more than two decades of ski writing, ski teaching, and ski publishing by Lito Tejada-Flores
by Lito Tejada-Flores, 350 pages, $16.95 softbound, plus shipping. Also available through amazon.com
Lito's first ski-instruction opus, Breakthrough on Skis is the all-time best selling ski-instruction book (over 100,000 copies sold and loved). And this latest version, Breakthough on the New Skis, takes Lito's innovative ski coaching method to the next level. It contains all the techniques, tips, teaching patterns, all the new insights that he gained during 10 years directing a total-saturation Breakthrough ski-week program at Aspen Colorado.
No doubt about it — this book is definitely the best expert ski lesson ever put on paper. But the question remains, can you — can anyone — learn to ski, or learn to ski better, or really bust out of that intermediate rut by reading a ski book? Lito thinks you can. And this book, and its companion videos (see the links at left) have already changed a lot of skiing lives.
Lito is thrilled at the response to this book from hundreds of real skiers who have written me to tell him how it transformed their skiing. And also gratified by the reactions of some top pros. Here are a couple of reviews, the first one written by Dick Dorworth, former coach of the U S Ski Team:
"Lito Tejada-Flores is, among other things, a one-man ski instruction industry. He has been a ski instructor in Europe and the United States for almost 40 years. His week-long ski seminars held in Aspen each year during December and January are popular and effective and have been described as having "helped thousands of skiers to break out of their intermediate doldrums and realize true expert performance." Lito has written extensively for the major American ski publications and his first book, Breakthrough On Skis, is a best selling masterpiece of clear prose and astute advice for the reading intermediate skier. The companion Breakthrough On Skis videos are equally useful. Both book and videos are unrivaled classics. He is also an artist, graphic designer, book publisher, writer, poet, climber, kayaker, linguist, skier, husband, bon vivant, raconteur, film maker and intellectual of seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm. And he is an old friend. Lito and I have traveled many miles, both on and off skis, a significant and memorable number of them together, and now we are now both over 60 years of age and still learning about and through, among other things, skiing.
"It is neither possible nor particularly desirable for me to separate out the personal from the professional and philosophical in writing this review. Caveat emptor, or, since skiing is, after all, action, perhaps caveat actor is the more appropriate. In a recent poem about this stage of his life, Lito wrote:
We were wise at night, young in the morning
trudging up peaks, packing packs
full of books, talking the best nonsense
Once upon a time there was tomorrow
now there is only now, time narrows
but our hearts are still growing stronger
"It is gratifying to see that Lito’s inspiring intelligence is still accompanied by both wisdom and heart (and poetry), all of them abundantly evident in his latest book, Breakthrough on the New Skis.
"It is, as the title indicates, concerned with techniques and skills of skiing on the new (wider, shorter, more sidecut) skis, but, as is emphasized in the text, Lito never loses sight of the French saying, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose — the more things change the more they stay the same. Lito has a firm grasp of what has changed and what has not in terms of learning how to be a better skier on whatever type of ski, and Breakthrough on the New Skis is a book that skiers of all abilities would do well to read. This includes ski instructors.
"As mentioned, Lito and I are friends who continue to learn through skiing, but our approaches to both learning and skiing are quite different. In my opinion, most ski instructional writing, whether in how-to-do books, instructor teaching manuals or instant tips and pointers in ski magazines is a better cure for insomnia than for inadequate skiing technique, and I seldom read any of them. It is usually a disappointment when I do. I’ve concluded that the serious skier who wishes to improve will, as a rule, use his time better by taking a few runs on skis than by sitting on his derrière reading most ski instruction writing. Lito’s work is the exception to my usual viewpoint and prejudice, and this latest effort is his best.
"In it he writes, "There is method in my madness, method and methodology. The sequence of steps is just as important as the steps themselves. You are going to become an expert skier one step at a time." He then lays out the steps and the sequences leading to "slicing beautiful narrow-track arcs instead of skidding out turns. On our new skis, carving — once reserved for a minority of experts, at racing speeds only — has now become a sport for the masses, carving for the rest of us." Lito’s genius as a ski writer (his IQ is as high as a good nordic skier’s heart rate during competition) is twofold: he is a populist at heart and writes for the masses (the masses, that is, of the elite world of lift serviced alpine skiing in places like Aspen), and he is without equal in analyzing, creating, organizing and clearly explaining what he calls "method and methodology."
"The core idea of this book about skiing on the new skis is explained early on: "In expert skiing our skis do most of the work. Intermediates, on the contrary, tend to put an enormous amount of physical effort into their skiing…You don’t turn your skis; your skis turn you." This last statement, taken on its own and out of the context of Lito’s overall lesson plan, implies automatic pilot qualities to new skis that neither they nor their predecessors have. A few pages later this oversimplification is clarified: "Our new skis don’t really ski differently; they simply ski better."
"This is the crux of Breakthrough on the New Skis. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Or, put another way, the basics never change.
"Lito’s ideas about skiing, teaching and learning have evolved along with the newest technology in ski equipment. New technology has not supplanted his ideas, vision or, of course, experience in skiing. In contrast to all too much of American ski instruction, Lito resists the temptation to retreat into dogma or surround himself with the Emperor’s new cloak of authority. He writes:, "Skiing is an open-ended sport. There is just no right way to ski. No best way to ski. No one is keeping score. In a ski race the fastest skier is the best, sure, but most of us aren’t ski racers. And the vast majority of ski runs can be judged, if they must be judged, only by the personal satisfaction, the pleasure of the skier.… I’ll go even further and admit that all techniques are possible...Trust your first impressions, your reactions, your judgment." That is, Lito, the populist, trusts the innate wisdom of people and the inherent instincts of the individual skier saying goodbye to the intermediate blues.
Breakthrough on the New Skis is a book to learn from, to savor, to enjoy, to return to over and over, and to trust like an old friend."
"Although Lito’s and my tracks haven’t crossed on snow lately, we are in touch by telephone and e-mail. I wish you, Lito, tremendous success with the new book. You are a great writer and inspiration. Your web site is terrific and provides information that’s contributing to skier enjoyment of this great sport. As Lito knows, it doesn’t take ten years, or Draconian measures any longer to learn to ski well. Learning to ski is a very pleasurable experience and process. Thank you, Lito, for motivating me to pursue, with your wonderful encouragement, in many ways your path of furthering the art of ski teaching. I hope before too long we will get-together and enjoy another day of skiing and wine drinking."
Your friend, Harald