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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

MH2SKI Blog

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Keep It Simple

Posted on
October 27, 2019
Waiting patiently for days like this.

Hi everybody, and welcome back. It's official, the ski season is only just round the corner. How have I come to this ground-breaking decision? If you look at what has happened this weekend, then I believe you will agree - Austria has hosted the first World Cup ski races for both women and men; there's the big Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Festival taking place in London Town; the clocks have changed, plus..... it was chilly this morning! There you go, not too random is it? Speaking of random, Harriet and I went to a fantastic show the other evening where we saw Ben Elton on his latest tour. Soon after the show I realised that he had made me think about skiing again. Let me explain.

Phil keeping it simple in some variable snow conditions.

Ben's latest tour is his first stand-up set of performances for fifteen years. It was an exciting reminder of how much energy he has, how he bounces quickly from one subject to another. There were times when I wished that he would slow down just a little bit in order for me to keep up and figure out each punchline. But I guess he had so much material he needed his two and a half hour show (including interval). Yes there was some bad language, and yes sometimes the subject matter was pushing the boundaries at times, but on the whole it was a very funny show. So where am I going with linking Ben Elton to skiing?

Ben was saying that since he last toured, we have become an 'Instant Society'. We want things done instantly and it has become the norm. If we don't get it, then we get grumpy. He gave a comedy example - you could be sat on the toilet and organise an Uber Eats delivery for precisely three and a half minutes time, whilst simultaneously scrolling through Snapchat and Insta, quickly followed by selecting someone on Tinder for a meet up. And all this before reaching for the toilet tissue! Apologies if Ben Elton's style of humour isn't your cup of tea, but you get the gist. We are gradually being conditioned to cope with an increased pace of life, with a lot of multi-tasking. Surely this has nothing to do with skiing? At first I dismissed this idea. But bear with me.

Quite often at the start of someone's holiday - or, say, their first lesson of the week with me - I'll suggest starting with a warm up ski. Nothing complicated, just a relaxed slide down a piste within their comfort zone, following behind me. Sometimes I will observe relaxed body language, which is a great start. However, other times I will note a not-so-relaxed skier. When stopping at the side of the piste in a safe position, I will ask them what they were thinking about whilst skiing. And it can be astonishing not only to hear what is being listed, but also the length of the list.

Is this an example of the 'Instant Society' at work, up on the mountain? Has the conditioning of multi-tasking and a high pace of life during our normal life seeped into our skiing, up at high altitude? I'm not saying we can't multi-task and think at a high pace. I've come across many people who are exceptionally good at doing this. But some of us find this level of multi-tasking challenging, especially for those in a less familiar (and at times intimidating) environment like skiing. Because let's face it, it takes a while for the brain to get used to sliding downhill on slippery skis. One approach to meeting these challenges? Slow down, and keep it simple.

Hands up who loves skiing

Over my many winters of ski teaching, I've observed countless examples of people slowing down and simplifying their thought processes - reducing the pace of life - and finding it beneficial. A classic example is stopping for a coffee/hot chocolate/vin chaud at a mountain restaurant, then sitting in the sun whilst announcing how relaxing and brilliant the experience is. This is priceless. Another could be me stood with clients at the top of the mountain, or a ski lift, and pointing out the view. Moments of silence pass whilst the scene is being appreciated. Priceless. Or another could be stood on the mountain, or even looking out of the window, when snowflakes are falling. It's so therapeutic, and yet again priceless. Slowing down in life has many benefits.

But what about improving our skiing performance? I've heard something from many of my clients that I find interesting. Their feedback informs me that they love how I try to simplify ski technique into manageable chunks. As adults, we can be guilty of over analysing things. Why over complicate, when we can keep things simple? I will often suggest to clients that they only think about one thing at a time to help improve their performance. Yes we can change our focus during a session, and we can change the focus when skiing down different pistes, but just the one thing for each pitch. Keep it simple.

Here's another random thought. I have absolutely no idea if Ben Elton is a skier. If so, I wonder what type of a skier he is? I'm guessing he would be full of energy, squirting off all over the place with an irregular rhythm, occasionally taking a wrong turn - but then come to a graceful and skilful stop whilst announcing to the world "Here I am" with an enormous smile!

It's only four weeks to go now before I leave Leamington Spa and head back to Méribel for another winter. I'll try to squeeze in another post beforehand, and who knows what that will be about? If you are thinking about going out to Méribel or Courchevel for a ski and fancy hooking up for a session, please contact me soon because dates are filling up. See you soon, and don't forget to Live With Passion. Martin.

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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