And Get Out
of the Way!
By DaviD a. Oliver
We all have our toolbox filled with fix-it progressions and we all can spin stories of how this tool worked or how that tool changed the lesson. After 20-plus years of
teaching skiing to kids I would like to think my toolbox is
overflowing for every situation. ¶ Sometimes the tools and
the tech take over, and we lose touch with our audience—
the kids. But tools are just tools. What happens when our
tool box just isn’t enough?
The author prepares to plunge a group of Austrian kids into exploration of the mountain.
Never was this more apparent than in a
kid’s group lesson I taught at Interski. I
was assigned a group of nine children—
ages 10 to 18 years old—with skiing
abilities from intermediate to racer. This
was a group of local Austrian kids that
I was to teach on unfamiliar terrain,
while providing them with a lesson that
was the best the U.S. could offer. This
lesson completely took me outside of my
comfort zone as I realized the standard
tools just wouldn’t cut it.
What next? How about mechanics?
Instructors always love fixing the base
mechanics. However, wanting to represent the U.S. as well as I knew how, I
realized that getting technical is something anyone can do.
I needed to get out of my own way
and remember who was important. This
situation was not about me or my skills.
I wasn’t here to be scored or examined.
I was here for this group of kids. They
didn’t care who I was or where I was
from. They had just one question on their
mind: Is this going to be fun or not? It
was time to go back to the basics of kid’s
instruction. Fun. Let the kids have some
fun and see where it takes us.
By generating a scenario where we
became explorers of our environment,
we found a common ground. Using the
exploration of terrain and discovering
teachable moments, we bonded. We
explored parts of the mountain and
movement patterns that we had never
seen or done. From falling leafs and pivot