager to ski some more. I had seen world class skiers on TV, and I thought, “Why couldn’t I simply swing around and make a series of left-right turns like they do?” I visualized it until I could sort of envision myself doing it. And I did it. I started straight down the hill and almost immediately started forcefully jumping and swinging my ski tails left and right. I actually made several successful short swings like that. Then I became aware out of the corner of my eye that a lot of the kids having lunch were looking at me. I lost my focus and I fell. IT was actually a fantastic success, but I didn’t build on it. I lost my confidence, and I went back to doing my wedge turns and aspiring to some day perhaps be able to do a parallel turn.

    I loved skiing, but it seemed an unreachable dream. I didn’t have skis and my parents were not interested in skiing. On TV, I watched some World Cup races and the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble in 1968. I also read a couple of books on how to ski. So, I had the snowplow and the theoretical knowledge. But still no skis and apparently no future in this sport.

    During my college years, I had developed other interests and didn’t return to skiing until I got my first job, where the company I worked for had its own ski club.

    About 2 or 3 years later, I was finally able to make parallel turns. This was at least partly due to a friend of mine who had been a ski instructor for a while but eventually quit instructing. He helped me to make a transition from stem christies to pure parallel. Interestigly, it was once again more doing than teaching. Very few instructions. It was mostly: “Here’s how to do it. Follow me and do exactly the same as I do.”

    This was during a week-long ski vacation. The transition for me happened in a single morning, all before lunch. I followed my friend, I did what he did, and suddenly it clicked. I got the feel for it. I could do it! I could make linked parallel turns! I was completely hooked from then on. It wasn’t just an interesting thing to do any more; it became a real passion!

  25. Hollace Widdowfield says:

    I started skiing when I was 14. I didn’t take lessons and, as a result, developed a lot of bad habits. I went to college at a school that, at the time, had one of the best ski teams in the US. I thought that by taking a winter quarter ski class I would improve. Not much in the way of lessons (on a ski hill with a rope tow – ugh) but we ran a lot of gates. I kept up skiing with all my bad habits until I met my now husband (40 years!) and he, being a good skier and a teacher, taught me many things and helped to break out of those bad habits. We live close to a small ski area that offers women’s programs and I did that for a couple of years. Best thing I ever did! I can now almost keep up with the “big boys” and some of them are ski instructors (mostly retired) and love to pass on their knowledge. One of the things I really love about skiing is that you are always trying to improve. Even the very best skiers are always trying to improve. Plus – it is SO much FUN!!!

  26. Cansnowplow says:

    My skiing started at 11 years old by joining my K-12 school ski club. I received a 1hr. lesson in a group of 15 beginners. 1st: Learning how to fall, Side step climb and herringbone climb were then taught. Then snowplow, being opposite of the herringbone; it was all about the inside edge. In having already learned to hockey skate, I had mastered the up-motion unweighting of a christie stop on skates and I adapted this uplift to my ski christie stop as well. I then followed Austria-Jay Peak’s Walter Foeger Natur Teknik, learn to ski parallel in a week in 1967. In 1968, I took another 2 lesson with my 2 older brothers and some buddies from an accomplished 14 year old instructor (no creditials except a parka,) who taught us how to check (slowdown) my speed while in a traverse by down weighting both edges. This checking your speed was the key that unlocked the door to becoming an accomplished rhythm skier. I have adapted to numerous styles of skiing since and feel comfortable feet tight and also with feet at shoulder width, making no attempt to dump one style for the other. The concept that today’s shaped skis require only a wide stance is hogwash. Touch up your edges every other full day or about every 15 hours of running and you’ll be able to remain in control and in the style you want to use for each run.

  27. Connie Grodensky says:

    So many interesting stories! My parents put my siblings and myself (4 of us; I was 14) in lessons for a week at Alt Astenburg, in Germany, where we learned to ski or else! Skis were long, boots were leather and frustration was high, not to mention the t-bars! However, it became a life-long passion starting in 1968 in Germany, continuing for three years, then a long period of not skiing due to life, then joining my local ski club and skiing as much as I could. I met my husband on a ski trip with our local club, and we continued skiing and are skiing still (37+ years!). We took lessons as often as we could, often at a wonderful learn-to-ski and learn-to-ski better resort in Canada, Gray Rocks, which is now defunct, sadly. But we knew there was always something more to learn. Now, living at our chosen ski mountain, we are season-passholders who ski mostly groomed blues and blacks, especially at our ages. We brought our two sons up skiing, learning from the professionals, and they still enjoy the sport when they can. I strongly advise anyone to continue learning by taking a lesson!

  28. My immigrant parents took me to Belleaire Mt in the Catskills circa 1950. The State of NY and its governor Harriman (whose family had built Sun Valley)built the resort as a public park and installed an early chair lift. Hardly one word of English was spoken there. Learned from watching my Mom do stem christys. Sadly, I never got much better until the revolution in equipment came along. Now I look like Tony Sailer, the Black lightning.One of my kids married a ski instructor and the grandkids are fabulous on the slopes.

  29. Peter Barrett says:

    This has been a wonderful thread to reminisce with others’ tales of how they learned to ski through the years. The varied experiences reminded me of a lesson my wife and I took at Vail many years ago. The instructor at first glance appeared a rather rough cut local cowboy. He turned out to be one of the most perceptive and helpful instructors I have met. After a brief introductory run like an archeologist on a dig he precisely traced and dated our personal ski histories.
    I started skiing in the 1940’s in a pasture behind our house in central Massachusetts. The boots were leather with a box toe and the wooden skis without steel edges had bear trap bindings. We packed out a small slope with a jump made from an orange crate. Our technique was whatever worked but with a short hill and unpacked snow we never went fast enough to do any damage.
    In high school the ski team gathered on a nearby hill. I was not one of the better skiers and recall spending most of the time sidestepping up and down the hill to pack out an area wide enough and long enough for the slalom racers.
    Coincidentally like one of the previous commenters the first lesson I remember was at Suicide Six in Woodstock. Vt. in the late 40’s. My recollection is the school was run by Walter Prager the renowned Austrian racer and one time coach of the Dartmouth ski team. As others have said the Austrian influence and the Arlberrg technique dominated ski instruction in New England at the time.
    Around 1950 on a family trip to the Laurentians I was introduced to a version of the French technique and Emile Allais’ system: counter rotation/rotation shoulder at a school run by a Swiss, Fritz Loosli. By the 1960’s it seems like the Austrians regained their influence when we encountered the comma, reverse shoulder, hopping and wedln in lessons at Mad River Glen. Not to be outdone the French struck back with Joubert and Vuarnet’s book “How to Ski the New French Way” that we studied in the 70’s.
    Since those days I have been less aware of adhering to rigid moves and postures as the revolution in equipment and perhaps being older and wiser has resulted in technique that is more natural, intuitive and most importantly better suited to an octogenarian skier!

  30. My dad was a skier and taught me, his eldest child, to ski in northwestern Indiana by equipping me with little red wooden skis with cable bindings. I started out by walking around the backyard and then climbing sand dunes and skiing down. That didn’t work very well if the wind was blowing snow on top of the sand! But I did learn to balance and snowplow.
    Years later, The Pines ski area opened nearby with several rope tows and I learned to hold on and ride up and begin making rudimentary turns. Family day trips and weekends in Michigan followed. I still remember the thrill of getting some used Head skis and lace-up leather boots. The Cubco bindings broke my leg at Powderhorn in the UP just before I graduated from high school.
    I had no formal instruction until I attended Indiana University and a new ski area opened down the road about 1980. I discovered that I knew more about skiing than most of the folks living there and was hired as an instructor, which also meant I could ski for free and get a little gas money. That’s when I began to get some training and joined PSIA. That was eye-opening!
    I am still teaching (at Perfect North Slopes) and learning. The equipment changes and changes in technique have made efficient skiing much easier. I tell people I have been skiing about 60 years, most of it badly but always having fun.

    • CUBCO bindings!!!!! 😀 Had totally forgotten them! The “must haves” of the ’70s!! Actually, a great advance for skiers (sorry for your broken leg!). But thanks for the historical reminder. (I have a story, below, of “my olden days” of skiing.) Enjoy your teaching….lucky you! 😀

  31. Joel christie monell says:

    I learned to ski on a golf course in Dover New Hampshire and later graduated to North Conway. I did not take lessons, my father helped me. I was about 5 or 6 and this was in the mid 1940s. Later, I raced in high school and was on the ski Patrol at the Dartmouth Skiway. Later I moved to Colorado and skiied all over the West My skiing days are now over due to lower back problems

  32. Kathy Graves says:

    Started skiing at Mott Mt. in Michigan in the late 50’s.

    Our kids were in the Blizzard children’s ski school out of Milwaukee. My husband then trained as one of the instructors. It improved his skiing so much that I also became an instructor. We were both PSIA instructors for over 20 years.

    We both did a little racing as a member of Schussboomer ski club every weekend with the Milwaukee Ski Council.

    Joe is now gone but our skiing days are wonderful memories. I’m still skiing and having a wonderful time teaching the grandkids.

  33. Funny story! My twin & I first learned skiing in the late 60s and 70s. After a looong hiatus (my sister lived in London for 10 years), we started up again in the mid-1980s. Our 1st venture back (we live in Manhattan), was a day-trip by bus from the city to Hunter Mt (2 1/2 hrs away). About 10 mins. from the mt., the leader of the tour told us to start getting into our boots & asked if any of us needed rental equipment. Lynn & I showed the guy our boots, and his eyes popped: “Whoa, just WHAT are THESE?” Seems we had taken our prehistoric leather boots( not having researched the “new” technology) & assumed we’d just rent SKIS!! DUH!!! The leader passed our boots around to the other guides asking if anyone had ever seen them!?! To make a long story short, once we arrived at Hunter Mt’s lodge, in its lobby was a small ski museum…and IN THE MUSEUM were the boots we still had!!! Happy to say, we’ve been skiing ever since – from out West to Europe – and we became equipment mavens – pouring thru any and all articles that kept us abreast of what is “au courant” (both in good equipment and in “modern” skiing skills!! ;-> AND…. that all these years later, these 2 Baby Boomers love the sport more than ever. (Tho our locale…NYC…makes us unable to hit those slopes regularly. And no longer thrilled to cope with the snow conditions usually coating NE ski resorts, we try to make it out West where we’ve enjoyed Alta, Snowbird, Vail, Aspen/Snowmass, Telluride, Steamboat, Big Sky, Jackson Hole/Grand Targhee, Crested Butte, Deer Valley, Sun Valley, Solitude/Brighton, Whistler, and so on…and so forth. Oh! And we even made it to Couchevel and Zermatt!) Whew! I’m exhausted now just remembering it all. Sooo much fun over the years! Thanks to all those who have shared their ski history! 😀 😀 Alice & Lynn

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