Going Divergent And Learning To Cope With Everything The Mountain Throws At You

Imagine being able to cope with everything the mountain throws at you. All types of terrain, all types of snow conditions, all types of weather and all types of hazards. Not an easy task or is it? Phil Smith from Snoworks Ski Courses explains ‘Going Divergent’

Does This Statements Sound Familiar To You?
“Yesterday everything seemed to be going really well but today I just can’t get it together.”

If it does then it could be time to look at the way you learn to ski and the way you ski because what you may actually be saying is something like – “Yesterday I was so lucky, the snow, the weather, the terrain, matched my skiing perfectly but today I was so unlucky, everywhere I skied the terrain, the weather, the snow, the terrain, did not match my skiing”.

How can you get back from skiing every day and say “Wow, what a day!”? The answer is to go ‘divergent’ in your learning, your attitude and your skiing.

Divergent Learning and Skiing – Creating Solutions
Divergent learning starts with a single problem and out of the single problem we create multiple solutions. You just keep going with solution after solution after solution until you can’t think of any more. You exhaust all possibilities. Great problem solvers are divergent thinkers. Great businessmen are divergent thinkers. You need multiple solutions to every problem. Then you can narrow down the solutions to the most appropriate, the most desirable, the most suitable. Divergent skiing is where you are free to constantly change how you ski to adapt to the ever changing conditions until you find the most desirable outcome. There is no set ‘style’, no particular ‘way of skiing’, just the freedom to move, adjust, adapt and change to suit the ever changing mountain environment.

Great skiers are all ‘divergent skiers’. They have learnt divergent, have a divergent attitude and ski divergently. You can see this in all the top free skiers and racers. They know how to create solutions on the move, instantaneously. They do not think if they are doing something the right way or the wrong way. They find ways to create solutions. To get down, change direction instantaneously, go faster or slower at will instantaneously, whatever the terrain whatever the conditions.

On our courses we have many skiers arriving for the first time that may say something like. “Last year my instructor told me x, I need to do y and my problem is z” My answer is always the same. “What slope where you on, what was the snow like and what was your objective at the time?”

We have skiers coming with us for the first time that may often say to us something like “I need to improve my technique”. As though there is a technique they are looking for, a way of doing something that will work everywhere, for everything. They are looking for a single solution to multiple problems rather than looking for multiple solutions to each single problem.

Great skiers don’t look to improve their ‘technique’ they look for solutions to problems. How to grip more on ice, how to push heavy snow sideways to control speed off-piste, how to slow down quickly, change direction suddenly, manoeuvre through a narrow space or an awkward bit of terrain.

How Did You Learn – Convergent or Divergent?
To begin to go divergent so everyday is a ‘wow day’ it’s a good idea to look at how you learnt and think whether it was convergent or divergent. Were you looking for single solutions? Were you taught one technique? Do you have a particular way of skiing? Do you ski with your feet together all the time, stand tall all the time, ski low all the time or have feet apart all the time? If any of these statements ring true then the likelihood is you learnt convergent. That means sometimes it will work and sometimes it wont. You will have good days and bad days.

To cope with everything and finish the day where every day is a ‘wow day’, the only way is to go divergent.

Divergent sports people do things differently and unexpectedly. They lead the way, not follow, they create their own style, not copy. They find many solutions to each problem. As Hannibal said in response to his generals who said it was impossible to cross the Alps with elephants. “We will either find a way or make a way”.

Divergent learning, thinking, skiing and developing a divergent attitude doesn’t happen over night if you’ve only learnt convergent. It will take some time. There is no one way of doing things, no one technique, no one style. So to begin with if you are used to looking for set answers it may seem a bit vague, a bit open ended. But it’s exciting, ever evolving, ever changing and that in itself is so exciting. A mistake isn’t a mistake it’s an opportunity to learn.

Phil Smith is founder of Snoworks All-Mountain Ski Courses. Snoworks runs All-Terrain Ski Courses throughout the year where you can learn divergent skiing to become a competent all-mountain skier learning to cope with everything the mountain throws your way. www.snoworks.com

Reference: Muska Mosston, Spectrum Of Teaching Styles, Divergent Style

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