Tuesday, May 1, 2007

National Academy Wrap Up - Photos and links coming soon!!

Okay, Shannon had the camera, and I haven't got the photos from her yet, but I wanted to get the story up, so check back in a bit for the pics.


Wow, that went fast! Here it is in a nutshell. Friday night, I was still calling Karen Hagaman (The incredible woman co-ordinating the Academy) and asking if I had got in!
My mom was here, having flown out from California to watch the kids so I could attend.

The beautiful and talented Shannon had also been trying to attend, but it looked like neither of us was in. I tracked Karen down in her hotel room at Snowbird, and begged her to let me in. She said that the hotel was full, but I offered to stay at a Motel 6 in town, so she called down and got me a single room for an additional $312.

The next morning, I drove to Shannon's house at 9am and asked her if she wanted to go to Utah with me. She was a bit shocked, "Do they have a space for me?" "I don't know, but I doubt they will turn you away if we show up!" I said. I called Karen and left her a message that told her that Shannon had a place to stay, and would need a credential that night if possible.

Shannon had her self packed in an hour, and we hopped in the Bronco and hit the road. Awesome. We drove through West Yellowstone and into Idaho, made it to Snowbird by 5, checked in, got a room with two queen beds, and didn't have to pay the extra $312 after all!!

I called Karin and told her "Well, we are here!" and she answered "Um, by we, you mean..." "My friend Shannon. She came on the off chance that you might have space for her, and she has a place to stay." "Oh. Well, I don't think that we... We can do that. I'll have to hand write her credential, and you can pick it up at dinner."

SWEET! She's in.

We got dolled up and headed down to the opening night buffet. The only people that I knew were Nick Herrin and Rob Sogard, and I didn't see them anywhere, and they were working, so we fended for ourselves, got a $5 beer and found a table, got our spiffy credential and our itinerary, ate a fabulous amazing dinner, and sat back to hear two amazing men get inducted into the Skiing Hall of Fame. The stories these guys told were incredible, and we gave them well deserved standing ovations. I’ll post links to them as soon as I get their info.

Later on, wandering around, I ran into Nick who gave me the most amazing hug and said “You made it! We were wondering if you’d get in!!” Yay! I was happy to be there anyway, but Nick is a ton of fun and a great teacher, so that was cool.

After dinner, we split into groups and looked for a coach. It was great, like controlled chaos. We milled around and found our way to the top end of the middle group, where we attempted to decide between Nick, Megan Harvey and Richard, the Aussie D Team Guy.
We ultimately decided on Megan, the author of the Alpine Technical Manual and in her third term on the team. (“Lets ski with a chick! Yeah!”), and were SO happy that we did. Nick’s comment on that was “You are skiing with Megan? That’s perfect.” Really? Why? “Because you like to know everything and she likes to tell everything.” GREAT!

Later on I ran into Rob, who was a doll and checked in with me all week “How are your skis, how is your clinic, how is Megan?” and so on… Most excellent.

We hit the bar for a while, met a hot buff blonde cutie, ordered our whiskey and tried to figure out how to extricate ourselves from the Ski Camp Ick whom we ended up in conversation with. They were lovely gentlemen, don’t get me wrong, but rather obviously trolling for a hook up, ew ew ew. Welcome to Ski Camp.

Anyhow, we hit the sack early, after saying our hellos and making our social appearance, and went to bed giggling for tomorrow.

The next day, we had our first lesson with our coach for the week, and I got on a pair of Demo Volkl AC40s (next year’s awesome all mountain ski) Unfortunately, they had them in 160, which is a bit short for me, but I skied a run on them anyway.

I liked them, but they were squirreling around, washing out and I couldn’t find their center. Megan told me to fight for the center of the skis, and I’d change them out at the bottom of the run. I do what my coach tells me, so I fought. And fought. And by the end of the run, they had stopped washing around.

Got to the bottom, and Megan and Rob had a little discussion about wether I should move up or not, hard to decide what to do because Rob wanted me to stay on them and figure it out, and Megan wanted me on longer skis, I think so I wouldn’t hold up the group. I was good to go either way, and I ended up on Rossi Z-11 170s for the next two days.

These little freight trains weigh about 4 times what my Shucksans do, and have a wicked side-cut and quite a bit of camber, so the second you step on them, there they go! I felt like a pig on roller-skates, and it was once again demonstrated to me that I am NOT the world’s best skier! I was determined to be able to turn these suckers in the crud/powder/freeze that we were skiing, and actually the snow for the first two days was lovely, although the visibility was downright TERRIFYING!!

Our afternoon clinic on the first day was video, because I was thinking of having video at the front and back of the clinic for comparison. We did video with Sean Smith, a technical coach for the D team, in basic white out conditions.

Not to mention that I wanted to air it out every turn to feel safer, and I was skiing with my feet nailed to the snow. These are NOT the nimblest skis in the world. And Shannon kept telling me “These are freight trains. Let them do what they want to do. Let them bust through it. Let them turn, keep them on the snow.” But I was just ready to throw them down the hill, I was so damn frustrated. By the end of the second day, I could ski them a bit, I was not fighting them and trying to ski them how they wanted to be skied.

I was going to go to the Rossi Radical, which has less of a sidecut and is a more racing type ski, but the guy was gone for the rest of the week, and the Volkl guy went to Hawaii, so Megan said I could try her skis, and for the rest of the week, I skied on her Ativa Volkl 170s, which are only twice as heavy as my Shucksans, have a moderate sidecut and a lot of camber, so it was FUN!

I loved them immediately, and had a blast for the rest of the week. By the end of Wednesday, I felt like I was basically ready to begin instruction. Crud.

For electives, I worked with the international team of Rich, Josh, and Georgie (Australia, Canada, New Zeland) and it was a great experience. Their teaching styles were all complimentary, and they all skied slightly differently, which was awesome. Josh has a tremendous blend of grace and power, and as I am shopping for a skiing style right now, I am thinking of trying to overlay Josh with Nick and coming out with a cheerleader on steroids… we’ll see how that goes.

I also did carving with Andy, which I wrote about earlier, and steeps and bumps with Josh Foster the next day. Super fun, MAN did I learn a lot. I have been having a huge leveling issue, and Josh fixed it in about five minutes: plant your pole with your elbow lower than your hand. This creates the pinch and draws the swinging shoulder down. YEAH!

Suddenly, I can occasionally find flow in the bumps! Rock on!

Did steeps and bumps the next day with Bobby, the director from Telluride, who just had a new baby! And who was great to ski with, he challenged us with some good terrain in the icky poo crud of doooom which I need to be able to ski (This was probably my best two hours of skiing of the whole week.) He didn’t give me a new focus, just had me keep working on what Megan gave me, and it went really well. I am looking forward to skiing with him again.

Megan ended up making me want to perform beyond all, her ownership, her enthusiasm, her joy of skiing, of training, is just phenomenal. She took us through some Aikido exercises that were great for grounding and centering. She asked me to traverse any side hill on only my uphill single edge, and challenged me to do it in the right body posture. She invited me to come train with her in Aspen (and told me I have a place to stay…) and at the end of the week, she gave me her skis. Yes.

Which was an amazing thing. Because when I was a figure skater, I skated on broken equipment for years, skates 2 sizes too small that I got from my friends when they were worn out, and I used to poach their lessons until I was, gosh… 10? And even still after that…

I was overwhelmed. And that’s the subject of the next post.

The end of the story is the amazing blow out party that went till 4am in the security guards’ office (We have a pic somewhere of him handcuffing skippy the blow up kangaroo, whom Richard bequeathed to me, while I am blowing in his ear… most excellent.) We didn’t have to ski the next day so it was whisky after whisky after PBR and some other odd mixed drinks, made some good friends and partied until we couldn’t stand up anymore. Then we went up and worked on the wobble boards! Insane.

The next morning was a quiet, headachey affair, Shannon picked up some AMAZING shots of herself skiing for the blog, and we hit the road (after nursing the Bronco at the Oil Drop for a minute) The ride home was quiet, and we both had big stupid grins on our faces, can’t wait to get back and share it all with our coach, Mike Hickey, and get to work for real.

Not a bad way to spend a day or six!!!

See you next year at the Academy!!

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