Monday, January 18, 2010

Ski, Ski, Ski

I just had an amazing stretch of 9 days where I skied 7 days. That's my best stretch of skiing in a few years, and it was a lot of fun, despite the fact that I was fighting a cold for the entire time. I think it's time for a week of low-key workouts or rest days so that my body can recover some now.

I taught for two days last weekend (1/9-1/10). Then, I took a 2-day clinic where I was the student. We skied at Smugglers' Notch and the snow was amazing. I learned a lot that I intend to use in my teaching for the rest of this season, and beyond.

After that clinic, I had to catch up at work before 3 more days of skiing.

Friday was an amazing day. Eight of us skied with Matt Boyd, a member of the PSIA National Alpine Team. It was a very enlightening day in every respect. One of the things that most impressed me about Matt wasn't his skiing, which was fantastic, but rather his eye - how he could watch skiers and then quickly prescribe a tactic to improve that skier. I skied more vertical feet with Matt than I'd skied in any day in years, yet he managed to help every single one of us to improve our skiing, all while keeping us moving. It was truly an amazing clinic - a chance to watch someone at the highest level of the profession do his thing. By the end of the day, we were skiing in steep bumps. Matt came up with a "game" for us to play on one run. I felt like I'd failed in the game, but when I got to Matt, he had a huge smile on his face and gave me a big thumbs-up. It wasn't the game's objective that was important. Rather, it was how my skiing would change just by attempting the game. I realized that after the fact, as I thought about the very aggressive and direct line I'd just taken down a steep bump line. That's what Matt wanted me to do; the game was just a trick to get me to do it.

The other big takeaway from the clinic, for me, was how Matt defined the difference between a PSIA Level 2 skier and a Level 3 skier. I've had my level 2 certification for a few years, but I don't know if I'll ever be a level 3 skier. I'd like to take that exam in the next couple of years, but there are issues in my skiing that I need to fix before I have a chance of taking that test.

Matt suggested that Level 2 skiers decide consciously where to turn, while level 3 skiers point the skis downhill and simply react to what they find. I thought about that statement for the rest of the day, and realized that I really do spend time thinking about where to turn. Yet, I'm good enough on my skis to react to situations when I get in trouble. So, I need to let loose a bit, and just ski. Think less and just ski.

Over the weekend, I taught skiing again, but my head was full of so many new ideas. It was hard for me to pick what to work on with my group. In the end, I went back to basics and I taught wedge turns to the group. Saturday afternoon, after multiple attempts to get the wedge turns just right, our group was videotaped doing these turns. I was very happy that my demo on the video was dead-on, and even more happy to see that every student had improved from earlier in the day. Sunday, we took a new skill from the wedge turns and transferred that skill to tougher terrain. Except for a few bumps in a terrain park, we had a great day.

Today, it's back to work and back to the gym. The cough from my cold is still not 100% gone, so I'm going to do easy lifting days until I'm more physically recovered. I hope to do some running later in the week, but I want my lungs to be clear before I return to running.

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