Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weems teaches epic ski how to carve

Two days to go... vacationing in big sky

Squatty Schuler's Epic Ski Group at Big Sky Montana
Okay, lets back up... lets see. So Weems and Squatty came to Bridger Bowl to play on Saturday! It was awesome. Shannon and I got to ski around with them and their Epic group, we took them over to Slauchmans, and Weems asked what I was working on. I told him I was trying to figure out how and when and where and why to open my ankles, and while it had been happening to some extent, the timing was driving me insane. I couldn't get it consistent.

Weems basically said, oh, yes, that's very important, here is the move, it looks like this, and here is when you do it, and here is where you can practice it, now ski behind me, good,you are doing it! It took about one run. He turned around and coached me through it, helped me with my pole plant as well.

After Squatty did a huge tumbling Superman down Slauchmans proper, we headed back over to play in the gullies with Alex, and I just kept working at it. I had been moving too fast with my feet, too abruptly, so I was able to slow it down and feeeel it. Meanwhile, I'm watching Weems chase Alex down the gullies, going off little jumps, getting airplane air, just playing playing playing. They were like two little kids, it was awesome.

That night, I went down and saw Brent Amsbury, my bootfitter, who was up from Park City and fitting the Bridger Crew in Shannon's bike room. It was Awesome to see him, he's so incredibly positive and encouraging! We got to chat and catch up, and he worked his magic, getting me into a tight fitting performance liner, pushing out a buckle and the ankles of the boots a bit. He double checked my alignment, and noticed that my left hip was pitched forward. He put a lift under my right foot and it evened out my hips, which is interesting because its my turn to the right in which I still dump my hip.

For now, he duct taped a 5mm heel lift in my right boot, but this summer, I have to go do PT and get some rolfing done in order to unwind the musculature that's holding my hip like that. I skied the next day with the heel lift in, and while it felt weird under my foot, it improved my turns quite a bit. Leaving it in for the exam. My boots feel absolutely incredible. Just totally dialed. I love to put them on! They fit like total custom work, they feel like high performance sports cars, and I can wear them all day. Thanks, Brent!

The next day I was going to take off, but I really needed to teach, so I told myself it was going to be a mellow, low end day with lots of rest. I went up and we played with Duct tape with Alex's boots, got him canted well so his knees are tracking properly. Now I just hope the tape stays on!

We went out with Kurt Blunck late that morning and lapped the whirlpools. I was hoping that the move would have stayed in my skiing, but it was feeling elusive that morning. I skied down out of the whirlpools, sort of doing it, still a bit heavy in my skis, boggy, and stuck, but I turned around and watched Kurt ski down to me, and I saw it clearly again, I could see the ankle opening and the inside edge of the outside ski seeking the top of the turn, the body traveling with the gear, the core strength moving into the fall line... It clicked, and I turned around and skied down the toughest pitch at Bridger for me.

I never ski the whirlpools well, there is something about the aspect of the mountain, the deep snow all manky and thick, the steepness, and when it dishes out and gets to be about 25 degrees, and just goes on and on, I STRUGGLE to get the skis to come around. They just feel stuck most of the time, even if I soften my old outside ski to start the turn.

Adding this, seeing it clearly, and then turning around and mimicking what I had just seen, with the last two days of trying to understand it quietly in my head, suddenly, this snow, this gnarly pitch, was easy. I could do short radius turns in the mank!!

By the time I got to the end of the pitch, I was covered in goose bumps, and nauseous from the huge adrenaline rush of realizing I had finally figured something really important out. Its so subtle, the timing is so important, it has to be progressive, and now, I can ski! I feel like I unlocked the mysteries of the universe, i kid you not.

Totally pooped again by the end of that day, my legs are heavy and sore, but Id rather ski on tired legs and have this stick than go with out it. Thats what Redbull is for! (Yes, I'm back on the sauce...) It was Bridger Bowl's awards banquet that night, and then I had to go to my massage space and break down my table so I could come work on the Epic Ski folks here in Big Sky.

Monday I drove (slowly) up to Big Sky because it had been DUMPING all day on Sunday, took my time, got some breakfast, headed excited out for a run, and hooked up with Tess and her friend on snowboards, We went over to Andesite, and skied War Dance, this awesome little steep steep shot with baby trees all over it in knee deep powder. I was excited to ski it well, but my legs were shot, it was steep, no warm up, I got hung up in the back seat, i fell, sat down, ugh, it wasn't pretty.

But I wasn't too worried about it, I know I'm tired and I need to take it easy right now, the exam is the day after tomorrow! I got ahold of Squatty and headed over to the moonlight deli, gave Robin and Bob Barnes a hug, saw the crew from last year, set up massage appointments, and then followed Squatty in the afternoon. His group was moving slow, and working on terrain I needed to be on, so it was a killer, low energy, easy day, calming and fantastic next to Squatty, who just does beautiful beautiful things for my energy. I love this man!

Took a run with Jill and Stew, didn't ski terribly well, but again, not too worried about it, I skied well with Squatty slowly, and my legs need to rest. Got the massage work done last night, then headed down to the meadow for the Big Sky employee party at the Lotus Pad with Chris, wow, that was fun! So, didn't sleep much last night, forcing myself to take it easy this morning.

I feel how heavy my thighs are, so even though I was geared up and ready to go at 9, I'm sitting in Trischa's (from Ski Divas) room writing my post. She was nice enoughto let me bunk up with her! I love the ski world, meeting someone and five minutes later you have a place to sleep. Excellent. Next, a short hot tub, then breakfast and coffee, then wander over to ski school to hook up with Robin possibly for the afternoon ski. Gonna take some runs with Chris, too, I hope, then do some more massage.

Tomorrow, drive back to Bridger, one run on the snow to see how the conditions are, rest, sleep. Almost there!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Epic ski in the house

The epic ski crew

Three days to go, anxiety disappears

WOW. It was an incredible day with Weems and Squatty at Bridger! And yesterday was mellow and important, everything is coming together, things make sense, the new movement is helpful, I'm not fighting it, my anxiety is gone...

I have so much to write about, but went to sleep last night, and am now on my way to Big Sky, I'm gonna train a bit today, and then poach the hot tub, and give some massage to the Epic Ski folks. I'll try to get a good post in tonight and catch ya'll up on the evolution of the opening ankles, it was so exciting yesterday I almost threw up from the adrenaline rush I got when I figured it all out and did it right....

NO TIME LIKE 4 days before the exam to get er done!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

uh oh. I have a 5 mm Leg length discrepancy. Its muscular. My left hip is forward and twisted. band aid: heel lift. Summer project: Rolfing And pt to fix it.

Disturbingly hot.

Mason rocks it for the dirt bag ball. Whats scary is that He's pretty hot!

brent works his magic

Gettin my boots tweaked by the master

Friday, March 27, 2009

I just TOTALLY figured something out!

I was falling asleep and then I realized I'd forgotten to wash my long underwear, so I crawled out of bed, and threw it in the wash, and decided to kill the 1/2 hour by showering myself, and, as I'm sure you can suspect, I do ski in the shower...

So I was skiing in my shower, and I SUDDENLY REALIZED why I HAD THOUGHT I was opening my ankle, or pushing into the back of the oncoming bump (two very different things.)

FIRST, I was pushing into the back of the bump, but I was extending from the knee and hip, and I was doing it WAY TOO EARLY, so that I was basically pushing myself away from the bump.

ALSO, when I was allowing my feet to crumple into the bump, I was not steering or pressuring the outside ski, I was crumpling, then as I crested, pointing and finishing the turn (which is fun).

HOWEVER, when I was just now skiing in the shower, I realized that the extension into the back of the bump is not a defensive "I need to slow myself down" move that's big and hugely anticipated so much as a "I'd like to be able to steer my skis around this thing, and to be in the middle I'm gonna open my ankle a titch just for a split second."

So I was making the move, but too early, too big, and from the wrong joint, which is why, when I tried to put it into my skiing, it was tossing me into the back seat. Now that I have the kinesthetic understanding of the subtlety and the purpose, it feels natural, and it makes the line much smoother, so you have more time for steering and more precise edging, which means you can butter the ski a bit while still slicing off the top of the bump!

OH OH OH! I can't wait to get out there and try it again tomorrow! Understanding what I was doing before is really REALLY helpful to letting go of it and moving forward. Man. Now I'm all jazzed and can't sleep, and I have to be up at 6 to meet Squatty and Weems for breakfast. Jeeze.

5 Days to go. Wiped out tired.

WOW am I pooped. Today, I went to court and talked to the judge again, now I just have one court date left until all this is cleared up. Court went well, but I'm so tired from such an emotional roller coaster two weeks that when I finished, I walked outside, sat down on the bench, and just lost it. I sat there and cried hard for about ten minutes, and then the dire need for kleenex overtook my need to cry, and I mopped up my face and got on with my life.

I went over to visit Angela, who is sick in bed, and we had some Blueberry tea and good talk, she is most excellent at advising on matters of the heart, and really, right now, the only time mine doesn't feel sore and sad is when I'm skiing, which is also a bit exhausting.

I got up to the hill at 12:30 to train with Alex, and ran into Josh. I have only skied with him once this year, for two runs, and as he's our only examiner at Bridger and our head trainer, I thought I'd better ski with him before he takes off for Red Lodge tomorrow.

We went out and ripped up Slauchmans, and I was really happy with how I was skiing, I felt it was indicative of strong skiing for me, and I felt that if I skied that way in the exam, I'd be happy.

Josh mentioned that I had range of motion in all my joints, but that my ankle wasn't opening. He was very concerned about this, because while its a subtle move, its crucial for understanding at this level. If its missing from my skiing, its indicative of ineffective movements, incomplete movements, and defensive skiing in my case.

I was a bit devastated, but seeing as how I have the emotional capacity of a tired two year old right now, I decided to listen to what he said rather than get weepy about it. I chased him down the run, every time he stopped, I quizzed him about it so I'd have enough information to go out and fix the problem.

When should it be open? How do you open it? What are kinesthetic cues that its open? What does it feel like as you do it? What terrain do you do it in? Why do you do it? Why is it important? Why can you see it? What does keeping it closed do to my skiing?

Yes. I was pestering him. What's your point?

Jeff Abelain (You'll remember him from this time LAST year when I was being completely psychotic before my level 2 and 3 exams and he took me up on the ridge and taught me how to jump) and I went and skied Pierre's Knob together, and he asked me, "So what did Josh tell you?"

"I need to open my ankles more." That's all I had. Jeff looked at me. "Open your ankles, open your ankles." He started flexing his ankle open and closed. "Open, closed, open, closed" he said. I love watching Jeff work through stuff like this. He was a racer, and he has an incredible eye, precise, accurate. He has a great understanding of effective movements, but he doesn't talk in PSIA speak, because he's not an instructor. So he can take something we are kicking around, and translate it into English. Its awesome to work with him, because change happens fast.

We talked about what the "move" was, and why it worked, what it did. Josh had asked me to push my feet out ahead of me to meet a bump, and I was frustrated because I felt like I was. But what Jeff and I discovered on the chair was that I was plantar flexing my feet, which was making me feel back seat and squirty. I was opening okay, but not effectively closing, or I was closing okay, but not effectively opening. I wasn't sure of the timing of this move, even though I've been through every bump clinic possible, and I teach bumps by starting traversing through the bumps, push pull push pull...

But do I really ski variable terrain like that? I recently learned how to backpedal into the bumps, and that was hugely helpful, and yesterday, I learned to stay with my gear rather than pushing my outside foot away, and moved the pivot point of my skis back from the front third of the ski to under the boot.

So the question was: how do I plantar flex my foot without dumping my body into the back seat? So we started with why do we need to plantarflex? Why do we drive the tips down? Ski to snow contact is the first reason, but its no good to have ski to snow contact if you are levering your body off your skelleton into the back seat. I got frustrated. Trying to make this change, my skiing fell apart. Completely.

I was tired, cranky, I wanted to quit, I wanted red bull, I was eating everything I could find in my coat on the chair trying to get some energy going. I was flat inside, it was taking all the will I could muster to focus my energy onto the task at hand. What is this move, why do I need it, and when and where do I do it? I knew that I couldn't give up today, I have five days to the exam. I needed to figure it out TODAY and then ski it hard for the next five days, hopefully getting a rest day in there on Tuesday.

Josh said that he hits the back of his boots when he does it, not to be afraid of hitting the backs of the boots. I was like "I SPENT TWO YEARS GETTING OFF THE BACK OF MY BOOTS! BAH!" inside, but then I thought, okay, I started out in the backseat, then I went to way too far forward, yesterday I found center, and this move isn't so much moving your center of mass for or aft along the ski, this is pulling your feet forward with your core from the knee and ankle to get your feet ready to receive your mass as it slows down in the chop. Its a proactive move. Its tiny. Its important like crazy.

I couldn't get it. I was inside, I was hanging on to my turn, I was hucking my core, I was turning my jacket before my pants, I was... I was frustrated.

Jeff and his brother Bob, who joined us, were patient as the day is long, and just started talking me through it. We stayed on task, correcting all the compensatory movements I was doing while I was trying to learn the move.

My skiing started coming back to where it was yesterday, but it was still a total mess in the lower angle terrain that was more skied out. Jeff said he didn't see a shuffle, he didn't see a push. So I was okay... but, now I'm back to center, but where is the move?

We took a break from torturing me in the Whirlpools and went and skied Flippers, which I ski much better. Jeff had me do rhythm changes from the top of Flippers down, two large turns, three short turns, two large turns, three short turns, through the bumps, down the drop off, and in the steep. It worked, I was shopping in my long turns a bit, but the short was okay, I could hop into it and make the ski work. something was changing.

We went over to the baby bumps, low angle spiny bumps that are awesome to train in, and I watched Jeff ski away. He is able to carve almost anywhere, and I watched him carve medium radius turns in those bumps. Then I thought of Alex skiing with light, fast feet through the trees in shin deep mank, and what I had to do to follow his line. Then, thinking of light, fast feet, I thought of following Chris through the bumps the other day when I shot the video. I was able to ski the line that he skied, but I couldn't do it unless I was ten feet off his tails, When he got away from me, I couldn't ski that line.

What was Chris doing differently? And why did it feel in my mind like it was a combination of what I just saw Jeff do, and what Alex had done the day before? I put an image of Chris skiing bumps in my mind, and I started skiing behind him, picking his line, and looking in my mind's eye at what his skis would do in terrain like this. To make the move, to ski his line, in which he has supreme ski snow contact, and a bit of carve, but the ability to butter and steer the ski, he takes a round, yet fast line, cutting off the top of each bump, but moving always into the next one, he never gets pitched in his core. Why?

I started moving my feet to ski his line, and the first bump I hit, I pulled my feet forward to meet the back of the bump, but I kept my core ready, immatating the image in my mind. Because of this, I didn't dump my center of mass into the back seat, and my pivot point stayed in the center of my boot as my skis and body stayed perpandicualr, and travled together up the back side of the bump. As soon as my feet were ahead of me, I started steering, but I was already looking at the next bump, feeling my feet backpedal and finish the turn underneath me. I did it again. And then again, and suddenly I had a senesation of travleing in a free, light way down the bumps, my feet working for and aft of me, maintaining my speed, I never felt dumped. I had goosebumps head to toe, I had a massive adrenaline rush from realizing that a lightbulb had just gone on.

The excitement of feeling it come together was so big I felt suddenly like I was going to throw up!

I had finally felt what it was, I wasn't pushing my feet into the bump to crumple into them, or pushing them to use my heels to slow myself, but pushing them so I had somewhere to close to, actively keeping my center of mass with my gear so that the pivot point wouldn't change on the ski. I was then free to point the tips down if I wanted to, or to air it out, or to glue them to the snow.

Five days to go. Gonna go train this into my skiing tomorrow if my life depends on it. Now... hot hot shower, and sleeeep. Weems and Squatty are at Bridger tomorrow!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Six days to go!

Today was an awesome training day, lucky us, it snowed tons at Bridger, I think we had about 10", enough to cover all the frozen nonsense from Monday, and it was light and fluffy due to the fact that it was only -3 today at Bridger this morning!

Trained in a 4 hour clinic this morning on center line demos, skied wedge turns on a powder day, yes we did, and it was awesome. Casto gave hands down the best clinic of the year. Clear, concise, specific, tailored to each individual person, awesome awesome awesome.

Then I had the absolute pleasure of skiing with my little 4 year old friend Felix, who skied Powder Park and just ROCKED IT! I didn't have my camera today, unfortunately, but he was just shredding, it was brilliant. We were riding on dragons today, which helped quite a bit!

After some lovely playtime and picture drawing, I got back at it with my training partner of doom, Alex Sweeny, and we hit Slauchmans, where I had a massive breakthrough in my skiing, getting centered, getting fast, light feet. Unlocking that which has been locked all year! It was just outstanding. Then we hit the whirlpools over and over again to see if I could keep it, and I did!

I'm totally wiped out, I'd love to post about it in more depth, but after chatting through the changes, and then heading down the hill and getting a KILLER massage from Ms. Tamara at European Massage (seriously. See this woman, she will change your life.), I came home and got some snuggles, read to the kids, and crawled into my own bed, where I am laying, still in my long underwear.

Court tomorrow morning (thanks for all the awesome and encouraging emails and notes, by the way, you guys are awesome, I was really worried about posting the story on my blog, and I sure do appreciate all your support!!) and then over to visit Angela, and then up to Bridger to train some more! I'll post more tomorrow on:

Opening to start
Being in the Center
Pushing the outside foot away
Lightening to airplane turn
hop turns in crud and powder
how not to ski into a tree
why chasing sweeny gives you fast feet or a face full of pine needles.

Until then, g'night!!

Shane McConkey, 1969-2009 RIP

Shane McConkey, amazing visionary, big mountain skier and BASE jumper died today. Click here for the whole story. Shane, you will be missed by the entire ski community.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Donate to Flynn Murray's recovery fund at First Security Bank

Flynn's family has set up a benefit fund for the care and medical services that Flynn will be needing in the future. Please donate today, even $5 helps.

Mail checks to:
Flynn Murray Benefit Fund
First Security Bank
PO Box 910
Bozeman, MT

If you include an SASE and a request for reciept, your donation is tax deductible.

Chris and I went to visit Flynn last night, but she had a mucus plug and no visitors were allowed while they were clearing it. Flynn's parents wrote this amazing post on her CaringBridge site about what its like to help the doctors care for their daughter.

Please visit Flynn's CaringBridge site to leave her a message, her parents and brother and cousin read it to her at 2 in the morning when she wakes up.

I talked to Flynn's cousin today, and unfortunately, Flynn currently has pneumonia, and the transfer to the Denver hospital is delayed until this current obstacle is overcome. Please send encouragement and love and support on her CaringBridge site, she needs to keep her spirits up in order to fight!

We love you, Flynn!

Its a new day...

Well, its amazing what you can get done when you are forced to take a few days off. Lesson learned, today, I went to court, and the judge sent me to talk to the city attorney, who was very understanding, and the whole thing is cleared up. Which is excellent, because the potential consequences were very scary.

I am also the proud owner of a new valid Montana driver's license (Thanks for the ride, Jonathan, and for letting me use your car for the test, and for the yummy coffee!)

I have to go to court on Friday again, and again on April 15 to file paperwork and get it all cleaned off my record, but the good news is that the series of unfortunate events that lead to this situation were kindly understood by the judge, and life moves on.

So, uh, if you ever get a ticket for not smogging your car in a timely manner, get it cleared up!

RIGHT, moving on.

In the mean time, I'm plowing through paperwork and other loose ends, and catching up on homework so when I get back to school after the exam I'll be rarin' to go.

Tomorrow, up to the hill to train train train: time to dial the funnel, javelin turns, and to arc down Emile's mile, double check legs in the whirlpools.

Thanks for all the kind emails, sorry for the drama! (sheepish...)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flynn Murray, Big Sky Ski Instructor, hospitalized

I met Flynn at Spire, our local climbing gym, doing an employee training seminar. She is one of those women whose spirit is absolutely shining all the time. A great climber, she was open minded to new climbing techniques and teaching methods, and always had an awesome upbeat attitude for everyone who came in the gym.

She is also an awesomely enthusiastic ski instructor at Big Sky, and on Thursday, Flynn flipped her truck coming down the canyon from Big Sky to Bozeman, and injured her spinal cord rather severely. She is currently in Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, and will be transferred to Denver this week for specific, targeted care.

Jill and Jenny went to visit her the other day, and she is talking and laughing, but can't move from the chest down yet.

Flynn and her parents have a website where you can leave Flynn messages, which her folks read to her when she wakes up. Please take a moment to send Flynn your thoughts and healing energy!

To visit Flynn's website and wish her a speedy recovery, click here.

Flynn, you are in my heart, keep that beautiful light shining and looking toward the future!

A little bit of drama

So after the amazing day yesterday, I came home to get some stuff done that I've been putting off, I've been slowly slogging through stuff like this trying to make sure I'm on top of all of my obligations, having good follow through, doing what I say I'm going to do and being where I say I'm going to be when I say I'm going to be there.

That has proven to be a bigger challenge than previously thought, although I'm steadily making progress, I had a very interesting experience last night. I was debating on whether to post about it or not, and I've decided that I'll share the story in this way.

I'm trying to move forward and stay on track, so if you are curious about what happened, click here. For my own sanity and the fact that I need to take the lesson and move on, I'm going to keep it off the front page.

Today, Tomorrow, and Thursday: not at the hill, handling my stuff. Back on the Mtn on Friday!

9 Days Left, Training on Frozen Chicken Heads

Excellent day of doooom! I'm a bit in over my head with my schedule, which is NOT so cool for my massage clients, and here is a great big appology for the rescheduling that is going on, and thanks for the patience and understanding.

School started again today, but I was up at Bridger training. I won't be in school or doing massage until after the exam on the 2nd and 3rd, its just too intense, I've got to focus.

Today, Jill Imsand and Jen Gunther came down from Big Sky to train, and we picked up Alex Sweeny, and then later on, we ran into Maggie Beardsly, and Glenn from Big Sky, and it turned into a huge ski posse!

The snow was like a frozen stormy ocean tipped on its side and dusted with about an inch of new snow, basically the toughest conditions for me to ski. We worked really hard, skied aggressively, took aggressive lines, and asked ourselves to ski it well, ski it with as much technical precision as we could muster, and it ended up being outrageous fun, and very very hard work!

We skied all three whirlpools, the hourglass into the third whirlpool, the fourth finger, angels' flight, flippers, abelin's, easy money, all the crappy, steep south facing snow we could find!

I'm not sure if my skiing would pass if it had been the exam day, but I do know that I was happy with how I was skiing, I felt like I was able to ski that stuff better than I ever had, and that I was able to make positive change during the day to ski it better and better as the day went on. It was awesome to chase Alex around out there, he picked some gnarly lines, and I knew if he skied it, I could, too.

There was one scary moment when he lost a ski in the middle of the pinch on the fourth finger, (it went rocketing off this little knoll and shot into space), which is VERY steep and it was pretty icy, and I thought, oh, he's going to have to slide for life to the bottom, but he managed to get up on his one ski and sideslip down to the ski, totally keeping it together in a very scary moment, got himself back together.

Our last run of the day was an amazing rodeo ride adventure through steep trees and off a big log, just outstanding.

Thanks for an amazing day, guys!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

10 Days to GO TIME, Mom leaves, Squatty and Weems are ON THE WAY!

WOW, its getting intense around here! (getting?) My beautiful, amazing and miraculous mom left yesterday, we had a great time eating at Nova Cafe and then we said goodbye, and I took Ethan and Bodhi up to Bridger to ski, which was awesome. Bodhi skied Virginia City twice, once with me in a rather floppy fashion, and once with the amazing Alex Sweeny, who put him on a piece of bamboo and had killer results!

Ethan's violin teacher and his band, the Bridger Creek Boys, were playing bluegrass and covering Grateful Dead songs on the deck in the sun, and we hung out and danced and drank beer in the sunshine, then went in to watch the point and chute competition, which was won by our buddy Missy Cashman! WAY TO GO MISS! It was an awesome film about what it takes to make the hill run so we can all go play on it, and I can't wait for the extended version!! (Miss, can I have a copy to post here??)

Today, I taught Katie again this morning, and had a blast with this little ripper (See the post below), and then went out and trained in the afternoon with Kurt Blunck, who has an amazing AMAZING eye, a patient, clear way of explaining what he wants, and who is totally encouraging. My skiing was falling apart in front of him, the wheels were COMMIN off, and he spotted some issues that I'd worked OUT of my skiing, but which had come back because I was skiing this super slushy slidy snow timidly, defensively.

We skied Avalanche Gulch several times, working on reducing the tip lead, making the turn round, not letting the skis squirt, and it got better. Then, we headed down and I joined Dave's clinic on Bump Skiing, and we went through a patient progression, and by the end, I was skiing okay again. It was a scary day, to watch my skiing just FALL APART like that, but it was awesome to feel it come back together.

Tomorrow, Jill Imsand and Jen Gunther are comming to ski, we are supposed to get 7-9 inches of fresh, and it should be on top of frozen solid chicken heads of doom, so we will go find the crappiest snow we can and train it all day, probably down Slauchmans Ravine over and over, big bumps, steeps, bad snow. Yup.

Wednesday, Chris might come down to ski, and wash, rinse, repeat, we'll do the same, then FRIDAY, WEEMS AND SQUATTY will be driving toward me... which means on Saturday, we'll get to ski Bridger together! Its a hiking festival! I can't WAIT WAIT WAIT to play with these guys on my home hill, oh I hope the snow is awesome, I so need a dose of my Uuber Coach of Doooom and my beautiful friend... yes yes yes, I am VERY excited to smile and relax and play with these guys, we'll hike hidden, and the Z and Psychopath, and Slauchmans, maybe Saddle, and the 50's... oh, heaven.

I may be able to go out to Big Sky over the following days to play with them in Epic Ski, I hope so, because I feel happy and whole and competent when I'm around them, they push me hard, but I always feel like I can give them more, every run, every turn, I find more inside!

Thanks for an amazing week, MOM, and Jill, and Tom and Chris, and Christine, and Stew, and Kurt, and Weems and Squatty, I CAN'T WAIT!!

Katie makes a HUGE improvement in her skiing! Bridger Ski Foundation, watch out, this is your next racer!

I had the lovely opportunity to ski with Katie again today, and WOW, she made a HUGE change, learning to send her body down the hill with her skis, rather than turning her skis and resisting the pull of gravity with her body! This allowed her to make her very first true parallel turns, which was AMAZING to watch! One small move, and her skiing just UNLOCKED! Well done, Ms. Katie!

For video of Katie from today, click here!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What do ski instructors do when they aren't teaching?

V.I.O. POV Cameras Sponsor Kate!

I am super excited to say THANK YOU to Clint Slack of VIO POV Cameras, who have supplied me with the VIO 1.5 headcam to play with! What an awesome toy! Please visit their website to see what they've got, and watch for lots of fun films to come! Missy Cashman will be sharing the camera with me this spring and summer to get some sick back country footage, yeah!

Thanks VIO, and welcome to the team!

Donation Love!

Thanks, Jonathan, for the donation to my training fund! You rock! And thanks, too, for the very motivational and awesome emails you send, they keep me going!

Kate and Christine SKI THE BIG: The Movie!

Friday, March 20, 2009

What it felt like to ski the Big Couloir at Big Sky

(image by TetonGravityResearch)
So Tom got the video transfer all figured out for me! Yay! But its going to take another hour for the raw footage to upload into iMovie, and then a bit of time to edit and post it, so I'm gonna write the story without the video for now. I'm kind of an instant gratification kinda gal (in case that isn't abundantly clear by now...), so we're gonna go with what we got!

Christine, Jill and I stood in line for the tram in the sun and watched a couple of dudes boot packing up the A-Z chutes, which looked heavenly, deep and untracked. One young fella decided it'd be fun to just go straight, so after a 30 minute slog cutting trail in thigh deep powder, he slapped em on and pointed em. Yup. 2 or 3 seconds to the bottom. When he got back to the tram line, he did a steezy little move, you know, a whirlybird? and fell flat on his butt. His friend, on the other hand, decided to come down in style and enjoy every single turn. Very nice. Hey, man, whatever floats your boat!!

I was a little nervous in line, but I have to admit that I was pretty sure we were going to go up there and sign up for a later spot, they only let 2 people in the Big at a time, so I wasn't freakin' out too bad. We got to the stairs at the tram, and Jill had to go down to work, so she skipped out of line, and we carried on. It was great to catch up with Christine, I haven't seen her since tryouts last May, and she's looking great and skiing hot and enjoying her new puppy!

We ran into Ben in the tram, where he humbly and proudly showed us the really gnarly line he took into the "Apple Core" a billygoaty way into the Little Couloir. Now, the big is fun, but its a groomer compared to the extremity of the Little. I was impressed.

The tram pulled up and we walked up to the patrol shack to look at the sign in list and add our names. Surprise, surprise, there was a 12:45 spot. It was 12:10 or so. Christine had to be back at line up at 1. Could we make it across the traverse and through the Big and back to the ski school in 15 minutes? It would be tight! Christine hesitated, she grappled, I was SO sad that the helmet cam wasn't looping right, because I had thought I'd caught the whole thing on video, but... anyhow... the Patrol dude who was up there was tres cool, and said he'd do his best to get us in a few minutes early, and I sort of poked Christine, because we don't get to ski together that often, and its fun to watch her cut loose and play... and she did it! She signed up, we sat down, and the wait began.

image by Distinctly MontanaI was okay, I wasn't thinking too much about it, we had 40 minutes or so... wait, we had 20 minutes. Oh. Okay, now I was getting nervous. The group in front of us were told to gear up, the Couloir was clear, now we only suddenly have 10 minutes... we've gone from a nice 40 minute wait to its almost our turn! I had to pee, there's no porta potty up there, I went into my pack for my granola, I'd taken it out for some lame reason... wait, wait, what else can I come up with??

STAY COOL, KATE! I listened to the instructions the Patrol was giving, and then I asked Christine to explain the protocol for skiing it, she walked me over to the map and talked me through it, we go along the traverse, around the corner, then ski one at a time to the Dog Leg, then one at a time out. I'd be able to see her the whole time. She asked if I wanted to ski first or second, and I wanted, in my head, to ski second and be safe, so I decided to ski first and not be a pansy, and then I decided to be safe and ski second so I didn't make a dumb mistake with two weeks to go to the exam. Time to be a bit more conservative.

It was time! We geared up, went and got our skis, and headed out of the backcountry gate. The traverses at Big Sky are full of buffed out whoopties, just like Bridger, but at Big Sky, for some reason, they get these nasty stair step like drops in them which is just totally discombobulating. To be totally honest, it wasn't until this year that I have started feeling okay on traverses, they are absolutely terrifying. You have to go fast, there's no place to feather your speed, you hit these huge bumps, you have to gain speed and ski up hill... now I think they are kind of fun, but WOW. Okay, so this traverse is on the top of Lone Peak at like nearly 12,000 feet, which is beautiful and amazing and really, really high up there. (thirsty... thirsty... out of breath...)

I was worried that the camera wasn't on, but I didn't want to waste any time, so I just pushed the button a bunch and hoped for the best. We headed out and Christine showed me the North Summit Snowfield, the newest wild terrain that's inbounds at Big Sky, it looked incredible! But I was getting kind of heart-poundingly nervous. Angela and I had been skiing the South Boundary at Bridger a lot in 3' of fresh powder, and while I was getting the hang of it, we were skiing in a big open snowfield, where if I screwed up, I could make an enormous turn and get it back together. There was not really a whole lot of room for error in the Big, I mean, its very wide, like 5 or 6 ski lengths at least, but I just wasn't sure... I was worried about the snow conditions, worried about how well I'd ski it, worried about falling down it to the bottom, worried about getting hurt with only a few days to go to the exam.

We came around the corner, and oh. That's it? I've skied steeper stuff than THAT before!! Now the only question was... could I ski it well? And would my legs let me make great turns for the however many vertical feet (that's a lot more than I ski in one go at Bridger) this monster was? I was relieved to look into it, it looked doable, fun, exciting. I was still nervous, more nervous than I let Christine know, I think from the exposure and not being sure what the snow would be like, not having taken a warm up run of any sort, and, you know... skiing right under the Tram, which I hadn't even THOUGHT about until Christine told me, "I always feel pressure to ski this well when I'm in my uniform, I prefer to ski it out of uniform. Because, you know, skiing under the Tram, you want to ski it well for the ski school, do a good job."

I was like, OH YEAH. Awesome, hadn't thought of that. But then I thought, cool. That's like an exam. Ski it for the audience, ski it well for whoever is watching. Show them what you can do, the best you can do it.

Christine dropped in and disappeared after three turns, the snow looked phenominal, the turns she made were elegant, fun, energetic, easy... I thought, well, how hard can it be? I mean, really?

I saw her pull into the dog leg and it was my turn, can't wait, she hast to get to the bottom, there's another party on our tail... so I shut my brain off and dropped in, made that first blissful turn and thought, WOW, this is steep! But the snow is great. GREAT, firm enough to push on, light enough to float a little, ego snow. EGO SNOW!

I had to ask myself to ski it, outloud, not to hold back or try not to fall, but to go, to ski it how I know I can ski, and I got close, I had about three turns on the top section that were smooth and flowing and with my gear and down the mtn, I hung onto a few, I got slightly tossed on a few, but all in all, it was a rather blissful ski. I pulled up next to Christine drooling and smiling, and she took off on the second leg, while I caught my breath. She skied the bottom portion flawlessly, really raised the bar, and I thought, okay, me too, ski this section even better, there's not as far to slide if you fall here, just ski it SKI IT!!

I saw her pull up and I had a moment of clarity... I hadn't caught my breath yet, and rather than charging in, I waited another thirty seconds to slow my heart and breathe easy. Then, round, fun beautiful, turns, I wish it went on forever, it felt so damn good! I skied up to Christine and hugged her, just blissed out of my mind with the feeling of flying, of floating and turning, and I wanted so bad just to get back in the tram line and go again, but Christine needed to get down, so I hopped on her tails and she took off through the crud, hopping off this, jumping off that, maching through the low angle skied out slop that scares the crap out of me...

We made it down in plenty of time, and it looked like Jill and I might get a run in the Big, could we REALLY just go up there and do it again???

It turns out, no, we were 10 minutes late to get another lap. So instead, we skied everything else steep we could find off the Tram, but those turns in the Big, that feeling of adventure, of committing to a line... it has stayed with me!

Video coming soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

13 days to Level 3, Punched in the Face, Still Goin'

So today has been one of those "roadblock" kinda days, and I'm pretty psyched to say that THIS IS WHY YOU BUILD A TEAM! I got a great opportunity to test my coaching system on myself today.

I can't really write about the specifics of what happened, but suffice it to say, 12 days before the exam is not a day that you want to find out that there are, uh, two warrants out for your arrest (WHAT?? Its paperwork, don't panic... I have a failure to appear that happened because of my accident in October that I didn't take care of, handling it tomorrow...), that you've been charged twice for the exam, and then charged fees by your bank because you bounced a couple of checks, so you are now out about $350, a very challenging emotional training session this morning, a tough complicated lesson, and then there was some much more important personal type stuff that lead to a rather sore, bruise-y feeling around the heart area.

Facebook to the rescue! Several cyber-hugs later, a crying fit in Elizabeth's waxing room, snuggles from my mom, and a chat with a good friend later... I feel rallied around, I feel strong, and I feel like the world is not ending.

I have, with the help of my awesome support group, decided to focus hard on passing my exam, I don't have time to panic, worry, or mourn anything right now, to wish it was different, to fight to get it the way I wish it was... I just need to let go and stay focused on the exam. I can do that on April 4th.

So I've decided to shelve the mini psychosis I fell into, use several kleenexes, mop up my face and think about Wedge Christies. No, this train can NOT be derailed. I will not loose sight of my goal for anyone or anything.

12 days to go. Stayin' strong. Thanks, guys. I truly couldn't do it without you.


Okay, the money thing continued to nag all day, but I got my butt to school and did some much needed make up work for two classes, then went to the DMV where I was on hold for FIVE HOURS with the Massachusetts DMV, waiting for them to find paperwork saying I'd paid a parking ticket in 2006 (admittedly, it was issued in 1990...). I had to pay another $60 for some reason after they found it and were like, oh, yeah, you paid it! Whatever. Now its clear off the National Database, but, surprise, surprise, Bozeman can't see it on the computer till Monday. Sigh. Took off from there and came home to snuggle kiddos and hang with my mom on her last day, resisted obsessing over matters of the heart, went into town and gave a couple of killer massages, had a harder time resisting obsessing over matters of the heart, decided to obsess over money trouble instead, came home to find a check from 32 Degrees for the race camp article YEAH! (And a very nice letter, thanks guys!!)

Money trouble solved, name clear on database, caught up on some school, kids played outside, Bozeman Brewing Company won the Aspen Hockey League championships, heart is eased a titch, movies are transferred to iMovie for killer video for tomorrow's post, and I'm skiing with my boys tomorrow.

So life doesn't suck after all.

But I have to tell you, yesterday, "I get by with a little help from my friends..." Thanks again, guys!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

14 Days to the Level 3 Exam! What a day at Big Sky!

Today, I traveled up to Big Sky, MT to ski with my friend Jill Imsand, who I've been trying to get together with for MONTHS, unsuccessfully. Today, we made it happen! Not ONLY did I get to take a couple of rippin' runs with her and her boyfriend, but I also got to ski the Big Couloir with Christine Bakker (who ripps, I always forget how fast she is in the chop), and then in the afternoon, I chased Tom Marshall and Chris Jones through the trees in the bumps and nearly died a hundred times. (Just kidding.)

It was awesome to come ski Big Sky, I haven't been here since the fall, and it's just amazing how different it feels under my feet! The snow is different, the vertical goes on foooorrrrever, its steep, and it stays steep, and its been ages since I got to get out and play with these guys, and it was a blast to see them.

We ran into Ben Bernekie (I'm sure I spelled that wrong, sorry, Ben!), who has just skied the Little Couloir, which is gnarly, steep, and you have to go straight sometimes! He was pretty psyched on it, it was great to hear about, he described it as we went up the tram looking at this just INSANE line and thinking... wow, he did it!

I was wearing the new helmet cam, which was wonderful, and I looked at some of the footage on the tiny screen, I can't wait to upload it and show you what it was like today! Too fun!!

Skiing with the camera was challenging, because I was aware all the time that I was wearing it, so I wasn't focusing completely on my skiing, and it got away from me a few times when I was thinking about keeping the camera pointed in a certain direction, rather than feeling the snow and the turn and my skis.

The bowl was sloppy and choppy, but we skied The Big Couloir, as I said, and it was boot top powder with chalk underneath, just heavenly, and then Christine went down and subbed for Jill so she could come play, and we skied the third gully, and the black rock in the bowl (and the camera was unfortunately NOT rolling on that run, which was fun, and I did a big somersault on the steeps, and then looked up to see Jill skiing like a rock star toward me with the sun behind her catching the spray of the snow, but the camera was not only covered in snow, but it was OFF, bummer, bummer, bummer.

Anyhow, got it turned back on for a very fast run down the Decider? or the Discipline? or the... can't remember... but Jill and her boyfriend were rippin, and I was kinda hangin on for dear life, which was great, because when I try, I can ski that fast, too...

Then we hightailed it down to the bottom (ten minutes from tram top to ski school, no stopping... whew! And then we headed back out, Jill, Tom, Chris and I for a few fast play runs. Jill had to head in, so I followed the boys, which was hilarious, just watching them disappear into the trees and trying to see the terrain, make the turns, and keep up, it was so fun! I'm not entirely sure how Chris sees all those jumps and kickers at such high speeds, but I guess it just doesn't feel that fast to him in there. Tom had been in Garmish, Germany for the past week giving an exam, and had just flown home the night before, so he was exhausted, but he looked goofy and happy after playing in the snow for a few.

All in all, a super fun day out playing with friends, just what I needed to get my head in the right place before the exam. I have 14 days to go! Jill and Jen Gunther are going to come out and ski Bridger on Monday, we are going to spend the day in Slauchman's, because we found out that the exam says "Transcievers Required", so I'm assuming that means steep, fun terrain! Chris might get out for a play day later in the week at Bridger, which would be great, also.

My game plan for the next 14 days:
Sleep as much as I can every night.
Improve overall quality of foods I'm eating, although I'm eating frequently, I need more easily processed superfoods.
Soak in Epsoms three times a week.
Increase water intake to 1 gallon a day (I'm very dehydrated right now).
Rest days: March 21, 28, and maybe the 31.
Skill Focus: Javelin Turns, Teaching Progressions, Charlestons, Arcing in Emile's Mile, Deer Park Face, Short Turns on video, and arcing in video, short swing turns in video. Keep working bumps, hands and shoulders schooled.

If I get to choose, I think I am going to teach skiing on one ski, I have to check and see if I have time to do it the way I want to. I'm thinking of leaving a ski at the bottom of Pierre's and then skiing a whole run on one ski, switching feet, and thinking about what do you have to do to make the ski function? (Pressuring the cuff, high attention to movement patterns), then get the ski, and do delayed weight transfers down upper thunder road to the flats, then take it into arcing from the lone tree down, applying the idea of softening the inside leg (which is easy when its non existant!).

I'm also thinking of teaching comma turns to inside ski pulled back and bent, to arcing with the inside knee softening and tipping in. But those both end in the same place, with an emphasis on better carving, one on listening to critical edge angle and ski performance, and the second focusing on a strong inside half and flexion/extension movements. This second one is more complicated, because I'm gonna want to talk about pulling the skis to their edges, and about making sure the extension is on the new outside leg, rather than two-legged, creating the long leg short leg... so I have to think about that.

They will probably assign the tasks we'll teach, so I'm not going to worry too much about that.

Video coming tomorrow, probably! I have to learn the new editing software and cut it down a bit, but I checked it out on the little LED screen, and some of it looks pretty damn good! YAY!

Waiting at the top.

Waiting at the top with christine to get into the Coular! 20 Min to go time.

Ready to ski it!

in the tram line to ski the big Couliar!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Katie skis with me at Bridger Bowl!

This little ripper skis with Alisa every week, and this week, I got to go out and play with her! We had SO MUCH FUN! Way to go, Katie!

For more video of Katie and her sister, click HERE.

For LOTS more video of Katie and her sister, visit my YOU TUBE channel!

Chris skis Flippers at Bridger Bowl!!

Chris has been with me for the last 10 weeks in my ladies group, and took the plunge with a 3 hour private. She wanted to make her skiing stronger, work technically on her turn, so she can go ski off the ridge and kill it. After 2 hours on the groomer working hard to tweak the windshield wiper out of her skiing, we hit a nice steep double black diamond to see if all her hard work would pay off. HECK YA!! Way to ski it, Chris!!

For more video of Chris, click HERE.

JoLynn and her Dad ski Bridger Bowl!

I had the absolute pleasure of skiing with JoLynn and her dad yesterday at Bridger. He's an expert skier of 40 years, (recovering from 5 knee surgeries... WOW, hardcore!) she's beginning to crack the moguls! It was great to hang out and hear stories and swap ideas on ski technique!

Kate Skiing - Video from prep for Level 3 this week

For more video of Kate's exam prep this week, click HERE, thanks for the video, Shannon!

For all videos by Shannon of me and John, visit her YouTube channel HERE!

For video of Shannon and John, visit my YouTube Channel HERE.

Sola Cafe, my favorite fuel for skiing in Bozeman!

Look what i'm having for lunch from sola cafe! God this food is awesome!

Prep for 3: Kate skis Bumps in Last Chance

Thanks for the video, Shannon!!

Medium Radius Turns in the Bumps on South Bowl

Monday, March 16, 2009

16 Days to the Level 3 exam, feelin' good...

MR Turns in the bumps are ok! YAY! At least they feel pretty good. Regular bumps, ok, too. Delayed weight transfer turns, ok, Charlesotons, ok. Wedge, Wedge Christie ok. Open parallel too edgy. Arcing ok, short turns ok. Moving pivot point back in steeps, just fine and dandy until this afternoon for some random reason in the whirlpools. Will drill that right the freak out of my skiing tomorrow.

Whirlpools, arcing on steep terrian, hop turns, open parallel, javelin turns.

Video coming tomorrow, Shannon is uploading it now. I'll post video of her doing the same drills shortly, and video of today's ski clients as well. Its a lot of uploading, it may not go up on the blog till tomorrow.

Toe hurts, but feels much better after I re-set it and taped it a few days ago, grossly dark blue/green. Feels good in the boot. Wrist is better, stiff, skied out of the splint today, not quite ready for that.

Homework situation is completely out of control, but must focus on level 3 exam right now. Doing MA at night off the Aspen videos Megan gave me, reading Ron LeMaster's book, and pestering folks constantly to check my understanding. Loving it. LOVING it. Feeling so great about skiing right now, on track like a freight train for the next 16 days!! Whoot Whoot!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

17 days to Level 3, The Cavalry Arives!

MY MOM IS HERE! Thank the great coffee bean in the sky, the freakin' cavalry has arrived for spring break. Do you know what that means? It means we are all going to feel loved and snuggled and we are all going to eat well, and my kids will be calm and happy and their brains will double in size! Their manners will get better, and their help around the house will, too! Because, y'all, that's just how Savta rolls!

It ALSO means that I don't have to take the week off from training, mom came so I can stay hard at work prepping for the exam. How unbelievably cool and supportive is THAT?


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Naitonal Teams Tryouts DVD, Just Good Skiing 5 DVD

If you are interested in seeing fairly raw footage with minimal edits of the National Alpine Team Tryouts,

Send $5 and a small padded SASE to:

Kate Howe
National Alpine Tryouts DVD
628 Starling Dr
Bozeman, MT

The copies I sent out before were compressed a bit because its over 80 min of unedited footage that Chris Kastner and I shot, but I've edited it down a little so it can be a higher quality disc, more useful!

If I sent you a previous version, please drop me a line with your email and I'll send you a higher quality burn of the disc.

I also have copies of JGS 1-5, let me know if you'd like a copy, WOO HOO Megan Harvey ROCKS THE HISOUSE!!

PS, hey, guys, wanna shoot an NRM Version of some hot skiing after exams??

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mother Huckers ski the John and Bronco Face!

For more video of my Thursday women's group, click here!

Help Send Rachel Bauer to the Pan American Mtn. Bike Championships!

So there's this chick, Rachel. I met her at Highlands in Aspen last year, and she was just KILLING it on her skis. Turns out, we have a lot in common. She hasn't been skiing that long, but went for her Level 3 anyway, and got it, isn't afraid to huck off stuff, likes to charge hard and play outdoors.

Turns out, she's a hard core insane mountain biker, beautiful woman, hot chick, good friend, and all around awesome person. And she is doing the unthinkable, in two years on a bike, she's qualified for the Pan American Championships. READ ON, and then lets all HELP GET RACHEL TO CHILE!

Follow your dream, girl!

From the Fresno Bee:

Bauer has knack for adapting
Running and skiing background helps smooth local standout's transition to mountain biking.
Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009
The Fresno Bee

Even though she's only been racing mountain bikes for two years, Rachel Bauer didn't need long to become national caliber.

A former track and cross country standout at Buchanan High and Fresno State, Bauer will represent the United States at this month's Pan American Mountain Bike Championships in Santiago, Chile. The event runs March 20-23.

Bauer, who lives in Aspen, Colo., and works as a ski instructor at Aspen Highlands, will compete in the downhill and four-cross events.

The Pan Am Championships are the biggest race in the Western Hemisphere, one step below a World Championship or World Cup event. A total of 20 athletes will compete for the U.S.

Bauer was selected to the team after winning the overall downhill title in last year's Mountain States Cup, the nation's biggest regional mountain biking circuit, and filling out an on-line petition.

"It's all moving pretty fast," Bauer told the Aspen Daily News. "I had no expectation of actually going [to the Pan Am Championships]. I just thought it might be fun [to apply]."

Bauer said her experience as a ski racer helped her master downhill mountain biking quickly. Both sports require balance and the ability to look ahead on the course rather than the nearest obstacle or gate.

"If you look ahead, it kind of slows down the course," she said. "You don't see as much terrain and rocks and trees and your body is just adjusting to it."

Bauer is believed to be the first Fresno-area native to represent the U.S. cycling team in an international competition.

DONATE TO Rachel's fund to help get her to Chile to represent the US! GO RACHEL, GO!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did you ski with me? Let's stay in touch!

I started a Facebook group for you guys! Lets stay in touch, so we can plan trips, make group lessons, and watch the videos that I took of you skiing!

Visit the new Facebook group Here
, and thanks for skiing with me!!

20 Days to Level 3, New Broken Toe

Yup, I broke it. WOW. I am a bit clumsy, its true. I do get injured a lot. But, hey, that's life. I was hurrying to change clothes and get into town after teaching a lesson on the hill yesterday, and I walked barefoot into a bench foot that was sticking out in the locker room, and broke my toe. In more than one place. Like, kind of... well, shattered the end of it.

Last night, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to ski on it, because walking to the kitchen was incredibly painful. But today, I decided to head on up for the clinic, and managed to get my boot on and buckled, although it was really really painful. I went outside and turned my boot heater off on that foot until it was good n cold, then I flipped it back on. Getting on and off the lift was really bad, because your foot is forced forward in your boot and my toe hit the end every time, but after the first two runs, my foot felt much better, and by the end of the clinic, it was sore, but tolerable.

I taught the Mother Huckers again today, my awesome ladies group, and we did laps in the John and on Bronco Face. So many big breakthroughs! (Videos uploading, will take all night, will post tomorrow morning...) Toe felt okay till I decide to huck it off this little drop, and I decided as I skied out that was probably not the brightest idea I've ever had.

Had a lovely private with Deb again, who also made big breakthroughs, then got to ski with Bonnie and Peggy in the afternoon! We ripped up South Bowl, and Peggy skied Flippers!! It was a blast, and so nice to get out with them!

Taking the boot off was awful, and ever since then, the toe has felt worse and worse, I think the ski boot is like a walking cast, and kept the toe from flexing. Working massage after skiing barefoot was brutal, esp kneeling down. Now, icing and resting. I'm supposed to go ski Big Sky tomorrow, but I might take tomorrow and Saturday off, let the toe heal up a bit, and get a bunch of catch up done. Articles written, homework, studying, and some MA.

Today was my first full day out of the splint for my wrist, and its doing really well. When I deviate to the ulnar side, its still really painful, but otherwise, it feels good. Contrast baths save the day!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 8, International Women's Day

I don't normally watch stuff that's like "It's second cousin's day! send this on to all the time wasters in your life!"

But this was sent on to me by a man I love and trust, and I couldn't not open it. And I immediately felt so intimately connected and grateful, that I had to share it. Thanks for reading, and for being there, guys!!

Saddle Peak Powder Fever



Horsing around in the backcountry has risen to a new level on Saddle Peak in the Bridgers. I’m a bit dismayed at the entire lack of respect folks are showing the backcountry. And yes, contrary to popular belief, Saddle Peak is in the backcountry. Just because you can see it from the chair lift doesn’t mean it’s part of the ski area. Folks are breaking some cardinal rules: skiing the slope together; skiing above one another; not heeding obvious signs of instability like recent avalanches and turning off their beacons once they get off the chair to conserve battery power (I couldn’t make this stuff up). I feel like a parent with one hand on my hip the other wagging a finger saying “Just because all your friends ski Saddle at the same time doesn’t mean you should too”. So there you have it. And if you’re so broke that you have to save money on your beacon batteries, well, maybe you should skip lunch instead.

Mark saw a solo skier shred a line next to a recent avalanche. He snapped a photo you can see at: http://www.mtavalanche.com/photos/photos.php

And here is some of my own personal experience up there:
Two very young girls, probably 14 and 16, hiking along the ridge, got to the boundary gate. One stopped and said to the other, "I don't think we should go out there, I mean, we don't have any avalanche stuff." (I'm not sure how they got on the chair, they were wearing backpacks with one visible shovel).

The other girl responded, "Oh, its okay, we are going to just go out where the other people are, don't worry about it, we won't go where no one else has been. Come on."

And she took off up the ridge. And her friend followed. Later on, Ang and I looked South and saw them coming down some North facing shots, that had not been skied by anyone else (not that it matters) both in huge scary back-seat power wedges. These were not strong skiers by any means, and certainly not knowledgeable enough about what the real dangers are.

I'm concerned, because the ?? "informed" decisions that "adults" are making in going out of bounds the day it dumps on an unstable snow-pack are showing the KIDS that, hey, its okay! Its just snow! Lets play!!

The other horrifying thing that one of our supervisors at Bridger saw was a parent in the rental shop showing his young son how to put on the rental transceiver. He wrapped one strap around the boys leg, like a leg strap on a pistol, and put the other part around his neck. Incredible. Their friend said, "I'm just gonna put mine in my pocket."

Someone is going to die. I'm shocked it hasn't happened yet.

Anyhow, just wanted to share some quick snippets of the insanity I'm experiencing over there, of course minus the stories you guys know so well of people skiing two and three at a time, hanging out in the middle of the bowl, not clearing run-out zones or hazard areas and basically being cavalier idiots.

Please be smart! There are classes you can take to learn how to minimize the VERY REAL danger of skiing in the back country!!

Find them HERE.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Help Make the 3 at Bridger Happen!!

Due to low enrollment numbers, there is a possibility that this event will be merged with the Red Lodge exam March 28-29. To avoid this scenario, if you know of others planning on attending that have not yet registered, please encourage them to do so. The more registrations we get the more likely it is that we can hold the event.

We will keep you posted on any changes.

Kind Regards,


22 Days to the Level 3 Exam, Training in POW, glad to have Squatty, Kurt and Megan in my Brain!

WOW, the last three days have been EPIC! Laps and laps and laps in the powder with the beautiful and talented Angela Patnode, eating lunch on the chair out of the backpack, skiing till my legs are jelly. JELL-O.

Talking through the mechanics and kinestheic cues to skiing deep powder every night with Kurt, bugging Angela on the chair, (Yes, but what do you feel?), emailing with awesome coach of doooom and powder skier extraordinare Squatty Schuller.

I am so very literal, I tried to explain to Kurt tonight just what my "learning style" is. And I came up with this example. When I was trying to add a rotation to my axle jump, when I was skating, I knew that I needed to swing my free leg all the way through, have a certain ammount of explosive power off the knee, calf and toe, and pull my arms in tight and fast to spin faster.

But I could only add a 1/4 rotation to the jump. Which, as you can imagine, was very painful! I worked hard for MONTHS, and couldn't but occasionally add more than just a titch of rotation to the whole thing. It was not for a lack of hucking myself in the air and committing to the jump, not being afraid to fall, that's for sure!

What was missing was the literal explanation that you have to swing your free leg through powerfully, but you have to wait for the full range of the swing BEFORE you explode off your take off leg. You need the mass of your free leg to pull you up, so that you are in the air long enough to rotate as fast as you can.

As SOON as I understood this, I landed the jump. That day.

So we were talking about overthinking skiing today, and I guess that I find my way to the basic mechanics through overthinking, its hard for me to add or change a movement unless I know how to do it and WHY I am doing it, what is the desired result, not just in the drill, but in my skiing? What are we trying to change, and WHY?

And once I get that, I can go away and work on my own for quite a while, because I know what I am reaching for. I can experiment with it, play with it, think about it, write about it, read about it, ski it. Then, I can come back with some questions that are relevant to the technical aspects of fine tuning it, and have a fun, geeky conversation about the theories behind it.

So powder skiing has been the hardest thing for me, because I don't do it that much, and I haven't been skiing that long! And last year, I heard "bounce" and "reach in to the fall line with your feet" and "Don't finish your turns as much" and "Keep your bdy in the fall line, facing down hill..."

Which was all very well and good, but I still couldn't figure out how to get my skis to turn, and especially how to get them to turn quickly enough to avoid trees and objects without doing it from the back seat, which is painful on my leg bones to the xtreme!

Squatty took me out into the powdery bumps last year and taught me to bounce and to feel reaching with the feet and retraction of the legs by having my legs steer around the bumps while my body traveled over them. Then, we went out into the Highlands Bowl, and I felt the "bounce" for the first time ever. It was awesome, it was easy. I only felt totally out of control every fourth or fifth turn.

This year, I'm on powder boards for the first time (Well, I guess technically they are Big Mtn skis, as powder boards are lighter and floppier), and its taken some getting used to. I finally cornered Angela and was like, "Explain what you feel, step by step, as you make a powder turn." She, like just about everyone else when I ask this question, was like, "Um, what do you mean?"

"What you feel, as you feel it, if you could only describe it. Like, what do you do, one step at a time, what do you feel as you make a turn in this kind of powder on that steep of slope?"

And she totally clicked it all together for me! She said she gets some speed, and then compresses the snow, and sort of jumps off that compression, twisting her skis slowly across the fall line (but not very far across), while they are light, then compresses or stomps or hits again, and then bounces off of that. This made SO much sense to me, I had been wondering about how to steer when there is nothing to steer off of, nothing to push on, last year, and Squatty had turned on the lights by telling me to steer off of whatever I had in the powder at that moment.

So the combo of these two got me bouncing again. And then on the next day, when we hooked up with Lonnie Ball and his rippin' wife, Mary, I worked on it, just feeling the stomp, and turning with a big up unweight, and it worked! Better on stuff less than 30 degrees, not as well in the steeps, but I need mileage now.

Now I feel like I have some concept of what I'm trying to do, but still, controlling speed with turn-shape without getting into huge sweeping turns accidentally is still a puzzler to me. I think it will come with some laps, though. What a week!

Now, completely swamped. Trying to do MA every day, study Ron Le'Master's book again, email with my mentors, ask my examiners, get out there and ski hard, and drill tasks, keep my massage obligations, and catch up on weeks and weeks of homework (I have three make up exams on Monday). Things are falling out of my brain that I need to do, despite being really organized. The time just isn't there.

Decided not to ski every single available moment this week so I can cross some stuff off my list and feel sane as the exam approaches. Can't wait for Squatty and Weems to come visit for ESA at the end of March! And Brent Amsbury is coming too! WOW how fun will THAT week be? I think its the week of the exam, and it would be amazing to have those guys out here to play with!

Thanks for all the great playtime, Angela! And thanks for the pics, Lonnie!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

24 Days to Level 3 Exam, Which May Not Go!

Took a day off today to get over my tummy bug, only to find out that there were probably about 3' of fresh today at Bridger! WOWZA! Went up to teach at 10:30, shuffle skis around, pick up the POC demo gear, and came back home and got right back in bed.

It is a possibility that the Level 3 exam may not happen in our division this year due to low sign ups. I'm completely kerfufled at this. I mean... I do totally understand that the numbers have to work in order to make an event go, but I trained so hard all year, spent money traveling to get a good, deep training, put my family through a ton of grief working my tail off, traumatized my classmates and stressed out the head of my school, jeopardized my grades, raised the dough for the exam, and gave up a seat in the Heli in Alaska to do this!

The job I want next year requires a Level 3 certification, and while there is absolutely no guarantee that I will pass, I certainly want to try!!

Tomorrow: Keep training like its going to happen, fat skis in 3' of pow with Angela, laps on the ridge. Fingers crossed!

I emailed our division to find out what the options might be... stay tuned!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Teton Weather Info for back country skiers!

Check out this amazing site!

As reported by RandoSteve on TetonAT.com:

Thanks to Chris Larson and Chris Hansen, Teton skiers now have a new internet resource for checking out current mountain conditions. TetonSnowInfo.com is a conglomeration of most of the weather sites that valley skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers have come to find useful when deciding what to ski on any given day. Information on weather forecasts from the National Weather Service, Mountain Weather and Bridger Teton National Forest Avalanche Center, as well as snow reports from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee. I’ve already created a quick link on my browser for TetonSnowInfo.com and so should you. -Steve.


Jackson Hole, WY—Backcountry travelers in the Tetons region of Wyoming and Idaho now have access to a new Web site that combines much of the available snow, weather and avalanche information into one convenient location. TetonSnowInfo.com provides snow reports from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort, the daily avalanche forecast from the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center, weather reports from the numerous National Weather Service (NWS) automated weather stations in the region, and snow and weather forecasts also provided by the NWS. Data is updated every 15 minutes and the site contains prominent links to all data sources.

“The genesis of TetonSnowInfo.com was a growing frustration with the number of Web sites that I would look at every morning to learn what happened in the last 24 hours and to understand what’s going to happen in the next couple of days,” stated site developer, Chris Larson of Victor, Idaho-based The Software Ranch LLC. “It’s something that many of us backcountry travelers go through every morning, whether we’re planning our ski day or just keeping tabs on conditions between outings.”

And being somewhat ‘under-employed’ at the moment,” added Larson, “I am motivated to work on the type of projects that both benefit me and my community while expanding and showcasing my software development skills. Perhaps it will even lead to a paying gig.”

While all of the information aggregated by TetonSnowInfo.com is available online, much of it — including historical and forecast information provided by the NWS — is presented in dense, tabular formats that can be hard to quickly decipher. For years Larson has considered how to present this information in a graphical format, and it is something he has accomplished with this site. The presentation of the data is still evolving and does not include the majority of the data available (e.g. snow intervals/totals), but is what Larson describes as “a good start.”

TetonSnowInfo.com has so far received very positive feedback from many in the local backcountry community, and while only now officially launched, the site has been receiving strong traffic since going live in mid February.

Phase two for TetonSnowInfo.com is the creation of a public snow and avalanche observation network, which is currently under development with the help of avalanche forecasters, guides and other snow science professionals active in the western U.S. The observation network builds on the extensive work that Larson did for the Canadian Avalanche Association while developing their private InfoEx online network over the past several years. The observation network is scheduled to launch by mid-March.

From a technology perspective, TetonSnowInfo.com was built utilizing the state-of-theart Windows .NET 3.5 framework, the new and very powerful ASP.NET chart control, Ajax for a more responsive and interactive user experience, and Linq for SQL to easily and robustly handle the database interaction. Larson explained, “It’s really amazing what a powerful development platform these tools provide and how quickly a complex product such as TetonSnowInfo.com can be developed.”

The Software Ranch, with many years of experience in a wide variety of fields including clinical medical, cable TV, and even ski area design, provides a broad range of software development services. They specialize in practical and easy-to-use software solutions for many types of problems, from data-driven Web sites to general simulation and modeling. You can reach The Software Ranch at the softwareranch@gmail.com or www.TheSoftwareRanch.com.

The Software Ranch LLC
Contact: Chris Larson

26 Days to the Level 3 exam!

And I have the ick! I've been in denial for two days that I'm sick, but its true, I have an evil tummy bug. Bleh.

I figured that a good way to feel better would be to pound a Red Bull, eat almonds and chocolate on the chair lift, and do an infinite number of laps on the South Boundary of Slauchman's in like 16" of fresh snow on top of a bunch of wind drift... Yeah, it was at least knee deep, pillowing up to mid thigh all the way down...

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that I still suck in powder. But I'm getting better. Angela gave me some great pointers, and basically, I played in the snow all day with my friend like a little kid. We went through the trees, down the super steep stuff, hiked all over the ridge line, and on our final lap I dropped off the cornice and launched BIG off a rock, kinda hitting the one below it, but just scraping along it, and then landed POOF in a big powder pillow, but went forward, which is good, but not in deep pow, and CLICK! Right out of one of my skis, over the handlebars like falling in a deep pile of leaves. I came up with a giant grin on my face, and had to take off my other ski and hike back up, HIP DEEP to get the ski. Awesome.

I'm so sorry that I didn't have my camera! It was a truly spectacular, beautiful, amazing and an awesome play day. Just what the Dr. ordered.

Now... good night!