One Good Turn Deserves Another - Heinsian Downhill Skiing by Gary Heins - HTML preview

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all the Ski Schools


Ski-boys & Ski-girls


& For

Graham Dorsey

May 2010


Before we get into this manual,

I wish to Apologize

for a reference in one of my other ski books,

The PROHIBITION Of Snow-Boarding,

where Mr Buntline talks about

"snow-boarders down on their knees"

. . . possibly "bowing to Allah."

Therefore, I make two apologies:

one to the Islam Religion

. . . and one to the Radical Snow-Boarding Community.

I sincerely hope that Mr Buntline did not offend anyone,

of either group

---that was not his intention.






Skiers-- Whether you're a beginning, intermediate, or advanced

skier, this Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING manual is your lift ticket

to reaching your full potential. Using your uncommon everyday

forgotten horse sense, take responsibility for your own learning:

Get mounted on the right

ski equipment

(and cheaper than you thunk)

Develop three basic skills--for balance

Set up three primary variables--for Comfort Zone & Versatility

Analyze any given ski turn, and understand turn-linkage

Find out from GARY HEINS, maverick ski-boy straight from the

HeinsQuarters of the SWINGIN' G WINTER RANGE, how to

learn from yourself and the mountain and its snow. Be one with

your skis; and ski fluently, in any context.

Ski Teachers-- Read the fun print: You can lead a man to pow-

der, but you cannot make him ski. Knowing how to ski . . . is only

a drop in the bucket to good skiing and teaching: knowing who-n-

when-n-why to ski . . . a new slope, a new snow condition, the same

old slope or snow in a fresh new way, . . . or knowing when to

make an equipment change--this knowing who-what-when-n-

where-n-why, rather than just how, is the key to progressive

learning, as young horses have been telling their handlers for cen-

turies. This DOWNHILL SKIING manual will help you get out of

the student's way and let them reach their full potential. But be

careful: your students may learn to ski better than you can. . . . One

more thing you should know: Kept down for decades by too much

SS politics and pecking orders, GARY HEINS is now U.S. SKI-

TURNER GENERAL with a new chart defining Comfort Zone,

which helps Prosecute Bad Ski Instructors.



Get certified . . . to ride the high lift



Thee Second

















Published by:


PO Box 784

Saint Johns, Arizona 85936

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced

or transmitted in any form or by any means without written

permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief

quotations in critical reviews.

Copyright © 1990, 1997, 2010 Gary Lee Heins















"Now there's one thing

that'll make it easy:

I'll ski like you,

and, Baby, you ski like me

---let's ski this run . . .

one turn at a time."


& His




It is not my intention to harass ski areas or ski schools with frivolous

lawsuits dealing with natural problems beyond their control. I do, how-

ever, intend to help as many skiers and teachers as I possibly can . . . to

reach their full potential, much to the dismay of Professional Ski Instructors

of America and a few other charlatans. This book doesn't claim to be for

everybody, just wise open-minded teachers . . . and confident ski-it-your-

selfers, as well as those students and teachers who feel neglected, misun-

derstood, abused, even discouraged, disempowered, or disenfranchised . . .

by the dysfunctional pecking-order status-quo. Oh, the most selfish and

dysfunctional of instructors will want to read this book also, so that they

can defend themselves in court; if they read it soon enough, they might start

doing their job right and not have to defend themselves in court, as from

now on This Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING Manual is the yardstick all

ski lessons are measured by---so this book is for everybody.

A big reason snow-boarding has taken off like wild-fire for more than

twenty years . . . is because of Political Correctness, . . . and because some

fed-up ski instructors weren't able to climb the political ski-school ladder:

Many in Ski School saw a more-lucrative ground-floor opportunity in be-

coming ignoble and igmobile snow-board instructors instead, much like a

prostitute. ---Witness a high percentage of ski instructors and other skiers

who wouldn't be caught dead shackled on a snow-board kneeling down or

sitting on their butt as if controlled by a pimp or a rogue religion.

Let's face it: the Ski Schools haven't gotten the job done in this country

for a couple of decades now---that's another reason why snow-boarding has

taken off like wild-fire plowing over the more practical mode of skiing. The

Ski Schools generally haven't done the Skiing Public justice, and they have-

n't done all the instructors justice: it's been politics as usual with too much

factional-n-individual scheming for power, with too few guys at the top . . .

living off the high turnover of instructors. That high turnover is perpetu-

ated by the greedy few at the top, and it helps them keep their cushy jobs

"training" a constant supply of fresh new instructors while keeping the gen-

eral populace unskilled and ignorant. When The Reformation came along

by the late 1990s, and 'Shaped Skis' were supposed to make skiing much

easier, the Powers-That-Ski decided to make the tasks and techniques that

much more difficult, especially near the top of their certification ladder;

meanwhile, they made entry-level certification extremely easy so that eve-

rybody and their brother could be a "certified" instructor, even the most

mediocre of skiers . . . and ski-bums who just want the perks but don't even

want to teach.

Every now and then, an individual ski instructor shines above the rest,

. . . only to be stifled or even totally shut down, by politics or economics,

because he's a threat to the comfy status-quo. In 1980, passing Associate-

Level Certification in PSIA's Northern Division, they complimented me on

my "Strong Communication Skills"; however, in PSIA's Intermountain Divi-


sion in the years to follow, they passed me in Skiing Ability and Technical

Knowledge at the Full-Cert-Level, but they flunked me in "Communication

Skills" three times in three years---they did not give credit where credit was

due, and they still don't. They might as well have done wrong to Clint

Eastwood or Charles Bronson or Sam Elliott . . . or Erin Brockavich . . . or

Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, because it has been my life-long

purpose to continue doing what I do best, . . . and to prove them wrong and

expose them for what they are, . . . ever since.

Everything we think, feel, and do . . . matters; individually and collec-

tively, we create our own destiny---if you don't understand that yet, you are

missing the boat . . . or at least the last chair-lift ride to a more celestial

place. This book is for leaders more than followers, ski-it-yourselfers who

are willing to take responsibility for their own turns in life---as responsibil-

ity means freedom; . . . but we must follow something for awhile . . . until

we learn how to lead for ourselves. You don't have to do anything I say in

this book; but God help you if you think you can learn from a politically-

motivated instructor with a hidden agenda, or from a hedonistic ski-bum

masquerading as a 'certified' instructor---whether He or It, you already have

the God Force inside you, and you don't need anyone's permission to ski

through the Narrow Gate into Heaven. When learning from a book, the

student must take responsibility for his own safety; however, when

learning from an instructor out on the mountain, the student is somewhat

dependent on the instructor for safety. While obviously spiritual and

somewhat psychological, skiing is also a highly physical activity: for every

thousand new-age gurus coaching millions to "just close your eyes, and

think positive," we are lucky to find one instructor really offering the people

what they need. Things have gotten so silly lately in our Nation's politics

and socioeconomics . . . the Meek have started inheriting the Earth---singer

Susan Boyle's long-overdue success in 2009 was a Turning Point; and, from

now on, with the help of this book, the most out-of-line ski instructors

and instructor trainers, PSIA or otherwise, will be held responsible for

their arrogant, self-serving, ignorant and/or subversive actions.

The problem is deep-rooted, and it goes way beyond just ski school---

it's hundreds if-not-thousands of years of puerile tradition . . . in almost

every walk of life. Enjoy what you learn here up on the mountain and

anywhere else in life where you can apply it, kindly giving attribution; . . .

and you're welcome to transfer what you learn here . . . to another walk of

life that needs help----but this niche is taken (as well as some of my other

topics, like WESTERN SWING). Remembering the childhood story illus-

trating the importance of recognizing the Truth, we need to admit that the

Emperor is not wearing any clothes, in every walk of life where we see it;

and we need to do it right now if not yesterday---otherwise, the planet and

its people may not have much of a future, and learning downhill skiing will

be the least of our troubles.




Bear with me, Beginners, while I send a note

to any Neigh-Sayers & Know-It-Alls out there:

Brief Prologue----May Day! May Day! 2010

This book was originally laid-out in 1990, but it is as true

today in 2010 as it was back then---and I've had twenty more

years to tinker with it. While skis and boots may have generally

changed for the better in recent years, becoming easier to operate,

the requirements for learning to ski have pretty much stayed the

same: mountains are still mountains, snow is still snow, and people

are still people (although I wonder sometimes). Back when the

'Straight Skis' kept you more honest, ski teaching had to be done

more correctly; one of the main problems with the recent Reforma-

tion of Ski Technology with 'Shaped Skis' . . . is that it has made

many instructors lose focus----they've given the skis themselves too

much power, much like a rogue computer, and they've forgotten

how to help the student learn to be responsible and take control.

The new skis operate pretty much the same as the old skis: they just

carve a little easier is all, but all skis need to be skidable---a ski that

won't skid is like a car with no brakes. ---Let's not forget: 'Straight

Skis' already had Shape, so 'Shaped Skis' are not the totally new

and different phenomenon the Ski Industry would have you be-

lieve. And, even if the newer ski technology carves a lot easier,

every skier still has his threshold where he had better start skid-

ding to brush off too much speed---even for most experts it is

somewhere on intermediate steepness. Not being part of a con-

spiratorial trend full of Planned Obsolescence to milk your

money . . . and MissInformation to control everyone's brain, . . .

this book will be just as truthful fifty years from now as it is to-

day . . . and was twenty years ago.









Brief Prologue


Foreword ( by JD): Meet Gary Heins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Ski-Teaching Like Ranch Horse-Training . . . . . . . . . 19

Priorities: Safety, Fun, Learning


Our Bottomless Topic: "How to Turn" ---A Preview . . . . . . . . . 33

Anatomy of a Ski Turn---One vs Many


turn phases, turn size-n-shape, turn-linkage

Ski Equipment


skis, boots, bindings, poles

skier clothing, accessories

Three Basic Skills for Balance


pressure-, edge-, rotary-control

Three Primary Variables for Versatility


slope, snow, task---Comfort Zone!

Who&WhatTurn,When&Where&Why, Not Just How! . . . . . . . . 113

Monitoring Variables, Developing Skills


---Beginner Skiing


---Intermediate Skiing


---Advanced Skiing


Tying Up Some Loose Ends For Safety


tree-wells, avalanche, self-arrest

---The Expert Skier's Attitude & Abilities


A Look Back Up the Mountain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251

Skiing & Everyday Life


Graduating To the Back-Country


logistics, ski adaption, more avalanche, day-pack

Epilogue( by JD): Why U.S. SKI-TURNER GENERAL . . . . . . . . . . 263

HeinsianDOWNHILL SKIING Check-List & Schedule . . . .275

10 --- Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING

"A Ski-boy is Helpful:

he must go out of his way

. . . to do a Good Turn

for someone everyday."


of the

Swingin' G, 1993

Foreword --- 11


Meet Gary Heins

You don't know Gary Heins yet maybe. He's no Olympic Gold

Medalist, no Infamous Extreme Skier, yet most have agreed since

the early 1980s he is an expert skier and teacher. Some of his best

skiing buddies have been World-Famous Extremes Skiers and

Olympic Gold Medalists, and some have been nothing more then

wedge-turners: unlike most skiers and teachers, he has skied with

the best of them . . . and the worst of them---most skiers never have

the inclination to do both, either way. And he has a credential the

average Extreme Skier or Olympic Racer is not likely to have: Gary

started skiing as a total beginner at the ripe old age of 18 (oh, he

had one measly day the spring previous at 17&9months); and, since

the age of 20 in 19&79, he has skied down in the trenches with

thousands of recreational ski students most medalists and extreme

skiers don't have the patience to wait for. Gary is a true teacher,

and he feels about his students the same way many parents feel

about their children. Says Gary, "In the beginning, I became a ski

instructor mainly so I could learn it better myself---I couldn't afford

much in the way of ski lessons; but I soon found out I'd just as soon

have students with me, especially frustrated students who've been

abused, neglected, or misunderstood---and they're out there by the

millions." After three seasons teaching and six seasons total on

skis, Gary was acknowledged by Professional Ski Instructors of

America in skiing ability and technical knowledge at their full-certi-

fied level---"But that's still a long time to get good," he admits, even

though he was ahead of schedule compared to most skiers, even a

high-percentage of the early head-starters, "---it shouldn't have to

take that long." In 1990, after more than ten years learning full-time

from his students---and much of that time was invested gathering

his thoughts and writing this manual,---Gary had found his niche

12 --- Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING

being the liaison between you and the gold medalist or world

champion, the liaison between you and the mountain and its snow,

the liaison between you and yourself.

(Now, in 2010, after going in and out of exile a couple of times

because of his above-average teaching, he is also the liaison be-

tween you and the MissInformation and petty politics and pecking

orders that have grown rampant in the Ski Industry since the ad-

vent of snow-boarding and better though-more-complicated ski

equipment. Gary's few years in exile have helped him to sit-back

and see the overall picture: he's been deep into the system a num-

ber of times, and he's seen it well from a distance. The more com-

fortable instructors who've been able to stay in the business each

year-after-year see only tiny bits of change at a time; but, when you

are out for enough years like Gary, over five at one stretch, you

come back flabbergasted by the change, change mostly for the

worse. Listen to this: "When I finally got back into the locker room

of a small Montana ski area after my longest hiatus, I saw an older

gentleman getting ready for the day---'Oh, splendid!' I thought, 'an

older comrade, an ally, who knows the business like I do, or better!'

. . . but, come to find out, the older gentleman was a new recruit

who barely knew how to ski or teach---and, within that season,

after 'picking up one too many hippopotamuses,' he was disillu-

sioned by the whole fiasco . . . and back to taking it easy as a me-

diocre civilian skier. ---You don't start a ski-teaching career at re-

tirement age," says Gary, "but try explaining that to pyramid-

scheme PSIA." Then, he says, "When I come back a new face to a

new ski school after even a short hiatus, I know what it's like to

have power-hungry PSIA Examiners eyeing me like fresh meat,

more pyramid-scheme income for their pockets---but they soon get

nervous and irritated when they find out I know more than they do

about the Ski-Teaching Business . . . and have no intention of sign-

ing up for more of their pecking-order politics.")

Let's note that Gary started writing before he ever started ski-

ing and teaching. And, as a teacher, he felt obliged to read most of

the how-to books on skiing; but, being a writer, he is highly critical

of other writers, and he has found many of the books on how-to

ski, . . . well, limited or lacking, sometimes even dangerous:

"They're usually too flowery with that popular new-age right-brain

approach, forgetting how physical skiing can be; or they have too

much emphasis on racing and complicated technique for most rec-

reational skiers, and there's too much time spent on hard-pack,

with many teacher's having a difficult time breaking the ice for

Foreword --- 13

subjects like powder and crud or steeps." One modern book he

found, which came out by two of the more famous magazine ski

writers, thicker than the one in your hands now, tells in its last

paragraph about all the stuff they haven't covered yet---powder,

crud, moguls, ice, steeps---"these are," it said, "the subject of an-

other book." ---"Powder is not a separate book," Gary challenged,

"it's just a different chapter maybe, or just a few new paragraphs

placed in the right time and place." A later book, he found, dan-

gerously implies that you can master skiing in one weekend. ---

"That will never be the case," he says; " Learn Skiing In a Weekend is a

gimmick title of the worst kind, preying on a spoiled quick-fix soci-

ety. But I would agree that you can treat beginners like real skiers

with dignity from day one, letting them feel a few inches of powder

if it's handy." Further, he says, "When you begin to write about

something, and are sincere about getting at the Truth, it's amazing

how much you thought to be true may turn out half-true or even

totally false" (---just look at moist Religions). I believe what Gary

means is: beware of writers who learn their writing skills in one

weekend; to conceive and give birth to and raise a healthy, open,

honest how-to book such as this one . . . takes more than a few days

away from the fun on the slopes. "I get so sick of right-brain ski

books or books that are just too physical," says Gary; "how about a

whole-brain, whole-body, whole-heart approach for a change?!---

and the same goes for those new-age gurus." Most of his other ti-

tles are fine works of literature, rather than just positive-thinking or

ho-hum how-to; the title The Greatest Ski Instructor alone gives

readers goose-bumps. (Meanwhile, the Powers-That-Ski PSIA lit-

erature on ski instruction is similar to reading the Federal Govern-

ment's 2010 Health Care Plan, full of complex official language and

plenty of tricky double-talk and no poignancy whatsoever, . . . or

parts of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, full of skier-n-brim-

stone and no humor whatsoever. "PSIA and a few others," as far as

Gary is concerned, "are on the wrong side of the fonts.") When you

get deeper and deeper into this manual and Gary's other books,

you notice that most of the other writers that are out there on his

subjects . . . are way too sterile and homogenized---while Gary's

books are full of cream.

There is one famous ski-racing coach and writer of the poten-

tially-dangerous classic How the Racers Ski, Warren Witherell, who

is proud to profess he got an even later start in skiing than Gary, at

age 22; but beware of this character's work and all his disciples:

before his skiing life: he was a world-champion water skier and a

14 --- Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING

semi-pro hockey player, which gave him quite an edge and fear-

lessness as a skier compared to most people; then, when he got into

skiing, we have the sneaky suspicion he skied only with hard-core

racer types on mostly beginner and intermediate terrain, like most

race courses---he had all kinds of incentive to carve every turn and

go as fast as possible without skidding. But Gary skis with real

people in all the scenarios, including terrain much steeper and with

more natural obstacles than most race courses . . . and easy terrain

that is crowded with unpredictable traffic----these people have

more of a very real need to keep their speed in check than to always

be the fastest on the mountain. Gary agrees with Warren Witherell

up to a point, on beginner and low-intermediate terrain for ad-

vanced skiers and experts who have the ability to carve high-speed

when light traffic permits; "But," Gary says, "he scares me every-

where else." Witherell's racer-based approach is totalitarian, and it

may work fine for cranking out an occasional Olympic Gold

Medalist---but I wouldn't want to be married to him, as he seems

like the kind of guy who could make rules impossible for you to

not break. (Professional Ski Instructors of America used to be a big

burr under Witherell's saddle in the 1970s; but, since the late 1990s

and early 2000s advent of 'shaped skis,' which make carving much

easier, they have in many ways become witless Witherell followers.

As you'll find out from Gary, it doesn't matter how user-friendly

the skis become for high-speed carving, the mountain will always

have the last say, letting you know when carving would be suicide

and prudent skidding is often just what the doctor ordered.)

There's something else that makes Gary especially different in

his approach to skiing: he is what you might call . . . a working ski-

boy, . . . as he makes his days in the summer riding young horses,

in the winter riding long-n-lively skis. He is a horse wrangler who

skis during the off-season, and he draws strong parallels between

skiing and riding, both biomechanically and psychologically. "The

hard-working horse is a tremendous athlete with an innocent brain

and basic instincts programmed mainly for survival," says Gary;

"we humans would do well to set up a ski-learning schedule simi-

lar to what the best colt breakers set up for their twelve-hundred-

pound pupils." Gary's teaching can be subtle: rather than ex-

pounding on the how-side of skiing all day, he'll choose the right

mogul or the right powder or the right steepness at the right time

for a ski student the same way a cutting-horse trainer might choose

a certain slow cow in a large round-pen for a young cutting horse,

to build confidence rather than fear and frustration. Sure, Gary

Foreword --- 15

relates the horses and skiing to be funny; in fact, humor happens to

be one of his biggest tools to help make skiing and lessons in the

Rocky Mountain West more fun---but don't underestimate humor

where fear is a common problem: I dare say Gary is one of the few

unusual American ski instructors willing to go against the grain,

saying key things in ways that regular instructors and their clones

aren't getting said in regular ways, sometimes saying what the big

skiing herd needs but doesn't want to hear. Gary skis with a pur-

pose, treating his skiing like wholesome ranch work: "We have to

manage our snow the same way we manage our grass, opening the

right gate at the right time and pushing skiers or cattle into the

deepest grass or tallest snow. Where I live on the Swingin' G

Ranch, water can get real scarce in the summer months, so we work

real hard all winter long, skiing the winter range to pack the snow

and see if we can't get it to last a little longer for summer irrigation

and watering of the stock." . . . It should not be surprising that

Gary's fun Ski-boy Poetry and his even funnier Ski-boy-n-Western

Music lyrics are highly instructional in their own right.

While kind and gentle, Gary is firm with his students; but he

can be cruel when backed into a corner, as one time with a difficult

advanced student who, rather than trying for one good attainable

turn in a tricky situation, kept insisting on stampeding ten bad

turns to a big rodeo: "Here!" Gary boomed as he clicked out of his

own skis longer and stiffer, "my skis're well-trained, they'll sort

these maverick moguls for you!" . . . Gary runs a healthy operation:

he knows how to prevent runaways on the steeps and skiers get-

ting bucked off in the moguls. "But there are some spoiled students

out there that will test you," he points out, "just like spoiled horses.

But it's usually not their fault: they're so tired of not reaching their

full potential, and they're subliminally used-to not getting the best

lessons---what else are they going to do but get frustrated and try

to test a new instructor they don't trust yet?"

Of course, Gary also relates skiing to the student's own world

where he can, often sounding more like a college professor than a

common ski-boy. He might have to "get fiscal" and be all business

with a corporate comptroller: "You have a deficit in your ski tech-

nique---that's why you're skiing in the red all the time." He might

ski with golfers down "a long par-5, dog-leg to the lift." I remember

him warning an airplane pilot about variable snow conditions:

"We've got turbulence up ahead." With high-level corporate ex-

ecutives, he talks about time-management skills and making "turns

that are important but not urgent," rather than constantly putting

16 --- Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING

out fires with "turns that are urgent but not important." He helps

travel writers "get rid of skier's block," "edit their turns," or start

over with "a clean sheet of powder." He's helped U.S. Army offi-

cers "Ski all that you can ski!" and actually ordered them to get

down and do push-ups for not getting their turns right. He's given

famous movie actors like Ralph Fiennes ( Schindler's List, Quiz Show,

and The English Patient) . . . "acting lessons," how to act like a good

skier. In a lesson once with a psychotherapist watching everyone

else ski by, not paying attention to his instruction, not really seeing

him for the professional he is, he asked the lady how many dys-

functional families there are in this country---"Most families," she

conceded,---and then he asked her how many dysfunctional skiers

she supposed there are.

Indeed, ski teachers find themselves playing psychotherapist

so often it's scary, probably more often than bartenders. We con-

gratulate you for reading this book on the ski-learning process---

this is the sign of a responsible, diligent student; and sometimes

entering ski school is an act of the greatest courage---but you don't

have to be desperate to enter this book. There are many ski stu-

dents stuck on a plateau---stuck in a traverse actually; very few will

ever reach their full potential, as most are just seeking some sort of

relief from everyday life, and very few are truly sincere about ski-