A year ago on these pages, Willy Schaeffler, coach of Denver University's crack ski team, head of the ski school at Arapahoe Basin, Colo. and Director of Ski Events for the 1960 Olympics, introduced the revolutionary shortswing to America's recreational skiers. Now Willy is back with another skiing revolution, this one a new method of teaching, aimed at beginners. Starting with the scrambling game of tag shown at left, Willy takes a class of youngsters, age 8 to 11, through a series of games and exercises that painlessly inject the fundamentals every skier should have before he undertakes the simplest traverse or turn. Heretofore, a novice's first day in ski school has usually been a clumsy and/or a discouraging experience. Drawn up in a line with a dozen other self-conscious beginners, he is pushed off in a stiff snow-plow before he has mastered the simple art of getting up from the inevitable fall. In the lessons below, however, Willy shows how every novice, by using both the terrain and his own instincts, can cut down the awkward stage and move quickly to his first run on the big mountain.
School starts with game of tag that helps pupils to forget natural self-consciousness of beginners as they flounder after each other. Here, Schaeffler's son Bill reaches out to tag Pat Jump of Georgetown, Colo., while (from left) Lester Johnson dodges toward the camera, Marilyn Ganong slips around behind Pat and Tim Reichwein (right, rear) scurries toward far boundary.
Tag game shown above begins with class divided, instructor in tag zone in the middle. At a signal, pupils try to run across tag zone without being caught.
Square dance, with skiers standing in a circle while one pupil after another weaves in and out among his classmates, is exercise in direction change.
Relay race, with class split into two groups of four (see dots next to starting lines), teaches skiers to make sharp changes in direction as they zigzag toward halfway mark, then becomes balance exercise when racers hop from one track to another on the way back to the finish line.
Basic walking step is shown by Schaeffler, who uses long forward stride plus powerful push with poles and upward swing of arms to get glide and rhythm into movements. Struggling manfully to keep up, Lester Johnson, 10, copies Willy's long stride, but misses with pole action, pushing with both poles at same time instead of using left pole with right foot and vice versa, like Willy.
Warmpup exercises literally keep pupils warm near end of two-hour lesson. On cold days, and particularly at high-altitude resorts like Arapahoe Basin, Colo., where these pictures were taken, beginners tire quickly, suffer from cold fingers and toes. Arm-swinging, toe-touching and jumping-jack exercises help to restore circulation, make last part of the lesson fun rather than frosty torture.
Short tour winds up first lesson. All exercises shown thus far are done on level ground. First downhill runs come on next page: but on tour, instructor should take class on uneven terrain so pupils will get feeling of gliding on gentlest slopes without having to worry about correct downhill position. On tour, they also get off manicured practice slope, learn to handle unpacked snow.
FIRST TIME UP THE HILL
Sidestep is easiest way to get up hill. Above, Willy shows Pat Jump, Tim Reichwein and Danny Johnson how to climb, stepping up and to the side with the uphill ski, then bringing down hill ski alongside before starting the next step (see diagram). For first climb, Willy picks a gentle slope with level platform or resting place at top where class can easily start first downhill run.