Adventures in Skiing by Paul Unwin
John Arnold has been teaching, guiding and exploring skiing for thirty years. A fully qualified international ski teacher and coach his experience covers all types and levels of skiing.
John is also a qualified meditation and mindfulness teacher.
It is this rare mix of skills, and passions, that defines Further.
“I first met John ten years ago. He was leading a motley gang of medium experienced skiers on their first off-piste adventure. Within hours it was clear he was something special as he had us skiing through a rock cave, sliding down a gulley, and all of us emerging bonded, elated, excited…”
A day, a long weekend, or a week with John will take any level of skier to a new and unexpected standard.
John Arnold’s methods – although firmly based on a deep practical knowledge of all types of skiing – are exciting and different.
“We were skiing when the fog suddenly came in. Everything – including our skis – disappeared. Laughing John gathered the ten of us together and declared that we should ski with our eyes shut! We couldn’t see much anyway, he grinned. So, we all skied down a few hundred meters with our eyes firmly shut. John didn’t just use the fog to help our confidence he also used it to teach us to ski with what we felt…”
John’s teaching is based on feeling at one with the mountain, the environment, and the ‘inner skier’ skiing from the ‘inside out’ as it were.
Rather than encouraging his skiers to focus technically, everything John teaches is about ‘opening up’, enjoying the unique wonder of the mountains, and doing that from a profound sense of calm and relaxation.
“I’m sixty and only first went on skis when I was forty. It very soon became clear that my husband and two children were braver, better, more adventurous skiers than me… or so I thought. And every time we went on a skiing holiday I dreaded it more and more. Then one afternoon I joined a class John was taking. I was nervous as the others all seemed so proficient but John managed to get us all together and without my noticing it changed my skiing for life. Two days later I was racing my husband, eagerly looking at the snow reports and trying to work out when we could ski again… “
DIFFERENT, FROM EXPERIENCE
John’s methods are different but they are also rooted in experience.
He has some very simple core beliefs:
Skiing must be fun.
Skiing must celebrate being in the mountains.
Skiing can be a challenge, but only to take the skier further; not to make anyone uncomfortable.
Skiing is a journey.
Skiing is a sport but with John it is also a unique pleasure. John’s focus is to liberate his skiers and encourage them to engage their body, mind, even spirit. This is not earnest but playful and fun.
“We were once skiing in a small party with John. Gradually we noticed other skiers joining our group. By the end of the day, ten skiers – all of very different standards – were with us. John felt like the pied piper.”
As fun is so high on John’s agenda, even technical exercises – when to change weight, for example – are playfully taught and, for the more adventurous, going deeply off-piste is very carefully managed but in the same spirit.
John talks of the mountains as a beautiful playground. His knowledge of snow, history, the region is second to none. Often, he will stop, get his skiers into a huddle, simply to breathe in the mountain air or admire a stupendous view.
John will ski almost anything. A back route into the village can be as much fun as couloir only accessed by a hike. Because of John’s experience he guides skiers who either are very experienced or new to off-piste routes with genuine care. He pushes, encourages, but never intimidates.
Every day with John is a journey. Even very new skiers will soon find themselves going further afield. By travelling, by enjoying the journey, John is not only teaching the skier he is also celebrating the whole mountain, the whole skier.
John helps his skiers engage their bodies. This can be simple exercises on the slopes: they can be tactile experiences – consider how the snow changes under the ski, listen to the sound it makes, feel the vibration as the pressure on the ski changes.
They can be physical exercises: play with shifting weight back and forward, side to side. Enjoy edging the ski, trying simply skiing in a straight-line. There is much exploration, connecting with what the body is doing and going gentle on over thinking. His instructions are aimed at telling you what do rather than how to do it.
He will encourage the skier to understand and to be curious, to embrace the effects of body actions and mind attitudes on performance. For the beginner, this can be as simple as using the skis edge, for the most experienced it will be a challenge to long entrenched habits.
Whatever else, John’s strategy is to encourage his skiers to understand, to feel and become aware.
“I had been skiing for many years. My default position was to have my knees bent, my weight held by my haunches. Suddenly John showed me – helped me discover – that skiing would be easier, more enjoyable, simply by straightening my leg into a weight change. Simple? Sure. Effective? Transforming.”
John is also interested in the mind and spirit. When the snow goes, he leads mountain yoga, meditation and mindfulness courses. On the slopes, with skiers, John encourages a sense of being ‘in the moment’. This is practical rather than whimsical.
So, John will talk about breathing, he will talk about allowing the mind to focus, he will talk about freeing the skier from distraction.
“We were skiing with John in a blizzard. Everyone was tired, cold and possibly a little frightened. John got us together and grinning asked us to simply trust him and focus on ourselves. Breathe, be calm, enjoy, was all he had to say. It wasn’t major, it wasn’t radical but when we got to the tiny log cabin-café we were heading to everyone felt happy, and relaxed.”
Further skiing weeks are offered throughout the season based from Champoluc in the Monterosa Ski. John can also be booked by the day or multiple days for yourself and your friends. Get in touch directly if this is your preference and you will soon begin and adventure…an adventure that will take you and your skiing further.