Thursday, May 8, 2008

PSIA National Academy at Snowbird 2008 was OFF THE HOOK!

This April marked the end of my first full year of dedicated skiing. And I really can’t think of a more intense and incredible way to end it than an ENORMOUS road trip, starting in Aspen on April 9, and ending in Los Angeles on May 11. It has been a tremendous ride.

I am so sorry that my computer died and I couldn’t post in real time as the try outs and academy were happening, but we are back on line now, and you can expect daily (or nearly daily) posts going forward!

This summer is chock full of adventures as well, which I will post about, including a photo shoot in the Teetons, several trips to the Beartooth wilderness, and quite possibly house hunting in Aspen in August.

The National Academy began in style, with Alisa and I pulling into the Cliff Lodge two days early at exactly the same moment as our friends Schanzy, Andy, and Kurt, who drove a Skico van out from Aspen.

Needless to say, we were all amped to be at Snowbird, and a fun and fantastic night was had by all. Kurt, being the animal that he is, RAN to Alta the next morning at 6 and then hauled all our sorry buts out of bed to go skiing at 9am. It was glorious, sunny, warm, the mountain was huge and filled in, the snow was firm, but not awful. It was great to be out without any clinic or anything to do, just skiing with friends in the sun, and then hit the hot tub.

That night was registration and group selection. I started out in Schanzy’s group, but Megan grabbed me and said, “You can ski with that clown any time. Come over here.” And she put me with Michael Rogan, who I have never skied with before. WOW, that ended up being an amazing thing. Amazing.

The next morning we went out, and I found out why everyone says that Michael is sort of the unofficial captain of the group. His coaching energy is unending and totally sincere. He has the ability to almost conjure performance out of a client, telling it like it is, and asking for more, without ever making you feel like you aren’t enough. This man has mad skilz, as it were.

We started that morning with the idea of extension, traveling along the length of the ski, to make sure it is a directional movement rather than a pop. Patience, Kate, PATIENCE!! Allow the tips to seek the fall line.

I had been wondering why I was starting turns srong on an early edge, and then loosing power off of the ski, only to find it again in the apex of the turn. It turns out, I was moving too far inside too fast. Back to that old video post that Shannon and I made in Aspen in February. I stand by it. It truly is what you need to do in any turn. Travel the length of the ski, subtle directional movement to patiently load the outside ski, so the pressure increases over the duration of the turn. So simple. So difficult!

After that session, we had electives, and the next afternoon, I had carving with Deb Armstrong. Working along the SAME LINES as Michael, Deb had me work on not giving away my power by transferring a BABY amount of weight to the uphill foot at the transition of the turn, and then envisioning the turn cut up into corridors. I’ll make a drawing about this later, the concept of directed energy was so phenomenal, when I got it, I felt my ski load and bend like it never has before. I have never EVER felt so comfortable and stable and in control going so so so fast.

The next day was the all day elective. And I took the Drills for Skills segment for the US ski team, and got to ski with Ellen Post Foster, which was awesome. We skied in front of Steve Nyman, a member of the US ski team, who gave us incredible feed back.

I finally got to race in a full course of gates. It felt awesome. Something about the concept of where you enter and exit the turn, the idea of arcing back to the gate and finding the line just completely resonated with me. I had demo’d a pair of Elan GS skis, and was just as happy as a clam on this rock hard icy snow, carving and feeling the ski move under me. I never wanted it to end. When the line felt right, it was like riding a smooth arcing wave down the hill, with no panic or fast moves. It felt like I had time, plenty of time, and it was all just trajectory. I loved it.

When I returned them, I talked with Scotty, who offered me Elan/Dalbello sponsorship, which was amazing, and now I have a choice to make between Technica/Blizzard and Elan/Dalbello. I am so grateful and beholden to these amazing people who are helping me reach my goal!

The guys in my group, and the one other girl, Emily Smith from Big Sky, ended up being super fun to ski with all week, just a happy, hard working bunch of excellent skiers. I have a series of interviews with these guys which I will post in a bit as I slog through all the events and information from the last five weeks!!

That first night at the Academy, the new Marketing Director for PSIA National, Andy Hawk, had presented the Movement Matrix with Rob Sogard (the national teams coach), which is a truly phenomenal learning tool. The database of video hours is filling rapidly! If you haven’t seen it yet, you HAVE to check it out. During the presentation, Rob kept pulling up videos in which my coach from the week, Mike Rogan, had introduced the segment.

“Hi, I’m Michael Rogan from the PSIA National Alpine Team”. After the fifth or sixth time that Andy and Rob showed this at the dinner, Michael was hiding in his sweatshirt hood out of embarrassment, and I saw an opening that I just couldn’t let pass. For the rest of the week, Cindy Lechtenburg, of Aspen Highlands, and I video taped EVERYONE we could find saying “Hi, I’m Michael Rogan of the PSIA National Alpine Team”, and at the closing banquet, we inserted the video in between all the photos from the week. TOO much fun! I will post them here for your viewing pleasure!!

Oh, and of course, I also duct taped shiny red pom poms on Nick Herrin's poles because he is SUCH an awesome cheer leader, but he didn't ski with them. He took them off in the tram. But I think we MAY have a chance to see him ski with them some time soon!! Keep your fingers crossed!!

Also at academy, I sat down with Andy Hawk and re-pitched the full cert free ride idea, which he seemed very interested in. I also suggested that all instructors at Academy need to be in an Academy uniform, which they should get to keep, so that the Demo Team guys can put their patch on it, and the international guys can put their patches on it, but that the alum can put team year patches on their coats, so everyone looks as valuable as everyone else.

Andy asked if I’d like to be on the PSIA Membership Marketing Task Force, and of course, I jumped all over that! He also asked if I would be the face of the National Membership Recruiting Campaign, which was flattering and lovely, and after some thought, I said yes to that as well. Later, Andy told me that they were linking this blog to the National site! How totally exciting is that??? What a week.

I also got to take a steeps and bumps clinic from Kurt and see him teach for the first time, it was SO fun. He has this amazingly dry and honest sense of humor, and an almost zen like quality on his skis, it was an honor to watch him spark his group, and ski till 4:30, when he could have been done an hour earlier.

To make a long story short, the Academy was an invaluable experience. My skiing changed dramatically every day, in a way that stuck and made sense. Skiing with the Captian was incredible and inspiring, and working with Deb before she stepped off the team was amazing as well. I learned some hard lessons from Schanzy, who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, and made good friends. I can’t wait for next year!

Check back soon for videos of Mike Rogan, a photo album from Academy, and interviews with some of the academy participants. Thanks for your patience while I catch up!!


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