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Tips for advanced skiers over 50 planning to ski until 80+

marzNC

Angel Diva
I'm 59 and want to keep skiing forever. I still take lessons and women's clinics and want to continue to work on technique and using as much gravity as possible to make my legs last.
Welcome! What region do you ski in the most?

The instructor I've been working with at Taos for a couple Private Ski Weeks with friends is pushing 80. It's clear he continues to work on his own technique. One of the aspects he focused on this season was "self-teaching." The four of us in the Ski Week were all advanced skiers over 55, mostly over 65. What he taught us on the long cat track was eye-opening because it was such a subtle move. It was impossible to see what he was doing with his body but it was easy to see the effect.
 

jthree

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Welcome! What region do you ski in the most?

The instructor I've been working with at Taos for a couple Private Ski Weeks with friends is pushing 80. It's clear he continues to work on his own technique. One of the aspects he focused on this season was "self-teaching." The four of us in the Ski Week were all advanced skiers over 55, mostly over 65. What he taught us on the long cat track was eye-opening because it was such a subtle move. It was impossible to see what he was doing with his body but it was easy to see the effect.
I love this! Both the idea of self teaching and learning a subtle move with big effect. Oh, and that you have a year after year relationship with a great instructor!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
What did he teach you?
Sorry, too busy on a ski trip to Alta right now to give much of an answer about what we did on the cat track. Can say I'm much better at carving because of what we did. Essentially railroad tracks but taught in a way that made a difference. What's different is that the skill wasn't about carving on groomers but using related movements when skiing bumps.

I gained an understanding of "retraction" that has made a difference.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I am following as well!

As instructors there was a lot of talk around self assessment drills. Where success or lack of it while performing a task was so obvious that no coaches were needed to provide movement assessment feedback. Could this be what was meant by self teaching? Love the use of traverses for working on skills.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Me too
Never waste the flats!
Once I started paying attention to what very experienced instructors do on cat tracks, it became obvious that they are usually working on something. Not only during a lesson, but when free skiing. I've come to know a few instructors at destination resorts well enough to get to free ski with them for an hour or two.

Early in the Ski Week, we asked our instructor what "homework" we should do in the afternoon. We'd worked with him the year before so knew he usually had something specific he would like us to practice. One day he said "ski the groomers deliberately." It was clear he didn't just mean doing drills. But more not getting lazy in terms of body and hand position.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I am following as well!

As instructors there was a lot of talk around self assessment drills. Where success or lack of it while performing a task was so obvious that no coaches were needed to provide movement assessment feedback. Could this be what was meant by self teaching? Love the use of traverses for working on skills.
Part of what the Taos instructor wanted us to do was become more aware of what different parts of our body was doing. He would ask questions to make us think about something specific. For instance, the wrists.

I've had other instructors do something similar. For a class that was part of a multi-week clinic at my home hill for advanced skiers, at the top of a run the instructor asked about the bottom of feet. He wanted us to pay attention to our feet that run. The run only takes about 3 minutes to finish. When we got back to the top of the lift, he asked for comments. Then he told us what he was thinking about regarding the bottoms of feet.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Part of what the Taos instructor wanted us to do was become more aware of what different parts of our body was doing. He would ask questions to make us think about something specific. For instance, the wrists.

I've had other instructors do something similar. For a class that was part of a multi-week clinic at my home hill for advanced skiers, at the top of a run the instructor asked about the bottom of feet. He wanted us to pay attention to our feet that run. The run only takes about 3 minutes to finish. When we got back to the top of the lift, he asked for comments. Then he told us what he was thinking about regarding the bottoms of feet.
Realized that in both cases it made a difference that the people in the lesson knew each other beforehand.

For the multi-week lesson program, was probably in the middle of the sessions. This was at a local hill and most of the people lived within an hour's drive. I was the only one who had to stay overnight but had worked with the long-time instructor for several years before that program. Only made it to about half of the 8 Sunday morning sessions, but it was worth worth it given the cost overall was under $300.

For the Taos Ski Week, it was a Private Ski Week for four students. Three of us had worked with Derek Gordon the season before. He was clearly building new skills beyond what we had done the year before. The fourth had lessons with him long ago, as had her daughter. She was a good friend of one of the other students. It was a very compatible group of older advanced skiers from a skiing ability and learning style standpoint.

I've had lessons from about 20 very experienced instructors in the last decade, mostly Level 3 but also a few Level 2 instructors with 20+ years of experience teaching. In the last few seasons, it's become easier to integrate what is being covered with different approaches that are clearly aiming towards the same goal. There are statements that I understand differently that when I first heard them. For instance, "stand tall" is something every instructor I've worked with more than once has said. I'm much better at noticing when I'm not in the best stance from a "tall" standpoint, which mostly only happens on steeper terrain or steep terrain with nasty snow. Meaning in the middle of making turns so that I can make an adjustment for the next turn.

Note that for my friends who were advanced skiers as teens or young adults in the days of straight skis are often being told not to be as upright. These are people taking lessons with me as advanced skiers over 55, if not over 65. Often the instructor is also over 55.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@marzNC standing tall or getting lower is so nuanced and specific to each skier and situation. Is it a hinging too much at hip and leaning forward issue or sitting down and back too much? In other words, I hope the details have become clear over time as well as some see the inefficient movement pattern but don't always break it down enough. Some of that depends on the audience too. Some don't have the patience or technical mindset to grasp that level of detail, others relish it. Glad it is all making more sense and hopefully execution is following and improvement along with it.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
@marzNC standing tall or getting lower is so nuanced and specific to each skier and situation. Is it a hinging too much at hip and leaning forward issue or sitting down and back too much? In other words, I hope the details have become clear over time as well as some see the inefficient movement pattern but don't always break it down enough. Some of that depends on the audience too. Some don't have the patience or technical mindset to grasp that level of detail, others relish it. Glad it is all making more sense and hopefully execution is following and improvement along with it.
Exactly. That's why what I did to make adjustments to my skiing based on what I was hearing in 2013 is different from what I'm doing in 2023.

Even now ten years later, in the back of my mind I can hear my instructor at my home hill saying "Stand UP" when I was having a solo group lesson because no one else showed up midweek. Each instructor after that added to my personal knowledge about my skiing, as opposed to generic advice that can be gained from reading books on ski technique or videos.

I'm a visual learner who does best with in-person lessons. At the same time, I do remember what is said reasonably well. At least for a few key points per lesson. Fair to say that if I'm hearing about the same issue from more than one instructor, then that still needs work.

Having a lesson 3-4 years later with the same Level 3 instructor is always interesting. In general, we work on something different because I've been continuing to improve all along with the help of other lessons.

What Derek did in 2023 built on what he did in 2022. Three of the students were in both Private Ski Weeks. The fourth in 2023 was probably the strongest skier but hadn't had a lesson in a while. He was always clear about what each individual should focus on more.
 

VickiK

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
What did he teach you?
Exactly my question! Inquiring minds want to know...[edit] but now that I read the later posts, I have a better idea.

@ski diva made a point in her blog post on the recent Taos trip that egos should be checked at the door when doing a ski week. I do agree with this, it was helpful to do that for me.
 

Moleski

Certified Ski Diva
Just back on skidiva after a 4 year break - ruptured right acl in 2019 and then Covid hit...I know this is an old thread but it seemed very relevant to me as I'm going to be 57 in a few weeks. I'm also in a fb group that a lot of you likely know, Aging Horsewomen, and this thread kinda reeled me in. I've been skiing once or twice a year on 'ski holidays' for 30 years and have been stuck at Intermediate for a loooong time. I'm from Ireland, so I have to go to the Alpes for my skiing; ski holidays tend to be very social and a lot about lunch and the apres! Lots of people go to ski school e.g., french esi etc., and I did that for a long time. It didn't help with the intermediate plateau (IP)at all! Dunno how many people like me are on skydiva but the site has been a godsend for me cos not that many women my age have the slightest interest in improving their skiing. I just lost my mojo with the acl thing and turned to horses for a while.
But... just back from Les Deux Alpes in the French Alps where the snow was cracking in mid April and I feel I'm finally making some progress off the IP with the help of my older but much wiser coach, Charlotte Swift (appropriate or what). She has taken the time to start from basics and break down my skiing into key components and I can see some light finally. I looked online for a long time to find Charlotte - she is an older coach with experience in instructing in Scotland, racing slalom and biomechanics as well as sharing my love of horses, having ridden racehorses for a long time. Not sure if anyone interested but just wanted to share this info for anybody like me who has despaired and is looking for a wise, insightful and thoughtful coach who is truly invested in helping her students improve. And has a great store of yarns for lift journeys. Also love to hear from any middle aged, female skiers from Ireland!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
just back from Les Deux Alpes in the French Alps where the snow was cracking in mid April and I feel I'm finally making some progress off the IP with the help of my older but much wiser coach, Charlotte Swift (appropriate or what). She has taken the time to start from basics and break down my skiing into key components and I can see some light finally. I looked online for a long time to find Charlotte - she is an older coach with experience in instructing in Scotland, racing slalom and biomechanics as well as sharing my love of horses, having ridden racehorses for a long time. Not sure if anyone interested but just wanted to share this info for anybody like me who has despaired and is looking for a wise, insightful and thoughtful coach who is truly invested in helping her students improve. And has a great store of yarns for lift journeys. Also love to hear from any middle aged, female skiers from Ireland!
Glad you made it back to the slopes! Finding a compatible instructor makes a big difference. Especially after a serious injury and a long rehab.
 

Moleski

Certified Ski Diva
Thanks a million - I had a repair in Sep 2019, which was a really good job but lost my quad strength and expanded the range of joints affected by osteoarthritis! I feel very positive about skiing again. Snow in LDA amazing for April with even a wee dump of powder late last week. I'm skiing on a fairly old but little used pair of Stockli vxl and they were brilliant if a little heavy to carry through the airport. Hopes for next year are steeper slopes, bumps, a bit of off-piste and maybe even La Grave which is next door to LDA. No chutes tho...
 

Moleski

Certified Ski Diva
Thanks a million - I had a repair in Sep 2019, which was a really good job but lost my quad strength and expanded the range of joints affected by osteoarthritis! I feel very positive about skiing again. Snow in LDA amazing for April with even a wee dump of powder late last week. I'm skiing on a fairly old but little used pair of Stockli vxl and they were brilliant if a little heavy to carry through the airport. Hopes for next year are steeper slopes, bumps, a bit of off-piste and maybe even La Grave which is next door to LDA. No chutes tho...
Stockli stormrider vxl
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I'm skiing on a fairly old but little used pair of Stockli vxl and they were brilliant if a little heavy to carry through the airport.
One of the reasons I decided to buy Stöckli Stormrider 85 demo skis five years ago is that my understanding is that because of the construction they will last quite a while. Unlike other skis I've bought that only lasted 3-4 seasons before the top sheet and/or camber weren't in good shape any more.

I opted to pay a little more to change out the demo bindings in order to have normal bindings that are much lighter when carrying the skis. For flights, I have wheels. For carrying from a parking lot, I wanted less weight. For a longer walk these days, I'm using The Ski Pack that I discovered last fall at Snowbound Expo in Boston. Not sure they are ready to ship to internationally yet though.
 

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