More to the point his progression has been wonderful. First of all we spent a little time with him between my legs, feeling the way they went from side to side, experiencing his edges biting the snow and constantly being reminded of the mantra, “across the hill s-l-o-w, down the hill FAST>>>!”
Next step was the hula-hoop, Cai inside it with me behind. This gave us a little distance, I helped him learn about rotational turns and his speed was checked. When comfortable with that we moved onto the magic wand, a 3 1/2 foot piece of dowel wrapped in duck tape to create 2 opposing cones and then covered in hockey tape to give it grip. This is a great tool as it is multi purpose, sometimes we ski side by side and I am able to accelerate him round the turns so he feels the forces of carving. It is also also a great safety rail when the chairs are lacking them and a lurk for him to pole on the flats. Along with this are the myriad of games we can play.
Armed with the wand we are able to drop into half pipes and he knows what it feels like to jump – he loves flying. Last year he hit a period when he was a little reticent, so we spent some time on magic carpet, to begin with he wanted the wand, however, after a while I was able to engage him in chase play. By being a crocodile I was able to come up on his outside shoulder and he instinctively turned away from me. By going from side to side we forced his turns and after a while of this he asked to go back on the “flying chairs”. On the way down he stated we were going into the terrain park, I reminded him that I was not willing to use the pole on the big jumps and he told me that was ok. It required commitment to gain the park as they had done a nice job of fencing and berming it off; he skied right in, turned and contoured the hill for a while while looking at the jumps, he then just turned down hill and “pointed them”. I watched him hit the first jump and pump his legs clearing some great air before he landed it and disappeared from sight. I had to skate frantically, wondering what Kimberly was going to say if he got hurt. By the time he hit the second jump his speed was outrageous and there was some hesitation, this time the landing was not so elegant. I came in below worried as only a parent can be to see a smiling face, “its ok dad, I don’t need the rescue rangers”.
That afternoon he overturned and started skiing backwards, he looked at me for a minute to see if I was going to give him the ok before deciding he did not care what I thought because he was enjoying it. He proceeded to do lovely turns all the way into the lift line.
So why is this so great? Well normally we teach a snow plough early in the progression. The call of “pizza, pizza, french fries” is a familiar one to any skiing parent. I struggle with this because we are teaching that control has to be forced. Rather than harnessing natural power, we demonstrate fighting it and all of this has to be unlearned later. If instead we choose our environment wisely, and learn patterns and laws of nature playfully we come away both far wiser and far happier. If having gained suitable understanding we intentionally surrender ourselves to these laws that is when we have optimal experiences.
How much of what you are doing at the moment feels like fighting? Is there a way to feel like you are going with the flow?