Thursday, January 25, 2007

Divisional Peition

January 23, 2008

Kate Howe
628 Starling Dr.
Bozeman, MT

Jim Anderson

Dear Jim,

I am writing to you to request permission to attempt both my Level 2 and Level 3 certification in the Alpine discipline in the current season. I am aware that to ensure a maximum exposure to a variety of teaching scenarios, students, and technical requirements, taking the exams in one season is generally not permitted.

In order to explain why I would like to attempt both certifications in one year, I would like to brief you on my history, present situation and goals in skiing.

Until 1993, I was a competitive figure skater at the national level. I have coached figure skating since 1990, but recently left the skating world to ski and teach skiing full time. From 1999 to 2005, I owned and operated Jungle Gym Rock Climbing Center, where I coached elite level competitive climbers, including top national junior climbers.

While I was at Jungle Gym, I wrote a series of coaching articles, which have become the outline for a book I am writing called Hard Head: Mental Discipline in Solitary Sports. One of my passions in life is coaching. I believe in an emotional commitment to your student, and that it takes a combination of an excellent and honed eye in movement analysis, the ability to coach a client into trusting you implicitly so that they can lay aside reservations and truly perform, and a never ending well of ideas and methods to lead your client to success.

Both figure skating and rock climbing demand a quick and accurate eye to find movement initiation, follow-throughs, finishing and stalling movements, and above all, efficient use of energy. Previous to owning Jungle Gym, I developed the first progressive children’s program in the climbing industry. In working on that program I translated all the work I was doing in movement and technique into methods that were effective, yet fun, for kids.

When I opened Jungle Gym, I took that program a step further and developed an academy for young climbers. We all worked hard to further develop the language of movement in climbing.

Unfortunately, 2005 was an extremely difficult year. I had a fire in my home and lost the climbing gym. My husband and I retreated to Montana where we started over, but I was resigned to a life away from elite competitive athletics – either as a competitor or coach.

Then, in the fall of 2006, while I was standing at the bottom of Powder Park at Bridger Bowl last year, waiting for my then-5-year-old, Ethan, to come down the hill, I began chatting with Bridger Bowl Snow Sports Supervisor Dave Evans. I mentioned that I had taught skiing in Northstar, in Truckee, CA (Lake Tahoe) years ago. Dave was excited and said, “Oh, we need instructors!” I was shocked, and immediately explained that my life could NOT allow me to teach skiing (“I have two kids, am overweight, out of shape and a stay at home mom.”).

Dave convinced me to apply anyway, and by the end of the week, I was a part timer. By the end of two weeks, I was full time, and by the end of the season, I had lost 35 pounds, and finally felt like myself again. I found out about the Alpine Demo Team in March of 2007, and began considering the idea of training for the team. I asked Bridger Bowl’s Michael Hickey if he would coach me, and he agreed.

Over the next several weeks, I met with my husband, and together, we devised a strategy that would remove the many significant hurdles to my goal of making the Alpine Demo Team in 2012. Two difficulties remain: the fact that at my tryout I will be forty years old, and will only have been in training for skiing for five years.

I am assisted by a team that is generous with time, energy and enthusiasm. I lived at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, CA while I was training for figure skating. I am used to hard, serious commitment, and understand that training takes balancing family and fun as well as hard physical and emotional sacrifice.

I am working diligently toward my goal by taking every training opportunity that I can. Last summer, I attended the NW Symposium at Big Sky, the National Academy, and the PSIA progression session at Mt. Hood, and hiked for snow all summer. This season, I am teaching full time at Bridger Bowl and taking training opportunities wherever possible, including trips to train with some Demo Team members who are generously donating their time to me. To increase training and studying opportunities, I have started a Movement Analysis Club, with fellow instructor and friend Shannon Griffin, where we and other instructors from Bridger (and hopefully Big Sky soon) get together and review video. These exercises give me another opportunity to fill in my vocabulary and continually build a visual dictionary of movement in skiing.

I recognize the value of a season (at least) between exams, and have an appreciation for the depth of knowledge that experience brings. I believe I can be ready to meet the level 3 standard. I am hoping that my fifteen plus years of movement analysis in climbing and skating will serve as an excellent base for continuing my study of movement in skiing.

My goal here is not to take shortcuts, but to maximize the time that I have available and train as effectively as possible. Because of my experience as a coach in other disciplines, I am familiar with fundamental movement, and I’m comfortable in teaching scenarios.

I have no illusions about where my skiing currently is, and realize that it is not likely that it will be up to the Level 3 Standard by the prep clinic. My hope is that with consistent work, it will continue to come up and be ready to meet the standard two to three weeks before the exam. I do realize that it is quite possible my skiing will not be at the Level 3 standard by the time of the exam, and if that is the case, I gladly take my notes and recommendations and return next year eager to carry on. I like to view failure as a diagnostic tool.

If you would like to contact Michael Hickey, Megan Harvey, or Josh Spuhler directly to discuss this proposal, please feel free, they are ready to talk with you about my goals for the season, and their feasability.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration in this, and please feel free to call or email me with any comments or questions you may have.

Kate Howe

PS. Please visit my blog which chronicles my adventures on my way to the D Team tryout at

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