Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Suzie Fox skis black diamond bumps at Bridger Bowl!

Check THIS chick out! I love skiing with Susie, we always have an awesome day of it, and, of course, any boys who end up sharing the tripple chair with us immediately regret it because we are a total giggle gabbing factory up there! To be fair, we warn them... but I'm pretty sure they wish they could jump off about half way up Pierre's.

Susie did an AWESOME job today, went from way in the back seat with an occasional wedge and very straight back to learning to move forward and across her skis, she found her center of mass and we played with it all day (giggle giggle).

We got off the blue groomers and into the bumps by the end of the day, and since Deer Park was closed due to wind, and South Bowl was TOO EASY for her, we skied the gnarliest bump run at Bridger, Last Chance! To see more video of Susie, click here!

Oh, and caveat: the bump footage was at the VERY end of a VERY hard day of skiing, so the previous run was prettier, but we are BOTH psyched at how well she managed to ski this run for the THIRD TIME on tired legs!! GO GIRL!!

Avalanche Warning

Be careful out there, the avi danger is still very high! Here is this morning's bulletin from the GNFAC, read the part about the snowmobiles, its important to remember run out zones are dangerous, too!


The southern Gallatin Range, the southern Madison Range, the mountains near West Yellowstone and the Lionhead Area, the mountains near Cooke City, and the Washburn Range:

The southern mountains finally got a reprieve from snowfall yesterday. But things were not quiet. Skiers and snowmobilers triggered slides around Cooke City. Republic, Henderson, Fisher, Miller and Scotch Bonnet Peaks all had slab avalanches release in the last 48 hours. A snowmobiler got buried. Outside West Yellowstone the mountains had many crowns lacing the ridgelines from natural avalanche activity. The snowpack is extremely sensitive and you’ll find avalanches again today.

Yesterday, three snowmobilers were sitting on the flats below the south face of Crown Butte outside Cooke City. They had their sleds turned off when another rider on an adjacent hill unknowingly triggered the slope above them. They fired up their machines and full throttled out, but one rider’s snowmobile took one pull too many and he lost the race with the avalanche. He was tumbled for 100 yards. He was wearing an ABS airbag pack as well as a beacon. When he pulled the handle of the ABS it broke off in his hand without deploying! As soon as the slide stopped his two partners saw the ski and skid plate of the sled sticking out of the snow, rushed over and found a glove and boot wiggling frantically. They dug him up and the buried rider was ok. Even though they were in the flats, they were exposed to the runout zone of the avalanche path above them. This close call is a reminder to be extra careful since its dangerous to even be near avalanche terrain right now. We are continuing the Avalanche Warning since avalanches are likely and a HIGH danger exists on all slopes in the southern mountains.

The Bridger, northern Madison and northern Gallatin Ranges:

The northern mountains have weak and unstable snow buried a few feet under the surface. Wind-loaded slopes in the Bridger Range avalanched in the past few days while ski patrols also triggered slides on the buried facets. Yesterday, on Lone Peak’s south face, the Big Sky Ski Patrol got good results on avalanche control in an area that’s been closed to the public. They had wind slabs up to 6 feet deep avalanche on faceted snow near the ground. A ski patroller was caught in one of these slides when the cornice broke behind him. After a long ride he emerged on top of the debris uninjured. Skiers also reported weak and unstable snow in the Hyalite drainage, Mt Ellis, Chestnut Mt in the northern Gallatins, and in Truman Gulch on the west side of the Bridgers. For today, a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger exists on all slopes recently wind-loaded as well as slopes steeper than 35 degrees. Lower angled slopes have a MODERATE danger.


Like an After School Special, today’s advisory has some valuable lessons. Stay back from cornices; even flat terrain can be deadly; have your sled running and pointed away from steep slopes; and even if you’ve got an ABS airbag, always wear a beacon.

Ron will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call or send us an email with your observations. You can reach us at 587-6984 or at

Bodhi Skied Today!

I had no idea that they made it up on the mountain today, but they did! My super awesome mom took both my kids up, and Bridger Bowl's amazing staff took care of them all day. Ethan bombed around the mountain with Shelby, an incredible skier who is really terrific with kids, this is her first year teaching at Bridger, and Bodhi was with the amazing, patient and encouraging Connor today.

I'm psyched, because while Ethan loves to ski, he's always been a bit of a taker-offer, which drives everyone insane, and this year he told me that one day he wants to ski the grand, "Just like Bill Briggs did when he was young, mom." So I told him to do that one day, he has to be able to make REALLY REALLY good parallel turns, and stay with and listen to his teacher. Lets hope it works!

Bodhi was awesome on his skis last year, he has a really natural way of standing on them, and great balance, but he was afraid of crashing after a kid in play care went down hard, and came in crying early in the season, so we only skied in a hula hoop a few times last year.

Mom got him in his gear, Ethan convinced him to put on his skis, and he actually went into lessons and participated this year! YAY!! At about 2, Dave pulled him out of the group, and I guess Bodhi colored in the office for the rest of the afternoon, so I officially owe Connor a six pack and the office staff some cookies or treats of some kind!

I'm so very excited, I'm amazed that he finally FINALLY got into his gear and into a class, that's HUGE! Thanks, mom, for taking the time and having the patience, and thanks Connor, Shelby and Dave!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bomb Bomb BOOOOM!

photo by
So, they were bombing the HECK out of Bridger Bowl this morning, I don't think I've ever heard so many explosives in the whole entire two and a half years I've been skiing. (har har). The bombs were going off until at least 11:30 this morning!

Just wanted to say thank you to the awesome Ski Patrol who go out there and get it done, working hard to keep our super steep and difficult ski area as safe as possible for us!

For a VERY COOL video of our ski patrol at work firing the BIG GUN, go here!

Felix skis Bridger Bowl

So this is little six year old Felix, who has been a cross country ski racer since he was two. This is his second day back on Alpine skis, and WOW, did we pick up right where we left off last year and just keep goin! Keep your eyes peeled on the X Country events in the Olympics in like 15 years, this kid is smart, an awesome student, and just, you know, a little athletic. And really fun to ski with! (Pardon the cruddy commentary, I was watching him ski and not really listening to myself prattle on...)

Experts ONLY - Marie Claire skis Deer Park Face at Bridger Bowl

So I didn't realize that I was skiing around with an actress! This wunderkid is super psyched to be on the stage, and trust me, she has the personality to pull it off. We skied Thunder Road, working on mechanics, then went out and hit Deer Park Face, a SUPER STEEP bump run, and worked on leg steering. To see video of MC skiing like a rock star, check out this link. Thanks for a great day, Kiddo! It was a blast to ski with you!

A Better Sudent Makes a Better Teacher

Here's an article I am working on on the very difficult task of chucking your ego out the window so you can become a better student. There's more in the series, one that follows this is... "Yes, but HOW?"

“You need to stop dropping your hand” your clinician says to you.

Internally, you answer; “But I wasn’t, or I did, but only on the two turns that you saw! And I’ve been working on my hands.”

You may feel several emotions with this internal monologue, anger, frustration, like you’ve been short changed, not honored for your hard work, misunderstood, and as thought the clinician thinks you are a much poorer skier than you feel you really are.

But let’s take a second here. If the clinician saw you drop your hand in two turns, that means that during those two turns, your hand was in a less than optimal position. Lets say that you have been working on your hands for just this reason, It’s been mentioned to you, you are aware of it. It’s the thing you are working on in your skiing.

So its frustrating that you’ve been working so hard to make this change in your skiing, and the one thing the clinician says to you is not, “Wow, you’ve been improving your skiing! You are doing a much better job with your hands, but I saw them drop twice in that run. Try to remember to keep them ahead of your midline and soft and quiet. Keep working on it, it’s much better!” but “Keep your hand up.”

What you are experiencing in this moment, most likely, is the presence of your ego. Ego is defined several ways, in the west we tend to think of someone as “having a big ego” meaning they think a lot of themselves. The “all that and a bag of chips” syndrome.

For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to use a more Eastern definition of Ego, one that does not imply negative connotations. It simply is. It is a part of human consciousness, and in many philosophies, the goal is to eliminate the Ego in order to be able to be open to Truth. How in the WORLD this applies to skiing is coming, just hang with me here for a second.

In eastern philosophies, the Ego is seen as the idea of you as a separate “I” or self. When we believe that having our selves validated, the thing you wish the clinician had told you, is just and deserved. You earned that validation, and before you will accept the teachings, the teacher must placate that desire for validation. Even if it’s just a nod, a smile, something, we all search for it.

That searching enforces the idea of “I” or “self”, and puts a block between you and your ability to absorb information. Your Ego is a wall, an obstacle between you and the thing you are trying to accomplish, to become a better skier. You are actively standing in the way of your own progress, because you are unable to receive teaching like a master student: you are a sponge, opening your ears as wide as you can to catch any wisdom that may fall through the net of your mind.

Now, what if you personally think this clinician is a total dip sh*t and you don’t understand what they are saying, or agree with half of it? What if you have a lot of training and the way this clinician is either critiquing your skiing or teaching their clinic is becoming personally offensive to you?

Your Ego is in the way of you becoming a better Clinician yourself, or a better teacher, and you certainly are not learning anything right now, which means you are standing in the way of your own goal, again.

Yes, you may be technically correct. The person teaching the clinic may be giving information that is confusing to you, or contradictory to what you believe. This makes it hard to receive. You may start looking around for compatriots in the group: does anyone else feel the way that I do? You make eye contact, give a nod or a raised eyebrow. You have now completely tuned out your teacher in your attempt to validate your desire to know that you are right, you are feeding your Ego.

What if you could challenge yourself to actively set aside your Ego? What if you took the moment that hurt the most, the moment you wanted to justify “Yeah, I know, my hand dropped for those two turns, but it was up the rest of the time, I’ve been working hard on that.” And asked your self to follow this path instead:

“My hand was down when my teacher saw me.
I joined this clinic and therefore accepted that whoever is teaching me has wisdom to share.
I will now set aside my ego, open my ears and swallow my pride.

If my hand was down, that means it drops, which means I need to work on it more. I choose to take this comment as something that I need to change in my skiing, and since that is why I am here, to improve my skiing, I will accept this comment with an open heart.

I put aside the feelings that are fighting to protect my ego, set my ego aside, and challenge myself to be grateful for the accurate feedback that I am receiving.”

NOW, and ONLY now, are you ready to apply and ask for change in your skiing.

Think about what you could do in your skiing if you were able to set aside your ego whenever you wanted to learn a new skill. Your learning curve would never level off, because you would always be open to new sources of knowledge and new levels of understanding, you would never be bored, because you would always be challenging yourself to set aside your ego to take the lesson.

Now, this may seem really touchey-feely navel gazing to many people. But again, I ask… if you wish you could rip with the best of them, but currently, you don’t ski as well as you dream you could, and you were able to realize that the thing standing in between you and skiing like you dream you can is your own ego, that part of you that can only hear information from certain sources, distrusts information from other sources, and needs to be validated as separate, “I”, self, you might be motivated to give this a try.

Here’s the rub. We all have an ego. It will come and go, your ability to set it aside will come and go, you will fall victim to it when “surprise attacked”, especially by certain types of individuals, those folks who just rub you the wrong way for no particular reason, or maybe for a very particular reason.

photo by TheOtherPeteOne of the most difficult times for me to set aside my ego in skiing was luckily early on in my skiing career. It was the end of my first season, March, and I’d been teaching for about two months. I was out for my very first Ridge Hike with Josh Spohler and Joe Krakker. I was not a very good skier, but I really wanted to be.

I hiked up the bootpack nervous as hell with sweat dripping off of me. I’d been hiking all summer, so I thought I was in pretty good shape. I was ten steps up and getting my ass kicked. I’d never worn skis on my back before, my goggles had slipped off my helmet, which I had stupidly left on. My ego drove me to hike faster than I could handle, so my heart was pounding, I was not oxygenating my blood because I was totally anaerobic, so I was fatiguing my muscles at more than twice the rate I could have, had I just slowed down a bit.

But I was grateful that Josh and Joe were willing to take me up to the Ridge, and I didn’t want them to regret it by having to wait for me. Of course, they both knew exactly what was going on, I could hear them talking.

“So what do you think, the Apron? Or the Nose? Or Z?”.

“Not Z. With legs? Don’t you think?”

They were speaking in a short hand, trying to protect my feelings, but I knew that they knew that I was suffering, and I was pissed because of it. I want to be strong! I don’t want to be a sweaty, lame girl.

Then some dude hiked by me in the snow off the boot pack, because I hadn’t thought to pull over and let the stack of people piling up behind me go, and he looked at my bright red face, my goggles steamed and askew, all my layers stripped and hung variously around my waist and neck and skis… and he says, “Gee, you are kind of a mess, aren’t you!”

Yeah, thanks, buddy, that helps.

Realizing that it was obvious to everyone that I was a total gaper and a junk show, I pulled over, and could feel the lactic acid burning through my legs, I could feel how heavy and shaky they were. I had no idea how I was going to ski down, and really, I’ve never skied in powder before. I mean, I’d momentarily hopped off the groomed, but I’d never been in waist-deep, bottomless powder on a steep pitch before.

Josh and Joe took me down the most direct route from where we topped out, thank god, but if my ego wasn’t burning yet, the best was to come.

There was a huge crowd of people at the top of the ridge, and fresh powder to be had everywhere, it was a beautiful bluebird day. By the time I’d got all my gear back on, my legs were still shaking and I was still overheating from the hike, but Josh and Joe had been standing on the top for what felt like 20 minutes at least cooling off, and I knew they wanted to go skiing.

Josh asked me how I was doing, and, letting my ego answer for me, I replied “Great! Lets Go!” My legs, however, could have used another two minutes and another quart of water.

Josh dropped in and did about three turns. He’d been patiently holding my gear, coaching me up the boot pack, chilling me out, supporting me, and telling me I was doing well. He was trying to coach me into not being embarrassed about being slow and sweaty and lame. He was trying, whether he knew it or not, to teach me to set aside my ego so I could just experience what was happening in the now.

I was standing at the top, they’d made a plan that Joe would follow, presumably to put together the junk show that might appear somewhere on the run.

I made one turn. One. And exploded. I must have been as far back in the back seat as one can get, and turned my skis completely across the fall line, going ass over teakettle, loosing ALL my gear, both skis… a total and complete catastrophe. One turn. When I came up out of the snow, I heard it. Josh was laughing. No, Josh was howling. His head was thrown back, his face was red, he was genuinely belly laughing at me. Then, off the ridge, “New kid, Josh?”

And Josh, back at them, as he began hiking up to me, “Yup, we like to make em explode as early as possible now!” laugh laugh, hike, hike hike, and still, here I am, kind of frozen.

I have a choice here. I can let my burning pride rise up inside of me, and allow my ego to take over, protecting me from embarrassment, hurt, and harm, or, I can open my ears and my heart to the lesson that my teacher might be teaching me right now. I chose to do this hike with Josh. I asked him to take me off the ridge. I asked him to teach me. Up to this point, he has been taking spectacular care of me, even thought I’ve been trying to pretend that I don’t need any help at all. Why would I choose NOT to listen to this teacher?

What is the lesson, right here, in the place where it hurts the most, in public, as an ass on my face. The lesson is, its funny. I fell over in the snow after my first turn. This is going to be a long freakin’ run, I’m in over my head, but I’m not hurt, and I get to have an adventure, an experience, that not everyone gets to have. I get to hike up (part of) a mountain, and then ski off the tippy top of it with two spectacularly talented skiers and teachers.

This thought flashed across my mind and I looked at how hard I’d been working to get up the boot pack, to suck it up, how badly I wanted to be a bad ass killer kick butt skier, and the reality of how far I was from that. I felt proud of my work ethic, sheepish about my overestimation of my ability, pleased that Josh took me anyway, and found humor in my ridiculous yard sale. A real and true laugh escaped from me, as I shook my head while Josh built a platform, and got me back into my gear.

Needless to say, it took a ridiculously long time to get down, Josh built a ridiculous number of platforms while I re-collected myself over and over again. I was never so grateful to see the Alpine road in my LIFE. I was sure we were done, that I’d proven to be way too much of a goober to go ski anything else, and Josh turns to me, “Game for more?” a minorly evil smile on his face.

You bet. I was ready, really ready, psyched and pumped, but open to coaching, finally. My ego took so many spills down that top run that I was gratified to be invited along for more, and then I set that aside as an ego-feeding feeling and just went skiing. They took off through the trees and out to the boundary of the meadow, and I learned a lot, about skiing, about myself, about learning, and about how far I have to go as a student, a teacher, and a person who is practicing loosing ego.

Of course, I still suffer from it. We all do. Of course, there are times when I want to correct the person who I feel has made an assumption about me. I want to defend myself, to prove myself. These are my unique emotions that are tied to my sense of self, they are the seat of my ego.

But the greatest challenge is also the biggest reward. When that urge is at its strongest, it comes with a reminder: you learned to find humor in hurt, open your ears and listen to the teacher. Set ego aside and listen, you might learn something.” I repeat this mantra to myself during almost all my training, during lessons, clinics, free skiing, hiking up hard stuff. I repeat this mantra with my mother and with my sisters, with people I’ve just met and people who feel they know me well.

Every time I have the discipline to set my sense of protective self aside, I learn something. Today, I learned from my three year old client that pink light feels like magic. I also learned that I can solve my still-existent powder problem by standing against my platform wherever it is in the turn rather than panicking and trying to create an emergency platform to crouch against.

There were a host of other lessons that are kind of ripple effects of setting aside ego in a learning environment, but my favorite as they apply to skiing are these:

When you challenge yourself to set aside your ego and open your ears to the teaching, no matter the source, or your apparent human emotions, when you create just the smallest amount of space internally, just a titch of distance from the thing sparking your ego, you become a sponge for knowledge. And then, you can truly ask your body to perform the task the teacher is requiring of you. If your ego isn’t standing in your way, your body can do what you want it to, the directions have clarity.

Another great effect of this practice is that in setting aside your ego, you create an atmosphere that fosters community. The locker room becomes a non-judgmental place, where people of all abilities are simply on their own paths, working towards getting better at balancing on their skis so they can have more fun playing in the snow. Suddenly, there is a group working together, rather than factions talking behind backs.

This is not to suggest that you have to agree with every statement a teacher makes to you. This is to ask that you set aside ego, open your ears, and catch whatever wisdom you can find. Then, go fill out a clinician evaluation. Your honest, real, NON ego driven report will help the trainer to evaluate how the clinician is truly operating, and he won’t have to put your evaluation through a “filter.” (Oh, this person said this because they don’t like this clinician, therefore, your comments, which may be valid, are totally ignored, and no change is made.)

If you can begin this practice, you will become a master student, able to truly absorb every drop of teaching and wisdom you can get close to, and then ask your body to sort through the information and process it. Your learning curve stays steep, you improve, you empower others around you to improve, and you help the program itself to improve, because the truth you tell in your evaluations is not ego driven.

This suggestion is the foundation for excellence as a student. And, as we all know from our deep dedication to Kung-Fu films, excellence as a student is needed if one wants to become a master, and then a teacher. True Mastry can only be achieved if one can achieve excellence as a teacher.

Thanks for stopping to gaze at your navel for a moment with me, and good luck with your quest!

Mike Hickey shreds up South Bowl!

I saw him in the air MORE THAN ONCE today, but wasn't quick enough. Here's my Zen Master, Michael Hickey of the '76 National Alpine Demo Team doing what he does best.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Teton AT pulls photos under pressure from Jackson Hole Resort after Headwall Avalanche

UPDATE: Man, I wish I'd grabbed that whole article and posted it to my blog like I was thinking of doing, the photos were incredible. Apparently at some point today, Teton AT came under some legal pressure and was forced to remove the rest of the photos they had put up of snow in the restaurants, snow up against the building, the site where the patrolers were pinned, and the windows bowing in under the pressure of the snow.

The article, which
was really well written, honest and important, to show just how dangerous and unpredictable the snowpack can really be, has also been re-written and truncated.

As a blogger who has been censored myself in the past, I just want to say to the guys at Teton AT: I think your photos were important and good for the general public to look at, and that your article was accurate and an equally important reminder of what can happen, no matter how much avalanche control you think you can do.

Here is RandoSteve's reply to the huge outcry that he had to remove those photos from his blog:

Thank you for your comments.

I, like you, am not happy about the currently situation, but unfortunately since I was wearing my TCSAR hat while I was there, and we were called to help by JHMR, I feel the need to respect their wishes. It is a very small town and I try to do what’s right. I know the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t like it when I post TCSAR related photographs, but I felt the need to get these images out so strong, I couldn’t NOT post them…even risking my membership to the TCSAR organization in the process. Skier’s, both backcountry and resort, HAVE to see the power of avalanches and the resulting devastation…especially when it is currently under our feet when we go into the mountains. Unfortunately, I began to get some heat from some of the ski patrollers and JHMR itself, never mind the SO, so I pulled the pictures. It’s hard to please everyone in life and a small town makes it even harder. If I have offended anyone in the process, I am sorry. -Steve

Headwall at Jackson Hole Slid

photo from Teton AT
From Teton AT:

If you’re not afraid of skiing at the resort or the backcountry yet, this might change your mind. And if you haven’t hugged your neighborhood JHMR ski patroller yet…you better…because it’s amazing no one died or was seriously injured in this avalanche. I would hate to be in the shoes of the ski patrol and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort administration right now.

For more visit Teton AT or The Snaz.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the photos that got pulled:

Avalanche Warning


ISSUED ON DECEMBER 29 2008 AT 6:30 am

The full advisory will be posted at 7:30 am

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center is issuing a Backcountry Avalanche Warning for the southern Gallatin and southern Madison Ranges, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone, and the mountains around Cooke City. New snow and strong winds have loaded an extremely weak snowpack. Today the avalanche danger is HIGH on all slopes. Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely. Avalanche terrain including avalanche runout zones should be avoided.

You are urged to call the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory for more detailed information.

Bozeman, Livingston, Cooke City and West Yellowstone………406-587-6981

Information is also available at the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center’s Web site at:

This warning will either be terminated or updated by 6:30 AM on December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Carrie, Kevin, Jack, Emma, Mary-Claire ski Brider Bowl!

Thanks for a great morning skiing, guys! Sorry you can't hear the commentary very well on the video, but you all made terrific changes today! Good Job!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Santa flew over our house! Every year we hear the sleigh bells outside going RIGHT past our house at about 7:45, and the kids sprint to bed, which is great, it leaves us adults a lot of time to wrap presents and drink Baileys. Tonight was no different, we were RIGHT in the middle of some great xmas stories when suddenly, while mom was out getting wood, sure enough they heard the sleigh bells LOUD AND CLEAR!

Have happy holidays everyone!!

Love, Kate, Tom, Ethan, Bodhi, Savta and Auntie Beth! (Aunt A Lot was listening for the sleigh bells North of town tonight...) Thanks very much to my loverly sister for playing Santa this year, and to a couple of last minute gigs, things worked out in good way. Wish I'd had time to bake cookies and send them to everyone! But have a great holiday season and a happy New Year!!

Hank Skis Bridger Bowl!

I had the absolute pleasure to ski with Hank for the last two days. This awesome 11 year old kid came to me hanging on to his wedge, and left skiing bumps down Last Chance, Deer Park Face, South Bowl and ripping up Thunder Road. Welcome to the Black Diamond Club, kid, you are a rock star!

Hank shreds Last Chance, Bridger's gnarliest bump run, FROM THE TOP off Flippers, into the gut. Way to go, kiddo!

Hank Carving it up on Thunder Road

Hank skis South Bowl!

First ride up Slauchman's Lift at Bridger!

Rick Wollum gave us a great tour of this 300 new acres of double black diamond terrain. TOO MUCH FUN!!! Thanks, Rick!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gear I Love

Sometimes I get some emails about what gear I am using and how I am liking it, so I've updated the "Gear I Use" section. There's more to come, I have some Avy gear to write reveiws about and some clothing, but for now, Enjoy!

Skiing Gear:

All Mountain
Elan Magfire 12 07/08 164'm on the Elan Magfire 12 with WaveFlex technology from 07/08, and I LOVE THIS SKI! It's heavy. It's hella heavy, actually, but I like that its a crud buster that way. Wide enough that its not a total torpedo, I hike in the back country with these in places like the Beartooths where you are just shouldering and lapping. Rob Sogard told me, train heavy, don't be a pussy and carry your back country skis if you are out for less than a day. Yes, sir. If I'm bootpacking, it's with my nimble little freight trains.

These skis are incredibly springy, responsive, I have sensation right from the tip, the transmission through the binding is outstanding, the binding is flat, not ramped, so it doesn't screw with my angles at all... I'm in a 164, and when I put them on, it seriously changed my skiing.

People have asked me if its the gear that did it, and my answer is, this is the first time that I'd put on a ski and didn't feel like I had to have a discussion with it. Or an argument. I moved my foot, I felt the tip and tail, the ski did what I was hoping it would do. Because of this, I didn't have to worry so much about my feet and could start focusing more on my other body mechanics, and made some serious movement pattern changes in a relatively short amount of time, which was awesome.

This is the ski that made me want to ride for Elan forever.

For more reviews on Gear I Use and Love, and for Gear Reviews in general, click Here!

Happy holidays!

The boys decorate the used they just cut down in Hyalite with tom. merry merry!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Schlasman's Terrain at Bridger

So the Schlasman'slift ran today, I didn't get up there, because I was clinicing (YAY!), but the word is, the skiing is awesome. It needs a bit more coverage, Michael found a rock and got a core shot that was about 3" long! But I heard it was epic. Latest was the lift won't be open this weekend, and due to extreme cold, Bridger will open at 10:30 tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

When Girls Dream of Tuning Kits...

Currently drooling and saving pennies for this awesome system that I got to use in Aspen, the set up makes the angle SO true and accurate, it was AWESOME! I looked it up on line, though and can't find it anywhere! Anyone wanna tell a newbie where I can find this monster of accuracy and ease?

Lindsay Vonn's Awesome Save

Watch Lindsay Vonn SAVE IT!

LEVI, Finland (Nov. 18) - With Saturday's slalom victory in Finland, Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) became the first American woman to win in four separate World Cup disciplines with giant slalom the only notch missing from her belt. However, what may be more incredible is the fact that she had a near-miraculous recovery when, 52 seconds into her second run, she came almost completely to a halt in order to make a difficult gate turn and win the race.

To read the full article, click here!

Thomas track therapy.

Bodhi uses almost every piece! And let me tell you, this is NO small feat, there is MATH involved. I think we ended up with only five unused pieces. Impressive. Bodhi wants Thomas stuff from Santa. Good to know. here I thought we were done with it!

Full Cert Free Ride Petition for Non-Facebook Types!

WHEW! I did it! Okay, there is now a:

PSIA Facebook Group

Full Cert Free Ride Facebook Group

Full Cert Free Ride Sign the Petition

Full Cert Free Ride Website with more info

So if you AREN'T on Facebook, but like the idea of adding your voice to this grassroots proposal, there are several ways to get involved!

Thanks for hangin' in there while I get it all streamlined, this thing is a beast, and that's GOOD! If you are a member of the Facebook Group Full Cert Free Ride, you don't need to sign the Petition, but you are welcome to. It amounts to the same thing.

The OLD Full Cert Free Ride, which was set up as a 2 month "event" is closed, as it reached nearly 500 members totally unexpectedly, so we've moved the effort into an ongoing group and petition.

If you were part of that event, please either join the GROUP or sign the PETITION, and sorry for the duplicate effort! I'm blown away by how big this got so fast!

Thanks for your support and comments, keep em coming!

See you on the slopes!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas? Stressfull? Really?

Its' actually never happened to me before. I've heard of it, that people say Christmas is insane and stressful, but I grew up loving this holiday so much that my house was always clean and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. In the last few years, that's been getting later and later, and this year, I realize HOLY CRAP, my sister arrives tomorrow at 3, and my house is an unholy inhospitable mess, not a light up, not a tree out, I have an exam on Friday that I'm unprepared for, two kids with Pink Eye, I've missed school, and have to skip work tomorrow, which means no teaching, no training and no freakin' exercise. I have about $8 to my name and no Christmas shopping done.

I'm at a place where I have to make some BIG decisions I wasn't planing on making till much later in the season, I'm writing two books, a training manual, trying to grow my massage business, coaching business, learn to ski better and teach better, and am in school full time.

My support group is going through their own s$%t right now, job hunting, relationships, traveling and incommunicado...

This afternoon, it actually hit me all at once. Kind of RIGHT between the eyes, and, yes, I sat in my truck and had a good cry for about 20 minutes. Then I asked Tiffany if I could go sit on her couch and pet her cat for about 20 minutes before school started again.

Here is the thing. It sneaks up on me, the insane schedule. And I've been working hard for a year on the over commitment thing. The problem is, I LIKE being over committed. It keeps me on my toes. Until it all goes to hell because something like... well, Christmas happens.

And obviously, something has to give. You can do a lot, but not at the price of your sanity. I am proud that I have been unwilling to sacrifice time with my kids for these other "pressing" goals... like dealing with my expired driver's license or an old Jungle Gym income tax issue that won't go away...

And I think this is where I landed: I am lucky to have an amazing support group, who show up by text or IM just when they are needed, and exhaling and realizing that it will all get done in time, but nothing is worth sacrificing the connection and bond with my boys puts it in perspective every time.

I talked with my Head of School, Ruth, who is incredibly cool and supportive, who gave me an outline from which to breathe. Then I talked to Tiff, who goes to school with me, and we made a plan to get caught up. Then I talked to my teachers who are also very cool and said, you'll get there, stay sane on your way, do the best you can, and get it to me when you can.

Then I talked to Bonnie, my boss, who was very nice and said not to worry, and goodluck with the Pink Eye, she'll see me when I get up there.

Then I talked to my mom, who is also going through her own stuff, and she told me she loves me, and I can do it, I can make it.

Then, I came home and hugged my kids and checked in with Megan and Squatty and talked skiing a bit, and sanity a bit, and goal setting a bit, and life path a bit...

And then after everyone had given so much to me, I worked on Tom, who was in a tough place, and gave back to him for a while, and suddenly... I feel okay.

And I know there needs to be some focusing and triage, and we are getting there.

But as my little sister says, this isn't a crisis. The sinking of the Titanic, THAT was a crisis.

So Beth will come at 3 tomorrow, and my house will be how it is, and that's okay, because that's how it is. I'm gonna give massage for presents, and cookies, and that's how its gonna be this year, and that's okay, too, because those are from my heart.

I found my breath again tonight, with a little perspective from my friends, and I'm grateful! I had felt that insane pull of "but I wanted to do Christmas cards, I wanted the house to be a winter wonderland, I wanted the tree up early this year, but I wanted to send gifts, but I want to say thanks and I love you to all the folks who help me so much"

But the reality is that I don't have the cash, and I'm lucky enough to know that a phone call and a thank you and a Merry Christmas will make us feel just as connected. And one day, when I publish my book, or get a bunch of ski camps going, or I win the lotto, I'll send out Christmas cards, but that's not really the point is it?

The point, to me, it seems, is more what happened today, and yesterday. Thanks, Anglea, Megan, Squatty, Shannon, Michael, Kurt, Tiffany, Tamara, Ruth, Tom and Mom! And thanks to Ethan and Bodhi for the beautiful, if sniffly, snuggles.

Happy Holidays, guys, stay sane and take a breath!

Lots of love,

UPDATE: Thanks for all your emails! We're okay, my mom is on the way and I've got some work booked, but I wanted to share the reality of the holiday crush, I know other people feel it too, and you are not alone! :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Notes from the Coach

So I talked to Squatty today, I'm dyin' to get out there and make some turns with my powder guru, this is the man who taught me to ski powder and bumps in the same day, yeah, by skiing powdery bumps...

And he asked me how my first day on my face was, and what I need to work on.

First of all, I told him that I was having trouble making lane changes, going from a GS sized turn to a short turn, which is a really difficult task to begin with, but really essential. I told him that when I've done four or five large radius turns, and its time to change to short radius turns down the fall line, I feel like as I make the first turn I'm going to compress the ski and get thrown across the platform and rocketed into the chairlift.

Squatty asked me if I'd ever heard of "progressive edging"... yes... actually the first time I heard of this was at the last Academy where Andy Docken talked about coming on and off the edge in a 1, 2, 3 apex, 3, 2, 1 flat ski 1, 2, 3 apex kind of way. Click, DING! The light went on. Then I heard it again from Megan about "whack whack skiing", whack I'm up on my edge, whack, I throw my skis across and am on my other edge.

I feel when I am entering the short radius turn from a large radius turn that the forces build so fast that it is almost like I'm going from a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 count on one set to a 3 on the other set. That sudden force in the apex of the new turn is so strong that my body feels thrown forward, and I don't trust that the edge will hold.

Squatty reminded me that while the time is compressed, the edging is still progressive, so yes, you have a 1 -5 count on the one side, but still a 1 - 3 count on the short side. Stronger steering and progressive edge in the new short turn. I'm excited to get out there and try it.

We also talked about early season snow density, and while Bridger has had the luxury of 3 percent moisture in the last couple of days, the big early season storm we got was much much thicker than that. You have to have stronger steering, and a LOT more patience in thick, high moisture snow. Get aggressive, and click, boot out! (does this sound familiar?)

Other things we talked about were that you train for skiing by skiing, and I've been off my skis for about 8 weeks because of my car accident, and that the skiing I do all summer, while it builds strength and snow sensitivity, simply the number of turns made is much fewer when you are hiking for them then riding the lifts. Also, skiing spring and summer snow is really different as well.

So there are several "early season" factors that I like to think don't apply to me, because I skied all summer, but they still do: timing, rhythm, fitness, touch and sensitivity to snow all have their antenna turned down, so less aggressive, more listening, more patience, and back in the saddle we go!

Thanks, Squatty! Can't wait to get down there and make some turns with you!!

Squatty Schuler is a lead trainer at Aspen/Snowmass and my head coach. To book him for a lesson in Aspen, CALL AHEAD, I can't get in with him till the end of January or something like that.

Currently, the Aspen/Snowmass Ski School has six people, more then any other resort, on the national Demo Team. Snowmass is also home to the Colorado Instructor of the Year, David "Squatty" Schuler.

Alison Gannet's Rippin Chix Camp!

Oh, oh oH!! I'm so freakin' excited! I get to go to Alison Gannett's Rippin Chix camp! Do you know what this means? I get to learn to HUCK MYSELF OFF STUFF! YES YES! Rachel Bauer hold on to your hat (and please come with me!)

Bring three friends and your camp is free. Alison is a VGW (Very Green Woman) who is working hard to teach us all about reducing our carbon footprint and slowing global warming. She also happens to be an extreme skiing champion. WEEE HOO, lets GO!

Feb 14-15 in Crested Butte.

To benefit The Save Our Snow Foundation

Freeskiing champion Alison Gannett is proud to bring her infamous steep skiing camps for women to Crested Butte Mountain Resort again this season.

The camp sold out in 2008, so reserve your space early.

This camp is for real skiers wishing to improve their skills and confidence in a life-changing weekend. Open to alpine and tele chix wishing to improve their skills and confidence on black runs, with 6 exciting levels:

A level - Those who can ski black runs for several hours

B level - Those who wish to start skiing double blacks

C level - Those who can ski double blacks but need confidence and tricks to negotiate rocks and stumps

D level - Those who can ski double blacks all the time and wish to learn to jump off rocks and ski faster.

E level - Those looking jump bigger cliffs, straightline and compete in extreme contests.

Learn Alison’s special step by step progression method to tackling the steeps, including her five ways to catch air, and special tricks to make the tough stuff like rocks, trees, powder, chutes, and moguls seem easy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This is what skiing at -23 looks like!

Casey does it in style at Big Sky! The vista is at Bridger on the epic (but chilly) carving day of doooom! PS. BIG PROPS to all the Fall Festival instructors and participants who were out in super cold temps all day three days in a row at Big Sky, you guys ROCK!

From Lou Dawson: Black Sunday

No matter your experience, early season snowpack is UNSTABLE. Please educate yourself and be careful out there!

From Lou Dawson's blog:
Yesterday. An inbounds avalanche at Snowbird resort killed a woman, and a slackcountry avalanche on Aspen Mountain killed a man. Vail even had an inbounds avalanche that resulted in a close call.

The Snowbird avalanche occurred on hike-to terrain on the side of the resort, known as High Baldy. Heather Gross from Salt Lake City was found by avalanche probe at 1:18 p.m. and was air transported to the hospital in critical condition. Though she was amazingly found alive after an hour long burial, she subsequently died. The avalanche was reported just after noon by a witness using a cell phone. More here.

In Aspen, will known local skier and former Aspen Mountain ski patrolman Cory Brettman was found in a slackcountry area known as “Power Line.” Authorities received a call of an overdue skier at about 8:30 p.m. and the Aspen Skiing Co. mobilized 22 people to search for Brettman. He was found dead at around 9 p.m.


To learn more about Avalanches in general and make better decisions in the back country, if you are in the Northern Rocky Mountains, start here.

Full Cert Free Ride: 500 members, new group!

WOW, we got almost 500 members in about 2 months! The discussion is so exciting and there are so many people talking about it that we've moved it from an event to a Group on Facebook!

Thanks for joining the event and getting us started, please join the Group here, and keep posting those questions and comments for and against! I'll update the FAQ at the website this week.

Thanks for your enthusiasm, here are just some of the comments so far!

Janell Owens wrote
at 9:56pm on December 10th, 2008
I'm soooooo there!
Report - Delete

Damian Olivato wrote
at 3:55pm on December 3rd, 2008
Frickin' awesome idea. I have my full cert but usually only ride at other resorts when I'm attending some sort of event. This would definitely help.
Report - Delete

Chip Coxe (Asheville, NC) wrote
at 5:47pm on November 29th, 2008
I am already Level III but would love to have a program like this.
Report - Delete

Robert Baldassari (Salt Lake City, UT) wrote
at 2:33pm on November 26th, 2008
Sweet! I love free stuff for being awesome.
Report - Delete

Matt Evans (Salt Lake City, UT) wrote
at 1:25pm on November 26th, 2008
This is the perfect, perfect chance to build relationships and get the industry even more interconnected! Plus give us a chance to try new areas and see what the fuss is about!!
Report - Delete

Lee Hunter (Aberdeen) wrote
at 12:08pm on November 26th, 2008
I think that would be a fantastic incentive to get new instructors into the industry and lets face it we need something. This is an incentive that doesn't cost them any real money. Good luck!
Report - Delete

Mike Shaughnessy (Allentown, PA) wrote
at 12:40am on November 26th, 2008
Honestly, I've let my PSIA membership lapse, because there isn't enough benefit to it for me. I got a Level I cert when I was working full time, but now I'm part time at another ski area. The area I work at doesn't have a pay raise for a cert, so there's not really much in it for me to keep my membership up. I would definitely reinstate and pursue my full cert if it meant skiing free everywhere!
Report - Delete

Keith Lawrence (Boston, MA) wrote
at 6:00am on November 25th, 2008
I wish!
Report - Delete

Ben Gottlieb (Los Angeles, CA) wrote
at 5:35pm on November 24th, 2008
Yeah Katie this is a great idea. My experience with PSIA/AASI has not been entirely positive. The main reason I join is because of the pay and priority raise that I get for paying my dues and stepping in line with the rest. This would motivate me to get my cert. 3 for sure. All of a sudden a lot of mt. adventures would become affordable. Keep the dream alive, people that live to ride are the heart of the sport, this plan is good for the heart.
Report - Delete

Callie Stolz wrote
at 2:23am on November 24th, 2008
Sounds fantastic! Nice work! Let's make it happen! :)
Report - Delete

Travis Toelkes wrote
at 8:08pm on November 23rd, 2008
Sounds like a brilliant idea!!! Count me in!
Report - Delete

Jeffrey Brian Kenzie (Anchorage, AK) wrote
at 1:44am on November 21st, 2008 true dirtbag tradition, can i just couch surf and ride for free without going through the trouble of getting full cert? this sounds like the best deal for my personal party.
Report - Delete

Tom Baker (Boulder, CO) wrote
at 11:55am on November 20th, 2008
Probably too many full certers out there, but what the hell. I had a similar thought except it was for Ed Staff (Examiner) level.
Report - Delete

Heidi Kanayan (Carson City, NV) wrote
at 4:55pm on November 19th, 2008
Hell yeah we need this. I am curently working towards my L3 and if this goes through that would be such a great incentive and a great way to make our industry that much tighter.

Jed Haupt wrote
at 6:57am on November 19th, 2008
The idea of combining level III aspirations or accomplishments with the dirtbag culture is an interesting one . . .while I've taken a year off from teaching full time, the trend was that mostly older, semi retired people have the funds, time, and inclination to pursue full cert . . .while the "dirtbag" skiers and riders pursued night jobs that paid just enough to allow such a lifestyle, so they can ski all day and not stand around in the freezing cold talking about it, as instructors are inclined to do . . .I worry about an age vacuum, as instructor wages stay stagnant and it becomes harder and harder to actually make a living teaching skiing, so only those who don't necessarily need a living wage will teach!
So here's to the spirit of skiing, of sleeping in your car in the parking lot for those precious first tracks, and anything to promote free skiing for true "snow"bagging!
Report - Delete

Dan Goodell (Grand Valley State) wrote
at 7:13pm on November 18th, 2008
Sounds like a great idea to me!
Report - Delete

John Penxa (Seattle, WA) wrote
at 2:08pm on November 18th, 2008
GO Kate GO!!! :-)
Report - Delete

Parker Cross (Utah Valley University) wrote
at 10:26pm on November 17th, 2008
I think it would be epic. Who knows, maybe one of the divisions will get crazy and try it out in their own division. I'd be stoked because I'm Intermountain and I can think of a lot of places I'd enjoy riding, and it would definitely impact my travel plans for the season if I could get free lift tickets. Anyway, I'll say it's a good idea. It doesn't seem like it would be terribly impacting for a mountain to allow it, and it may even open the doors for employees to want to change mountains. I can think of no school that wouldn't want more full certs checking out their terrain, because if it's good, people are going to want to migrate there next season...
Report - Delete

Bridget Ericsson (Denver, CO) wrote
at 2:47pm on November 17th, 2008
I'm only level 2 can I still go?
Report - Delete

Witt Kohlman Hilley wrote
at 8:50am on November 17th, 2008
need to find me a good steady job first, so....
Report - Delete

Jodi Bedson (Albany, NY) wrote
at 9:34pm on November 16th, 2008
Not that I'll ever get a full cert, but more power to you guys!! =)
Report - Delete

Katherine Rockwell (Davidson) wrote
at 7:37pm on November 16th, 2008
The living wage and comp tickets go hand in hand. The more it means to be a LIII, the more valuable you become and the more likely you are to be extended these benefits. We have to hold up our end of the deal and train to become better resources for our resorts.
I'm all for this group and it's a great idea. The better the product (meaning us) that PSIA produces, the more we're worth to the industry, the more resorts will be willing to pay for us (in either tickets or cash).
I'm at Killington- if anyone is in the area, I can't get you a ticket for free, but I can get you one for $29 midweek, $49 weekends, no blackout.
Report - Delete

Jai Whitney (Burlington, VT) wrote
at 6:31pm on November 16th, 2008
Wouldn't it make more sense to petition for a livable wage so we could just afford to ride wherever we want regardless? And I wasn't aware the dirtbag rider community didn't exist anymore. The evidence is otherwise. See you in Silverton!
Report - Delete

Tyler Jeppesen (Burlington, VT) wrote
at 6:27pm on November 16th, 2008
This would go a long way to keeping full certs in the industry as well - would work for me!
Report - Delete

Aidan Wynn (Western Colorado, CO) wrote
at 6:18pm on November 16th, 2008
fine ill go PSIA!!!!!
Report - Delete

Jim Forster wrote
at 6:38pm on November 15th, 2008
Good on ya for trying to get this going. Who wouldn't want hassle free/$free skiing. There was a time when any instructor could show up anywhere usually with a letter from their director & usually get a free ticket. Times have changed.

Most instructors wouldn't be able to use it too often though, because they are usually working.
Report - Delete

Thomas Gunter-Kremers (Rochester, NY) wrote
at 3:09pm on November 15th, 2008
It's such a commitment to the snowsports industry to get to this long as the organization doesn't ease things up, I'm all for it. Heck, it took me 4 tries to pass the riding much money did I put into the industry to get there....
Report - Delete

KC Gandee (Burlington, VT) wrote
at 2:07pm on November 15th, 2008
If J Randy says "yes", I'm in!
Report - Delete

Dennis Matthew Burgess wrote
at 1:59pm on November 15th, 2008
I think I am attending this event anyway, at Killington March 30- April 1st, if someone will sign a piece of paper for me...
Report - Delete

Evan Vomacka (Castleton) wrote
at 1:35pm on November 15th, 2008
Sounds like a great idea! I would love to get my level III and then be able to ski everywhere and anywhere. It's always great to go somewhere else and see how they do things. I like being able to take what I've learned at one mountain and bring it to another.
Report - Delete

J Randy Price (Albuquerque, NM) wrote
at 9:10am on November 15th, 2008
sounds like a party!
Report - Delete

Paul Berntsen (BT (British Telecommunications)) wrote
at 7:57pm on November 14th, 2008
Report - Delete

Kristen M. Kafka (Seattle, WA) wrote
at 4:53pm on November 14th, 2008
Report - Delete

Go Big With Confidence: PSIA has new Additional Insurance!

Insurance for PSIA-AASI Members

One of the great advantages of being a PSIA or AASI certified instructor is that you can purchase insurance that can go where your other insurance policies might not. These policies, offered through our association broker, provide featured coverage during teaching or training for skiing and snowboarding. These policies are valid worldwide, including the USA and Canada, and are underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s, an A rated company.

For more info on this awesome program, click here!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thank you to Park City Pedorthics!

Brent Amsbury, boot fitter magazine's boot fitter of the year, has agreed to be a sponsor for me! Here he is working on my new Dalbello proton 12'S!

UPDATE: I skied in these boots the day after the MONSTER boot-fitting session (my feet are really tweaked after years in ice skates) 8:30 to 1:45 in the morning... the temps were -22 on the mountain, and in these NEW BOOTS, I was happy as a clam. Even buckeled them down!

They are stiffer than my previous (I was in the Proton 10 last year), and especially stiffer in -22!! But they were SO incredible, comfortable, but absolutely responsive as all get out. Alex and Zach and I got out and covered our noses to protect from frostbite and then went SCREAMING down the groomers... the snow was amazing, the Elan GSLX were mind-tremblingly awesome, and Zach and Alex gave me some great tips that made it even more fun!

Its gonna be a good season, y'all!

And thanks, Brent, the boots are absolutely perfect.

No skiing today.

Spent more than four hours driving to big sky to land in a ditch. No skiing today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here it COMES! 20 below and blowing snow!

From Wunderground:

... Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 5 am to 11 PM MST

The National Weather Service in Great Falls has upgraded the
Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Weather Advisory for snow and
blowing snow... which is in effect from 5 am to 11 PM MST Saturday.

Temperatures will turn much colder Friday night with temperatures
falling below zero by Sunday morning over southwest Montana. Snow
with gusty north winds will accompany the system as well as areas
of blowing and drifting snow. Total snow accumulation of 3 to 6
inches are expected by Saturday evening with up to 12 inches in
the mountains. In addition... gusty north winds will combine with
the falling temperatures to produce dangerously low wind chill
values Saturday afternoon and evening. Very cold air will continue
to filter into the region with temperatures near 15 below zero
Sunday morning and 20 below zero Monday morning.

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow and blowing snow means that
visibilities will be limited due to a combination of falling and
blowing snow. Use caution when traveling... especially in open

For specific Road and travel conditions in Montana... dial 5 1 1.

And for a less reliable but more dramatic take:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the COVER of 32 Degrees!

OH MY GOSH! They not only published my race camp story, its a 3000 word FEATURE and I'm on the COVER! (In a little picture, but THE COVER!) And... very cool, they put the POC full page ad right next to the last page of my article! YAY!

I'm just... flabbergasted. Humbled. Proud. Really grateful. Very grateful. Overwhelmed. Nervous as all get out. Happy. Thanks to Beth, my mom, Amanda, my kids, Dave Lyon, POC, Elan and Dalbello for getting me to Camp, and Dave, Tammie, Mac and Carson for taking such good care of me. And Stacey, what would I do without you?

Here it is, click on a photo to see it in a size you can actually read. Thanks, 32 Degrees!!





To see more pics and fun stuff from Hood, visit this link and scroll down.

Bridger Bowl Hands Kate Her *ss in a Basket on Day one!

What a BEAUTIFUL day! Holy moly! Okay, so falling is kind of contra-indicated for me right now, and aside from a few spin outs at Hood, I haven't had a really good wreck since I went tomahawking down the Gardner Headwall in the Beartooths in June...

Riding the chair lift this morning in our new spiffy uniform coats, I was just totally struck with what an incredible mountain it is that I am so fortunate to work at! Riding up Pierre's Knob lift, I was looking up at the ridge and realizing once again what a SUPER STEEP and incredible challenging place I get to ski at every day.

The snow was deep, and fairly skied out, and I took my first run, as is tradition, on the "instructor highway" or "funnel of death" called Thunder Road. I'd tuned my skis up pretty well the day before, and I was happy to ski it well, even though it was fairly firm. I ventured off onto the Deer Park and Bridger chairs, and ran into Neil Lande!

Neil has worked at Bridger for years, and is moving to Aspen this winter to teach at Snowmass, driving up to work this morning, I was thinking about how I'd miss him at Bridger, and there he was! The one day he was going to get in, and we got to ski a couple of fun runs together!

I also got out with one of my training buddies from last year, Alex Sweeny, and we hit the off piste hard. The snow was like setting up cream cheese, and I was trying to make stuff HAPPEN, I've been skiing fairly firm snow since August, and I guess I've gotten used to pushing on my skis a bit. Well...

After a HUGE faceplant that buried me up to my shoulders, two summer-saults and booting out twice, I figured out what the heck was going on and lightened up a bit on my feet... I had been thinking retraction, soften the inside foot to make the turn happen, but I'd been working it too hard and after five or six good turns just getting SPANKED.

Finally, the skiing clicked and even though I booted out once more at the end of the day (geeze, now I'm afraid to move forward on my ski!), we skied some nice steep cruddy stuff and had a blast.

Smaller moves, closer stance, more two footed, lighter touch, for heaven's sake!! What a great day!

And now for some pain meds... ow...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What a Day!

I moved into my locker at Bridger Bowl today, and I gotta say, even with all the loverly places I have been fortunate enough to travel to, it was awesome to come home!

I picked up my new uniform coat, with Bridger Bowl Snowsports embroidered on the back (!!!), and put on my pins (geeeeek!) and my name tag, moved into my locker and really just reveled in my geekdom!

Its funny, John Saam, another Bridger instructor was up there, and he came in, dropped off his stuff, said hi, and took off. Its funny to me that just like a girl, I decorated when I moved in!

I put up my shelves and moved in the essentials, made a list of what I was missing, and taped up my inspiration board, which has been on my mirror all summer (and which I took to Mt. Hood with me and taped up on their mirror!)

I have a couple of photos that Selko gave me of Steven Nyman and Bode Miller, a couple of pictures from ski racing mags that Squatty gave me that I usually have in my pocket, and an article on Darra Torres that Kurt gave to me about succeeding over 40!

I put up my World Cup Crew patch and all my pins from Aspen, my Bowl pin and etc, and then I spent about an hour and a half tuning my skis, and YES, I used almost an ENTIRE p-tex candle! Ugh, these are now officially rock skis!

I start work on Thursday and I can't wait to get out there!!

In OTHER news, I passed 20,000 hits on my blog today! HOLY CRAP! Thanks for reading, y'all!!!

Instructor of the Year 2008, Thanks to the Village!

At the end of last season at Bridger Bowl, I was lucky enough to receive an enormous honor, which I failed to blog about, as I left from our awards party straight for Academy, and then to Tryouts, and then right out into the Beartooth Wilderness.

I'm catching up on things today, and one very important thing I wanted to say is what an amazing honor it was to receive Bridger Bowl's prestigious "Instructor of the Year" award.

Up at Bridger, I am lucky to teach with a group of consummate professionals who are passionate about skiing, and fiercely loyal to Bridger Bowl. Many of them have been at Bridger more than thirty years!

Bridger is an amazing place, sort of the hidden gem of Montana, I feel, as its not a "destination" resort. But when people come and ski Bridger, they are amazed at the size, the variety of terrain, the incredible light fluffy low moisture content in the snow, and, yes, the enormous amount of double black diamond terrain off the entire ridge-line.

Bridger boasts an incredible array of steeps and chutes, short technical pitches, and this year, long, leg burning steeps with the addition of the Schlashmans terrain!

I feel an enormous debt to Bridger, as I would not even be on skis were it not for Dave Evans, our Snowsports Supervisor, and for the incredible, indepth training that Mike Hickey, and Josh Spuhler were willing to give me from day one. It is in a large part because of the community and challenging terrain at Bridger that I have been able to pursue my goals in skiing.

So I wanted to say thank you to Bonnie Hickey, my ski school director, for the huge honor of naming me Bridger Bowl's Instructor of the Year last season, and say thanks to a couple of people from Bridger who have helped me in the last two years go from out of control recreational skier to Instructor of the Year!

Bonnie Hickey:
Took a chance on me

Kurt Blunck:
Took me on as a training task willingly, and flipped me upside down in Jimmy B's, sort of officially initiating me into the insanity that is apres-ski Bridger Bowl style!

Karen Kirk:
Skied with me on my first day even though I was wearing make-up, had no goggles, and couldn't turn left. Our last day together was a rippin' trip down the fingers with her advanced ladies group. Thanks for hangin' in there, Karen!

Dave Evans:
Marched me into the office and signed me up to teach, gave me my PSIA L1, and took the fear out of beginning bumps for me.

Michael Hickey:
Agreed after I'd been on skis for about a month to train me for the Alpine Demonstration team. He then promptly took my poles away for three months and made me ski with my boots open so I'd find my balance myself.

Josh Spuhler:
Is the most consistently supportive friend a person could ask for. There certainly have been times in the last two years when people have said, what the HECK is she thinking? And Josh, aside from hours and hours of personal ski training, was there to tell me just to focus on what I need to do and not to listen to naysayers. I will never forget it.

Shannon Griffen:
Taught me just HOW specific we can be in pivot slips, just how important tasks are, and helped me get disciplined to the nth degree!

Ryan Stover:
Let me follow him around in the powder, giving me back a sense of play and a beautiful picture to follow!

Mason Griffen:
Toured me on the ridge all the time, let me follow him through this chute, around that tree and off this rock!

John Faunce:
Reminds me that it's more fun in the air, not just for me, but for the kids I teach, too, and gives the best bear hugs in the industry.

Jeff Abilain and Doug Monger:
Rescued me from self doubt about six weeks before I went from my level 3 last season, took me up on the ridge, and Doug taught me to stay on his tail while he went mach 6, while Jeff taught me the ins and outs of Ridge-specific skiing.

Angela Patnode:
Hauls me behind her on lots of back country expeditions, patiently watching the junk show get her s$$t together, and taught me how to pee while I'm on a steep pitch still in my skis... WOW, essential skill!

Missy Cashman:
Welcomed me into the Bridger locker room like I'd been there forever and made it easy to feel welcome and at home.

Ric Blevans:
Lets me follow his Tai-Chi in the mornings to get grounded, focused and present.

Dave Casto:
Always is curious about what I'm working on, and is encyclopedic in his knowledge! There's never judgment there, just questions, questions, leading to deeper understanding...

Lets me follow him around when he's got his carving skis out, occasionally looks over his shoulder, and gives me a one sentence correction that's spot on the money, before he takes off on his GS skis into the trees. Guess how I learned to ski trees?

Joe Krakker:
Took me on my very first back country ski, into Bradley's Meadow, and let me fire his shotgun off the top of Mt. Blackmoor. Yeah, that was pretty cool.

There are so many more people from Bridger who have given so much, it really does take a village to teach Kate to ski, but this is the core group from my first season who really exemplify for me what skiing and teaching is. There is a sense from all of these people that there's room for everyone, that we all have our unique talents, and that they are willing to help you improve, because, well, that's their job! To affect change in your skiing.

Thanks again, Bridger, for the honor of naming me your Instructor of the Year last year, and thanks to everyone who helped me get there, I can't wait to get out and rip it up with you this season!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's snowing!

Our house. Welcome to winter in montana!

Bridger Bowl Opens This Thursday!

It dumped all night last night, its snowing now... and Bridger will open for business on Thursday, Dec 11! The new terrain will not yet be open but they anticipate the rest of the mtn to be skiing well! Come get your ski on!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Thank you for standing by me in every turn, for embracing the radical changes I've made in my life, for being my friend and listening to me with your heart. I'm so very grateful to have you in my life, and grateful for our connection. I think you are one of the bravest people I know.

Sunday bliss!

Sunday morning Labrynth after waffles!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shout out from

Thanks for the shout out, Andy! And hey, turns out Jason CAN mambo, just take a little bit of Tequila...

Three of the best ski instructors in the Rocky Mountain Region,Kurt Fehrenbach, Kate Howe and Jason Closic took a time out from PSIA clinic prep. to RAGE at STB. Kate is visiting from Bozeman, Mt. while Kurt and Jason are well known Aspen locals. Whoever said PSIA has a stick up their a$$ (and it wasn't me) never met these guys.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Have you signed up for Fall Fest yet??

Former Big Sky instructor and 2 term National Alpine Demo team member Nick Heron will be teaching, as will the best of our very own NRM division! Get your ski on and get registered!

Pj day!

Planning which track to build now that the play room is finally clean!

Patagonia Outlet Sale of DOOM!

Patagonia Outlet 4-Day Sale
40% off current outlet prices storewide*
Thursday, December 11 – Sunday, December 14

*Sale prices apply only to Patagonia clothing, only on days specified. Sale limited to stock on hand. Fax orders accepted. No email orders.

What’s Your Dream Gift from Patagonia?

If you could pick a dream gift from Patagonia, what would it be? Tell us by filling out an entry form, at any Patagonia owned store, for a chance to win it. Restrictions do apply, see official rules.

All Patagonia stores will be giving one Patagonia product away each Monday, from December 1-15, 2008.