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Harald Harb's Essentials of Skiing: The Fastest Way to Master the Slopes Paperback – January 19, 2010
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About the Author
Harald Harb has made a lifelong study of skiing technique. Born in Austria, he raced the World Cup circuit with the Canadian National Ski Team. As a coach, Harb directed ski racing programs that produced some of the United States’ most successful National Team members and Olympic medalists. Creator of the bestselling Anyone Can Be an Expert Skier book and video series, lives near Denver, Colorado. Visit him on the internet at www.harbskisystems.com for instruction, ski camps, and more.
Top customer reviews
Changing to skiing this way takes work - but is fun, and worth a try.
I liked the book and the proposed theory. I believe it inproved me on the slopes too, and certainly opened new sensations for me.
Nothing comes "for free". There are several pre-requisites for success with this system. The first is good quality ski gear (boots and skis) which respond well to fine input from the skiers feet. Harald recommends recreational race level gear to all his students. If boots are too soft, one would have to use large upper body movements to control the skis, while fine foot movements taught in this book may not be sufficient to transfer an input from feet to skis. If ski boots are oversized, same story. Finally, the student needs be in a good alignment on skis. The topic of ski alignment is new to many people, it is a high end segment of bootfitting which Harald Harb described in his book "Anyone Can Be An Expert Skier - 1". It is all about achieving good balance on a ski. A skier is sensitive to a quarter of degree misalignment, and a degree is a lot. In a nutshell, if you can lift one foot off the snow and ski down the fall line on a gentle slope along a straight line without significant upper body efforts required to maintain balance, you are probably within a degree or so from perfect alignment. If you are struggling, your stance ski does not want to go straight, or you cannot even lift one foot off the snow without nearly falling, you need to get alignment done before you can benefit from this book. Bootfitters who are experienced with alignment are few, but they can be found. The organization which trains bootfitters in the country, Masterfit University, has ski alignment in its curriculum. Harald would say that anyone could benefit from this book, even those with poor gear and in poor alignment, but I am ready to argue that most readers would not pursue drills in any systematic manner unless they have a reasonably good chance of success on first try.
All said above (about the gear and its good fit) is true for all sports. You cannot bike fast on a low end bike, you cannot play tennis well without a good racquet, you cannot run far and fast without decent running shoes. The lowest end and the cheapest gear hinders progres in all sports. This applies to skiing just the same. You need to have the right gear and it should be well fitted to your feet and body to achieve expert levels.
I had experience with both, standard teaching system and with Harald Harb's system. I took lessons from multiple instructors at various ski resorts. Most of them had impact on my pocket, but not so much on my skiing skills. I can attest from my experience that Harald's teaching is the only approach to skiing that can really boost the student's progress. After learning many of the drills described in Harald's Harb's books, I shared some of them with my beginner friends. I wanted to cry when I saw that I could teach them a clean parallel turn (without any signs of wedge entry) within half an hour, whereas my path to it, starting from the wedge and through wedge-christie (let it be damn forever), took years. Changing almost everything that I learned from traditional school to oftentimes direct opposites was a challenge and took years. Muscle memory is hard to change. But it was and is very much worth it. Another thing that amazed me was that drills which I practiced on green and blue runs have tremendously increased my skills for skiing off-piste, bumps and steeps. The movements are exactly the same. The skills are exactly the same. It is amazing that you did not practice bumps, did not ski bumps for a year, and then you get into bumps and all of a sudden realize that you can ski them way better than a year ago.
Finally, for those with engineering mind: Everything is logical. There is a reason for every drill. There are cues and measures of success in every drill. There is a reason for every detail in a drill. It works regardless if you just repeat the instruction or like to analyze every movement.
Harald's books require thoughtful approach. In my opinion, he did not sufficiently emphasized the important parts, especially so in the "Everyone can be an Expert Skier" books. The devil is in the details, and they are not highlighted in bold or red. If one skims through the book, it is very easy to miss critical points. Another thing, all drills are very easy but very focused and efficient. Some of them may appear to be too simple for people who consider themselves advanced intermediates or experts. They are, however, very important and should be practiced to achieve improvement.
I like this book because it provides a good overview of the system. Not only it teaches you how to ski, but it also helps you to understand how the world's best racers ski. Of course, they ski at a different speed and with much greater angles than most of us, but their movements are the same that Harald teaches. His system evolves with the best trends in teaching and racing, and currently it is the best out there.
You may ask, if this system is so good, why it is not taught at every resort? I think the reasons are three. One, PSIA (or equivalent national ski instructor associations in other countries) is a very rigid system which adopts changes very slowly. They, too, follow the development of skiing which Harald Harb's system was one of the first to accommodate, but it took PSIA 20 years to start gradually accepting some of Harald's teachings on a higher skiing level. Two, Harald apparently has chosen not to play political games within the existing PSIA system to promote his methods and opted to become an independent coach to work with motivated in interested students and athletes. This reduced his ability to impact the existing system. Finally, as already mentioned, the "classica"l system is accessible to anyone (regardless of the level of their gear: any rental boots or skis are fine, alignment is not necessary), whereas Harald's teaching works best with good, well fit to the skier gear. In wedge, one can ski in slippers (not really, but you get the idea). The movements which Harald teaches require precise transfer of input from feet to skis through boots and require good quality, well fit gear to be successful.
I like to call this book "the bible of modern skiing". I suppose, this tells a lot about it. No other books presents modern skiing in such simple, logical, and up-to-date manner. Skiing evolved greatly since the invention of shaped skis in 1990s. Many texts which were consider classics became dated. Many books teach blend of old and new styles of skiing. Not this one. This is state of the art presented in a deceptively simple and logical manner. This is how experts ski. This is how world class racers ski.
The first edition of this book came a DVD, later edition did not. Lack of a DVD is not a huge loss. It was a relatively short (some 10-12 mins), mostly promotional video of the 3-DVD (2 hrs long) series which they worked on when this book was written and which is now available from the author's web site. It had a few drills on it, but certainly not a full set of what is covered in the book.
The last but not the least, the book is out of print with its past publisher and is no longer available new on Amazon, but it is still sold directly by the author through his site. Your best bet is to buy it from the author's site during high season (it may save you money) or wait until low season for the secondary (used books) market prices to drop.