My skiing story...

PMTS Forum

My skiing story...

Postby Jeff Markham » Mon Mar 08, 2004 8:57 pm

My skiing story...

My first job was with an East-coast computer contracting company. My first introduction to skiing was via a company-sponsored ski weekend to Seven Springs, PA. After I rented skis on Saturday morning, I looked around and my co-workers had already headed for the slopes. So, I figured out how how to work the Spademan bindings by watching someone and shuffled over to a lift line. When I got to the top, I immediately fell getting off the lift and dragged my carcass out of the way. Somehow, I got back up and found a zig-zag trail through the trees. I had seen someone do the snowplow, so I just plowed my way from zig to zag until I got back to the base. Being young, stupid, and stubborn, I got back on the lift for another round of punishment. ...and another. ...and another. I was spending good money for this weekend and was going to enjoy myself if it killed me. In order to present the most stylish image (and also being cheap), I had purchased a pair of new unwashed bib overalls for this ski weekend. Every time I fell, I left a blue mark on the slope. By the end of the day, there were blue marks all over the beginning slope. It looked like someone had spilled a big box of light blue apostrophes. Sunday, my co-workers encouraged me to take on a blue run. FWIW, I am no longer friends with any of these people. ;-)

Eventually, I had a chance to ski out West (Vail) and was immediately hooked. It was their worst season in seven years. It was my best skiing experience ever. Not that I had a clue as to what I was doing...

Not long after, I fell in with a ski group that traveled out West for an annual ski trip. I was invited to join and went on several trips to Breckenridge, Copper, and Park City. We basically skied ourselves to exhaustion for a week. Did I take a lesson? No way! This was my vacation and I wanted to enjoy every minute. How could taking a lesson be any fun? We skied greens, blues, and the occasional black. Did I say "skied"? Let's be honest -- I was skidding and wedging the entire time. I wasn't skiing -- I was coping with the mountain and it usually won. Half the time, I was scared spitless. I still had no clue as to what I was doing...

(Looking back, why did I keep on skiing? There was no good reason, but I enjoyed it somehow. Go figure...)

Eventually, our ski group went their separate ways and I didn't ski for several years. My by-then wife and I had always talked about leaving the DC area. One of the factors in choosing a new home was that it had to have *something* to offer other than a job. For some reason, we wanted a "life", which we'd heard about and sounded like a good thing. Even though I hadn't skied in over 10 years, I remembered fondly those earlier ski experiences. Ah, those happy times at Seven Springs! Finally in 1998 we moved to Sandy, Utah, which had several things to offer, including nearby skiing.

I immediately threw out my old ski equipment (Olin Mark IV skis, Hanson rear-entry boots) and purchased new shaped skis. "You'll love these new shaped skis! You'll be thrilled with your new turns!". For some reason, I couldn't tell a difference between them and my old Mark IVs. The new shaped skies didn't skid or snowplow any better than my old skis. I was disappointed...

Anyway, I was skiing more often now since the slopes were so close. I figured that sheer "miles on the slopes" would make me a better skier. For some reason, that didn't seem to be happening...

So, I signed up for a half-day private lesson. My first lesson ever! It was taught to me by an Alta Olde Phart. He shouted encouraging things to me like "Mash the grape!" and "Attack and die!". When I interrupted with a question, he snapped at me to shut up and listen. Gee, I was sorry when the lesson ended and I had to part with my new friend!

But for some reason, I still wasn't skiing any better. So, I ordered this "Anyone Can Be An Expert Skier" book, which talked about cool stuff like carving and actually made sense. The very next time I was on the slopes, I tried this "Phantom Move" thing. It worked! Maybe this Harb guy knows what he's talking about!, two books and videos, 5 camps, and countless exercises later, I *think* that I may be getting better at this skiing thing. ;-) I actually enjoy the exercises. I'm not afraid any more. I know how to control my speed. My turns don't look like zig-zags anymore. I'm constantly scheming to get more days off from work so that I can ski more. I think I may have a life now.

This may work out after all...
Jeff Markham
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:53 pm
Location: Sandy, Utah

Are we starting skiers AAA? Ok - my story

Postby John Mason » Mon Mar 08, 2004 10:02 pm

aaaaahhhggg - mash the grape - thats exactly what I got on my 2nd day of skiing just barely over one year ago.

I went with my son that loves skiing (not sure he needs AAA for skiing like I do) to Breck. Also in our group was a Canadian friend that lived near Searchmont in Canada and skied a couple of days a week every week growing up. He was a very impressive skier - still is.

But could my little boy (208 and solid muscle, cheerleader at college and supper roller blader) tell me, or could Rob (the Canadian tell me) 2 simple little questions I really really wanted to know.

1. How do I turn and
2. How do I stop

You know what, neither one had a clue how to communicate to me these simple things. I took 2 hours going down the main Green at Breck. A series of traverses with a willfall at the trees, then get up and do it again. Hey - at least I was getting used to balance on to slippery sticks! I had figured out how to stop (willfall) and I was able to turn as I got back up. No problem. I can go anywhere on the mountain with this technique.

so -

Then next day I had a wedgie / mash the grape lesson. Not bad. I could stop. I could turn. I was basically safe. Probably why they teach this stuff. At least you get down in one piece.

My friends (son and rob) decided I was ready for my first blue. Well, as I posted somewhere else, if I can't conceptualize it I won't let my body do it. I saw no way to stop at blue steepness a wedgie turn on that slope. So I did a dead head run back down with the ski patrols blessing.

Anyway - to make a longer story longer - my 4th day skiing (can we say SORE) I was doing blues and surviving. But I was often (gee was that wedge shape part of this problem) crossing my tips and talking impressive tumbles. My "friends" were very entertained. So, in a simple survival mode I started tipping my inside ski to get it out of the way. Wow, this turned me. I didn't have to smash the grape! This made the last 2 days very fun.

I was totally confused. If you turn by lower leg active steering movements (my instructor was very experienced and I said how about use my hip to turn cause my lower leg muscles were dying. Nope, he was clear that was no good, just move only my foot inward. (these are itsy bitsy muscles folks and the skis don't want to turn when all your weight is on them)). So when I got back I bought all the ski books at Barnes and Noble and Borders. Basically a shelf full.

Many had progressions based on the core foundation of the smashed grape. But, 4 had a similar theme, the classic phantom move. That was the book by Lito, the all mountain book by Eric and Rob, Criag McNeil's, and Harold's book (the first one). I searched on-line and discovered the same dichothomy of skiing philosophy. It's like a great divide. Turn by leg steering or some blended combination with tipping, or turn by the Phantom Move with drills specifically designed to remove any leg steering at all.

I came back to Breck a month later and had a private lesson with David Weis (thanks Dave!). Went to Atomic Race Camp in August, the Dark Blue Camp in Dec and a tad of the All Mountain Camp a few weeks ago. I ammassed 47 days in my first skiing year. (which being from very flat northern Indiana makes me kinda a freak around here). I'll be at Mammoth this weekend and Colorado the first weekend in April.

Jeff, if I could move like you did I would. But, flights are cheap to Denver, day trips to MI are possible. Nothing like skiing out west though.

So I would say I'm pretty hooked. With the PMTS methods I have specific things I can work on. Oh, I should mention, I had 3 different methods of boot fitting done. None were as effective as what I ended up with with Harold and Diana. They are really neutral now after that last final adjustment.

That's one of the difficult issues I see with general adoption of PMTS unless the rental boot has built in canting options and an easy way to get people at least in the vicinity. The PMTS drills rely on balance as real sking does to, but if your not aligned properly and have a body that's way off, these are really difficult. Being Properly aligned makes a night and day difference. So any of the curious out there reading these posts, buying the books, etc, if your trying the drills and not getting very far it's probably not you but it may be your boots.
John Mason
Posts: 1050
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:52 pm
Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Postby -- SCSA » Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:17 am

Hi John,

So you hooked with the 'ole SnoKarver, did ya? Snokarver doesn't like me anymore -- of course that's not implying that he ever did -- :P

You got lucky when you got him. The dude has mad skiing skills and he really loves his trade.

Glad to see it worked out.

Jeff Markham. I liked Vail so much I moved to the Happy Valley! :)

Postby Mr. T » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:45 pm

Would you like to hear my skiing story too?

I was born in Northern Italy, not too far from the Alps. Never skied there in my life :o Came to the US for Graduate School and took a Skiing 101 class from the U. of Minnesota (they do not offer it anymore,now :( )
because a schoolmate of mine from Taiwan pushed me. He wanted somebody to take the class with. It was 1997. We took 8 lessons. It took
me 3 lessons to come down from the bunny hill. I made it fun... for the others ending up in the fences all the times. Somehow I could do a nice
hockey stop from the very first day. Go figure, I never ice or inline skated in my life until recently.
By the end of the class I was able to ski down from any place with a decent technique for those days. But that was kind of it for a while.
My friend from Taiwan and I decided to school each other and somehow came up with the idea that skidding the tails was the way to ski and we
criticised the few who were not skidding :shock: . Then, I was lucky to take a trip to Vail with other friends. I skied the blues and one black by
mistake. The most difficult part though, as a student, were the prices of
condos and lift tickets and rentals which were all triple black diamond as
far as I can tell. Somehow I began to like skiing a lot. Not that I was any
good with my wide stance and skidded turns, but still I liked it. My friend
from Taiwan began to cool down his love for skiing and I was left alone.
For a couple of years I skied maybe 2 max 3 times a year. Then in 2001
when finally I had a good job and debts were paid for I bought my equipment bought my own stuff and began to visit Canada (better value
overall). Lake Louise is still my favourite place to ski. Could handle blues
and blacks, started to do some carving. I was stemming the turns but I
was parallel again by the time I hit the fall line. Still A-framed I did the black and the blues without getting blue and black. Then I found a book
by an Harald Harb. I have a Ph.D in Statistics and when I open a book I
am demanding. Harald's book look well done, written with a scientific approach to skiing. Liked it a lot and began reading. Got custom made insoles from Diana when they visited Minneapolis in October 2002 (it was October 18, 2002, I still remember it, the day I was born as an aligned skier). As the camp in Kicking Horse showed I did not really understand
PMTS well, but sure enough the tipping thing with the phantom move
gave me a new purpose and range. Black runs were not too big of a problem anymore. I still was not looking good and getting A-framed often, but I was beginning to show some decent improvements. I began to teach kids through PSIA at a local resort. They have some good skiers. They teach one thing and ski a different way. I did not listen to what they were saying, but I watched a lot the way they were skiing and began imitating. That and a run I took at Kicking Horse behind Rich
Messer did a lot for me. I looked at the angles Rich was creating and tried to imitate him. I noticed that the best skiers at my resort were not so good
as Rich, but were creating the same type of angles.
It hit me and it was the beginning of my life as a real skier. In 2003/4 I began to be in total control with nicely shaped turns in groomed conditions.
I can ski bumps and got to experience some powder and serious crud. Learn to ski on one ski and skied my first double black runs. The plans for the next year are:

1. learn the timing of the pole plant and perfect the action itself
2. ski the bumps like they were groomed slopes
3. move to a city near the Rockies if I could find a job there
4. attend the all-mountain camp with PMTS for a third time
5. ski a couloir.

For somebody who could not even ski the bunny hills which was litterally 2 degree steep until the 3rd lesson, I think I have come a long way, but I would like to go much further. Hope I can make it.
Mr. T
Posts: 104
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2003 7:57 am
Location: California

this really is AAA for skiers - cept

Postby --- John Mason » Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:04 pm

this really is AAA for skiers except we are not trying to kick the habit.

People trying to move and restructure their lives so they can ski more. We are a sorry but happy lot!

I just found out I'm going sking again next weekend (this weekend in Mammoth, next weekend at winterpark) also in Summit county. This time in Winterpark. Anyone wanna hang let me know.
--- John Mason

Postby -- SCSA » Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:01 pm


It's way cool and infectious, reading your enthusiasms and that PMTS is working for you.

Great stuff! :D

but SCSA - you didn't share your addiction story yet

Postby -John Mason » Wed Mar 10, 2004 12:37 am

or perhaps you have not become addicted
-John Mason

Postby Guest » Wed Mar 10, 2004 8:05 am

Be sure you have a cup of coffee handy. SCSA will start his story as PMTS Wacko and we'll be here all day. You don't know addicted until you know SCSA.

Randy Brooks

Postby -- SCSA » Thu Mar 11, 2004 7:34 am

Hey Randy,

You can @@#$%
Then you can ##$%$^
While you're at it, why don't you go to $$%^
Oh yeah. Did I mention I'd wax your butt, on the hill? That I'm the king??
Huh Randy???

Wait! Just joking! Don't get mad!

It's SCSA, on his way to Anger Management class.
:lol: :P ROFLOL

Postby randy » Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:12 am


Down, boy!

I was trying to compliment you. Your posts on EPIC were a large part of my introduction to PMTS. Your enthusiasm was infectious, and I felt a part of something exciting. The more they tried to talk you out of it, the more I knew you/we were on to something that worked.

In fact, one of my skiing goals is to go from Green/Blue to Blue/Black so I can take you up on your offer to ski the Big Show. If you can stand Peak 7 at Breckenridge, I'm going to be there March 29-April 2.

I'm not a ripper, but if you don't mind waiting for me at the lift after each run, I'll be there for you.


Postby -- SCSA » Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:43 am

Hi Randy,

No man, it was all in fun. :lol:

I really am going to Anger Management class though.

So if you wouldn't mind meeting me for some turnz, I'd love the company. Heck. Maybe I can even help you with something!

Just drop a line here or with HH. He'll give you my email and we'll hook up. I live in Eagle, so I'm always at either Vail or the Beav. The snow is good, but we need more. It's been too warm the past few days...

later Randy, hope to make a few turnz with ya soon!

Postby Guest » Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:00 am


I'll let you know when my dates are finalized.


PS. My first post to EPIC was asking if anyone knew an instructor who taught PMTS at Durango. BB's response was, why don't you simply ask for an instructor who teaches skiing. I knew then that I had stepped in it, so I used the search function to find out why the attitude.

PPS. I hooked up with Dennis Huiz from Telluride, who came all the way down to Durango on the day afater Christmas to teach me to lift and tilt.

Postby HH » Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:07 am

Dennis was one of the first accredited PMTS instructors. BB and most of the others, not all, but most, have an attitude about anything but PSIA and they haven't seen a quality lesson in so long they don't understand the difference between PMTS instruction and the rest, so you aren't the only one that will be sent to a regular instructor.

Postby Billy Dee NJ » Thu Mar 11, 2004 7:18 pm

Well here goes nothin...
My story starts about 4 years ago when I went on one of these rock and roll / ski weekend bus trips to the Pocono's. (for the record it was a Grateful Dead cover band) with my eventually to be wife. She had been a skier for many years (although only went once or twice a season but had been to some pretty bigtime mountains).
It was Montage Mtn that fateful day (took a beginner lesson of course) and boy was it fun and scary and icy and scary but in the end it was really cool....
The next day it was off too Jack Frost Mtn and the snow seemed better (I already had a clue) and I fell a few less times and accidently ended up on a blue trail but made it down.
Did that same trip year later, took another beginner lesson, and boy was I hooked....So hooked that I said "honey, let's go to CO". I'd traveled to CO several times in the 80s/90s taking my daughter camping...."I said let's go back, I know my way around". So we had 4 days to ski and decided to start off with an afternoon at Loveland. Took a slightly advanced lesson there. Told them I was about a 3 on a scale of 10 (wishful thinking) and had a great semi-private lesson.
The next day it was off to Winter Park....this was to be a really fateful day.
We got checked into our hotel and took the shuttle down to the base. I was so friggin excited I forgot my wallet and had to take the shuttle back to get we got our afternoon tix, it was a Monday, late January 2002.
We started exploring the mountains, cruising around, boy this mountain was BIG. Somehow ended up at the top o Mary Jane. Fortunately there's an easy green or two down from there so we skied those a while.
It started gettin late and shee was pooped, I was still hyper and said "I'll meet ya down there in a little bit" I kept doing that run from the top of MJ down to WP...Now it's after 4pm, time to get outta there, and I'm trying to find an easy way down. Asked a father/son and they said thataway sir...So off I goes and then I slipped up on somethin and then "Oh sh__!". I start falling backwards, both legs go in opposite directions out, and eventually I'm on my back knowing that something really bad just happened...(the bindings should have come loose but didn't, I think) anyhow, I slowly get up, no ones around and start very slowly making my way down the mtn. There is an awful bad pain in my left knee and I cannot lean into that boot at all...but somehow I make it down. I see my wife and say that I think I have a problem and let's find first aid. (she's an RN so I'm sort of in good hands already) We get there and start the paperwork routine and get x-rays and the doc says try this n that and a bunch of things hurt. He say well, you might have a toirn ACL, hard to tell without MRI's. Put on this immobilizer, take these pills, go get drunk (actually that was my idea) and get home tomorrow and get looked at...Had a great dinner that night at the Shed btw....
So it ended up being a fractured tibia plateau (left leg) with pretty good MCL sprains on both legs. The next 12 weeks were spent on crutches.
While immobilized...I had an gift certificiate to use and was searching around lookin at ski books. Saw this one called "how to ski the blues n some guy named Craig.

Ordered it, read it and was so damn inspired I said (to myself) screw this, I can learn to ski and not get hurt again!!! So that's was got me back on the horse...In that book I kept seeing all this stuff about PMTS and some guy named Harald. Checked em out, and signed up for the Green/Blue in 03. When I got there the first day, we're all meeting in the SolVista Lodge. I look over and see this guy that looks like the guy that wrote the book that got me here. I look harder and realize "it's Craig Friggin McNeil!" Damn, this is gettin scary now...and he's one of the instructors. Hmmm.....What a cool guy...had some great conversation with him that week....Had a great time at Camp, made a little progress, got my own boots there, ski's soon after, and skiied a total of 19 days that season.

Went back again to GB Camp this year...had Rich and Harald again as instructors (that's a good thing), hopefully I made even more progress. But I know I have a ways to go and am going back to GB Camp next year cuz "the 3rd times the charm baby!" And maybe I'll get to ski with Diana this time...

My left leg/knee still bothers me a bit and I take a break from skiing every couple hours. I can still feel "that" pain once in a while. I need to exercise on a more regular basis I know...

These days I'm skiing mostly at Blue Mtn in the Pocono's but made it to Windham and Bellayre this year too along with Eldora for a day before Camp this year. The East sux this year....make no mistake about it.
Going to Bromley in VT this weekend, which looks like real decent conditions, this'll be my 1st VT experience and plan another trip to CO in early-mid April. At that time I'll probably ski SolVista for a day then WP and Loveland.

So in summary, this 45 year old guy found a hobby (or mid-life crisis outlet?) he loves and is going to continue to practice and get better and better so someday you'll see my a__ at a B/DB Camp and maybe more.
I still am not real comfortable in deep powder and crud and prefer grooomed stuff....last Easter I was at A-Basin and met some locals who took me under their wing and I even ended up skiing the East Wall. It wasn't pretty at all, but, someday I'll fly thru that sh__ just watch me!
Cheers! Bill Doherty
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Billy Dee NJ
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Location: Philadelphia area

Postby rbrooks » Fri Mar 12, 2004 1:33 am

Hi Bill,

I skied with Rich at that January 2003 camp. "Flex your knees, flex your knees", and, even better, "I'm not telling you to do this, but if you want to ski better, you need to [insert instruction here]. Rich is a master of student directed instructed.

If you're skiing in mid-April, don't plan on Sol Vista. They've extended their year till April 4 this year, but all those Argentine kids on work study have to get back to school.

See you at G/B camp next year.

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Location: Plano, TX


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