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!