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What is the terminal intermediate plateau? And how do I avoid getting stuck there?

kiki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#23
To answer your question by way of a cautionary tale, I'm very much on the plateau, and to me it's negative because I'd like to keep up with friends and ski more varied terrain. I'm on the fence between becoming a 2- or 3-day-a-season skier or really committing to trying to improve this year. It does not bode well that opening day is Saturday and I don't really know if I feel like going or not.

So to answer your question my perspective is that if you feel that you're stagnating and you don't want to stagnate, try to recognize that and come at it really hard with lessons and a plan to spend as much time on snow as possible. That way you'll hopefully jump-start some tangible progress before frustration sets in.
I’ll echo @SallyCat , i too am questioning what future seasons will look like for me. It is hard to keep pushing ahead without feeling progress. Even with lots of time on the snow, physical training and lessons, it’s harder for some of us than others.
 

kiki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#24
I really enjoy learning new things and challenging myself. I come from an equestrian eventing background so I enjoy the speed and thrills (XC and jumping) and also the technical side of sports (dressage), and just being outdoors. My husband and our friends are all really good skiers (instructors, examiners, etc.). I don’t like being left behind as the one who can’t hang with everybody else. My husband also wants us to go to Whistler Blackcomb in March. This is pretty scary to me especially because he used to be a mountain host there, and our friend is a ski examiner there, and I am a little concerned that I am going to be in way over my head out there with no intermediates to ski with. So I would like to be able to comfortably ski at least all the black diamonds.

With my Dressage background I don’t want to be a sloppy skier or have a lack of appreciation for proper technique. It annoys me that when my husband skis people say “wow he’s showing us how it’s done”. And when I ski people say things like “you need to keep your body facing down the hill, or you have to work on your angulation, you’re too far forward, or make your turns rounder”. I want that to stop! I guess I’m a little competitive! :hurt:But I know I’ll never be as good of a skier as my husband. I know I was a stronger skier and could competently execute a lot more moves last March. I’ve been out twice this season (my second year on skis) and feel rusty. I need to work on refreshing my memory on all the things I learned last season and building on that. I know the basic differences between flat skiing and carving and in between and can execute them in a basic way. I can side slip and pivot slip and do falling leaf fairly confidently. Looking at my calendar I think it’s possible but I’ll hit 50 days on the snow this year, give or take 10 depending on weather and luck.
I ski whistler almost every weekend and am intermediate. Would love to ski with you when you are there.
Also check your dates the North face ladies ski camps are awesome and there should be one or two offerings in March, it would be a huge boost to your confidence and super fun.
 

QCskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#26
I hit the intermediate plateau in my 2nd year of skiing. Blue groomers were not a problem for me but I never felt good on black groomers. Taking lessons proved to be a turning point because the instructor found errors in my technique and once I corrected them I was skiing better so I could start progressing again. Having the right equipment is also important. I bought my first set of equipment when I was still a grad student so I went for what was cheapest, not for what was best for my size and style of skiing. Once I was more financially stable I upgraded everything properly (boot fittings, demoing skis) and it made a huge difference.
 

NYSnowflake

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#27
2) get away from crowded blue trails in the southeast, mid-Atlantic, or northeast
5) make it easier to explore a new ski area/resort because no worries about getting into terrain that would be too difficult
Those sound about right to me!
I would also like to be able to keep up with/hang with more of my advanced skier friends at least on blues and single blacks.
 

NYSnowflake

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#28
What do you enjoy? Are you able to do what you enjoy now or do you think you need some additional skills or confidence to reach your goals?

Let us know and there are many here who can point you in the direction you want to go.
I really enjoy taking lessons and learning new skills so I can conquer terrain that used to overwhelm/scare me or make me fall a lot. I enjoy feeling confident! I hate getting scared out there so the better I get the less fearful I am. My husband and friends tease me because my fear of getting lost on the mountain or accidentally going down a double black trail has led me to memorize the map of the mountain! I guess nobody else does this?

I get fairly freaked out in fog/ whiteout/low light conditions and feel nauseated out there sometimes. I wish I could overcome this. When visibility is poor I ski narrow tree trails or trails I know very well. I avoid the wide open white space.

I would like to learn to ski backwards a little. And to carve better. Right now I sideslip or pivot slip or falling leaf on really hard packed/icy steeps in the NE. I would like to be able to carve or ski normally on those. I would also like to ski smoother turns through choppy snow and keep my zipper lined up down hill. I would really like to be able to ski all the blues and single black trails at Mount Snow with confidence and a smile in all conditions.
 

NYSnowflake

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#30
I ski whistler almost every weekend and am intermediate. Would love to ski with you when you are there.
Also check your dates the North face ladies ski camps are awesome and there should be one or two offerings in March, it would be a huge boost to your confidence and super fun.
❤️ That would be wonderful to have an intermediate ski pal for when we get out there! I will message you once we have our plans figured out.
 
#31
We are also good friends with a PSIA examiner out there and I may try to book a lesson with him.
I've had lessons with two Examiners, as well as over a dozen PSIA Level 3 instructors. The lessons with the Examiners (one out west, one at Massanutten) were really, really good. One was a semi-private with two friends. The three of us were at different levels, all variations of advanced skiing. But we all got a lot out of the 2-hour lesson in less than stellar conditions. Learned quite a bit about how to use the terrain on and near groomers to practice fundamentals.

I like knowing where I'm going and usually end up the navigator for my friends. I like maps.
 

SierraLuLu

Certified Ski Diva
#32
Lots of goodies to think about on this thread! I too worry about hitting the plateau, but rather than worrying about being amazing right away, if I can get a little better every time I ski I’ll be happy.

get away from crowded blue trails in the southeast, mid-Atlantic, or northeast
Since I’m from out west I had the opposite experience. Going to New England just as I was getting confident on blacks out west was terrifying because in California you can get down almost anything with mediocre form. I remember going down Superstar on Killington for the first time which was crowded as hell and had spots of pure ice and because of those 2 reasons there was little room for error and I had to carve. I think it really helped me at the end of the day.

Having a sweeper means there is someone behind you who can help if you fall, makes it easier to go a little faster and make a few more turns before stopping on a more challenging run.
I love this description. My “sweeper” is my husband who patiently followed me down my first blue trails reminding me that I wouldn’t ski off the sides and more recently guided me down my first Mammoth double blacks even though I certainly wasn’t ready. The problem is, since he hit the aforementioned plateau that he’s finally climbing out of, now he jokes that I’m better than him and asks me to critique his form. I don’t think I am, but I’m catching up and finally keeping up too.

As for Whistler. Maybe book a group lesson or two while you're there. That way you have a chance to ski with other people on terrain that suits your needs, your husband can get the double black diamonds out of his system and you can meet up later and ski terrain that you both will enjoy together.

I know the feeling of being left behind or holding people up sucks...a lot. Couple thoughts for advice...stop thinking that you're being left behind when they go down something that you're not ready for. Start thinking that you're just taking your own path down the mountain
Yes, this! Plan alone time and plan group time and maybe also plan for a set period of time where they can guide and critique you and time when you just ski. Going to Whistler sounds awesome and you shouldn’t feel pressured or nervous to have to keep up or do any particular trail because being on new terrain should be fun and interesting and challenging all on its own and no doubt you’ll come back a better skier than you were before.
 

kiki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#33
Yes, this! Plan alone time and plan group time and maybe also plan for a set period of time where they can guide and critique you and time when you just ski. Going to Whistler sounds awesome and you shouldn’t feel pressured or nervous to have to keep up or do any particular trail because being on new terrain should be fun and interesting and challenging all on its own and no doubt you’ll come back a better skier than you were before.
Great points, @SierraLuLu
Whistler is beautiful and there is lots of gorgeous intermediate runs for you to explore :-)
 
#35
I am a map junkie!
One reason I liked attending the Boston Ski Expo was that I could get current trail maps for a variety of ski areas/resorts that I am curious about. Have a friend who requests paper maps via email. Much easier to look at a nice big map vs on a computer screen for a large destination resort.

Also fun to collect the anniversary versions celebrating 50th years or whatever.

Have you got many of the maps made of "stone paper"? They last a lot longer.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#36
Back to the OP's initial question... what is the terminal intermediate plateau?

Here in the North East, it's a common way of skiing groomers that prohibits further progress. Doing these turns "better" does not improve control over line nor speed on hard snow groomers, and does not help the skier do bumps or trees with increasing control. In spring when the snow is soft and gloppy, it doesn't work.

Why is this way of making turns terminal? Because adding to this movement pattern, or doing it "better," does not produce progress. It's a dead end. Fixing it means replacing it. Replacing a habit is like going on a diet. It's hard and unpleasant to do, for many skiers.

How did this happen? Well, some essential fundamentals got missed as the skier moved from beginner to novice to intermediate and moved to skiing blues and blacks regularly with friends. Things seemed to be working OK when conditions are good, so repetition embedded the movements deeply into muscle memory.

Those missing fundamental movements need to be learned if the skier is ever to get off the plateau, but there are already habitual movements in place that seem to be working. On a good day, when the conditions are just right, the current turns feel great. It's really hard to replace those habitual movements. The skier needs to go back down onto low pitch terrain and do the new movement pattern with the missing fundamentals so often that it starts getting embedded, then slowly take it up the mountain onto green then blue terrain. If the skier continues to "ski just for fun" on normal terrain daily, with only a bit of practice with the new movements, that just makes the old movements harder to overwrite. People don't want to do drills and ski slowly on beginner terrain until their bodies get habituated to new movements. It feels awkward, and it's a challenge. They want to ski with their friends. Thus... terminal.

So what are the terminal movements and what should they be instead? It can be different for different people. I'm speaking for New England skiing on hard snow here. I can't speak for skiers out west at big mountains. Any of these in combination can get a skier stuck on the plateau.
--the skier's upper body always points in the direction the skis are going (in shorter turns, the skier needs to allow the skis to turn more than the upper body). This upper body rotation sometimes follows the skis, and sometimes precedes them.
--the skier tilts their whole body as a unit to edge the skis (the skier needs to edge the skis with the legs, not the whole body)
--the skier rotates the skis quickly at the start of the turn so that they point across the hill in the opposite direction (skier needs to be able to get skis on new edges at top of turn at will)
--the skier does not allow their body to cross over the skis at turn entry.
--the skier swings arms with pole plants, or holds arms at the side of the body, or plants poles cosmetically rather than with purpose, or crosses the body with hands with each pole plant (pole baskets should swing, not arms, elbows should be ahead of side-seams on jacket, hands should not cross left-right in front of body, pole plants or touches provide timing sues for turns)
--the skier pushes the new outside ski out to edge it (too many words are needed to explain the better option)
--the skier leans in while pushing that outside leg outward, with shoulders tilted, inside shoulder low, making the outside shoulder to outside foot a long, straight, strong unit. This is called bracing (too many words needed to explain its replacement)
--the skier does not know how to manipulate edge angle with ankles and lower legs, instead using the whole leg and maybe even the upper body.
--the skier does not know how to fully complete turns for speed control
--because of some combination of these missing things, the skier has one habitual turn which simply won't work in all conditions on all terrain. (skier needs to be versatile enough to make short turns, medium turns, long turns, completed turns, incompleted turns, all at will)

There are probably more parts to this, but I've got to get out on snow.
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#39
I agree with liquidfeet that most skiers who are “stuck” ski in the back seat. If you are not centered, it become difficult to release your edges to start the turn. You then must use something other than your legs to turn.

These types of turns work ok on the groomers but do not work ok in steeps, bumps, trees and crud.

Changing your stance can change your skiing.
 

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