Simplify your teaching – Improving your skiing by focusing on less

Rules, regulations, laws, and complexity. Since the birth of the constitution there has been no year with fewer laws than the previous year. Simply look at tax law, and realize that there is no one person who knows all the rules. These rules become so complex that it requires a professional to navigate the waters for us.

complex pool.jpg

Today my daughter made up a game around the pool table. There were so many rules to the game that we lost sight of the point of the game. And even though we wanted to play the game, we were lost in the minutiae. We played anyway, and half way through the game she stopped us. Then proceeded to add more rules to the game, as well as adding a new objective. My son lost interest, and I listened and followed along politely. 

“Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”    – Albert Einstein
This a wonderful goal for a teacher, or maker of rules.

Copy, Choose, Create
As a teacher of skiing develops they go through these phases of presenting information to their students.  PSIA-RM Document

Copy– New instructors are taught a progression of steps to bring a student from a to b to c. If the instructor runs into a stumbling block they either continue to try to tell the student to try the same thing until the student either succeeds or quits. Or they look around to see what somebody else is doing, then they interpret the movement and share it with the student. And often inefficient movement patterns are created.

Choose– The teacher has a few progressions and quick fixes in their bag of tricks. This level of instructor can teach to several types of learning styles. 
Often an instructor will move through one progression and find that the student will be performing well, yet still in need of practice and mileage. The experienced instructor realizes this is a natural part of learning and is willing to offer modest coaching of existing movements. The less experienced instructor desires to add new movements prematurely, or pile on another progression immediately. This is know as “puking on the student” or “downloading” on the student.  Everything the instructor knows is given to the student. It rarely is beneficial, yet the student rarely realizes that it is detrimental.

Create– This is a first level of mastery in an instructor. It is the ability to draw upon progressions, “tricks”, terrain, lesson timing, movement pools, psychological understandings, etc to customize the experience to the student or class. 
The lesson may or may not follow an order ever shared by the instructor, or it may be a plain “vanilla” progression. The Mastery of this Creation is in the simplicity it is delivered and understood. When a student says, “Wow, nobody has ever told me it that way before.” you can be quite certain you created a special lesson.

The expert instructor has a desire to create, and build simplicity into the lesson. The first few times you create may get messy, it may cause you to backtrack or restate things during your lesson, that is ok. This is part of the process. To accelerate the process, talk with an experienced pro about your ideas, this can help you through your learning process. Most pros are happy to talk shop. 

Simplify, simplify, simplify, but no simpler. There are only a few things worse than teaching “dead-end” simple moves to an eager student. Do the creations translate to movement patterns shared by an expert skier? They should. Even a wedge turn has movements an expert uses.

Jonathan Lawson is an instructor and staff trainer at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado. He has been teaching skiing since 1991, and teaching in Colorado since 1993, and a PSIA-Rocky Mountain Trainer since 1999. He continually works at making skiing easier to understand so that students can ski more.

Wikipedia: Rookie is a term for a person who is in his or her first year of play of their sport or has little or no professional experience. ยป

Images and elements of “Good” Skiing


When I was training for my PSIA Full Certification (Level 3) in 1993, and Trainer Accreditation (1999) I would watch good skiers for about 15 minutes every morning. Of course back then it was on VHS video tape.  Now you can just bookmark this post and watch away. Some of the videos resembled what I used to watch.

Medium Radius Carved Turns
Short Radius Performance Turns
Performance Mogul Skiing
Skiing Variable Terrain
Great job Jonathan Ballou (Aspen) and PSIA-RM for putting these images together.  To get this type of performance from your instructor, REQUEST a FULLY CERTIFIED PSIA/AASI professional for your next lesson.

The Perfume

Sometimes a story resonates with you. Gaining an understanding that things are not always what they appear, and accepting others at more than face value.

Here is a email forward that I just received, and I believe that is worth the minute or two it takes to read.  Enjoy…



As  she  stood in front of  her
primary 5 class on the very first day of school, she told  the children an

Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and
said that she loved them all the same.

However, that was impossible, because there in
the front row, slumped in

his seat, was a little boy named Koko Bassey.

Mrs.Thompson had watched Koko the year before
and noticed that he did not

play well  with  the  other 
children,  that  his clothes were messy and that he

constantly needed a bath. In addition, 
Koko BASSEY could be  unpleasant.


It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would
actually take delight

in  marking  his  papers 
with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and

then putting a big  “F”  at
the top of his papers.


At  the  school where Mrs. Thompson
taught, she was required to review each

child’s past  records and she put Koko’s
off until last. However, when she reviewed

his file, she was in  for a surprise.


Koko’s primary 1 teacher wrote, “Koko is a
bright child with a ready laugh.

He does his work neatly and has good manners…
he is a joy to be around.”


His primary 2 teacher wrote, “Koko is an
excellent pupil, well liked by his

classmates,  but  he  is troubled
because his mother has a terminal illness

and life at home must be a struggle.”


His primary 3 teacher wrote, “His mother’s
death has been hard on

him.  He  tries to do his best, but his
father doesn’t show much

interest  and his home life will soon
affect him if some steps aren’t  taken.”


Koko’s  primary  4  teacher
wrote, “Koko is withdrawn and doesn’t show much

interest in  school. He doesn’t have many
friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By  now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem
and she was ashamed of herself.

She felt  even worse when her pupils
brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in

beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for


His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy,
brown paper that he got from

a grocery bag. Mrs.  Thompson 
took  pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.

Some of the  children  started 
to  laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with

some of the  stones missing, and a bottle
that was one-quarter full of perfume. But

she stifled  the children’s laughter when
she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet

was putting it on, and dabbing some of the
perfume on her wrist.

Koko  Bassey  stayed  after
school that day just long enough to say,

“Mrs.  Thompson,  today 
you  smelled  just like  my Mom used to.”


After  the children left, she cried for at
least an hour. On that very day,

she quit  teaching reading, writing and
arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach

children.  Mrs.  Thompson  paid
particular attention to Koko. As she worked

with him, his  mind  seemed to come
alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he


By the end of the year, Koko had become one of
the smartest  children in

the class and, despite her lie that she would
love  all  the  children  the same,

Koko became one of her “teacher’s

A  year  later,  she  found
a note under her door, from Koko, telling her that she was

still the best teacher he ever had in his whole

Six years went by before she got another note
from Koko. He then wrote that he had

finished secondary school, third in his
class,and  she  was  still  the best teacher

he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter,
saying that while things had been tough at times,

he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, 
and  would  soon  graduate from the university with the

highest  of  honors.  He assured
Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher

he had ever had in his whole life.

Then  four  more  years 
passed  and  yet another letter came. This time he

explained that after he got his bachelor’s
degree, he decided to go a little further.

The letter  explained  that she was
still the best and favorite teacher he ever

had. But now  his name was a little
longer….The letter was signed, Koko A. Bassey, MD.


The story does not end there. You see, there was
yet another letter that spring.

Koko said he had met this girl and was going to
be married. He explained that his  father

had died a couple of years ago  and he was
wondering if Mrs. Thompson might  agree to sit at the

wedding  in the place that was usually
reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what?
She wore that bracelet,  the  one with  several rhinestones

Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the
perfume that  Koko  remembered his mother wearing

on their last Christmas together.They
hugged  each other, and Dr. Bassey whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear,

“Thank you, Mrs.  Thompson 
for  believing  in  me Thank you so much for making me feel
important and

showing me that  I  could make a

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered
back. She said, “Koko, you have it  all  wrong.

You were the one  who  taught  me
that  I could make a difference.

I  didn’t know how  to teach
until  I  met  you.”

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this
along.  Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today or
tomorrow.  Just  “do  it”. Random acts of kindness, I
think they call it.

Find time to laugh… but not at the weaknesses
of others!

Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery,
Today is the present, so let’s call it a Gift!!!

And if you have another few minutes, listen to the Shia Story…

“Curiosity” in contrast to the fundamentalists

I am happy to have escaped from the oppression of Vail Resorts as an employer. I will be working with another fine ski area in the county build their training program. I will be teaching on a part-time request only basis this season. And you may contact me directly.

As I enjoyed my Sunday morning walk-and-read, I enjoyed Seth Godin’s 2008 book, TRIBES.
tribes walk.jpg
In this post I will speak to a few elements with regard to Curiosity (p.63) by Mr. Godin. I will include some personal interpretations as well.

“A fundamentalist is a person who considers whether a fact is acceptable to his ‘religion’ before he explores it. As opposed to a curious person who explores first and then considers whether or not he wants to accept the ramifications.”
I still remember my 4th grade class with Sister Lillian and one of our Priests were explaining how, “All but the Catholics were damned” because they did not believe our teachings. I raised my hand and asked, “What about the monks and Buddhists who spend their whole lives praying in an effort to do good in this world? Are they going to hell too?” “Yes, I am afraid so.” said the priest. 
“A curious person embraces the tension between his religion and something new, wrestles  with it and through it, and then decides whether to embrace the new idea or reject it.”
Curiosity is a key concept as it has nothing to do with income, education, or organized religion. “It has to do with a desire to understand, a desire to try, a desire to push whatever envelope is interesting.” 
endless waves.jpg
I remember starting my first web-based business (Instructor directory, now defunct) in 1995 and talking with a number of the top western ski areas about how the internet can connect their instructors with students. It could create loyalty. It would also foster the ability for prospective students to better match themselves with instructors. They didn’t see the ROI potential and passed off the internet as a fad. Some also believe accepting this change would disrupt their system of having a student blindly put down money and hope for a qualified instructor.  This would lessen the ability for the resort to put a less experienced (lower paid) instructor with the client and allow the resort to reap a higher profit on the lesson.  This is a practice which is financially incentivised by my previous employer. If you are taking a private lesson, always ask for a Full Certified professional instructor, and accept nothing less.
The non-curious “masses in the middle have brainwashed themselves into thinking it’s safe to do nothing, which the curious can’t abide”. However, “It’s easy to underestimate how difficult it is for someone to become curious.  For seven, ten, or fifteen years of school, you are required to not be come curious. Over and over again, the curious are punished.”
To me this punishment can lead to freedom. I am more eager to get to work when I am moving beyond set limits. I love to challenge the status quo and push something forward. Something I believe in. Ski Pass Defender is a driving force when I wake up at 6 or go to bed at 11. The thought of helping create culture at the new ski area I will be working with is also incredibly appealing.
It is not as though something magically happens and you become curious. A person must reprogram themselves. It is a multi-year process where you start finding your voice, and finally you begin to realize that the safest thing you can do feels risky. The riskiest thing you can do is to play safe. The “safest” place in a prison is called, “Maximum Security” for a reason.  Yet we are “sheepwalked” into believing this is what we want. A few books worth reading to reprogram your power to the person belongs include The Slight Edge, Think and Grow Rich, Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead, and The Four Agreements.
Mr Godin concludes, “Once recognized, the quiet yet persistent voice of curiosity doesn’t go away. EVER. And perhaps it’s such curiosity that will lead us to distinguish our own greatness from mediocrity that stares us in the face.”
If this post resonates with you, I would enjoy reading your comment and/or skiing with you this winter.

Breckenridge Parking during ski season

1.6 million skier/rider days make Breckenridge one of the most popular destinations in the world.  Parking in Breckenridge can be at a premium.  If you are staying in Breckenridge, you probably have a parking spot and use the excellent bus system to get from your home to the Gondola.

Breck Parking.jpg

But if you are like many who visit Breckenridge for some skiing, here is a quick primer on parking.  When you are arriving from the North, I-70 and Frisco, you will first see the FREE parking on Coyne Valley Rd (stoplight) make a right turn and you will be guided to the Airport Rd parking lot.  There are many buses which can take you from Airport Rd to the Gondola (1mi).

Parking for the 2010-11 season will be the same as last year.  $5 Monday-Thursday, and $10 Friday-Sunday with $5 discount if there are 4 or more people in the vehicle!  That’s right FREE parking during the week if you have 4 or more in the vehicle.  You may also buy a season’s parking pass for $159.

If you come into Breckenridge (which I would suggest).  You have convenient options.  The map to the right shows you 3 of the main lots.  When you pass the Breckenridge Recreation Center, make a right BEFORE you get to the roundabout, this will keep you on HWY 9.  You will pass the City Market on your left.  Make your first left on North French St, and this will take you to the NORTH GONDOLA Lot.  This lot is paved, so during a wet spring it is a good option.

However there are two more options if these fill. Go to the next street and make left on Watson Rd, then a right into the SOUTH GONDOLA lot.  This is an unpaved lot, but still very convenient.   The Gold Rush and Postal Lot (possibly returning) are overflow lots.  These will both be charged at the rate of the Gondola lots.

BONUS: Insider Tip

During busy days Weekends or Holidays, instead of making the right before the roundabout go THROUGH the roundabout.  Drive down Main St, then make a RIGHT on Watson Rd.  You will see Ski Country Sports (Yellow Building).  You will access the South Gondola lot and save yourself 5-10 minutes.

The Gondola will take you to the bases of Peak 7 and Peak 8 (Main Facilities base).  You can pick up lift passes at the base of the Gondola.  

Breckenridge Lodging worthy of consideration

As you scan this web article you will imagine a great ski holiday with first tracks, no morning traffic, and relaxing apres’ ski activities.  A few years ago my wife and I bought a vacation ownership week at Grand Lodge on Peak 7.  At the time the ground was not cleared nor broken.  And the lift had not yet been extended down the mountain by 500 yards.  However, I knew what a great location the GL7 would have.  I was also aware of the Breckenridge Master Plan to expand toward Peak 6, which will be extraordinary. And the GL7 will be located at the gateway to the Peak 6 expansion.


 I was aware of the current plans to build Crystal Peak and the new wholly-owned condos.  The price ranges were $700K -2.2M.  This was certainly more that I would spend on a ski condo.  I was looking for a different option, but still a true ski-in, ski-out top notch experience.  The Grand Lodge @ Peak 7 has exceeded our expectations.

In June 2009 the resort opened to guests.  The next phase will open in January 2010.  Our family loves the day use aspect of the Lodge.  A terrific and spotless workout facility, Adult-only Grotto (steamroom, sauna, large hottub), and the large family indoor-outdoor pools and hottubs have been our family’s favorites.  
Little by little you begin to realize that this is a fun way to have a ski vacation.   During the season we plan to use the included (but limited) on-mountain parking at the Grand Lodge.  I know a number of families around Colorado who are owning at the Lodge for the day use facilities.  Funny though… those are just some of the amenities. They cost me 1/3 of a private parking spot in Vail.   You still get to use your week or two of the 5-star quality lodging, and the Interval International network (which Sadie and I use often for getaways). 
To readers of my blog, you are aware of my opinions of parking and transportation in Breckenridge.  Basically all ski parking is via pay lots in town.  During holidays driving around town can be very busy.  Lines can be long.  The Gondola is a good transportation system to get up the base of Peak 7 & 8.  And the bus system around town is very good too.  But there is NOTHING like walking out your door on your next ski vacation and putting your skis or board on just steps out the door without the hassle of transportation.  
Then can you imagine at the end of the day handing your skis to your ski concierge, taking off your ski gear and putting on your bathing suit and entering the hottub (located less than 100 feet from the snow.  It is awesome.
Are you beginning to see how fun this place can be?  Now it is easy to see the Grand Lodge in person. I have included some information below to reach an on-property contact. He can set up a easy tour of the GL7. The tours usually take between 90-120 minutes.  
I have a number of long-time students who rent nice condos in town every year.  This may be the best program for them.  I also know many student who come to Breck as well as other areas.  My family is planning on using it to visit a few different ski areas and beach properties in the upcoming years.  We can just trade our week easily and visit a different area.  
Once you see the Grand Lodge you will realize that anywhere else you stayed in Breckenridge is a distant second (or worse) in lodging quality.  
You may reach my friend and on-property contact Glen Brady directly @ 970.485.1831.
Or you can call the reservation line @ 866.476.2311 I would be thankful if you tell them the websource code:
I am well aware of the perceived sales pressure of a “tour”.  I understand completely, as don’t respond well to overt sales pressure either.  But what I have found in my three tours with Grand Lodge (and their sister property) is that those giving the tour have been very nice.  I would suggest you ask to tour the property with Glen Brady or Ryan Beneke. They were fabulous, and the made the tour very enjoyable.  Tell them that Jon Lawson said, “Hello”

Another potential notch in the belt of The Federal Reserve and global Central Banks


There is much talk about further expanding the power of The Fed to be a macro-regulator. A plan hatched nearly 100 years ago is gaining more strength. We should be taught about this in school.

Continue reading “Another potential notch in the belt of The Federal Reserve and global Central Banks”