Monday, February 13, 2012

Strange skiing weekend - fickle winter weather

As I'd planned, I took a rest day on Friday before skiing for the weekend. And, that turned out to be a very good decision. A week before, I'd joked to my ski group that if our fastest skier was ever the only person to show up, I'd be in trouble. My fastest skier is a talented 14-year old girl and she likes to ski fast. With a forecast for very cold temperatures and no new snow, and a holiday week coming up a week from now, many families stayed home for the weekend. Plus, one of my students is skiing in Utah and a couple of them were sick.

It's obvious how this played out. At 9:30 on Saturday morning, only my fastest skier had showed up. I kind of felt bad for her. What 14 year old girl wants to spend an entire day hanging out solo with her 50 year old ski coach? I offered to let her ski with a different group or coach for the day. She suggested that we ski together for the morning and then meet up with another group for the afternoon. This seemed reasonable to me, and we were off. I had already done 3 runs with other instructors for some training, so I was warmed up and ready to go. We did one more easy run and then it was time to ski. The conditions weren't great - somewhat fast and firm - but we found a lot of enjoyable snow. In about 2 hours, we skied about 8 runs of single or double black diamond terrain, most of it moguls, although one double black had been groomed and was fairly easy. It was easily the toughest morning of skiing I'd done all year - tough but fun. We did every run non-stop - no taking a rest partway down.

At lunch, we met up with another group and headed to Sugarbush's "other" peak - Mt. Ellen. We immediately headed for a tree run beside a double black diamond run. This trail sits at the edge of the resort boundary, so we had to be careful not to push too far away from the trail, in case the snow in the trees wasn't in very good condition. We did one run fairly close to the trail and it was a blast. Then, we did a second run in the same area, but we pushed farther away from the trail. The snow was still solid, so we did a third, pushing even farther away from the trail. Again, the snow was solid, although we did encounter one section where we needed to take off our skis to get past an ugly drop-off. After a fourth tree run in a different location, we headed back to the main mountain, arriving just in time to meet parents at 3:00. It had been a great but tiring day - close to 30,000 vertical feet of skiing for me from 8:00 until 3:00. Before I became an instructor, 30K vertical feet was sort of my benchmark for a good day of skiing. Teaching children, I rarely get above 22K or so in a day. Saturday, doing almost 30K in tough terrain made for really fun day.

On the way home, I knew that Sunday would not be as kind to us. The temperature had started to plunge late Saturday afternoon, and the Sunday forecast was for single digit temperatures at the base lodge, colder up high, and lots of wind. Two of my students showed up on Sunday, and we spent most of our time focusing on staying warm. We would ski one or two runs and then head inside to warm up. We tried one natural snow bump run and found it to be rock hard ice, for the most part. At one point, I planted my pole and it simply bounced off the ice rather than grabbing the surface.

By lunchtime, the father of one student called it a day and he and his daughter headed home. Suddenly, the same student I'd had the day before was stuck with me again.

We had an interesting conversation about running at lunchtime. I'm not sure how the topic came up, but she found out that I've run a handful of 100 mile trail races in the past. She said that was a stupid thing to do. Then she asked how long it took me to complete the races. When I gave her the numbers (26 to 45+ hours), she said it was even more stupid. She demanded an explanation - why would I do something like that? I didn't have an answer that satisfied her, cementing the opinion that I'm simply stupid. I had a good laugh about it though.

After lunch, we hooked up with the same group as the day before and skied some easier tree runs for the afternoon. At about 1:50 or so, my remaining student had had enough, and asked for permission to head for her nearby condo. I have permission to release her on her own, so I let her go. She'd been stuck with me and none of her friends for too much of the weekend.

So, Saturday was a great ski day. Sunday was one of the worst ski days of the year. Considering how little snow we've had this year, a day like Saturday is a gift. And, we actually have a chance of a storm late this week, just before the holiday weekend.

Today is a rest day, and then it's back to CrossFit the next three days.

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