Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Right back AT YA!

The week in Aspen was, of course, amazing. Here is one little gem that I wanted to share with you: I had the undeniable privilege of working with Kurt Fehrenbach for two and a half days while I was in Aspen. He came to my performance talk, and then... he used it on me while working with me! YES! HOW COOL IS THAT? I got to coach myself through the eyes of an amazing coach (if that makes sense.) Sometimes I have a hard time taking my wins when I get rocked hard, and Kurt made me ski this little transition over and over again that just scared the piss out of me. And every time, he skied by me and said "That's a win! It was better this time!" And, of course, I immediately felt a huge boost, I felt proud and happy for how well I had done, rather than belaboring the fact that I want to do it perfectly. A great GREAT reminder of how positivity works to build positive results. Thanks, Kurt!

Thank YOU!

I fell down a rabbit hole. I kid you not. Thank you SQUATTY for becoming a coach for me, sponsoring me, and taking my skiing to the next level! Thank you WEEMS for your love and support and the great book and DVD, thank you MEGAN for your insane energy, your friendship and having me over, you make me want to be BETTER! Thank you BETH and MOM for helping me get to ASPEN, because of your generous support, I managed to pick up some coaching clients, got to share my talk, and got SPONSORED! (Not to mention that I had an incredible time with good friends, dinner, concerts, skiing sick powder...)

Thank you NEIL for coming with and putting up with me (Kate: "Neil, does my sweater look okay?" Neil: "I don't understand the question, its not Patagonia.") Thank you GEORGIE (and your little parasite), KATIE, DENNIS, KURT, and MEGAN for a SUPER fun day skiing on Friday...

Thank you MIKE and SQUATTY for the tickets, we couldn't have come without them...

Thank you ASPEN! MY GOD its hard to leave that beautiful beautiful town. Main St. Bakery, you are OFF THE HOOK!

Thank you KURT for days of brilliant skiing, and fun times out dancing... see you all in a few days at Academy! For now, its off to Chico Hot Springs with the kiddos.


Congratulations on being hired as an Examiner for PSIA/NRM!!! WOOOO HOOOO!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Foolish Words

This year, I was invited to participate in a Bozeman tradition called Foolish Words. Its a novella written in 400 word segments by about 50 authors in the Bozeman area. To read the insanity that includes Pulp Fiction style characters, Bozeman history and a loving poke (or nine) at Ted Turner, visit here!

Hollywood goes Skiing

We all should look as stunning as Zac Montgomery when we go skiing. I love this man. Hey HOLLYWOOD!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Advice from a Friend

Ben Roberts sent me this email, and with his permission, I reprint it here. It is such an amazing letter, so clarifying for me... thank you for all your help, Ben.

On that same note, I want to say thank you for the HUGE number of emails and support I've gotten in the days leading up to the exams and afterwards. TALK ABOUT A SUPPORT SYSTEM!!

I saw your most recent blog post about
money/travel/family stress and have a little advice.
I'm always hesitant to offer advice when is isn't
solicited so take this with as big a grain of salt as
you want or feel free to ignore it completely.

Working towards becoming really good at what we do as
skiers, teachers, professionals with the goal of
making the d-team is a goal that differs considerably
from becoming a high-level athlete in any particular
sport. In my opinion it is a "war of attrition."
Basically you set a pace to keep pushing yourself
forward that can be maintained for a long period and
have faith that by keeping the goal in the front of
your mind you will make steady progress. (from an
athletic standpoint the skiing outcomes demanded from
the role can be achieved well into a healthy and fit
person's fifties as opposed to most sports where it
all wraps up by our mid 30's)

I'm sure that you feel behind the game in some fashion
given your age and experience. Don't let those
factors fill you with doubt. Have faith. Don't think
that missing a few opportunities to be "in the mix"
will somehow close the door on your goals. It won't.
Period. You get more out of sticking to your own pace
and plan. You know what all the big wigs have to say
and they all know who you are. In my opinion the
secret missing ingredient to success in these goals is
to find your own way to them rather than being shown
the way by the current leaders in the arena. They
have a lot to offer, but only you can show yourself
the way.

In a nutshell what I'm saying is blow off academy and
don't sweat it. From what I have seen as it relates
to making the d-team most of the recipes for success
that people talk about don't work because they are
someone else's recipe. Not yours.

What I would suggest if this is something you are
really serious about is to save the academy money and
go to Mammoth. Seeing this tryout firsthand will be
very helpful for the next one. If that isn't in the
cards, don't sweat it either. Just a thought.

On the money making front and as a way to advance your
goals I would suggest making some article proposals
for The Pro Skier. If you take your own pictures the
cash for an article with pictures is pretty decent,
enough for a week or two of baby sitting.

I hope this is helpful and doesn't give you more
doubts and second guessing. Let me know.
Have fun,

Ben Roberts
US Disabled Ski Team - Coach

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pics from Level 2 at Lost Trail!

Steve Hill boots up for Day 1 of the Level 2 Exam at Lost Trail.

Greg Sponselor gets Pretty for the exam.

Here we go!

Rock and Roll, Lara is ready to go!

Lara learns a Tip Stand!

ttttt too much time on my hands... ttttt, to much time on my hands.... Talented guy, no?

he worked his way up from here to a snow board, and then a snow mobile...

The Candidates Prepare!

The end of day 1, 10 burgers, 10 beers for 10 BUCKS! A live band and a rail jam, and pond skimming! YEAH SKIESTA!!! Lost Trail RULES!!


Yes, this is INDEED Steve Hill in a tutu. What's your point? YES, he DID wear it for the entire second day of our exam. Thank GOD. He practiced good TuTu management, tucking it in when we needed to be serious, and then un-tucking it when the nerves of the group got out of control. AWESOME.

Was I kidding??

Apparently his tutu does NOT affect his ability to do 1 ski turns, however...

And if your stance is too narrow, Steve just might write on your boots in sharpie... do you want to know what it says? Its really funny....

And the wait begins...

We fill out our Evals while they score us...

The moment BEFORE the moment of truth!

I have a bunch more pictures of the Lost Trail crew the night before the exam, but they are on my phone, so it will be a few days. More coming soon!

All my love to Weems and his family...

While I was at Epic Ski, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Weems Westfeldt, a true pioneer in the sport of skiing, and author of the book Brilliant Skiing Every Day.

Weems is a man with contagious humor, the feeling when he enters the room is one of abject joy. Even though I had only JUST met him, Weems took time out of his busy schedule to encourage me to ski my best, he was hooting at me from the lift, waving at me from the ground, and sharing the experiences of his life in skiing when we got to walk and talk together.

On Saturday, we were walking down the hall of the Huntly with Squatty, and talking about our kids, my two boys and their skiing, and Weem's TRIPLETS! They are all 22 years old, and all very accomplished skiers and riders. Weems was smiling and laughing while he was relating the crazy things his kids can do on skis, and his pride in them was obvious. This is a man who loves his kids with everything he's got, and he puffs up proudly while laughing at their antics.

The first thought that I had was that this is parenting to emulate. The family seemed tight, happy, accomplished and encouraged. This is the kind of parent I hope I can be. When they told me one of the kids was a racer, I immediately thought of the dangers of the sport, and asked myself if I would be able to let go of my own personal fear in able to be able to encourage my kids if that's the path that they choose. Could I, like Bode Miller's parents, stand on the side and watch Ethan or Bodhi ride a fence line, possibly into a horrific crash? Could I, like Mike Hickey's parents, watch him and his friends ski off the roof of the bar because, hey, there's powder up there? Can I learn to be like Weems and just be proud of the passion my kids have, and encourage it, smiling? I hope so.

The next day, Weems and Squatty left for Aspen, and called to leave me a good luck message. Later that day, Saquatty called to tell me that Wallace Westfeldt, one of Wemms boys, had died in a skiing accident while filming a movie for the Aspen Skiing Company.

No words can even express the devistation his family must be feeling. A parent should never have to outlive thier children.

Weems, I just want to tell you that in the few days I got to meet you, I felt an enormous fondness for you and an incredible amount of love and support from you. Your boys are so lucky to have a father like you, and all I can think is how tremendously happy Wallace must have been in his life to feel the love and support and enthusiasm that lives inside you. All my love and thoughts are with you and your family.


Memorial set for Wallace Westfeldt

Kevin Burton
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
April 6, 2008

ASPEN — A skiing and riding memorial service for Wallace Westfeldt, who fell to his death Friday in the Tonar Bowl near Aspen Highlands, will take place Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Sandy Park at Snowmass.

Sandy Park is off the Elk Camp lift — the gathering will take place in the vicinity of the picnic table.

Afterward, there will be an indoor gathering, possibly at 3 p.m. at the Snowmass Conference Center, according to an e-mail from Westfeldt’s father, Weems. There, a slide presentation of Wallace’s “magic in the snow” will take place, as well as shared memories from those in attendance. All events are open to the public.

Westfeldt, 22, was a world-class freeride snowboarder, and was taking part in a Aspen Skiing Co.-sponsored backcountry film shoot by Futuristic Film, a Denver-based production company, when the accident occurred, a skier with the group said Friday.

“We have received the worst blow we could imagine and, at the same time, the deepest kindness and warm hearts of the people of this valley,” Weems said in the e-mail. “We are moved and grateful to hear, both directly and indirectly, from all of the friends and families and colleagues…who have been touched by him.”

In a telephone interview Saturday, Weems Westfeldt said he did not know the cause of his son's death, but said he expected to hear some time Sunday.

“He was pretty much out of sight [when he fell],” he said. “I know very few details.”

The elder Westfeldt commended all those involved in the recovery effort.

“We would also like to thank the Highlands Patrol for your fine work, and the Aspen Skiing Company generally for your support and caring,” his e-mail said.

“I am grateful for the way they responded,” he said Saturday. “It was a wonderful outpouring…and well organized.”

Westfeldt, the former director of operations for Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass, said Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan visited him at home Friday to deliver the news.

Westfeldt said the family is doing all it can to cope with the loss. One of Wallace's brothers, Patrick, is an alpine racer, and his other brother, Ben, is a park and pipe skier. The three triplets graduated from Aspen High School. Their mother, Nancy, has been a ski instructor in the valley for many years.

“It’s hard,” Westfeldt said. “These are good kids. We have a wonderful group of friends who we are rallying behind. We’re being held together by a group.”

Weems Westfelt then spoke of memories of Wallace, and his popularity in the valley and abroad.

“He was a magic kid who was full of joy and compassion — sweet,” Westfeldt said. “He had a big smile all the time. He was popular for a reason.”

Sheriff’s deputies received a report around 11:34 a.m. Friday of an unknown male skier who was receiving CPR after a fall from a cliff on the west-facing slope of Tonar Bowl, an area accessed by traveling out of bounds beyond Highlands Peak. Deputies dispatched Aspen Highlands ski patrollers, who were first on scene.

Wallace Westfeldt was pronounced dead shortly after patrollers arrived, according to the sheriff's office.

Mountain Rescue Aspen and Highlands patrollers set up a staging area near T-Lazy 7 Ranch, while officials borrowed motorized vehicles for the recovery.

Mark Welgos, an Aspen freeskier, skied the line just before Westfeldt’s accident. After dropping the cliff, Welgos skied out of the way and did not witness Westfeldt’s fall.

“The line we decided to ski today was discussed and all safety precautions were taken. Everything was planned out thoughtfully,” Welgos said Friday. “After he fell, he kind of fell out of view from everyone.”

Weems Westfeldt said Saturday that the crew had been filming for a couple of weeks and that the entire production appeared safe and professional.

“There’s nothing in my imagination that says it wasn’t proper,” he said.

Westfeldt’s brother, Patrick, skied down to find Wallace unconscious, Welgos said Friday. Patrick Westfeldt and Jacqui Edgerly, another skier with the group — as well as the crew’s safety personnel — performed CPR for more than an hour and a half.

Wallace Westfeldt had recently placed well in a number of snowboarding competitions, including a first place at the Colorado Freeride Championships at Snowmass in 2006. Last month, he earned a third at this year's Freeride Championships at Snowmass.

Among his sponsors were High Society, Obermeyer, Smith and Radio, according to the High Society website. Westfeldt had been snowboarding for 15 seasons.


Oh, my god, what an amazing two weeks it has been. I got back from the level 2, taught an all day private on Monday, then went up to Big Sky to ski with Squatty's Epic Ski group for two days. No better way to prep for an exam, I kid you not. I got to help coach a bit on the first day, and then put myself in "demo" mode on the second day. Its INCREDIBLE how much that man can change your skiing in two days!

The exam started, and I am just amazed and grateful for the enormous cheering section I had! What an experience!! I am so SO glad I ended up deciding to go for it!

The first day was crazy and tough, until noon, when I ran into all the folks one could hope to run into when a girl is stuck in her head. Steve Hill, thanks!!

The rest of the day was awesome, and I believe I skied to my best potential, which is nice. Day 2, I felt great, like I was driving towards victory on my way up the hill. The group had gelled, we were having fun and coaching each other towards success. The teaching segments for the most part improved our skiing, and the enthusiasm and positive attitude was phenomenal. Christine Bakker and JB were positive, encouraging, challenging, and just REALLY fun to ski with. The exam was SO well handled that even though its supposed to be tough, and scary, and very very specific, I left each section feeling like I was having fun and learning.

In the afternoon, I felt my skiing falling apart a bit, we went back to low end maneuvers, javelin turns, pivot slips (which I've always sucked at), and then we revisited delayed weight transfer turns. I knew that I was borderline because of my hands from the first day (which I schooled much more on day 2), and because of dropping my right hip back and in when I am on my left leg (also not a surprise, i've never liked nor trusted my left leg, its not a landing leg in skating, so...)

At lunch, we did a drill with a big stick of bamboo held across our hips, and I had THOUGHT I was leveling it, but JB showed me a few quick things and BANG, my turn felt different. I could FINALLY actively feel when my hip was sinking in and resist, pulling it up and forward in the turn, and therefore loading the ski propperly in the turn, with more pressure on the edge earlier in the turn. HUZZAH! The exam fee was worth it just for THAT!

I worked on keeping it there for the rest of the day, and feel that I did well with it, but the very last thing we did made it all fall apart.

We headed back over to Tippy's to do delayed weight transfer turns, which are my favorite drill, which I actually am capable of doing really well. And I looked down the run and I see two grey jackets... Josh and Tom Marshall's level 3 group were standing down there. And the tidal wave of nerves crashed over me. My peers. I'm fine with strangers watching, my peers are something else entirely. I felt it coming and I pulled my focus back to the task, and needed to go quick before the nerves took over again.

Our two examiners and Karen Kirk (who was shadowing the exam) skied down to the other side of the run, and now there are FIVE examiners and the entire other level 3 group looking up the hill. I fractured into a million pieces in my mind. I searched in my head for Steve Hill, who I was doing sync DWT turns behind at the level 2 every chance I got. Those were the best turns I've made, and I wanted his image skiing ahead of me. I got it, I watched Steve ski away from me, and I hopped on his tail and it was all okay, until the fourth turn (on my left leg), when I realized I wasn't pressuring the new outside ski, and my mental Image of Steve skied away from me and I felt my speed increase. I started coaching myself "STAND ON IT KATE STAND ON IT!" but by this time, my speed had increased too much, and the minute adjustments I was trying to make were happening too fast to have an impact. A terrible consequence of this was that I was skiing in constant recovery mode, searching at a high speed for a turn that felt like my own, a turn that felt familiar, and therefore let my right hip go down and in, and my right hand followed.

I am not sure that they would have passed me had I pulled this last drill off, but I was very sure when I pulled up that had they been considering it, that would be the deal breaker. A bummer to leave them with the last picture of the day being me struggling to pull it together. That and a bobble in the pivot slip were not my finest moments in the last 30 min of the exam.

In my exit interview, JB and Christine gave me terrific feedback, and I feel after the intervew that I was very close. I don't have ownership of the fix I made in my free skiing after the bamboo (hence the issues in the DWT turns), and because of that I agree that I was not QUITE ready to pass. I SURE do wish I could test in the Fall rather than waiting until NEXT April, as I will ski all summer and feel strong in the fall, but no worries.

I did pass the teaching, and I was complimented on my MA skills and depth of knowledge, feedback being accurate, and on having good, positive energy during the exam. They also told me that my skiing was often above the bar, but that this issue with the hip and getting knocked out of balance at least once per run or pitch was the issue to fix.

Off I go to build a strong inside half!

Thanks again to the NRM Alpine Committee for allowing me the opportunity to go for it in one year, it was INCREDIBLE, fulfilling and fun!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

On my way to day two of Level 3!

Well, it is, in a word, intense. But FUN! The morning yesterday was very stressful, I worried that I would for some reason not be able to ski the way I have been skiing for the last month or so, so I was tentative. And I wanted so badly to show that i was coach-able that I was focusing so hard on what they asked me to do and the big question mark in my head of whether I coud do it or not!!

Same problem I used to have with big jumps. I landed this five hundred times. What if they were flukes? So Sweeny starts singing to me... "Don't stop, believin'..." Thanks, Alex!!

Physician, heal thy self!! Ahhhh!

Guess who fixed me? I ran into Mermer Blakesly at lunch. She asked how it was going and spent about ten minutes with me. WOW, what a woman. Yeah, that actually helped quite a bit... and I saw Steve Hill, who gave me some great encouragement, and Squatty called, ahh... all better. Charged it after lunch, something just let go and I didn't wonder any more, I know I ski like this, its fun, its how I like to ski!

So I was more Kate after lunch, and we went and got on the steeps, which made me VERY happy, and then I taught there! I did carving in steep crud. Yes. I enjoyed the teaching segment, and had a blast for the rest of the day.

TODAY, I have to school my hands, and show that my one ski maneuvers are solid, they were sketchy at best yesterday. SUCK IT UP AND SKI kate!!

I'll post to Twitter between 4 and 9 tonight with updates, it takes a while to get your score. keep your fingers crossed!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Level 3 tomorrow!!

Wow, that went fast! Tomorrow is my Level 3 exam at Big Sky. I have been fortunate enough to have had the most incredible week possible leading up to this, taking the two with Steve and Greg as examiners, then teaching a full day at Bridger with one client, so I got to really focus on MA for him, and then the last two days, I have been skiing with Squatty (the trainer of DOOOOOoooom from Aspen) while he coached Epic Ski. It was just what I needed, two days with someone who really believes in me, who coaches so simply and beautifully, and tells me immediately "That ain't it" if it ain't.

I finally feel happy, confident and totally prepared for this exam. The nice thing about that is, if what i have is enough, I'll pass. If not, WOW, its been a great year.

On that note, it took a LOT of people to take someone who couldn't even SKI last February to being a viable candidate for the three this year, and I just want to say thank you so much for your love, time, confidence, faith, tolerance, and belief in me. I wanted to make a little slide show of everyone's face, but It's almost 11 and I have to be on the snow at 8 for Wedge Christie practice!!

SO: in no particular order, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tom, Ethan and Bodhi
Bridger Bowl Ski School office staff (Sonjia, Lorie and Peggy... wow...)
Bonnie Hickey
All the people who took my shifts while I was traveling training (wow, its a long list, and thank you!!!!)
Michael Hickey
Josh Spuhler
Shannon Griffen
Megan Harvey
Rob Sogard
Katie Fry
Reilly McGlashen
Steve Hill
Bob Barnes
Weems Westfeld
Mermer Blakesly
The crew at Lost Trail!! (Josh! and Josh's MOM!)
Doug Monger
Jeff Abelain
Rick Wollum
Ric Belvans
Dave Casto
Karen Kirk
Alissa Eliot
Jeff Abelin
Doug Monger
Randy Wall
Neil Lande
Alex Sweeny
Ben Roberts
The gang at the PSIA Progression Session at Hood
Beth Howe
Anita Gat
Liat Gat
Jill Imsand
Dr. Backer
Dr. Litel
Big Sky (Troy!) thanks for the ticket exchange for full cert and full time, that's been really helpful!!

The list is just growing and growing in my head and its getting later and later... So I am off to bed now, and more thank yous tomorrow, but whatever happens,