Monday, November 28, 2016

Skiing - Day One

I could have skied earlier in the year.  I could have skied a month ago when KMart opened.  But, for a while, I was waiting for my new skis and bindings to be set up.  I bought the Nordica Enforcer 93 and the Marker Schizo binding.  A few weeks ago, I finally got the skis back.  But, I still had to do my pre-season orientation at Sugarbush, so I didn't ski that weekend.

The next weekend, some friends were going to KMart, but it was on Sunday, and I had to be on a train to NYC, so I had to pass.

Sugarbush opened the day before Thanksgiving.  Somehow, work won that day.  Family won on Thanksgiving Day.  Work the next day, plus we regretfully had to deal with our older dog passing away overnight.  Then, it was Saturday.  I slept in a bit after a few long days.  I walked the younger dog in mud and muck.  And then, I succumbed to college football.

But yesterday, I was scheduled to work.  At Sugarbush.  It would also be a chance to meet our new ski school director.  I can't even recall how many ski school directors I've worked for in the past 16 years.  I was hired by a guy named Tim, but he was replaced by Bill, before that season ever started. Then, Bill lost the job, and we had a handful of short-timers.  Some were internal, some were attempts to leverage some of the "historical" figures in Sugarbush history - an Olympian and a star of extreme skiing films.  One guy, who I think was named Ed, didn't last long, and his best advice all winter was to keep your gas tank full, in case you got stuck in a snow bank.  I don't think I ever saw him ski at all.  Then, Bill came back.  Then, Russ, who I had a good relationship with, but he only made it 4 years.  But now, we have a very well respected new ski school director.  He came to SB from Mad River Glen, but he's been involved in PSIA for many years, at the top levels.  He's a great skier, a great teacher, and he's been very successful running few other ski schools.

And, I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.  Yesterday was a day for our staff trainers to ski together and talk about how we are going to train the rest of the staff this year.  So, we only had very experienced instructors, and Terry had us start with some super simple movements.  Then another.  And another.  I was skiing for the first time on my my skis, but as I felt more comfortable on the skis, Terry's input clicked.  I kept waiting for the half dozen other things to try, that I fully expected.

Regretfully, this is a hallmark of teaching skiing, especially at the upper end.  You give someone some good info.  Add a bit more.  A bit more.  And, rather than stopping there, you just keep piling on new info and new things to try.  At this point, I often feel overloaded and it's almost like I've lost my ability to comprehend anything, and my skiing goes to crap.

But, Terry didn't do that.  After just a couple simple concepts, he stopped  We did play with variations on the theme as the day progressed.  Terry recognized that many people hadn't skied before yesterday, and let people head home as soon as they felt tired.  Conditions were a bit challenging, with some snow guns throwing wet snow at us, and sticky snow on the ground.  On day one, the goal is to get re-acquainted with movements we haven't made for months, dial in new equipment, remember a few key points, and try to put it all together.  All day, I didn't hear Terry make one negative comment about people's skiing.  He offered simple advice at times, and he did ask hard questions, but no one was made to feel as if their skiing wasn't good enough.  And, to be honest, given the group I was with, I always expect that to happen to me.

Most of the other trainers at Sugarbush have been there much longer than I have, or they have a higher certification level from PSIA than I have.  I feel like the least skilled staff trainer out there, and I always feel a bit self conscious in that group.  But, Terry made me feel at home as he saw me make improvements in my my movements, and he made sure I knew he saw them.

All in all, it was a very good day.  I like my new skis.  I like my new ski school director.  I already like my direct supervisor.  And, the mountain is fantastic about working around my current health issues, to allow me to contribute how I can, when I can.

I have to miss next weekend, when we will train most of our staff for the season.  But, if the radiation this week doesn't take too much out of me, I hope I can ski the following weekend, probably helping out some younger coaches as they get placed with young students for the first time.

I have to admit that before my last scan, I told my wife that I would simply sell my new skis if I got bad news.  And, I was serious about doing that.  But, my wife recognizes that skiing is good for me mentally.  It's something I love and something I want to do, even despite everything else going on right now.  She fully supported me being there yesterday.

And, on another note, I leave for Manhattan on Wednesday and my radiation starts on Thursday.  Hopefully, I will get through it OK, but it kind of scares me that I need to be prepared with pain meds, anti-anxiety meds, anti-nausea meds, and I've had lots of warnings that high dose radiation can hit people pretty hard.  So, we will see how that goes.

For now, I'm just going to bask in the glow of a day of fun skiing, with my friends, at a mountain that I love.  As much as I love fly fishing and the warmer months, I also love skiing, teaching skiing, and I've got some amazing friends at the mountain.  As long as I breathe, I want to be part of the ski school.  Well, at least as long as I can adequately turn a pair of skis into the next turn.

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