Book Learning

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Book Learning

Postby h.harb » Sat Jan 17, 2004 3:41 pm

The perfect book to tackle every person?s learning needs in a complex activity like skiing has never been written and never will be written. Even if all the relevant information is printed in one volume, many people don?t learn by reading, a minority does, but it is a low percentage.

A book is written and produced to help skiers with some fundamental approaches and to stimulate thinking. I do have many skiers who respond to me after reading my books by saying their skiing immediately improves, but not enough skiers read in depth.

I had an instructor who has been skiing with us for years say to me after the last PMTS instructor camp, ?you know Harald, everything we worked on with you the last three days was very helpful and I know after re-reading your book that all the material you introduced on snow is in your books. What I didn?t realize until now was how much you have to practice exactly what you write and describe in your books for it to take hold in one?s skiing.? He added, ?you also have to do the movements exactly how they are written or you won?t be successful, sloppiness can not enter into the practice.?

It takes a certain type of mind to read and interpret, that mind then has to take it to the slopes and reproduce it perfectly. ?I?m sure you must have had the experience of trying to read directions to program recorders. Even though skiing is more fun than programming recorders the same temptation is there, skim over the material and try what you think might work. So it is no surprise that the Phantom Move is the major focus taken from my books and the PMTS system. We know the Phantom Move is very effective, but it isn?t all there is to skiing. It is one of the tools we use to bring the terminal wedge skier to parallel, but it doesn?t address everything needed to make carved turns or short turns on steeps.

Many readers tell me they go directly to the page in the book that addresses their skiing motivation and they read those pages. They do not read the pages where the steps are explained and built to achieve the movement they want to perform immediately. Exercises that build your basic skills are not sexy and they don?t look like fun, so they are too often passed over. I have skied with such readers. They are always astounded at what preliminary work must be done with fundamentals before they are really able to perform what they want in their skiing.

I can guarantee, if you read my books and follow the steps and practice to become somewhat proficient with all the exercises in the books, you will attain a level of skiing beyond your wildest dreams. The challenge is that not many skiers are able to evaluate which exercises are needed next or which exercises are most important for their own personal development. Remember, everyone?s movement needs are different. There is no substitute for a well trained PMTS instructor at varies points in the learning process even with the books and videos. I have countless skiers come to ski with me; most of them have read my books. They tell me, ?I have really focused on the phantom move and I have it down.? When we get to skiing, I often notice that the quality of movement that I see on the snow rarely matches the skier?s enthusiasm for the movement. This brings up the topic of practice vs. perfect practice and how to evaluate your own performance. I will be covering these topics in the new book.

Videos are also only marginally helpful as learning tools unless you know exactly what you are looking for and how to duplicate it for your understanding of movement. Video does help to clear some confusion of how the movement works. Visual learning is difficult and requires training and coaching in how to use it. I often demonstrate movements to skiers, but the learning that is achieved through demonstration is minimal if not totally ineffective. The most successful way to learn is by realizing an experience. PMTS trainers and instructors are trained to structure experiences for students. My books are written in a manner to help structure an experience for the reader. But the skier must then go out on the snow and systematically restructure that experience for themselves. If they have been able to do that reasonably well, how do they know whether or not they are on the right track and what the next adjustment should be.

I can tell you one thing for certain, good ski lessons are very difficult to find. Teaching skiing well is very complex and it requires experience and the right training to become an excellent instructor. The topic on the forum suggesting free ski lessons I find comical. You must be joking to suggest free ski lessons. As one poster on that thread suggested, ?What value is there in free lessons when the ones you are willing to pay for are rarely adequate.

I am not attempting to defend my books here, as they are what they are and they stand on their own merit, I am suggesting that a different approach be used if you want to optimize the information in the books. There is much more to ?Expert Skier 1&2? than what most skiers pull out of them. If you hire me to give you a lesson, I am presenting mostly what I have written. During the lesson I have you try different exercises and movements and I give you feedback on your success. We move on by refining these movements, trying other movements, if one isn?t working. In the end, I build the movements back into your regular ski turn to bring your skiing to the next level. You can do this on your own with the information in the books, but it requires more involvement and concentration from the reader.

Will my new book be the answer you are looking for? My new book will have new content, but it will not be the answer to your skiing motivations unless you are ready to make the commitment required to use printed teaching information as you would if you were taking lessons from a PMTS instructor.

Skiing and the methods used for teaching skiing are part of the learning process, but correct technical information is also a big part of learning to ski the modern way. Traditional teaching systems are not teaching skiing with proper technical information for optimal shaped ski use. My new book will contain the methods and technical information to evolve modern shaped ski skiing. Whether or not you will be able to pull this information out of the book and put it to use in your skiing will depend on how you study and use the information, but I guarantee again, the information will be there.

Postby -- SCSA » Sat Jan 17, 2004 6:30 pm


I sent this to a friend. I think the forum would like to see your comments.

Not let me start off with a disclaimer here. I'm making no comments about my skiing and I'm certainly not implying "I'm great." A friend just wanted to know what I thought was the path to "skiing great."

Finally, it's time for SCSA to bow out of here. I'm just really getting busy and my forum time, it's getting the axe. I do however, reserve the right to show up again, sometime in the future. :(

I've had a ball chattin with you all and I wish nothing but great turnz, for each and every one of you. I hope you all follow PMTS forever. As a consumer of ski instruction I can truly say that there's no product out there that's even close. Not even close. :!:

As always, if anyone would like to hook up and ski, I'm always up for that. I ski either Vail or Beaver Creek because I live in Eagle county. So if anyone ever wants to hook up for some turns, Harald has my email. I'm also heading off to Jackson Hole for the Gathering and I encourage you all to go, if you can. I think the Gathering is going to get bigger and bigger each year.

Be cool,
...and drive a small car! :)


Dear ,

1) First and foremost, you have to practice the right stuff. This is now my 5th season of studying skiing. I can truly tell you, objectively -- not being a Harb homey -- that I have zero belief that a skier can get there by "blending." You know, taking a little of this, a little of that. A lesson here, a lesson there. I really do believe that following a system is where it's at and the only way to go.

You got to learn, the Primary Movements of skiing. So you could follow any system that teaches a skier the Primary Movements, as long as the Primary Movements are all you study. Today, there's only 1 system out there that does, Harb Ski Systems.

2) Get with trained eyes. I ski once a year with Harald, no matter what. All I need now is a half day with him. But I do it religously, every year. I will from here on out.

But for someone just coming up, I'd say do a camp once a year, for the first 2 or 3 years of practicing the system. From there, just get with someone once a year, like I say. And, once you start moving up, you'll start to learn where you're weak or what you need to work on. Videotaping is a great tool. Watch yourself ski.

I know in my case, I thought I had the weighted release down -- 2 years ago! I didn't. Not only that, I was way off.

3) Mileage. You got to get out at least 30 days a year. Don't waste time with long lunches, eat and drink on the chair. I "only" got like 45 days last year. I felt like that was just barely enough. Now, I'm aiming for 60+ days a year.

4) Practice. Can't say enough about those drills.

5) Fitness. Once you start skiing tougher stuff, you not only need skills, but fitness. If your muscles are tired after 1 run, or 5 runs, that's not going to cut it. So you have to stay in good shape. I stretch every day, I stay skinny. I stay fit all year round and it really pays off, when doing laps on Grouse Mountain for 5 hours.

6) Save a few turns for tomorrow. As you start moving up and getting good, you'll want to push yourself. That's great, but the harder you push, the more chance you have to hurt yourself. Be careful! Try to never fall back. Learn how to fall. Also, know when to back off, to save something for the next time.

I've been close a couple of times, to really hurting myself. I think I told you about the time I fell at Highlands. I was free falling down a 45 degree slope with trees all around me, whizzing by my head as I'm tumbling out of control. All it takes is one of them to knock you out, maybe do something worse.

I wear a shirt that sez, "Never underestimate this terrain, no overestimate your ability." Man, it's so true. You gotta concentrate, watch what you're doing all the time. I don't go out of bounds.

7) But push yourself. You can't get really great if you don't push yourself. No athlete can. When I ski with others it's those that are at my level or above.

8) Desire. You really got to want, to make great turns.

9) Equipment. If you don't have the right equipment, you have to be willing to toss it, and get the skis and boots that are right for you.

Can't really think of much else.
Be cool,

Postby Bluey » Sun Jan 18, 2004 3:41 am


My experience is similar to/echos your comments....viz. there's no better teacher like actual real on-snow experience with a qualified PMTS instructor.
I think we all appreciate that you can't learn a physical skill simply by reading about it.
For me, I found that the Books & Videos only produced tangible positive benefits After having worked with a qualified PMTS instructor (via a Harb Camp at Perisher) and After having practiced the prescribed PMTS exercises and the books and videos primary purpose is to serve as reference/back up material and memory jogging, after the event.

Lastly, as there wont be any PMTS instructors in Australia next Winter, my only other contribution in respect to the points you raised in your post is that I'm not in a position to work with a qualified PMTS instructor next winter....... so the Books and Videos and this Forum are presently my lifeline to becoming a better skier. I don't want to go back to the Traditional Teaching Systems.
Therfore, for people who live in countries with a similar position to myself, reading takes on a different level of importance.
However, I appreciate the other main point which you raised, namely ..... practice, practice, practice.
So I'll be back on the slopes next winter practicing. Its summer here now so I'm reading, reading,reading, discerning, discerning, discerning......

Lastly, on the good news front (...... I'm always the optimist), I have a few thoughts on another option which may be viable for me, namely networking with other Aussie PMTS Camp "graduates" here in my State. So, if there are any other Aussies browsing this forum who would like to hook up/practice on the slopes from June onwards let me know.....I'm interested to see whether we can work something out together.......
I appreciate it wouldn't be an ideal situation...almost the blind leading the blind.....but it's potentially better than nothing and at least we'll be speaking the same jargon/PMTS concepts and be able to provide some feedback to each other.......

Time marches on...gotta go

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reading, rereading and evaluating...

Postby tommy » Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:52 am

Harald wrote: [There is much more to “Expert Skier 1&2” than what most skiers pull out of them. ]

I couldn't agree more with the above statement: ever since I got the books & videos last spring, I've been browsing & reading them probably at least 3-4 hours every week. During off season, I do more of cover-to-cover type of reading/browsing, while during season, I typically study a specific chapter before hitting the slopes, identifying the exercises I want to work on, and after each skiing session, return to a specific chapter, depending on what kind of problems/difficulties I encountered during the day, and what exercises I was working on. What really amazes me is that at each reading, you find yet an other piece of information, that you had missed earlier on! It seems that you have to have experienced a particular situation, and reached a certain level of proficiency with PMTS, at the slopes, before your mind is able to truly consume all the the nitty gritty detail from the books/videos.

An other thing that amazes me is how much the ability to analyze my own performance on the slopes has improved after my intro to PMTS; maybe I'm just imagining this, but I really think that it's become much easier for me to "feel" when a run has problems, and to identify probable causes to those problems. Before PMTS, I had no ideas about what to try to change/correct when a run didn't feel "good", but now it seems that my ability to "coach" myself has improved a lot.

I also agree with that there's nothing compared to attending a camp; having a professional PMTS instructor watching your moves, and correcting them, is invaluable. But at least for me, the amount of time I can spend with Harald & company is at best a week/year, so the videos & books (and this forum!) combined with as much practice as possible are essential for any further progress.

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Book learning

Postby h.harb » Sun Jan 18, 2004 1:51 pm

I can see that my post on "Book Learning" has started some worthwhile discussion about how to get the most out of books, given their limitations.

We will continue to optimize what can be done with skiing books. We will use as many innovative techniques to bring skiing to life in a book and video or DVD format. As many of you have commented it requires determined study and trial with a lot of back and forth, from the book pages, to on snow experience. Self evaluation is very difficult to achieve but it can be developed, as Tommy stated. Even Diana, who is a spectacular skier, at times needs reinforcement and critique about the quality of her movements.

Bluey, About PMTS instructors in Oz, Peter and Scottie are the only accredited instructors in Oz, but they will be offering camps in Oz next winter. You can contact them through the web site.

Postby Bluey » Sun Jan 18, 2004 2:23 pm


Thanks for the update on Peter & Scottie in respect to them offering a Camp next winter Down Here.

The last I had heard was that they weren't going to in a position to offer a Camp for reasons beyond their this is terrific news!! :D

This news is just fantastic ....suddenly everything, ski wise, is back on track.

I'll get an email off to Peter today.

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Book Learning

Postby Mike_ » Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:12 am

Next week I'll be doing a week long Harb course at Fernie with Peter and Scott so I have read this thread with interest.

Personally I find it hard to translate book exercises into real life so I have decided to attend the camp during my first week of skiing of six scheduled weeks in Canada rather than buy the books, although I may buy the books after attending the ski camps.

I am interested by earlier comments in relation to blending different techniques, as I will be going to other ski lessons conducted by CSIA instructors throughout my trip. So any views on this would be welcome. I personally would be surprised in some form of blending could not work.

systematic approach to learning vs blending...

Postby tommy » Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:13 am

Mike_ wrote:

[I am interested by earlier comments in relation to blending different techniques, as I will be going to other ski lessons conducted by CSIA instructors throughout my trip. So any views on this would be welcome. I personally would be surprised in some form of blending could not work.]


I'm not an ski instructor, but I do quite a lot of teaching/instruction/coaching in my professional life, so I do have some thoughts on the topic of blending "systems":

PMTS, to me, is primarily a *systematic* approach to teach skiing. The key word here is systematic, by which I mean a carefully designed way to teach the various techniques of skiing, so that there is a natural flow of progression, by means of gradual refinement of the exercises and techniques. One key component of any systematic education approach is to eliminate, or at least minimize, relearning, or abandoning earlier techniques; instead, earlier learned concepts should, within a systematic "system" (sorry for the poor language!), be expanded by gradual refinement.

"blending" of different "schools of skiing" (or, for that matter, any methodologies) could be damaging to your skiing, unless the blending is done under close supervision by an expert coach (any system can and should develop further over time, by incorporating new techniques, but still, those new techniques must be "compatible" with the overall system!).

The reason why I believe blending in most cases is detrimental, is that you will most likely pull in techniques that do not "fit" into the scheme of progression and refinements, i.e these new techniques tend to become isolated bits, that do not play well with the other parts of the system.

Now, I'm not in a position to claim that PMTS is the only systematic approach to skiing instruction, but I do feel comfortable claiming that PMTS has for me been *the* approach that has done more to my skiing than anything I've tried before. So, personally, I will be very careful not to incorporate anything into my skiing that is not PMTS "compatible". In fact, just the other day, I had the opportunity to ski with a very good (former race) skier. After a few runs, he commented on my stance being narrow, and wanted me to widen it. In order to be polite, I did a few runs with a wider stance, and sure, on perfectly groomed slopes, doing GS turns, the wider stance worked out ok for me. But when we hit a bumpy section of the slope, I could immediately notice that I had to narrow my stance back to my normal position, in order to do quick short turns, and maintain balance. So, in this example, the wide stance might be applicable for GS turns for racing, but it appears to have it's limitations for all mountain skiing.

So, my key point is that unless you already are an expert in the field, capable of careful analysis and evaluation of any new techniques, you will probably benefit most by sticking to a specific "system". Not doing so has the potential to create more confusion than benefit.

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Good news, bad news...

Postby richk » Mon Jan 19, 2004 9:06 pm

The good news is that I've made way more progress with PMTS than with dozens of TTS lessons. The bad news is that I don't have access to PMTS coaching most of the places I go to ski.

Hence, the importance of this thread! Studying the books, trying to perfect performance of the exercises, self-coaching while skiing--all methods to improve when my favorite coaches aren't available.

I've concluded that in order to ski the way I want to, it will take more than a few tips here and there. In fact, a healthy dose of repetition and practice really is necessary. And it isn't just lots of miles with sloppy skiing, but rather incorporating the precision of the exercises into a series of turns in varied terrain.

While it's tough to "learn to ski from a book," I was amazed at how much better I became just doing that. Of course, my image of what I was doing was very different that what HH saw! Nothing quite like coaching...

Still, I have found it very useful to have read the book first so I understood the concepts and the vocabulary first. It also allows the coach to focus on performing the movement patterns rather than explaining what they are and why they work. If you can, read the book(s) before taking the PMTS lessons--the pictures are the best I've seen in any ski instruction text.
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