Thursday, January 31, 2008

APPROVED!!!

YEAH!!! I just got this email from Jim at our PSIA divisional headquarters:

Kate,

Thanks for your thoughts.

The Committee has approved your request. Register for both exams through Neil.


Jim

If you are curious what the Certification Standards are for Level 3, click here, and scroll down to Level 3.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Josh!

Happy birthday you freak show! Thanks for being a constant source of amusement and terror. Can't think of anything I'd rather do than cross my fingers that you don't hit the tree.

A Little Freaked Out

Friday, January 25, 2008

The coolest thing ive ever seen.

This is a really funny new zeland broadcast of a freeskiing comp. And at the very end, Hamish skis in the most unbelievable way. It literally looks like the mountain is his playground.

UPDATE!

Oh, its been a crazy couple of weeks, and I have VOLUMES of blogs to post, Alyssa's hilarious boot fitting epic, videos, our first MA club happened, I've been training and thinking and stressing out a bit... its been a crazy emotional roller coaster!

I'm gonna do it in a nutshell for now, because I want the blog to be an honest log of all the hiccups and hurdles and good times and stressful times and decisions on my road to the D Team tryouts.

FIRST of all, we went to Snowbird again, and skied with Rob. We took Alyssa with us, and tortured her by indoctrinating her in to the insane land of training with Kate and Shannon. It was GREAT!

When we got back, Tom was sad, the boys were angry, and things were not good. I had been gone too long, with two Salt Lake trips, and working through Christmas. We hadn't even celebrated New Years Eve, although my mom (who was visiting who I didn't see at all) had bought bubbly and special bread and fixin's for great drinks...

Tom and I had a long, cranky, hard, emotional "discussion" which basically boiled down to this, after we got past our individual temper tantrums: that was too much. It was too hard, I was gone too long, and it makes everyone hate skiing.

For the next two weeks, I dedicated myself to doing nothing but being at home and being at work. No extra clinics, no Jimmy B's (a habit I thought was going to be harder to give up, but I'd rather be at home with the boys, quite honestly...), just home from work.

Unfortunately, I also didn't do our banking and pay our bills and write my blog, because Tom was so raw about my obsession with skiing. (Is it weird that I practice Hop Turns in the living room at night with my skis on? I didn't think so...).

I didn't worry about the details, I just wanted to dedicate all my time and attention to Tom and the kids and try to right the wrong I did by being gone too much. Things have healed a bit here, and now I am beginning to dig myself out of the backlog of stuff (I owe a painting commission that's a month late, we owe design work and proposals, I need to pay bills and work on the budget, ah ah AHHHH!)

Meanwhile, I am getting the MOST lovely emails from people all OVER the place inviting me to come and train with them! And I want to accept them ALL!

The NEXT thing that happened is that I discovered (unsurprisingly) that I need to petition the division to take my 2 and my 3 in the same year. I spoke with the president of our division, and I have to write a letter, and if it is okayed, my skiing will be evaluated at the prep clinic, which is in two weeks, which is also when the written exam is.

Freak out time.

The NEXT thing that happened is that we may have lost our truly amazing nanny because our children are insane and demanding. Ethan's kindergarten teacher was in tears at our parent teacher conference. He got booted out of his ski class. Bodhi was running naked through the house like an insane savage. "But call me Batty, because I am a bat."

We got to work on parenting strategies, and the behavior, a week later, is better better better, we'll see if it continues, and if we can find a new nanny!

The NEXT thing that happened was I hear that Bonnie, my ski school director wanted to talk to me.

I have been holding my breath for weeks waiting for someone to tell me no, you cant try. I thought for sure when I went in to my meeting, Bonnie was going to tell me that it was not okay for me to petition the division, that I needed to settle down and do it right.

She did indeed have reservations, but the conversation was amazing. I can honestly say that I have never felt as valued as an employee as I did in my meeting with Bonnie today. Isn't Bridger great?

So aside from all the care and honesty and really REAL conversation that we had, which I am going to keep just for me right now, because it was so special, the discussion was had about whether it was appropriate for me to take my three this year or not. I think the answer in almost everyone's head is "no."

But she pulled out the calender and we cleared my schedule because she is okay with me trying! This is a HUGE imposition on the ski school, and I am so amazed and gratified that she and Dave are willing to wrangle everything around so that I can go to the preps and the exams if I am cleared by the division to do it.

SO: Josh, Michael and Megan have all agreed to let the division discuss this with them (WOW thanks guys) and my own ski school is helping with scheduling. All that remains is to petition the division with this letter.

I'm so excited about the HUGE changes that happen daily in my skiing (thanks for letting me chase you around Shannon, Angela, Rick, Josh, Karin...) but so tied up in knots about this...

Well, that's the nutshell (pretty big nut, huh?) I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Its an official owie.

Monday, Mar 24

So I am now in a big brace, in a sling, and on Percocet again. Bleh. Pole planting is really painful. HOWEVER, I felt today RIGHT back on it! Best day of skiing so far. Great carving thia AM with Alex on Deer Park Face, actually felt the spray on my leg from my inside ski and unbucled my boots laying my skis over! Alex is a blast to ski with, and we did some Hard Head coaching on him, which was really fun.

Had an AMAZING lesson with a new skier today who takes Tae Kwon Do... by the end of the lesson, I kid you not, she was parallel skiing and had short turns! Further proof that TKD is awesome ski conditioning! I can't wait to train all summer at TKD West!!! Yeah!!

THEN, went and skied upper Bronco over and over until I got some flow in those bumps, then over to last chance and the Missouri Breaks trees. By this time, we had about 8" of new snow, which was really creamy and nice. Unfortunately, I need the snow to suck more so I can practce skiing the conditions that kick my butt!

I asked myself to ski a two bump line, and then a zipper line, and then did medium radius turns in the bumps. Rob's White Pass drill for bumps is great!!

I rewarded myself with a run down Flippers, and then decided I was in pain, and should head to the chiropractor and go get a brace for my hand. By 6pm, I needed Urgent Care, and now, here we are. Ok, I've skated with worse, I'm sure we will make it thru exams. Not sure what it means for Academy, tho.

In other great news, I will get to give my talk this Wed at Big Sky, and I am so hapy to share this! I think I am going to offer private Performance Coaching from now on, in any discipline. My mom thinks I should become a motivational speaker. How fun would that be??

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

All Day Clinic at Bridger Bowl tomorrow!

Sorry for the short notice, but tomorrow there will be an all-day PSIA clinic at Bridger Bowl. The clinic is called "Ski Like A Girl" and it's about skiing and teaching for women. The teaching part of the clinic will address strategies that are particularly suitable for teaching women, such as addressing fear and understanding types of motivation in women. The clinic will also address our own skiing, as we work toward becoming strong, confident female skiers. Men and women athletes sometimes have different paths to success and it's helpful to recognize that and explore the tactics that help us ski our best. We may be able to do some video analysis as well, depending on group size and interest.

The clinic will be led by Karin Kirk and is open to all female ski instructors. If you have questions, you can contact Karin at karin@kirkframeworks.com

The clinic costs $60 and earns PSIA educational credits.
You can register for this clinic by visiting the PSIA-NRM website and clicking on the handy "sign me up" button. (http://www.psia-nrm.org/calendar.htm#alpine_events)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

First Meeting of the Movement Analysis Club!

This Tues from 6:30 to 9:30pm! You don't need any video of your own to attend! Pot Luck, BYOB, come hone your eye, practice movement analysis, and have fun! email katehowe@mac.com for directions.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stance First, Please


Ever since last April, (keep in mind that I started skiing again in February as an intermediate-ish skier) people have been trying to help me get rid of my horrible tendency to look like I have to pee while I am skiing. I “A” frame terribly. Folks have said it in all different ways: Zach had me do a drill at the Symposium where I held my poles out in front of me and had to hit them with my knees to make sure I was driving my outside knee in each turn. Rick and Josh have both told me to tip the knee, to open the knee. To lean on the knee, to drive the knee… do you sense a pattern here?

I started to get really concerned because I have a hard time standing on my knee when it is tipped. I have very loose joints, which I always hoped would be an asset in skiing, in that I might stretch something and not tear it completely apart. On the other hand, when I drive my knee, especially on my left side, I actually open my joint, and then, when I stand on it, it feels like my femur is going to slide off of the joint and just collapse. Last year it felt like if I stood on it, I would break or tear something just by standing on it.

Of course, I did NOT discuss this with anyone other than Shannon, and the two of us together decided that I’d better strengthen that knee as much as possible. I spent the summer hiking on it, and doing as much leg work as I could handle at the gym. I came back this fall, and sure enough, my legs were strong, but my knees and hips all still felt terribly unstable. When I would try to do train tracks on the flats (turns where you tip your feet and ride the side cut of the ski from edge to edge with no other body movements), I still had a complete inability to stand on my left foot. Frustrating. I was terrified of my left outside edge.

For the last week, I have been skiing without my poles, with my boots open, and my arms hugged around my body. I did about seven and a half hours of this before we came to Salt Lake, and then skied everything here without poles. The point of the exercise, as prescribed by both Michael and Josh, was to find my balance point on my own, and to remove all the junk and noise from my upper body compensation.

The problem is that no matter WHAT I did, the fact that my back was swayed would NOT allow me to stack up over my feet properly and execute all the lower body mechanics that were being asked of me. I was supremely frustrated. I decided to take this seven and a half hours and work on nothing but tucking my tail bone to get rid of the “banana stance” that Michael had remarked on when I got my boots done. “I can’t understand why you stand like that with your figure skating back ground” he said. That right there was motivation enough for me to scrub it out of existence.

I started thinking about why I stand like that, with my tail bone cocked out behind me and my hip thrust forward at the same time, and I realized several things. First, it’s the landing position in every jump. Think about what female gymnasts look like when they stick a jump and finish it for the judges… the sway back is so severe its unnatural. Same in skating. Then, why do my hips jut forward at the same time? I think, honestly, its from getting lazy in pregnancy and afterwards.

Anyhow, I posted this video

(sorry its sideways) the day that Michael said it to me, and began forcing myself to tuck my tail constantly. This was tough to do because all I really wanted to do was go out and ski the fun stuff, the whirlpools, avalanche gulch, whatever. But what I needed to do was spend a week on the groomers re-teaching myself how to stand to drill that sway back out of my muscle memory.

Two days into it, I had a massive realization while I was skiing in the shower. It started as a thought about why we finish our jumps the way we do, and evolved into the idea that it must be an innate “plumage” response. I went on line and looked at candid photos of women and men, and I realized that naturally women stand with their pelvis tipped back and a bit of a sway back, chest is generally forward.
Men tend to stand with their pelvis thrust forward, and therefore naturally have their tailbones more tucked. I wonder if this is an anthropomorphic thing, a left over mating signal? Interestingly, when I started looking at people who knew they were being photographed, it was exaggerated, and then when I got to celebrities on the red carpet, it was blatant and almost across the board.

Then I tried it with Shan and Alyssa. Here are a couple of pics of Shannon when I told her to look like a hot ski bunny.
Aside from the fact that she’s blistering hot (OW!), check out how she’s standing? That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, T&A all the way.

I started playing with this while I was skiing in my shower and realized that when I have my pelvis tipped in a sway back, all of the joints below it want to move and be unstable, my knee can move about 45 degrees, my hips want to twist and torque. When I tip my tailbone under me, everything tightens up, and it is much harder for me to be out of alignment. Try it, its bizarre. I’ve had both men and women try this, and it seems to be much more impact for women than men, although men can feel it a bit. I think this must be because men naturally stand with the tail bone tucked, the musculature and ligaments are tighter from years of standing that way and allow less movement.

I also started thinking about what happens when you have children. A hormone called “relaxin” is secreted for the last trimester, allowing ligaments and cartilage to soften, so the pelvic girdle can open and allow the baby to pass. I remember feeling unstable, wobbly, and just loose for the month leading up to both the births, and for months afterwards. I wonder how long it takes to re-strengthen and tighten the connective tissues once they’ve been allowed to relax to that extent.

With this in mind, and the consequences of staying swaybacked spelled out clearly in front of me, I dedicated myself to getting my tailbone tucked. Interestingly, lots of people did not want me to think of it this way. Think of contracting your abs, think of pulling your belly button up, think of softening your spine, think of anything BUT tucking in your tailbone. Now, I know I am supposed to listen to my coaches, but something was telling me that this was the thing that was keeping me from stacking up, and that I would never be able to ski with the boys unless I could discipline my body into standing like a man on my skis. And the problem was that all my coaches are men, and I wasn’t sure that they could feel what I was feeling.

So I went off and followed Shannon around on the groomers with no poles and boots open tucking my tail bone until my butt was so sore… it paid off. On Monday, we skied at Snowbird. No poles, boots open, groomers. We did this in the morning, knowing that we were going to get to play in the afternoon. I was skiing in front of Shannon on the road trying to do train tracks, and she said, “Kate, lead with your knee”. I’ve heard this before, and once again, I thought, oh, yeah, I know what’s going to happen, but I’ll give it a try.

Suddenly, there was no A frame. No wedge going one way and divergence going the other way. Suddenly, my turns matched. Shannon was yelling behind me, and I was so shocked, I couldn’t believe it. I kept going, hoping it wasn’t a fluke, and leading with the knee. The pop in my skiing went away completely. The turns were, finally, the beginning of correct. I finally stopped and just tackled Shannon, I couldn’t help it, I totally started crying. This was the biggest obstacle to improving my skiing I have faced so far, and I was beginning to wonder if it was an immovable obstacle simply due to my physiology.

The issue was, I couldn’t do what I needed to to turn properly until I was stacked, and thus, more stable. My hips couldn’t dump, my knees COULDN’T wobble out, my upper body was attached to my lower in a communicative way.

I was so thrilled and high from this breakthrough that twenty minutes later when we went and skid with Rob, I was on fire. We skid Primrose, Daltons, Mineral Basin, and a chute or two, all with no poles in 13” of skid out wet crud, and I could ski! I felt like I could drive my skis, I could match turns, I didn’t need a heel push, I could get to my edges early and have a top of the turn, I could finally finally begin to do what my coaches have been asking me to do, all because my stance was corrected, all because the Bootfitter of Doom, Brent Amsbury, asked my coach what stance issues needed addressing in my boots.

The moral of the story? Get thee to Brent Amsbury Park City Pedorthics and Ski Boots NOW! 435-513-0672.

How do you apply this to your clients? Ask yourself this: if you are asking your skier to do something, and they are having a hard time executing it, look at the fact that they may not be ABLE to do it because they can’t be in balance, because their stance won’t allow them to. They may come up with some pretty convincing work-arrounds that allow them to move in and out of balance which approximate what you are asking them to do, but if it still doesn’t look right, consider their stance NOT only from an “are you forward” position, but take them out of their skis, take their jacket off, and really look at their alignment. What does it mean to have a flat back? How do you accomplish it? And if your client is a woman, take the time to talk her through learning to stand in a TRULY “athletic” stance.

This might be shocking: this weekend, Shannon, Alyssa and I all were surprised to realize that we were skiing from a weak place, as we are all fairly strong and athletic. Yet 3 or 4 degrees of tail bone tip made the difference between skiing effectively, and easily, and fighting for every turn.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Poll!

I am wondering, do you prefer the videos in YouTube format, or Blogger format? Visit the sidebar at the blog and vote!

Thanks!
Kate

MA: Stance Questions and Ideas

I had a major Ah-HA! Moment yesterday during my Level 2 clinic. Liat filmed me on a bunch of runs, and I noticed that when I do Delayed Weight Transfer Turns, I don't ski with a POP! because I move across my skis instead of up and over them. In other words, I move my body in the direction of the new turn, because I have to! I tried applying it to my regular skiing, and it was frustrating. But here is a little something I noticed in the process. (sorry its sideways, its not off my camera, so I can't fix it yet)



I had yet ANOTHER major revelation today while in the Level 3 clinic, but I want to shoot it on video and show it to you, so you'll have to wait one more day to see how the story unfolds!

Movement Analysis: Anita on Alpine

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Torchlight Parade at Bridger Bowl! Happy 08!

HOW FUN IS THIS? It was like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I kid you not. I get all excited when I get happy, and all I could think of was "Don't Cry In The Bumps!"

We got all dressed up in our warmest gear, I wore FOUR pairs of pants, and NINE layers on the top. And I wasn't cold. We all hopped on the lift, in the DARK and rode up to the top of Deer Park, where we skid on the rocks and picked our way down into the torches that Dave and Michael had placed earlier in the day. We had our safety talk from Faye and Randy on how to light our flares and ski with them without lighting ourselves on fire and letting the flares go out.

This was so fun. I told Shannon I had to chill out quick because I was SO excited. So we get up there, and we get the call, and light our flares, and then everyone skid down into a big semi circle, and we all followed Faye down the bump run, in the dark, with no poles, with something thats on fire.

Of course ahead of me, Shannon is making fun little turns, having a blast, and Josh isn't even looking where he's going because his torch went out and he's borrowed one from the girl in front of him and trying to re light his!

We skid down in this huge serpentine with our torches lit, and as we crested the hill at the top of Virginia City and this HUGE roar went up from everyone at the lodge, and we skid up and doused our torches and skid through the crowd of kids who all wanted to high five us. We stopped for a second to look at the big 08 we had left up on the hill, and Dave and Michael will just TICKLED at how beautifully it came out.

All in all, it was amazing and it made me SO eager for Interski!! Happy New Year!











Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Shannon and Super Ethan!


Can I Just Say...


I lead a charmed life. I kid you not. My mom came up and skiid with my kids today. Then, she took a tree shot on Alpine. My hubby brought bacon, and asked all about my skiing obsession today. I yammered on and on about how much I learned in my little Level 2 Clinic this morning. My little sister shot MORE video of me today, which helps a LOT. The MA videos are solved, and people are starting to watch and practice. My other sister Beth sent me the most LOVERLY email today. And THIS is what I get to look at when I go to work in the morning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mason!



Happy Birthday, Mason! Thanks for all your help!!

Movement Analysis: Kate Howe on Thunder Road at Bridger Bowl

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Movement Analysis: Kate Howe on Thunder Road at Bridger Bowl

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Movement Analysis: Kate Howe on Thunder Road at Bridger Bowl

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Kate Howe on Thunder Road at Bridger Bowl

Movement Analysis: Kate Howe

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Kate Howe at Bridger Bowl

Movement Analysis: Kate Howe

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Kate Howe on Thunder Road at Bridger Bowl: Backseat and skis with at POP! Fix it!

Final Fitting and Good Bye Salt Lake

Today, we went in for my final fitting, and by this point, Shannon was beside herself excited to get her boots done. Skiing in the appropriate boot changed my skiing so dramatically, we’re BOTH excited to see what happens when she gets out of the boot she’s in and into something appropriate. Looks like we’ll be coming back to Salt Lake in January!

For my third fitting, I got to pull on the boots with pleasure domes punched out and space for my little toes. WOW. Can I just say? I have never in my life put on a boot that didn’t hurt. This still snugged my foot, but now I didn’t feel like my toes were bleeding inside my boots. A big improvement, no?

Brent did some more grinding to relieve tiny pressure points and really dial in the fit, and then we moved on to the alignment portion of the fitting. This was really amazing. First, he got on the phone with Michael Hickey, my coach, and asked him if there was anything about my stance that he had noticed and that he’d like to see fixed in the boot. I was SO curious to know what Michael had to say, Shannon and I were straining to over hear. Funny, no?

So I’m standing there with the boots flexed as much as I can get them to pull my toes back away from the front of the boot so they don’t touch and hurt, with my knees hanging about four inches over the toes. “So what did Michael say?” I asked.

“Well, he says you have a tendency to over flex, and there is some stuff we can do to fix that without ripping the boot apart, which is expensive and difficult to do.”

The first thing he had me do was to put the power strap INSIDE the cuff, rather than outside. Bingo, still back in the boot, but more upright. Then, he buckled the top two buckles in tighter, and once more, I am more upright. But still comfortable. I was sort of loath to clamp down my buckles because historically, that’s when my feet go to sleep and turn white and then black. But with it cranked down pretty good, I was still okay in there, due to all the shaping and forming he’d done.

So then, I was in my boots with the new foot beds and he put me on a level board. He looked at my stance, fixed the above mentioned issues, and was pleased with the “well stacked neutral stance” that he saw. He then looked at it from the front, and declared me well aligned bottom to top, (thank god SOMETHING is naturally correct!) and then went to work on all my fore/aft issues.

Brent got out a rocker board, which is a board with a little half round dowl on the bottom. He ligned me up on it and had me shift my weight from the back of the boot to the front, to see what my body position did as it compensated for the pressure change from the back of the boot to the front. As I rolled forward, trying to find the balance point on the board, he noticed that my hips drop back and down.

Then, he put a four mm board under my toes and had me try it again. As I went forward, my entire body moved together. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? Four millimeters. He then took them away from my toes and put them under my heels, and with it exaggerated, asked me if I could feel the difference. It was amazing.

Brent then asked me what kind of bindings and skis I am in, and I told him about Megan’s amazing gift of the Volkl Attivas. He liked the gift, of course, but doesn’t like the Marker bindings for me, especially ones that slide on a rail. He wants bindings that screw directly into the ski for me, and they have to be the same height off the deck of the ski, so there is no ramping other than what he has done to my boots. Apparently the Marker bindings (Which he calls “Hostage” bindings, because you cant’ change the ramp, they are how they are) have a 4-6 mm rise on the heel, which is exaggerating the problem that I’ve been trying to drill out of my skiing!

I am looking at going to the Rossi Z9, and have to figure out what kind of bindings are neutral that will fit on it.

Next, Brent put me in some blue contraptions which were sort of like bindings, with clear marker plates that go up your shins, so he can tell how your bones come out of your boots.

He got me in the binding, took one look and said “Your power turn is your right turn, you are weak on your left side, right?” I just looked at him.

“Brent, that’s kind of creepy that you can tell that, I have to be honest, here.” And his reply? “Yeah, I get that a lot.” I’ll just bet! Of course, he is absolutely right, my right turn is powerful and even, I am a bit scared of my left side turn.

Brent messed with some adjustments in the boot with an allen wrench, a quarter turn here, a titch there, until his level showed me at 0, perfect alignment on both sides. So now, theoretically, there should be NO mechanical disadvantage! If I fail to turn left now, it is ALL ME!

All in all, it was a phenomenal trip, I learned a huge amount about skiing, about gear, about fitting boots, and about what the different kinds of fitting do and how they affect your skiing. I can’t wait to get on them in the morning! For now, we are driving home from Salt Lake in a snowstorm. Gotta get home so we can get to work in the morning!