Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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!!

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