Monday, April 12, 2010
Where Are You in Your Skiing?
What a strange question to answer. And it gets asked often, I think its a good question, because while I think about it all the time, I don't often put it into words. Practicing talking about it allows it to become an investigation in curiosity rather than something else.
I feel very much like my skiing is something that changes almost every turn, and often every run. The rate at which it changes also changes. But there is something I can learn, if I listen, from each turn, from each portion of the turn, in all kinds of snow.
Sometimes, I listen from the mindset of a technical, analytical perspective, and sometimes, I listen from an esoteric, feeling place, trusting that something is evolving, that my feet are teaching themselves.
Most of the time, I feel like I'm looking closely at individual pieces, which I know are part of a greater whole. I'm usually not sure where in the whole they fit, and figuring that part out is usually my present from my skiing once I've been open enough to each aspect.
I have described it a couple of times as feeling like I have a small pile of Legos in my hand, and I know that they make a car when you put them together well. But trying to guess how they go together, I can often make some semblance of a car, but I always have pieces left over.
When I take the time to investigate each individual piece, how big is it, how many connector pieces are there, what are all the characteristics of each of the pieces... When I take the time to do that, I find that I get a spatial picture, in the back ground, of how it all fits together. And suddenly, one day, I realize that I'm not looking at the pieces anymore, but that I'm experiencing the whole in a new way.
I love to hang out and admire the new car, enjoy it, drive it around, and play with it for a couple of days, but inevitably in a few days, I realize that there is another model, one that performs better, has a few more (or fewer!) pieces, but takes a greater depth of understanding to put together.
Actually, the further along I go, the fewer pieces there seem to be, but the more depth of understanding you need to fit them together.
One of the things that's been really exciting for me this year is fading back and forth from dedicated technical training most often on easy slopes (most recently, 8000 retraction turns on groomed blue, six days of wedge Christies on groomed green, an hour a day on turn initiation, and four weeks on giant slalom skis no matter the terrain), to feeling, experiencing, absorbing, either by chasing someone and "watching" with my proprioceptors what my skis and body are doing to match their movements, or by skiing hard, off piste, off axis, in the air, with curiosity and no judgment. I wonder what happens when I ski this snow like this...
I found that honing issues in my skiing down to specific questions, and trying to read, watch, and self coach through them, and then taking the very specific question to someone who I learn from well (Weems, Kurt, Schanzy, Megan, Cindy, Jonathan, Josh, Kevin, Tim...) it usually only takes about five or ten minutes of discussion and I have a new outlook and something to go try again.