This is the first in a series of short articles on paridigm, or prevailing thought, changes. Recreational on-snow instruction has evolved in an anecdotal bubble, largely serving men's understanding of their own bodys. It was a good place to start, but there is more to be learned beyond the old boy network, and the ability to distinguish whether you are thinking of  yourself, or for yourself, may be importent in the face of valid alternatives.

Learning how other people have approached change, endured setbacks, then forged ahead with better methods, in an atmosphere of respect, gives us a template for good decisions. I hope you'll enjoy, and comment.

                                                         THE COMMIES

A few years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, my brother-in-law had the opportunity to have dinner with the Russian Agricultural minister. I asked him how, in a thought controled universe like the old Soviet Union, enough knowledge of free markets penetrated, to prepare people to make the change from communism to capitalism.

The Ag minister had had two influences. The first one here is the influence of a professor at the University of Leningrad, now St. Petersberg. This man is known as the father of free market thinking in Russia. He was an economics professor who would teach the party line in class during the day, then afterward, to a select group of students, he would say ”now if you really want to know what's going on, we'll go to the tea house and I'll tell you.” In that way a knowledge of free markets took root.

Today in ski instruction, there are different teaching and business models around the world. In the U.S., The ski areas, through leases with the forrest service usually have a monopoly on instruction; that is, paid lessons. And they delegate determinination of what is germain, to a trade and education group called the Professional Ski Instructors of America. Though you don't have to be a member to teach, their reference points are pretty much used, without external review, unless you count the return rate of new skiers as external review.

A European model has several possibilities, but generally the ski schools market to, and generate clients independently from lift operators, and so the marketing efforts and teaching methods can compliment and enhance lift operations. Portillo, in Chile, operates a world famous ski school, and allows instructors from other areas to bring clients there as well. The current captain of the US Alpine Demo Team is from there. They've chosen to combine the systems.

Ride The Snow In Harmony ® is distinct on many levels, and though you could build upon the skills that accrue to a guest who has had lessons in the Ride In Harmony TM style, what has happened where I worked, is that the advances a student client made were seen as a threat to prevailing methods of instruction, and they were ridiculed for wanting to continue to ski better than they do with PSIA instruction. Better instruction, became a problem for creating disparate satisfaction. Other instructors were embarrassed, and embrassed the career path without learning more.

That said, the mountains have the right to chose the method of instruction that they want taught on their mountain, if it's not otherwise proprietary. Ride The Snow In Harmony ® athletic instruction and the Shaped Teaching method, are proprietary, but we'd like for you to find out more and see if it's right for the guests at your ski and snowboard area.


Free Teach, Free Speech

Anyone can use our enhanced technique is to improve their skiing and riding. That benefit belongs to you, and when you ski or ride with others, sharing knowledge, is part of a day on the snow, unless it's for hire. So ski and ride as well as you can, and teach what you are assigned to teach in a lesson, but when students ask where you learned to ride so well, tell them there is another way, and they can learn more online at



                                                      Full Cert In 9 Days

When was it? March-April, 2000? Early in the year training was cancelled to save money, for the first time in recent memory we had a former bean counter in charge of the ski schools. On top of it  all, I was going for full, level 3 certification, ski instructings' top level, the top prize before they start handing out jobs.

This was the skiing part, as I had passed the teaching, the year before, but had gotten a last minute tune on my skis to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the exam.

The shop I had chosen, usually stellar, put a bad tune on the skis and closed the next day for the season. Yikes! I was screwed, but accepted the inevitable outcome as a lesson in professionalism. I had to learn more; take first-hand responcibility for the equipment. After all, this is full cert with reciprocity around the world, and although tuning your skis wasn't on the exam, it affects the outcome of what we and our students do. it's part of the package of performance that we take to the slopes.

So in 2000, without training support; the ski school head who cancelled the training, at my year end review said to start training for level 3, which can take years. Go figure. It was just paper for the file anyway. I had 8 days to prepare.

There wasn't training support, generally thought to be essential for passing, or the feedback that is the mirror of yourself for preparation. But I'd developed a method of training that had worked for me and my clients for four years, interrelating the motion of the pole swing with skills at the feet.

I had passed PSIA Level 2, teaching it, garnering 7's, 8's, and 9's out of ten. That was with a point off, because the method, the lesson plan, created a skier, rather than detaching an isolated skill to be honed among the many.

Through eight days of teaching and training, I practiced and taught. Guests bought foot passenger tickets for grandparents to see the progress of their teenage grandchildren from mid-mountain, and wrote letters of commendation.

The head of the ski school and the head trainer; we had one, would sit at the lunch table with me, when I wasn't teaching, and speculate on my chances of passing. Much of late march was a blizzard, leaving an icy slush in its wake. They'd ask what I was doing, and I'd say skiing “French conditions” as it was called. For the French were gluttons for punishment it seems, or maybe just blaze, but skied in any weather. For this exam we were supposed to be able to ski anywhere, anytime, with style, poise, and skill.

The exam was in Breckenridge, and I decided to forgo traveling there a day early to ski the terrain. I stayed in Vail the night before, courtesy of Bill Fleischer, who has been a patron of many athletes and sports teams, got up early and drove to Breck for the 8:30 check-in.

Breckenridge had had 18 inches of snow. We loaded a chair on Peak 8, went to the top, then jumped into the first double black we saw. No warm up...nuttin, just thigh deep powder over double-black bumps. I was sight reading music the others had practiced, but loved it.

Later I found out I'd earned a six; nothing extra, but enough. Several tasks later, we are demonstrating beginning bumps on blue terrain, as we would to a client,. Usually it's an easy task for me, but I blew it. The run was over before I got a rhythm, and I felt I'd fallen behind. Then we moved to a slope with crud and puffs of powder beginning to form moguls. This was for the pivot slips. You steer the skis across the slope, throwing them into a perpendicular skid to the hill, then back the other direction, again the skis skidding in the fall line. Groomed run for this? There were none.

Nailed it. The examiner looked at me with a grin and said, “you needed that one”. The group revisited several tasks, short radius turns etc., to give every one a chance to raise their score to the level that their skiing warranted.

I'd passed with room to spare. Focus, what became Ride The Snow In Harmony(TM) 's pole tilting progression, timed with tipping, steering, and pressuring the feet in various conditions and I'd passed the PSIA level 3 skiing exam without other training or support. It works and may otherwise replace the crutch of confusion with clarity.

                                      RIDE IN HARMONYTM finds SUNLIGHT


Visit us at Colorado's Sunlight Mountain Resort. Ride In Harmony (TM)  is an independent brand of instruction, and though not a product of Ski Sunlight, we'd like to thank the management for making this opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of Ride In Harmony(TM) to the public.


                                          "ASPENS' BEST SKI INSTRUCTOR"....

  In a two page article for the Four Seasons Magazine, the in-house magazine of the luxury hotel chain.Christina Oxenberg of royal European lineage, and Aspenite and New Yorker, talked about her life and favorites here.

                                                                                                                                                                                   Photo: Christina Oxenberg and friend.

                                                                            Christina Oxenberg and friend

                                                                " Weightless warmth like sunlight and love."                                         

       She was kind enough to recognize the Ride In Harmony TM  method, and yours truly, for excellence in ski instruction.  "I think the best ski instructor in Aspen is Cary Thompson, and his personal method of instruction is Ride In Harmony," says Christina. 



                              START YOUR VACATION WITH RIH TECHNIQUE


      The first three lessons of a Ride The Snow In Harmony ® playbook,  teach the student to move the crucial hand and arm uphill and forward inside the arc of the turn. These are two.

    The first example above is from "Pole Tilting", and the second from "Pointing".  The second picture shows a skier entering the bottom third of the turn, beginning a pole swing to unwind and begin a new turn, but the leading relationship of the turnside sm hand is clear.                                                                                                   

    Play it safe. Build the foundation of your instruction upon the Fundamental Movement of Athletics sm, from RIDE IN HARMONY TM. Book a clinic for your ski and snowboard school. Or take a lesson from, Cary. (970) 274-0365.




Thank you,                                                                                    


             Cary Thompson                                      

                                                                Founder: RIDE IN HARMONY TM     

                                                                                                                Supplier Member:
                                                                                                               Athletic Instruction


Arrange clinics and lessons.


Opinions expressed here are those of Cary Thompson and Ride In Harmony, LLC


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