Teaching your Significant Other to do anything at all can be complicated. I remember my father teaching my mother how to back up in our new car on the street in front of our home. The audio went like this, “Watch the mailbox…watch out for the mailbox…watch…” CRUNCH! “(impolite word), get out and pick it up,” and my father stormed off into the house.
The topic of our new car, with its even newer dent, dominated the next several days.
Curtis Ray, a Salt Lake City meteorologist and former ski instructor, says that couple dynamics often make one teaching the other anything, but especially skiing, a challenging game of and egos and push buttons. “The most important thing to start with is constant patience. The teacher should not constantly push the student, and the student shouldn’t expect to learn instantly. If there’s a feeling of impatience or frustration for either one, call it a day and go have some fun at the base,” he says.
Ray says that the biggest mistake made by teachers is going to a slope that frightens the student. It’s not frightening to the teacher, because he or she knows how to ski, and the run no longer seems steep. But if the one learning to ski feels that the trail is steep, he or she will slide down the hill stiff and in a fear posture, and there will be anxiety. The student must be permitted to avoid a run that seems too steep.
If the student becomes self-depreciating, as in, ‘I’m hopeless. I’ll never learn,” it’s a good time for the teacher to say something encouraging, perhaps about the learner’s improvement. Nearly everyone improves with experience.
Ray’s girl friend Savannah Chavez (pictured with him above) is one of those who has benefited from his teaching. She was a ‘never-ever’ when he first took her to the slopes to teach her to ski. Under his tutelage, the first thing she learned was how to have confidence and eliminate fear. That allowed her to learn more quickly. Within the past two months, she went from a timid and fearful snow bunny to an upper intermediate, and is still improving each time the couple skis. “Sharing this has helped us bond even closer,” Chavez says.
Ray enjoys teaching beginners to ski; he’s an expert at doing it. He’s taught many of his friends to ski, and has learned that one thing is paramount: “It has to be fun, for both of you. Don’t over-concentrate. Stop often to look around and enjoy the view, the snow, the crystalline air,” he says.
In other words, take time to enjoy the experience. There will be no enjoyment if either one of you is dehydrated. Skiing is hard muscle work, beginners usually don’t realize how much they are perspiring, or how much water they are losing. Having some liquid in the morning isn’t enough; skiers should always take large drinks of water the night before to make sure even internal organs are hydrated. Even a small degree of dehydration will rob a skier of a large percentage of energy and endurance.
Physical position is an important part of learning to ski. The beginner should always be in a flexed position, bending at the hip, knee and ankle. Carry the hands in front of the body, they should be visible to the skier.
Couples can practice positioning at home, with the more experienced one giving feedback to the beginner. The beginner should physically learn the proper bend of the joints and the right posture for the spine, so that it becomes automatic. Put on the ski boots and skis in the living room. Both of you practice using the foot muscles that operate the boot, which in turn operates the ski. The experienced skier can explain what part of the foot is used to make each part of a turn.
The more automatic that ski-specific posture and foot pressure becomes, the easier it will be to transfer this physical knowledge from carpet to snow. The student will graduate. Then you and your Significant Other can share the only sport that has an official ‘apre‘ as part of the sport.