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!!!