Monday, December 1, 2008

It's a good sore

What an amazing weekend of skiing. It was hard to believe that it was still November on the mountain. Saturday morning, we started with some indoor training. I've met the presenter before when he coached my son for a weekend of skiing and found him very likable then. This weekend, he came across as being somewhat arrogant and I don't think his presentation had the expected impact on our employees.

After the presentation, we were all happy to head outside to ski. For most of the weekend, I was assigned to train with a top-notch trainer. Let's call her Barb. Barb is an examiner for PSIA, the professional organization for skiers in the US. There are 3 levels of certification, and I'm at level 2 currently, hoping to take my level 3 exams someday. Barb was one of my examiners for my Level 2 skiing exam. I've also taken PSIA clinics with her at mountains other than where I teach.

Essentially, an examiner is someone who has gone way past level 3. After getting to level 3, an instructor can try out for the "dev team". If you make the dev (for development) team, you are then on track to become an examiner. But, before you can become an examiner, a dev team member spends lots of time as an understudy at clinics and exams. Eventually, a dev team member can be "promoted" to the examiner level. But even then, the person has to wait for an examiner vacancy to occur. Barb has been an examiner for many years. Her children are very talented racers. She is an amazing skier who skis hard from the first chair to the last chair.

Because I may take an exam with Barb in the future, I really focus when I train with her. I try to make sure I show no signs of weakness, such as calling it a day before the last chair because I'm tired. Barb knows what I do in the summers and she is a big fan of ultra-endurance sports, so she expects that I can ski hard all day, even at the beginning of the season.

This weekend, I thought she was going to kill me.

Our group had 8 people to start on Saturday. We skied a few easy runs before lunch. After lunch, we moved to the top of the mountain and started skiing much harder terrain. We mixed in low-level training topics on easier runs, and then we'd do a hard run. About 2:30, people started to get tired. It's a subtle thing that happens in your skiing as you get tired, but it's something I constantly look for in the guests that I teach. Basically, balance is a very dynamic part of skiing. Balance occurs not only in the 3 dimensions of physical space, but also in the dimension of time. A good skier is constantly making micro-adjustments of all types to remain in good balance. If you are constantly in balance, you are ready to adapt to an unexpected situation. If you are out of balance and hit a bump the wrong way or you encounter some ice, bad things can happen.

When skiers start to get tired, they start to get lazy about those micro-adjustments. They tend to just "go with the flow", assuming they are good enough to handle what will happen, as it happens. That attitude leads to falls and potentially to injuries.

On Saturday afternoon, bit by bit, skiers in our group were acknowledging that they were tired. They started to call it a day. Barb was mostly done teaching for the day, so we just started skiing - fast and on tough terrain. I watched one member of our group take a tough fall on a double-black diamond run. He was getting tired/lazy and couldn't recover from a tough situation. I followed him down the rest of that run to make sure he was safe. He called it a day. Suddenly, there were only 3 of us - an amazingly good freestyle skiing coach, Barb, and me. I was suddenly the worst skier in the group, just trying to hang on. We caught a chair at 3:59, skied a beautiful single-black diamond bump run on natural snow, and we were done. I'd survive day one. I was exhausted.

As soon as I was changed, I got some food and water. My ski school buddies all headed to the pub for a few beers, but I knew I had another tough day ahead of me, so I resisted the urge and headed home.

Sunday started with an hour indoors. After that, I led a couple of 75 minute clinics on skiing safely in gladed terrain. After lunch, I met up with Barb again. Two people from Saturday had apparently had enough and they didn't return. We warmed up on a double-black diamond slope. Then, a second warm-up run on an icy single black. Then, we spent some time on intermediate terrain, talking about edging movements and pressure movements, and how to teach those movements to low level skiers. Then, we did some higher level tasks where we watched each other ski and then worked on drills to improve our own skiing.

By 3:00, Barb was done with the instruction part of the day. People were free to leave for the day or to ski with her. Well, I wasn't really free to leave. With most people, she'd ask if they wanted to ski more. With me, it was "I know Damon's up for some more." So, I skied. We started doing laps on a double-black diamond bump run. I fell once. I was getting tired and lazy, and I started to skip some of those micro-adjustments to my balance. The chair to the summit closes at 3:45. We were hurrying down, trying to get in one more run. Secretly, I was hoping we'd be too late. Barb made it down in time, but a couple of us just missed the chair. Barb was disappointed, but reminded us that the chair at the base ran until 4:00. We raced to the bottom to get one more chair ride. Thankfully, we took an intermediate route down. My skiing was getting very sloppy by this point in time. But, I survived the last run and made it safely to the locker room.

I met my wife and kids in the bar at the base. My wife was happily enjoying some expensive Chardonnay. She asked what I wanted. Water. More water. I just wanted to re-hydrate and head home for some food. By 8:15 last night, I was asleep.

This morning, I had to get up at 5:30 to clear some new snow from the driveway. I hurt everywhere. My hands are sore from doing pole plants all weekend. It hurt to hold the controls of the snow blower.

Tonight I'll go to the gym. It will be a tough workout because I'm so sore.

But, it's a good sore. I love skiing.

1 comment:

David Ray said...

For a non-skier, that's very interesting. Sounds like a tough, tough weekend. Way to survive.