Chad Jones uses a ladder approach.
He starts with the skill on simple terrain,
then slowly ramps up the level until
students find themselves using the skill
not because they are practicing it, but because
they are reacting to the mountain.
The Ultimate Goal
Of course the most difficult part of teaching at this level is not being a teacher at
all. Once again in the words of Suzuki Roshi, “You want a teacher so that you can be
independent. So you study yourselves.”
That is exactly the attitude an instructor
needs to cultivate in his or her students. The
beauty of the breakthrough is that it is an
achievement that comes from the inside. “It all
boils down to one concept,” said Thompson.
“Less is more.”
He explains that on a purely physical level,
that means getting the student to actually try
less. “When you are teaching movements and
patterns with your students, keep it simple,” he
advises. “Sometimes they just try to overpower
and muscle their skis. But less is more.”
It’s not just about the student, however,
according to Thompson. Teachers all too often
try to overpower the lesson. They try to teach
too hard. “Again,” he says, “less is more. You
need to ski more and teach less.”
Now, that doesn’t mean an instructor just
leaves a student to his or her own devices. That
would be no different from the bad experience
Jones and so many others had the first time on
the hill with unsympathetic buddies. It’s more a
matter of combining the trust and terrain skills
that students have been taught, then letting
them enjoy those new skills for themselves.
“It’s cool to see people enjoying themselves
doing something they were afraid of, or at the
very least unsure of, before. As you start moving up in different skill levels, whether
it’s a trick on a fun box or hitting the halfpipe for first time, you start to see them relax
. . . and then they start processing. Then they can focus in such a way to make changes
on their own,” said Saline.