If Idaho had a state sport, it would probably be skiing. Idaho has over a dozen resorts, from Schweitzer in the north to our own beloved Bogus Basin, and every winter, thousands come from all around to hit the slopes and get in that awesome run that's just a chair lift away. But, it's not necessarily a matter of strapping on the skis and pointing them downhill; becoming an expert skier takes practice and guidance as much as natural ability. Fortunately, those of you looking to improve your ski-bunny credentials have a new tool in your arsenal.
Written by two skiers with decades of experience between them, A Weekend Warrior's Guide to Expert Skiing by Stephen Phipps and Judy Liedtke takes a logical, holistic approach to skiing technique. Using a teaching method they developed called the Simple Imagery Teaching System (SITS), Phipps and Liedtke break down each piece of what makes an expert skier--body position, muscle control, exercises and equipment maintenance--into simple, illustrated steps and procedures that can be practiced quickly and easily. The development of the SITS method, Phipps says, stemmed from a desire to find a way to communicate concepts quickly. "[The authors] found ourselves not only being competitive skiers, but being involved in instructing other people to ski and coaching," Phipps says during an interview, "and really looking for the easiest way to help them understand how to become a better skier."
Taking what he learned from 20 years as a competitive skier, Phipps began working on a system to take the lessons that he and others learned on the slopes and put them into an easily digestible system. Key to the SITS method, and the focus of the copious illustrations and step-by-step procedures in the guide, is the formation of engrams, or the linking of physical movement to subconscious actions. Surprisingly, Phipps didn't hit on this concept on the slopes.
"It was in climbing that I discovered the whole engram approach to things and realized that if you just take the basics and break them down into simple movements and do a lot of repetition on that movement, then you will benefit from that. It will improve your technique as you learn how to do things correctly."
The guide is written to help skiers improve their existing technique, but it should by no means be limited to skiers who've already been down a few runs, Phipps says. "From my perspective, I think it would be great for beginners to read and they could start to understand what the foundation of skiing is, correct skiing." In fact, the whole guide is constructed in such a way that even non-skiers should be able to get a handle on proper technique. The illustrations and photos are explicit, and the procedures build on each other, so that it's easy not only to practice technique, but to build on what was learned before.
Learning to ski may seem easy enough, but learning to ski properly takes a lot more work. However, A Weekend Warrior's Guide to Expert Skiing takes the techniques of experts and makes them seem, if not easy, then realistic to achieve. This non-skiing reviewer felt confident he could learn to hit the slopes and not kill himself after reading this book, a wondrous achievement. Imagine how the novice or intermediate skier you know could benefit. If you're gearing up to do Christmas shopping for your snow bunny or bunnies, you can pick up a copy at Greenwood's Ski Haus, McU Sports on Bogus Basin, or through the Weekend Warrior Guide Web site at www.weekendwarriorsguide.com.