Friday, October 3, 2008

What I did on my Skis that I've Never Done Before!

Thanks for your patience! Here, at long last, is the FINAL DAY of Race camp! Look for the whole story in the Winter issue of 32 Degrees Magazine!

On the last day, we have our first race, and by now, my pole guards are all marked up from bashing into the gates, and I have my focus for the day, I MUST stop squaring to my ski tips and following them all around every turn, its causing MOST of the current issues in my skiing.

We take our warm up runs. Its bullet proof today, and I am grateful for the icy conditions we were skiing in at Academy, I feel more comfortable on ice than I ever have, although for me, that means that on the last icy day, I figured out how to make a turn that doesn’t slide for the first time on ice, and I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with the beautiful demo Elan skis that I was on, with a sweet, fresh race tune!

So here I am, taking my warm up runs, and I notice to my frustration that no matter the fact that I finally understand the mechanics of a strong inside half, and that I finally understand HOW to keep my body from squaring to my ski tips in such a short, fast dynamic turn on steepish terrain, and I understand WHY it is important to break this habit, I can’t do it.

And I’m trying to stay present, and just analyze as I ski down, why? Why am I unable to get my body to be appropriately open to the hill??? After you pass midstation on the Palmer lift, the terrain flattens out, and you can ski down the “mile” to the bottom of Palmer. As the terrain flattened, my body stopped squaring, and I started making turns with less effort. As I was staying open to the hill, I was able to more easily keep my inside hip leveling to the snow surface, and moving forward without giving me a massive tip lead. Because of this, and proper body mechanics in my spine from earlier in the week, my ski was not unweighting in the apex of the turn and diverging, leaving me stranded on my inside ski and classically “in and back”.

What the HECK is going on here? It feels SO good! I’m excited, so I hop back on the lift and look forward to my last warm up run before the race, I feel exhilarated, like I’ve unlocked something that will change my skiing forever… and I start down from the top again, and… it’s gone. I stop every 10 turns, because I was gaining speed so much, and try again. Speed control. Turn shape. Good mechanics. Discipline. I can’t do it. Boy, I REALLY don’t like to say that!

And then the terrain flattens out again and… I’m doing it! And as pass the last SLOW sign, it hits me. I’m scared! That’s why I’m squaring to my tips! It’s self preservation! OH! I had NO idea!! I thought perhaps I just didn’t have the strength or coordination to make all the moves happen in time, or that it was just technically beyond me on steeper, faster terrain, it never even OCCURRED to me that it was mental.

And now that I know THAT… I ski up to Dave with a huge grin on my face. I’m so so excited to try it again from the top, because on the chair lift, I had a little talk with myself and convinced myself that if I’m squaring to my skis for self preservation, it’s actually hurting me, not helping me, just like skiing in the back seat gives you less control and more fatigue.

Dave sees the excitement and tells me, “Go! Go do it!” As I ski by him, I say, “Dave, I know why I was squaring, I was SCARED!” and he smiles, and nods and says, “Yes!” and I answer, as I line up at the gate, “I had NO idea!”

And then, I proceeded to have the run of my life. I hit every gate. I was over my feet most of the time. I didn’t have to fight the line, it just flowed. I was not late. I was not scared. My outside ski stayed weighted, both skis were bending, my pelvis was leveling and my hip was forward. Because of that, I could focus on the line, on continuing to move down the hill, I skied the line and pulled up next to Dave who had gone down and watched it from below. He turns to me.

“That’s good skiing, Kate.”

I’m completely floored. “I don’t care who you are, that right there was Good Skiing. You got tossed around a bit, but that’s Slalom. Good job. Really good skiing.”

I am ecstatic, I wish I had it on video so I could see what the sensations I was feeling actually look like!

This, of course, happened at about 12:30 on our last day… why oh WHY do breakthroughs always happen when the lifts are about to close on the last day? Maybe that’s what keeps me coming back, I can’t wait to see if what I learned stuck, if I can reproduce it, and build on it the next time I’m out there.

I can’t recommend this camp experience enough, and now, MOM, you have no excuse, because the Timberline Lodge is building child care!

Bring your kids, there’s tons to do, Oregon is beautiful, the camp is incredible, and if you don’t have gear, its surprising how many people will loan you stuff, and if you want your own and don’t know what to get, you can get kitted up from head to toe right in Govy!

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