Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Last day of Academy, truck breaks down on the way home!

OH, I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth for a few days, that happens occasionally when I go on the road, MUST get more disciplined about finding the time to blog while I'm out there...

To see a slideshow of all of the photos we took at Academy, click HERE!

SO, the last day of Academy was JUST AWESOME, I skied with Mike Hafer in the morning again, and something SIGNIFICANT changed in my skiing in the mank! YAY!

I had been making this movement earlier in the week when I went out and made some turns with Brent Amsbury, and had been feeling it even way back in Bridger at the end, but I wasn't sure mechanically why it worked, and why SOMETIMES I could do it, and sometimes I couldn't.

Over the course of the week, I'd skied with Bobby Barnes from Winter Park, and with Mike, while I was skiing with Bobby, he had asked me to move through the transition while flexing, ie, a retraction turn. He had suggested that I keep a close platform and stay very two footed, as we were in shin to knee deep mank in 60 degree temps. This kind of snow tends to grab your skis and not let em go, the finesse and touch it takes to steer well is exceptionally challenging, its hard as hell on your body, and it requires precision.

I love it! (all except for how much it hurts when you screw it up. ow.)

Okay, so here are all the Lego Pieces I was holding in my hands all week. On day five, we clicked them all together and they made a little car that goes!!

Initially at Academy, I had been thinking of softening the down hill leg to begin the new turn, then opening the ankles, as I had been practicing at Bridger. But this snow allowed me to begin the turn that way, but I was ending up back, in and holding on. I was not able to make short or medium turns, i was having trouble picking my line, and skiing it, I felt like my skis were running away from me.

I tried not squaring up to my skis as much with my upper body, keeping an approrpriate amount of counter, (ie body facing to the apex of the next turn), and this helped me unwind, but I still felt stuck often, and it still felt like a 50/50 chance wether every thing would be in the right place to move down hill and change edges.

Bobby asked me to soften the downhill leg more, and my understanding of it made it hard for me to soften the downhill leg and stay two footed. I found that I'd soften and change edges, begin the new turn, but the new outside ski would submarine, the new inside ski would float, and I'd get rocketed back, while my skis squirted ahead, I'd loose my counter, square to my ski tips, and ski it back uphill totally out of control.

Bobby worked with me on flexing both feet through the transition, and getting long in the apex, it felt almost like I was pushing my skis away from me in the apex, schmreary and creamy, compact but light, a down unweight, but not fast, just soft, in the transition. I followed him down some less cooked snow and watched his hips and legs work. It was harder than I thought it would be to copy this movement pattern, I got momentarily frustrated with myself, I usually feel that I can copy a movement and feel it in my body, then go away and work on owning it.

For some reason, the timing was so odd, so opposite, that I couldn't keep it up, I couldn't feel what I was reaching for. I had a little discussion with myself on the way down about letting go of expectation, it doesn't matter what you NORMALLY can do, its time to just do what you are trying to do NOW.

I asked myself to focus all of my energy on seeing exactly what the movement was that Bobby was doing. When was he moving down, was he moving down or pulling his legs up, how far across was he moving his body? Was he moving his body, or allowing it to move? How and when was he getting long? What did getting long do to the forces in the turn? Was he pushing his legs away, or extending over his platform?

I mentally slapped myself in the face a few times and found my "record" button in my mind. Finally, at the bottom, my body put the new movements all together, and I felt it for about three turns. I didn't understand why it would function in the mank, but I did understand what Bobby was demonstrating, and how to make my body do it. Two more runs in the deep stuff trying to just do the move, it was easier, once again, to practice it in bumps, than to try it in the chewed up chop n slop (just like when I was trying to learn to open my ankle before my exam).

I was having trouble with speed control, but I was determined to get the "move". On the last day, skiing with Mike, I wasn't using this move, I had relegated it to a "trick", because I couldn't make it work in the mank. I knew I needed to revisit it, but I was frustrated, and went back to "at least I can get down the hill" mentality, trying to hone my old pattern enough to make it work (let me tell you how well THAT worked out...)

Mike had been asking me to move along the length of the ski more, rather than so laterally so fast (a common problem for me), and I told him about what I'd been working with with Bobby. The lights went on. YES! Move along the length of the ski, after the fold, after the flexed transition. I started playing with it. Something started changing.

Then, we started talking about counter again, a strong inside half, core. When I tied my outside shoulder pointing at my inside knee at the bottom third of the turn, suddenly, I could flex into the transition, suddenly, I could get long, along the length of the ski, I could have counter without being inside too far, I could move the ski!

Suddenly, the timing came together. In a countered position, for a shorter turn, squeeze the air out of a large beachball that is resting on your thighs, that your tummy and spine are curled around, that your hands are hugging. As you squeeze, squeeze up with your thighs, down with your chin, in with your hands, transition! Change edges, curl your spine and arms the other way as you get long, hold that deflating large beach ball with your concave chest and shoulders, squeezing as you lengthen.

Suddenly, I wasn't stuck. Suddenly, I could make short and medium turns. Suddenly, I had speed control. Suddenly, I opened it up into a large radius turn, my skis squirted away from me and I went down HARD! Man, when it goes wrong in snow like that it just goes TERRIBLY wrong!!!

I got after it again and again, trying to keep the timing, trying to think about how it tied together with the core to make sense for me. I can't wait for summer back country to keep working on this! I think about last June when Kurt came out and skied in the Beartooths, in that thick, manky snow, and those hoppy short radius turns he was making on the Gardiner Headwall. And I remember thinking, ooh! That looks like fun! And just getting SPANKED over and over again, bogged down, couldn't move.

Now, I have the beginings of the key to working the ski in snow like that, I can't wait!

My afternoon elective was zipperline bump skiing with Kurt, and I met this awesome chick Hartley, who was game to just charge it, figure it out, get the timing down.

This is INCREDIBLY challenging skiing, trying to make a round turn when you are charging down the trough, but it was an excellent way to keep working on that essential retraction move. Kurt mentioned that I was extending too early, I was anticipating the trough, and getting thrown back because of it, so I waited "just this long" as Squatty says, and managed suddenly to stay in the line!

I was so excited! I found a little kicker at the end of the bump line and threw a huge (for me) 180 off of it, skied out clean. We did it over and over, working on pole work, steering the ski even though the line feels straight, waiting a split moment longer to extend, (start late to finish early!), and hitting the jump at the end of every run. By the end of the day, I was floating enough on the 180 that I didn't have to force my feet around (Thanks, Dave Oliver!), and I felt like a giant truck spring in the bumps. They were slow and forgiving because they were so slushy, so it was a perfect day to learn!!

I took off after that to do some demos on the Skier's Edge Machine, MAN, my legs were COOKED after a day in the mank and the bumps, but whatever, I managed to do 103 turns in 60 seconds... whew, that's pretty lousy, but I'll take it after that tough week!!

I got to use the Life Beat computer system that they have, and that was amazing, you can see how powerful your turn is on one side versus the other, how far down you go on each side, its very precise and an awesome training tool!!

After that, I headed back in to do two massages on our tired and achy admin staff, and then it was time to put on girl clothes and get ready for the banquet! It was so fun, Cindy and I had gone to the grocery store and bought party hats and a spiderman table cloth, party poppers, balloons... Cindy got a slide put into the slideshow that said "Happy Birthday, Mike!" (Of course, its not his birthday...)

People had been coming up to him all week saying "Happy Birthday, Hafer!" Oh, it was so funny. The wait staff came out of the kitchen and sang happy birthday to him, and we all popped our party poppers.

After dinner, we headed up to the Aire lounge where everyone commenced to buy Hafer birthday drinks! (You see, there is a method to the madness...) It's not the meanest prank I've ever played... conspiring to get the whole academy to get you drunk on their dime, I mean, come on!

Mike was a great sport, it was super fun to be in his group, I learned a TON, changed my skiing, was inspired by his, and loved that he didn't mind playing!!

It was a late night to be sure, and the next morning we packed up to head out of dodge. It was sad to say good by to friends new and old, Justin and Ana were heading to Moab to go climbing, I was sorely tempted to join them, Kurt, Andy, Schanzy, and Cindy were heading back to Aspen, Stacey (who worked ALL WEEK leading groups in Kids programs, giving indoor presentations and just generally HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK with huge groups), headed back to Beaver Creek.

I was psyched to get on the road, I felt so good in my soul, happy and free, a great way to wind up the season, it was sunny and warm, I was happy, content, maybe even a tad blissfull, and I hopped in the truck and headed down the canyon.

When I became momentarily terrified because my truck was shimmying like it was going to flip! I drove in first gear so that I could brake with the engine, and then hightailed it to Firestone, where they checked my brakes. Turns out the front ones needed to have the rotors re machined (even through they checked them at Firestone in Bozeman before I left... grrr), and the rear brakes had to be completely replaced!!!

$820. Now. Uh, I don't have $820. Neither does Tom or anyone else I know!! Thank God I'd done some massage, so I had enough money to stay in a hotel overnight, feed myself and get home. But how to pay for the truck?

I applied for a Firestone line of credit, and miracle of miracles, I qualified! 22% interest. Ow. But in the long run, this might prove to be a good thing, because I need to establish good credit separate from Tom, anyway, so here's a place to start!

Back in Bozeman, now, the next challenge was re-integrating into school, which was terrifying, I was fairly certain they were going to tell me that I couldn't come back... I had my second Feedback massage (like a hands on practical exam) the day I got back, and it went okay, I have some work to do for sure, but the great thing was that I met with Ruth, our head of school at Health Works, and she was really committed to having me in the school. She's not just willing, but she desires me to be there, and let me catch up. I am SO GRATEFUL!!! Because of this, I will graduate, I will be able to get a good job in Aspen.

So I feel right now like someone has taken an arm full of stepping stones and tossed them out in front of me. Here you go. If you step on each of these, you will get where you want to go.

With the help and belief and support of a GREAT many people, I will meet all my goals this year, I will survive the tough tasks I set before myself, and we will be in Aspen in August!

Passing the three, getting to Academy, working hard to represent my sponsors and say thank you to them for their support, learning and practicing massage technique, getting an official job offer from Aspen... that's where we are.

Now, graduate from school, rent or sell our house, find a place to live in Aspen, sell all our stuff on Ebay, get a massage job in Aspen, and make the move, so the kids can start school at the end of August!

It will be a big summer, but I feel ready, and excited. The last obstacle? Going back to work at Tonic Salon, I've been gone so long, I'm scared to go back. But I have a stack of phone calls to return, people want massage, so HERE WE GO!!

Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Days three and four of PSIA National Academy 09 in Snowbird!

Whoops, sorry I didn't post this morning, its been crazy! One of the awesome, yet challenging things about academy is that there is something to do from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep!

Yesterday was all day elective day, and I chose to do "Using the whole mountain as park and pipe" it was great! Dave Oliver taught it, and we went through several progressions towards a 360, I'm getting close... I don't like landing forward, though. On ice skates, you always land backwards... so I'm more comfortable skiing switch than I used to be, and I did a bunch of 180s and 270s today, which felt great, and easy, although I am looking at my skis, unfortunately.

I had to leave the session early yesterday because my knee was just killing me, it was really swollen, just like when I fell off the mountain bike and hit it on the rock, so I'm taking it a bit easy... I gave a bunch of massage yesterday afternoon, and then we had a banquet and the trade show (which I should have been taking pictures of...) At the trade show I got to meet Joel, the inventor and CEO of the Skier's Edge, and it turns out that he heard my dad sing opera a gazillion years ago! Small world, no? It was amazing to meet him, and find out how much we have in common, share our stories...

Today I skied with Mike Hafer again, and did much better in the mank working on changing edges while flexing through the transition so I don't get trapped in the mank, then moving along the ski, staying with it for just a moment longer... It worked really well in the morning. Then we went to lunch (which is included this year!! YEAH!!), and I met a bunch more people who are readers of my blog! It has been so fun this week to put faces with the names! People who comment on the posts, or email me directly, its just been a blast to catch up and meet everyone.

After lunch I demoed some new Elan skis, the Speedwave, super super fun, like a wide slalom ski with a thick, soft tip. Yeah! I went to the carving clinic and took a bunch of photos for Andy Hawk, and then started group hopping to get more photos.

Then it was back to the room to give more massage, and now, dinner with my group, I gotta get cleaned up and get downstairs so we can go eat some Tasty Thai!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

dave oliver freertyle clinic

Day Two of National Academy 2009 in Snowbird!

WOW, I always forget just how much fun it is to be here in Snowbird. Hanging out with a huge group of people who are just as rabily intense about skiing as I am, watching ski movies, going hard all day... its incredible!

Yesterday, we had day two with our coaches, so another morning with Mike Hafer, we skied Mineral Basin all morning because everything else was so rock hard! I was feeling more like myself, but I as it warms, the mank gets so thick and deep, its absolutely unbelievably challenging to ski in. And its a bit scary, because its melting out so fast, there are huge chunks of debris that roll down the hill and leave enormous runnels two feet deep in the snow, skiing through one of those can be surprisingly difficult!

I'm skiing in a tshirt under my shell, its sunny and very very warm. I'm psyched to learn more solid technique for getting through this kind of snow, for being able to make the ski work when its trapped under a foot and a half of thick monkey snot!

Hafer had us focusing on reaching or extending the outside leg, getting long in the Apex, and trying to get to a flatter ski earlier, while still shaping the end of the turn.

I shot a bunch of photos with Andy Hawk's camera yesterday, and that was super fun as well, there's not enough time in the day to blog and do photos... alright, well, I might have run out of time due to the extended hot tubbing session... wow, that felt good!

In the afternoon, I skied with Bob Barnes from Winter Park, and I had this idea that I was going to get down below the group and shoot photos, but Bob gets off the tram, hops off the road, dives down into silverfox and just takes off, and doesn't stop until he gets to the tram deck. Yes. For real. Bumps, chutes, trees, high speed traverses full of huge whoopties, we did it like five times in a row.

I've never skied Snowbird top to bottom without stopping, this guy is an animal! It was awesome. Just truly super fun. And man, you better make the ski work in the thick stuff at those speeds, or its gonna hurt!!

Last night was Justin's 26th Birthday, he's a kid from Vail in my group, and we all went down to the Tram Deck club to hear some great music. The whole team went out to support their friend, who used to be a racer, and who now is dedicating himself to a music career, (he's very much like Jack Johnson). There was quite a bit of Tequila and Yagermeister going on, the music was nice, the company was fun... and now its time to go do it again!!

Today, park and pipe all day with Dave Oliver! Yeah! Then I think I'm demonstrating the Skier's Edge machine. If I have any legs left!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day One of National Academy 2009 in Snowbird!

WHAT a great first day! Cindy Lou and I are in the same group, with Mike Hafer leading. This is Mike's rookie season on the team, and I was psyched to ski with him and see what he had to say! It was terrific. To the point, positive, encouraging... the snow was frozen solid in the morning, as Snowbird tends to be at this time of year, and we ripped it up anyway.

We spent the morning working on reducing chatter in our skis, putting the power on at the top of the turn by releasing to a flatter ski earlier in the bottom of the turn. The biggest problem I have right now is what skis to take out! I want to get out there on my Slalom racing skis in the early morning because its so frozen, but it will soften up by 10:30, and by 11:30 it will be manky as all get out, and we'll be off piste, where I would be sad on my Slalom skis.

Sigh. There are worse problems to have in life at the end of April though, no?

In the afternoon, I skied with David Oliver in the Park and Pipe, but the park and pipe are closed, so we went all over the mountain looking for things to huck ourselves off of, it was super fun. We did a 360 progression that was a blast. I may just take that as an elective every day! I loved it. Landing switch, whoo hoo! In the afternoon, I took out the big fat skis, because by then it was a bit like waterskiing on molasses, so the fatties made me feel floaty and shmeary, it was terrific.

In the afternoon I did an interview for PSIA on what the organization means to me, and why do I like teaching, which was really fun, any time I can gush about how fun it is to teach is a good day for me!

That evening we had another buffet, and the food is surprisingly good! Andy Hawk was hocking PSIA logo gear for incredible discounts at the Buffet, way cheaper than the catalog, and then it was off to a small party in one of the rooms, vodka and pomegranate liquor.... and Tylenol for breakfast!!

More with Mike Hafer today, can't wait!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First morning of academy!

I'm in mike Hafer's group! The focus is training to try out for the team! Yeah! On the tram now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Turn Your Face Towards Adventure!

A few days ago, I was frantically packing, getting the truck worked on, trying to tie up all the loose ends possible before I went to Snowbird for our 2009 National Academy. This is my third academy (and my third year teaching and skiing).

The week leading up to the trip was a bit on the hectic side, and I always stress that I'll forget something, and conversely that I've brought too much.

But suddenly, I'm in the truck, the back is full of skis and gear, my massage table and all that goes with it, clothes for ski, work, play and relaxing, food for the road and for the room, good music is a must...

And I get in my truck (through the passenger side door, because the driver side still doesn't open), with about $89 in my pocket, and I hope that's enough to get to Snowbird and feed myself for a couple of days till I can book some massage.

There is a moment of sadness as I pull out of the driveway, I will miss the boys, and I feel a bit guilty leaving again. They were happy, they told me to have fun, gave me kisses, and Ethan has called me four times already to tell me he loves me and he hopes I'm having fun. But I still wish they were old enough to come along.

I drive out of our neighborhood and into the canyon heading up to Big Sky. Suddenly, I'm in the canyon, and the river is winding along the side of the road, the trees are loaded with snow, the clouds are low, the mist is heavy, I turn on some Bob Dylan and crack open a Red Bull and I'm on my way.

There is this lovely feeling of peace that comes over me, I love the sensation of going by myself on some adventure. I never used to do this, I always went on trips with someone else, trips someone else had planned, I let my boyfriend or my husband plan, get the directions, change the oil...

I always knew where we were going or knew someone who was there. I never had traveled just solo, and certainly not to some unknown destination.

Now, I love it. I love the freedom that I feel the sense of ownership of myself. Yes, I can drive across the country by myself to some ski area without any reservations, with very little money, and a big box of granola. I can sleep in my truck on my own, I can take care of myself. I can change a tire, I can change my oil, I can read a map (okay, I'm still working on that one.)

I remember realizing that something had fundamentally changed for me in this respect when I was on my way to my Level 2 prep at Lost Trail in Montana. I had never been there before, I didn't know anyone out there, I was the only person from Bridger going, and I was going to sleep in my truck in the dead of winter because I couldn't afford a hotel room, but I have a nice sleeping bag. I wasn't about to miss the opportunity to do the prep clinic, I need all the help I can get understanding skiing!

I drove by myself out into what looked like Arctic wilderness, and I remember coming across a high, snowy plane, which turned out to be a large mass of water, frozen over. Sitting all along the frozen river were little sheds that looked like outhouses, each painted a surprisingly fun color. It looked like Key West meets Fargo. They were fishing shacks, for ice fishing.

I've never lived in a place cold enough or wild enough that people like to sit in a shed and fish through a hole in the ice, and I was excited to see them, interested by how foreign they were to me, and I said, out loud to myself, "OH, they are fishing sheds!!" I had to say it to myself, because there was no one on this trip with me. I remember thinking, wow, I should share that with someone, who should I call? And then I remember thinking, no, this is just for me.

This is my journey, my adventure, my solo trip to Lost Trail. And in that moment, I learned to love to be alone, I learned to be brave and be proud of myself and know that I am enough, and that I can do it.

It was a strange, exciting, and exhilarating realization to have. And I have that sensation every time I get in my car to go ski somewhere new.

So greetings from Snowbird, where I have met my roommate Jennie Kellam, who is fabulous and friendly, my massage table is all set up, the first day of freeskiing in the deeeeep manky snow is over, and I'm about to head down to our inaugural dinner for this year! Stay posted, I'm going to try to update every day!

Greetings from snow bird?

traveling thru the snowbrd tunnel to mineral basin!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My favorite lunch on the road!

On the road!

The drive to snow bird is long and leisurely this time! 3 Feet of snow in the last 48 Hours! Can't wait! Thanks to everyone who made it possible for me to attend this amazing event!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I get excited...

So the word "Patience" has been knocked around a lot for me, the word "Aequinemitas" has become a personal mantra, it's written on my skis, its going to be tattooed on my arm, I say it over and over...

Its ufnny because lots of times, I don't feel like I'm being IMpatient. I feel very excited about stuff, and spend a lot of time saying, "Wait, slow down, think it through..." I guess the thing that is a bit scary is that this is me slowing down and thinking through stuff and being patient...

Obviously I still have some practice and a long way to go before I'm good at this. I'm lucky to have a bunch of good friends who don't mind telling me when I'm blissfully unaware that I've overstepped again... but its a lesson I must learn pronto, before I do some damage that can't be undone.

I really don't want to get a reputation as a loose cannon. I don't mind being percieved as excited and passionate and energetic, but lets reign it in so its not unpredictable and etc.

Its been a very interesting journey to this point so far, a lot of self discovery in the last ten or twelve years, and its been intensifying for sure in the last three, as I realize that I love this industry, I love my job, and this is what I want to do and be forever. Its the first time I haven't wondered, well, if I make this choice, what about all the things I am not choosing? What if one of those was meant to be my path? I don't feel like I'm giving up anything by choosing to be a ski instructor. I feel like I'm following my passion, which is amazing.

BUT, even though this is me tamed down, I'm going to try to make sure that I install a new filter that asks me to triple check all sources before I jump on an action.

Lesson learned, lets make it permanent, like its an essential movement pattern in skiing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Full Cert Free Ride Initiative HEATS UP on Epic Ski!

Last year, I proposed that all Level 3 skiers get a Nation Wide Free Ski Pass with their level 3 certification. To read the full concept behind the idea, please visit the Facebook Group, The Petition Site, and the Epic Ski Forum where its being debated!

Following is an AWESOME post by Bob Barns, author of The Complete Encyclopedia of Skiing and Epic Ski Coach:

Originally Posted by Bob Barnes

Good reply, Kate. The bottom line, in my opinion, is that top certified ski instructors are dedicated industry pros, and it really is in everyone's best interest to have more of them around--whether you take a lesson or not. (But why wouldn't you, if you knew that truly high-quality instruction was available, for an experience absolutely guaranteed to help you enjoy our awesome sport more?)

...and the number of skilled, passionate, dedicated skiers would rise too. The industry has compiled indisputable records over many seasons that show the direct correlation between skill level and amount of time skiers spend on the slopes. Better skiers simply have a better time, and better instructors are the clearest route to get there.

Ultimately, though, this comes down to PSIA being willing to press the industry a bit, in exchange for its services. it is woefully easy to become a "PSIA ski school" and display the organization's shield over your ski school desk, and on your promotional information. Unfortunately, you don't even have to have PSIA certified instructors on your staff, other than one, in the role of director or training director. Because there are so few high level pros still teaching, and so many new, inexperienced instructors, the perceived value of of the "product" is understandably low. It's a vicious cycle--few top pros leads to poor perception of ski instruction in general, which leads to little demand for the services of ski instructors, which leads to little incentive for the industry to pay enough to keep top pros in the profession, and on and on.

But PSIA could conceivably influence positive change, and Kate's initiative is a very good start. Pros who reach the top level of certification are a benefit to everyone--skiers, resorts, manufacturers,...the entire industry. Kate has listed many specific reasons why it would be a win-win-win (instructors-resorts-skiers), at virtually no cost whatsoever to anyone. Resort accountants may look at comp passes as a loss of the revenue from a full-price pass. But the reality is that few instructors are going to pay full price--or any price--to ski, when they can ski free at home (and at sister resorts owned by the same company). Good instructors are good role models, good promoters, and good ambassadors. There's nothing to lose by inviting them to ski free. The savviest resorts already do, and PSIA could "help" the rest to benefit in spite of themselves through these sorts of programs.

So I encourage PSIA to look for this and other initiatives to support and inspire its members to further their professional education.

Best regards,


To voice YOUR opinion on the topic, visit the Epic Ski Forums and tell us what you think!!

Good Bye, Bridger Bowl, and Thanks!

Today was my last day at Bridger Bowl as an employee. I went up for employee day and rode the lifts with Angela and John Saam and Shannon, Karen, and Alex, skied on about 3" of fresh wet snow while it dumped some more, and stayed on the "groom" (frozen solid underneath).

It was odd, bittersweet for sure to be saying good bye to the mountain... I am still pretty sick, my tonsils were bleeding and pussy the other day, always fun, and this morning, I squeezed a bunch of snot out of my tear duct from my sinus... always a pleasure to blow your nose through your eye... wow...

I took a couple of runs, and looked at the familiar landscape and tried to separate the emotions, I have gratitude for the mountain itself, it has been an amazing teacher, the steeps, the technical chutes, the complicated fall lines, the wild terrain, the snow changing every couple of turns... I am so grateful to have learned on this mountain.

And I thought a lot about all the folks who have helped me through the last three years. I saw Josh Spuhler out there skiing today with his girlfriend, Lara, of course, they were playing on Flippers in this gnarly snow. I remember riding the PK lift with Josh last year and him telling me that I could do it, that he believed in me, that I had to not listen to the naysayers but know I was strong enough, that I had to keep changing every turn.

His faith in me and my ability helped me to believe in my own dream, made me think maybe it wasn't just a crazy idea, but that I could really do it. I was sad to be saying good bye to the hill for that reason, but it was also sad because Josh and I have grown apart this year, his life is taking him in one direction and mine in another. But I will always be grateful and beholden to him for his extraordinary ability to make people believe in themselves. Josh taught me a lot of things, but the two biggest ones were to laugh at myself every time I crash, and that I need to be my own biggest advocate; I need to believe in me. I didn't get to say good bye to Josh in person, but I think maybe that's what he wanted, it was nice to just watch him ski and remember how it was, remember him taking me up on the ridge and waiting patiently while I made one turn and fell on the next over and over and over again...

I wanted to say good bye and thank you to Bonnie as well, but the awards had started, and she was sitting up front and paying attention, so I didn't get the opportunity. But I appreciate that she took a chance on me in the beginning, and gave me some sage pieces of advice over the last few years, most especially about making sure I stay connected to my kids through this whole process, and came out and played with me some this year. I wish we'd had more of a chance to play together, it was really fun! I was also really grateful that she was understanding about me leaving for Aspen. I know its a source of frustration for her that people have been tending to achieve full cert and leave Bridger either for a change in their life, like grad school, or for another mountain. So I was really grateful to how she took it when I told her, and for her support. I hope I come back one day, I already miss it.

Its funny to me, a lot of people think I'm going to Aspen because its ASPEN, the glitz, the big show... and its interesting, because that's about as far from the truth as possible. I lived in Los Angeles for years, the glitz leaves me cold. Its actually the one thing that makes me nervous about moving there, I'm worried about how that will affect the kids. I have learned in my time there that you really don't have to see that much of it if you choose to travel in a different circle. Its there if that's what you desire, and sometimes its fun to watch, but in general, Aspen is a skiers town. There are plenty of big, wild peaks to conquer on your own, and 1400 ski instructors in town to play with, 960 of whom are full cert. I'm excited to be a little fish in a big pond.

I'm going to Aspen because it fits my path, they have been welcoming of me, desiring me to come and work and play with them, they are open to my coaching concepts, and my mentors are there, Megan, Squatty and Weems. I feel when I drive into the town like I am going home.

SO... I rode the chair trying to pay attention to Flippers beneath me, the chutes off the ridge, what it was like to empty my locker and say good bye to the locker room where I learned not to tuck my long johns into my socks... to realize that Shannon and I won't have our lockers next to each other any more, that this chapter is closing.

Angela drove me down the hill in the snowstorm, and I realized with some growing excitement that I'm not driving away from something but towards something new.

I'm grateful to have the next two weeks to end the season looking forward to next year, to ski hard at Snowbird and reconnect with friends from all over the country. I'll be saying thanks to some of my sponsors while I'm out there, doing some demos for Skiers Edge Machine, taking pictures for National, giving some massage, and training hard in the snow.

When I get back, its back to school for good, with an eye on making the move to Aspen as pain and stress free for the kids as possible. Tom and I have been brainstorming on how to do this, because our savings is tied up in our house, so there is some trepidation about how to come up with 2 or 3 months rent to overlap 2 or 3 months mortgage, so we are thinking of refi-ing again now, to make a little cushion for the move.

Tomorrow, we see if we can make it to Snowbird with $86 to our name, I think that's enough gas money... once again, the paycheck will come in about 2 days after I leave on the trip, so it will be about 4 days before it goes into my account. Always the drama with the money, another reason I'm looking forward to living close to the training I crave, having fewer bills and a better paying job!

So with some sadness, I say good bye Bridger Bowl, and thank you, so very much, for such a decidedly surprising education. And to Dave Evans, you ruined my life forever. Thanks a bunch. I'll never ever forgive you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pics from the Level 3 Exam!

Thanks to Shannon for the camera and pics!

Troy and Steve try Kung Fu Kick Delayed Weight Transfer turns, taught by Jon from Big Sky. Awesome fun in this teaching segment!

The Examiners discuss...


Jen Gunther waits for results...

Kate, Shannon, Alex, Travis and Jen wait for results and watch Just Good Skiing 5.

Shannon's Examiners, Chris and Emily, with Bridger Bombshell and shadower Karen Kirk, tabulate final scores while we wait...

Coming down the stairs, I passed!

Hugs from Jenny G right after

Congrats from Tom, from Whitefish, also in our group, amazing athlete, made HUGE changes during the exam!

Oh no, you can't take that away from me, no you can't take that away... here it is, gold pin of doom!

Jenny passed as well!

The relief and disbelief begin to set in...


Aaand... waterworks!

Happy easter!

Retro Wisdom from Weems

Check out this AWESOME article on Weems when he was a 39 year old ski instructor in Taos! Go to EpicSki and click on the photo to read a larger version, just wonderful!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Looks like I'm going to Snowbird!

Alright, I think its on! I'll be leaving Wednesday early afternoon for Snowbird for the Academy! YEAH!

I'm bringing my table, $60/hr, as Weems said "One of the top 5 massages I've gotten!" and from the mouth of Missy Cashman "The best massage ever! SO DOPE!"

Feel free to email me at katehowe at mac dot com to book ahead of time! I'll do 3 hours per evening!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Okay, Brent, you might not want to read this one! So I went up to Big Sky for the last two days to film for an NRM version of Just Good Skiing, and I forgot to bring my boots down from Bridger. My amazing, incredible, perfect boots that I love. Dalbello Proton 12s, modified by Brent Amsbury. The boots that Brent has worked on for nine or more hours, that have been just tweaked and dialed until they feel literally like glove. They are supple, and subtle and gentle to my tender and whiny feet. They fit so snugly that when I twitch my foot, the boot and ski move. Its awesome.

So I forgot to bring them down the hill. And I though, oh, that sucks, but oh well, I have last year's boot, those worked really well, and the fit can't be that different, Brent worked on them, too.

YEAH. Okay, first of all, there's no footbeds in last year's boots, because I took them out and put them in this year's boots! There's no heater, the liner is wickedly packed out, two buckles are bent and the shell is giving in. These boots have over 300 days on them!

So I figure, well, whatever, I should be able to ski in ill fitting boots and make it work, just like skiing on an ill tuned ski is a bummer, but you can make it work.

RIIIiiighht. Day one: Total and complete junk show. I was sitting on the lift after the first run and just feeling like crap on a stick. What is this? I couldn't figure it out, and then it occurred to me, OH, this is what being sick feels like, I'm still sick. I'm sicker than I thought. My legs were tired, I was out of breath and sleepy and exhausted, and I was skiing like a total spaz.

Ben Bruso was shooting promotional material for Big Sky, and he needed a student, so I got to pretend to be his student for the photo shoot. After a couple of runs, I knew I was in trouble, I was skiing worse than I've skied all year.

I went to the bottom and drank two big red bulls, ate a banana, put a granola bar in my pocket, pounded some water and took a bunch of Tylenol and Ibuprofen, and got back out there. I tried to muster the will to save my skiing, and usually, I can pull it together and ask myself to perform, but it didn't seem to matter what I did, I was just skiing like crap. I felt out of control and slippy and slidy and in the back seat and defensive, it was awful!

We filmed all afternoon, in the slushy mank, which I usually love skiing, and I was just surviving, basically. I was so embarrassed at my skiing, I felt like someone was going to come up and take my pin away! I felt appologetic and embarassed, but we stayed at it, and the folks I was skiing with were very nice about it, supportive, told me that it was normal because I was sick and still really tired from the exam experience. But it felt like an excuse, I don't ski like this, I don't have sensations like this when I'm skiing any more. And I couldn't fix it, it just got worse and worse.

This morning, Ben and Steve Hill and I went up and filmed in the third gully, but to get there, we had to ski Otter Slide, and for the first time in about a year, I got gripped and in my head. "If I fall here..." it was total slide for life terrain, buffed and hard pack, and my feet were swimming in my boots, I'd move them and the ski would wait, and then do something, the movement was sloppy and unpredictable. I was miserable, and I felt so stupid for not being able to pull it together!

The snow in the Third gully was great, its very very steep and exposed, with a big pinch in the middle, such a beautiful ski, but I was gripped and I stem christied down most of it. We skied Khron's and the Cold Creek chute on the Moonlight side, and then went in for lunch early.

During lunch, I decided to go in and buy a pair of Superfeet, because my feet were so uncomfortable just on the boot beds with no footbed, and so much extra sloppy room... I put two toe warmers under the heel of my right boot to simulate the lift that Brent just put in, and then I put in the foot beds and clicked in. WOW.

If I felt stupid before, it was NOTHING compared to what I was feeling NOW! I can't believe i whined and complained for a day and a half before putting footbeds in. They were fine. They were just great, the boots fit well, I went out that afternoon and we filmed lap after lap in Wounded Knee, the Blue Room, BlackBear, and so on, lots of playful bumps in the trees (which I couldn't ski AT ALL this morning), and it was fine, and fun, and fast, and after about three runs, I could ski again.

SO: Note to self: BOOTS MATTER! Yes the footbed matters! Yes, the amount of space around all parts of the foot matters! YES, it can affect your skiing massively to get your boots done!!!

Sheesh. Sorry, Ben and Christine and Steve, that you had to listen to me moan about my crappy skiing. Lesson learned.

PS: More filming for NRMJGS Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at Bridger Bowl!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The aftermath...

I think I'm in denial. Its time to let go of skiing for the summer, the first summer that I'm going to have to do it, and focus all my energy on passing my National Certification for Massage Therapy. But I'm not ready to let go. I'm in bed, sick, and I think probably mourning or grieving that the training is over. I got up this morning and didn't put on my snow pants, walked around in circles, feeling bizarrely disconnected from my life, I have mail to open and appointments to set up... but I'm in this weird flux between worlds, Bridger is open for another week, Big Sky is open, and we want to make an NRM version of Just Good Skiing, I'm totally exhausted still, which is weird. All I want to do is go ski and enjoy not being in training, but i don't feel like I am allowed to ski unless I am training because it puts such a strain on Tom to do so much extra work for the boys.

School started last week, and I need to get back and catch up, which feels like a daunting and impossible task, taxes are due, mail to open, still have a court date, money to be sorted out, Academy is coming up in like 10 days, I have three articles to write... and I really really just want to spend a day relaxing with my friends and my boys with no pressing responsibilities and let my brain decompress.

On the other hand, I can stamp my feet all I want and insist that I need a day or three off and get even further behind, or I can suck it up and get back to work, face my responsibilities, book a bunch of massage for the next two weeks, and make enough money to get to Academy. I can start calling instructors and getting caught up on work, and I can find a way to find one evening to celebrate passing the three with my friends.

I got tomorrow off at Bridger, so I think the plan will be to make all my phone calls and emails tonight to book as much massage as possible, then travel up to Big Sky tonight to celebrate, film JGS NRM tomorrow, stay the night, and drive back to school on Wednesday.

The bummer here is that when I work at night, like I will have to for the next two weeks, I don't see my kids very much (Which is why the sick day today was kind of awesome...), and Tom has to do a lot of extra work taking care of them and putting them to bed and getting them to school. He did that an awful lot while I was getting ready for the exam, thanks Tom!!

Its for this reason that I'm looking forward to summer, having the days in between school off to do massage or work on the house, which we are selling, and we need to get on the market ASAP. I will need to take a few ski trips in the back country this summer for sure, to keep the legs fresh and remembering, but this summer will be mostly focused on selling EVERYTHING we own, fixing the house, selling the house, and moving to Aspen! Meanwhile, I'll spend a LOT of time on the Skiers Edge machine trying to keep my muscle mass, and hiking locally. Don't think I'll make it to Mt. Hood this summer, because the scheduling would just be insane with the move.

I graduate from school on August 28, and I think we need to move in early June to get good employee housing, so the overlap of the cost of the apartment and our mortgage will be an interesting issue to grapple with, along with reducing the amount of stuff we own down to fit in a 800 square foot apartment with no storage unit!

Hmm, no wonder I want to lay by the pool for a day before tackling the next five months! Its going to be just as crazy as the last five!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bodhi love

sleepy Snuggles from Bodhi and stories. Nice way to relax.

Now what?

Today was as surreal as they come. I woke up exhausted, but in a good way (aside from the fluish ness), like I had given every single ounce of energy I could to the exam, and now I was just flat out empty. But happy. Everything moved slower today, things felt strange, quiet...

I went up to the hill and ran into Alex and Shannon, and we got geared up to go ski. I decided to take out my fat skis since I've been on the Magfires for the last three weeks (a crime in this deep pow!), and it was spectacular. I rode around on the Elan Deep Spice for next season, and my skiing has changed SO much since I got them, I could actually make them function like they are supposed to! Quick to turn, floaty, stiff off the jumps and into the bumps, I was skiing around thinking to myself, "I did it. I am full cert. I am a full cert instructor, because I am a good enough skier to be full cert." Wow. I couldn't quite wrap my head around it, it felt like something magical had happened to my skiing, even on super tired legs, on skis I haven't been on for weeks, it was easy and fun to play in the deep deep powder that is still DUMPING up there.

Bridger is skiing on a 123" base at 12:30 today. Insane! We were going to go head over to Slauchmans and take a run on the Saddle, but instead, we just lapped Flippers and the Whirlpools, having fun watching the racers... Alex bought me breakfast, redbull and a peanut butter sandwich, and we just ripped around all morning.

I tried to think of what it meant that I had this pin, that I'd passed this test. Michael explained it to me last year this way: that I could go anywhere in the country and get a job, and that director would be able to confidently give me any client they had and know that I could take them anywhere on the mountain and show good skiing to them, the day I got there, with no explanation or examination of my skill necessary. This is amazing to me.

I feel like I have completed the prerequisites for life here, and now I can get started. I feel like now, NOW, I have a basic understanding of how the ski works and what can be done with it, and NOW I get to go out and play with that, try and figure out what it means, and how can I make it work even better? Now I get to join groups of other people who are trying to figure this out and experiment.

I'm so looking forward to going through the trainer verification process at Aspen, tackling each problem and working through it. I feel on track to my team tryout, I have a loooong way to go to get there, but I feel like the pieces are falling in to place. I can't believe that I passed. I can't believe I'm free to keep going. I feel like I've been handed the keys to the executive washroom, or something. Not that its a club, but that I demonstrated enough skill to be invited to participate in what comes next. I am just completely humbled by this, it feels like an enormous responsibility and privilege, and I feel like I'd better get to work! (right after I take this nap...)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Oh. My. God. I passed.

Wow. Okay, lets start at the beginning. I slept really well last night, and woke up this morning feeling rested, but achey and icky. I knew I had Bodhi's flu, but, with the sage advice of my friend Kurt, decided to rally my white blood cells "okay, boys, time to get to work!" and keep it at bay until four this afternoon.

I started the day feeling strong, but with a wicked upset stomach and a fever of about 100. I was tired and lethargic, but my body felt okay to ski, if that makes sense. I forced myself to eat a scone and have some coffee, had four ibuprofen and 3 tylenol for breakfast, picked up the lovely and talented Ms. Shannon Griffen, and we headed up the hill.

We started the morning with an indoor teaching segment on ankle tipping, and moved on to warm up on Deer Park, arcing down boot hill. Troy Nedved and Greg Sponsellor were the examiners, not sure if I said that before, and I was really nervous on the first day, because Troy has a reputation for being a hard ass. Anyhow, it was an incredibly positive exam experience, and I felt like I was able to take the notes from yesterday and apply them today.

I had 101.5 at lunch, and Peggy saved me with more Ibuprofen, and I downed two red bulls and got back to work.

Today was mostly teaching segments, with some off piste skiing, we skied the hourglass, which is very fun and steep, and was probably one of my best runs of the year. Of course, i had a massive double E right after that hucking off a rock, scrambled back up the slope, got on both skis, and one felt really weird and draggy, so I just skied on the other one down to the chair lift, and rode up with Troy. While we were on the lift, I took the ski off, and it turns out that the brake had been snagged by the bush I launched off (explaining the SECOND boot out that happened about 10 yards below the first...) Troy bent the brake back into position, and we were good to go on the top, which is great, because it was my turn to teach!

I taught arcing, with the idea of pulling your skis to their edge, and then bending the ski, pulling it back, and then took it into arcing, and saw great change in the group. I was excited, but nervous, because we had to revisit some tasks, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull off pivot slips and javelin turns better this time.

Turns out those were okay... the one that nearly failed me was open parallel! WHAT? Whoops! Apparently, I'm not patient enough at the top of the turn there... yipes!!

We did wedges, wedge christie, open parallel, javelin, bumps, and Charlestons again in the last hour, and then we headed in to change and wait wait wait while they tallied the scores.

We went up to Jimmy B's and Bonnie, our director, bought us some beer, then we headed over to the lodge to wait some more. Jen Gunther went first, and she passed, which was awesome to see. Then it was my turn... and they put the certificate and pin on the table, and I was just... totally blown away.

I was happy, I felt good about it, like I've worked hard, and I feel that my skiing is consistently at that level, but I had been fairly certain that I was going to fail on my pivot slips.

Here's how it works: you are scored 1, 2, or 3 on each element. 1 being below the bar, 2 being at the bar and 3 being above the bar. You need a minimum of 10 total to pass, in each section, with 5 elements each.

I got 10s across the board (whew!) but in the demos, I got a 1 on my basic or open parallel, and a 3 on my bump skiing (WOW, thanks, Megan, Weems, Squatty, Kurt, and Alex!!), which was my saving grace.

On the teaching segment, I got a 14 out of 15 possible, which is amazing. I was so very honored to have gotten that score!! 4 3s and 1 2. SWEET!

Troy said he was impressed, and I was just very very humbled and honored to have passed in this very tough region, to have passed at all, to have been really bestowed this honor, which feels huge.

I came down the stairs and my friends were there, cheering and hollering, and hugging, Shannon took a bunch of pictures, Michael hugged me and wiped my tears, and suddenly it hit me, what I had done, I had passed, I had opened the door to my future in skiing, Michael said some very insightful things, and suddenly, I was afraid, like OH MY GOD, what have I done? Now people are going to expect that I know what I'm doing!

Some people came up to me and told me that they were looking forward to taking clinics from me next year, and I just thought, holy CRAP. I passed. I mean, I'm in trainer training now. I'm not going for certification, I did it. Now, my job is to train to become a teacher who makes other teachers better at their job. WOW. Its what I've always wanted.

Shannon went up a short time later, and did not pass, and this was very difficult, because I would not be skiing at this level if it wasn't for her. She was the one who spent six hours on a powder day with me figuring out how to move along the length of the ski. She was the one who taught me how to dress. She was the one who explained to me how to read a descriptor, how to take the tasks seriously, she is the one who is always willing to train harder, longer, to keep going with me. It felt so bittersweet to be excited and proud, and not to be cheering with her. But she will kill it next year, she skied really well.

My amazing training partner Alex also did not pass, which was hard to watch, he is an excellent and amazing skier, and he helped me to feel at home in tough terrain on hard technical pitches. Its because of him that steep double black diamond feels like groomed blue to me.

I am so very grateful for all the love and support I've gotten, for all the kind words people have sent to me, for all the training people have been willing to give to me. I can't believe I passed this benchmark after only 2 and a half years, and I can't wait to get to work filling out my trainer's passport next season at Aspen!!

More snow!

Eight more inches for the exam. lots of red bull today, i feel like i'm getting Bodhi'S fever. had Tylenol for breakfast. just have to stay healthy till four!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I love skiing

I was sitting here thinking about today, and you know what's cool? I was thinking about all the really fun times in each run, I wasn't thinking about the exam. I was thinking about that huge save, about playing with turnshape in slauchman's, about how fun the bumps were on Deer Park, about what it felt like to launch myself a little off one and then direct the tips back down into the troughs, to do some medium turns and some quick ones, I remember how awesome and smooth and easy the turns were in the morning on Deer park... and I was thinking wow, it was so fun! I love skiing.

I love the way it feels to get better and better at something, so I can play on more of the mountain more confidently, just play, with turn shape and size, with drops and jumps and kickers, going off logs and stumps and over and sometimes through bushes... I love the smooth feeling of your legs crossing under you while your body floats on top. I love feeling free and playful, I love being out in the snow all day. I felt like I was seven and going sledding with my friends.

I'm so very lucky. I love my job, and I love the process of moving on in my work. Of improving. So, I guess, I'd love to pass, I'd like to keep moving on, but if the exam ended tonight, if I got "cut" because my skiing wasn't there... I'd be okay with that. I'm not doing this to pass. I'm doing this because getting better at skiing is the most fun anyone can have ever, and I'm excited to teach more and more at higher and higher levels, and watch my students experience this amazing thing, the mountain unlocking as the skills come up.

Okay, I've made myself all sappy and weepy... I'm going to bed now so I can go play some more tomorrow!!

Day One of Level 3 complete!

WOW, what a day! The snow could not have BEEN more perfect, total ego snow! I was very very nervous this morning, but as soon as we got out of the lodge and on our skis, I felt fantastic. We did a warm up on Deer Park, which was hero snow, and then warmed up some more on PK. We jumped into low end demos, which was great, wedges, wedge christies, open parallel, I think I did well on all of those.

Then we did modified stem christies, delayed weight transfer turns, those went fine, then we went into lunch, and then headed back out after to Slauchmans, where we skied steep north facing stuff in knee deep skied out pow. I felt SO solid, charging, happy, opening in the ankles, my legs were fresh, I wasn't hanging on to my turns, my skis felt light and responsive!

I definitely skied to my potential this morning. We came back over to PK and started presenting tasks, Jen Gunther did hop turns, which are not my best, but I think my second set is passing. Barbara did Javelin turns, my first set sucked, my second set was okay, but I had the same problem in them as I did in Pivot Slips, not keeping that uphill hip high, so I'm not sure if I passed either of them, even though the second sets of both were pretty good. Common thread problems are an issue, that's what the tasks are designed to expose, so we'll see if I can't pull that issue together tomorrow.

I taught Charlestons, and my first demo was crap, but my feedback was good for the group, and my second set felt good. Then we did short swing turns, which are a problem for me, we did two sets, I don't know if either set passed. My feedback for the second set was to send the knees across into the new turn faster, earlier. I got the same feedback for bumps, so that's another common thread, that's two, so now I'm a bit nervous.

Bumps on Deer Park felt solid, I played, had fun, varied turn shape, good ski to snow contact, etc, but then I got the knee comment, and that threw me, I haven't got that feedback yet in the bumps. I called Squatty after I got down the hill, and he said that means I'm not committing to the new turn enough, and I can change that for sure.

We did arcing in the crud, about shin deep, high speed arcs, and I was arcing, but I wasn't working my upper body like I can, I think I was a titch defensive in the crud. The second set was much better, the third set was good and aggressive.

On Slauchmans, Troy asked me to soften my outside leg earlier in the turn, and I did that for the rest of the day. I also had NEARLY a huge wipe out, which turned into a spectacular save, I got inside, my outside tip got ripped back behind me, I miraculously stayed on my inside foot and did about 15 turns in knee deep crud while I tried to get my outside ski back under me (the tip was dragging and bouncing in the snow BEHIND me) I went over a little compression and my tip freed, and I pulled my foot back under me and kept skiing, I was PSYCHED! If I had fallen, I would have totally destroyed my knee. It's a bit sore from being yanked on like that, but no worries.

So no falls for me today, my free skiing was to my potential, I did well in the Whirlpools, I did well in the bumps, and can make the change they want, I hope, tomorrow.

Focuses for tomorrow:

Must soften downhill leg earlier
Revisit pivot slips with a better tip lead/hip open
Revisit short swings with knee commitment
Revisit bumps with same
Revisit arcing with leveling of shoulders
Don't pop even once all day
School those hands, more open, no lazy left hand

Kill it in the teaching segment.

I have NO idea if I am above the bar or not, I think my freeskiing is there, I'm not sure if I'm going to fail on Pivot Slips, Javelins and Short Swing turns. I'm not sure if they are good enough to pass, or not.

SO, I'm not gonna worry about it. I'm gonna hydrate, shower and go to bed, then go have ANOTHER killer fun day skiing at my favorite mountain tomorrow!! Whoot WHoot!!

Here we go!

I'm leaving for the hill now, thanks for all the support, emails, facebook messages, Twitter posts... I am frankly overwhelmed (in a GOOD WAY) with all the love and support out there. I feel excited, rested, and ready to go have fun!

Next update won't be till tonight! Thanks, guys, you are amazing!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

14 hours to go, Pointers from Brent to the rescue...

A couple of things, I just found this quote, which I love:

"The limit at any given time is really only a taboo which can be shifted so that we slowly move toward what is absolutely impossible, something nobody can reach but which is the magic point that keeps adventure and uncertainty alive." --R. Messner

AND, I got a lovely note from Squatty and Weems, and a great message from Megan... my mom called, my sister called, my cousin tweeted me from Austria... and my Facebook friends have been boosting my confidence all day long! Thanks, guys!

I just got this email from Brent Amsbury, my amazing bootfitter of doooom, with some very sage advice...

Just a couple of pointers from my old coaching days....


Begin hydrating big time, tension makes you perspire, so load up starting 24 hours in advance.

Check your gear. Wax em, and make sure your binding tension is correct, especially forward pressure.

Get rest, even if it means just sitting or laying down.


Break out of your morning rituals. Do the same things you do every morning. Break the ritual and your run the risk of seriously
amplifying performance anxiety.

Ski for the audience, ski for yourself only. It's just you and the mountain out there as far as the universe is concerned.

Forget to have's the whole reason why we do this

Now go kick some ass!


Awesome!Good things to remember for sure. I am feeling really tired right now, a bit worn out for some reason, so I'm laying out all my stuff for tomorrow, getting the kids in bed and going to sleep myself shortly! I'll tweet from the ridge or Slauchmans if I get up there (That's the only place there's cell service) otherwise, more updates tomorrow night.

Headin home.

Thanks, big sky!

Motorist Burried in Teton Pass, Winter Recreation to be Closed in 2009/10 Season

This is a reprint of an article from Skiing in the by McGaper.

Please visit SkiingInTheBackCountry to post comments on this article!

A natural avalanche occurred early this morning around 3:00am on Teton Pass. The avalanche slide path was on the south side of Mount Glory in the area known as Twin Slides. One unlucky motorist was caught and buried in their automobile until rescuers found the victim two hours later and was pronounced dead on the scene. The name of the victim has been kept private until the authorities could notify family members.

"After a tragedy like this, WYDOT has no choice but to close the pass to winter recreationalists." stated WYDOT spokeswoman Mary Samsonite. Closures will begin on November 4, 2009 and last until April 4, 2010. Although the loss and closure is devastating, the closure is not permanent and it will more than likely be open again for winter recreation in 2010-2011.

After studying the bed surface of the slide, local avalanche experts determined that the occurrence of the slide was unique. They found that the unusual amounts of dog feces in the snow pack had caused depth hoar to form and create a weak layer for all the new snow to slide on.

"All the warm weather before the recent snow fall had exposed a winters worth of poop all at once for the new snow to fall on," commented local avalanche forecaster Olly Williams. "This in turn did not bond well with the heavy "dumpage" of new accumulation received in past days." While this is the first documented case of a turd caused avalanche, experts hope that people will now understand just how dangerous a crap covered slope can be.

"We feel that we have been more than patient with winter recreationalists and since this death was a direct cause of careless skiers, they now have to deal with the consequences," explained Samsonite.

Local skiers mentioned that in recent weeks the dog poo had become so bad that it gave corn skiing a whole other meaning. Some say they started wearing a face-mask to avoid ending up nose deep in dog dookie. Maybe more shocking than the unnecessary loss of life, is that on investigation of the bed surface one account of human feces was identified. Which begs the question: What the crap is going on up on Teton Pass?

APRIL FOOLS!! (AHH I fell for it!)

20 hours to go, figured something out skiing in the hot tub...

So I'm up here in Big Sky, hangin at the Huntley with my new friend Tricia, and Tess from Bridger. I have to say that it was awesome to get up here for the last two days and just relax. I feel like I've been on vacation, surrounded by positive, encouraging people, training just a bit, relaxing, eating well, and just playing.

I think we forget to do this, to consider taking care of ourselves as a crucial part of training, and last year, I came up to Big Sky as well to ski with Squatty and Weems at EpicSki, because the exam was at Big Sky. So I wasn't so much taking care of myself as I was learning the snow up here and getting more familiar with exam terrain.

This time, the point was to be next to my Coach and my... what would I call Weems? It feels like he's been my friend and playmate for centuries, but I just met him last year. I think a lot of people feel that way about him. Anyhow, the idea was to be near these two incredible friends, to ski with them, to demo for their groups, to listen to them teach, to take it easy and feel my feet and practice the move that I'm working on.

Today, even though its still dumping, I managed to stay off my skis, and just be. I'm trying not to rush home, and get a bunch of stuff done, but to just stay, relax, be here now. I slept in, ate a nice breakfast (Thanks, Tricia!), and went down to soak in the hot tub.

While I was down there, I did a long meditation in the water, which was great, slowing my brain down, feeling focused and centered and present (another reason why its been great to do massage for the last couple of days up here, just being fully present like I have to be while I'm working on a body is great training).

After my floating meditation, I was sitting on the step and thinking about the short turns I did yesterday in Weems' group, and the fact that they still have a pop in them.

I started skiing my hands, looking at the sensations, and I realized that in my short turns, I still have a two legged extension! So the invaluable feedback that Andy gave me about extending the new outside leg while shortening the new inside leg, I had only applied to medium and large radius turns.

I sat very still for a second as I thought about this, and then floated myself off the top step and tried to ski short radius turns. I realized while I was doing this that I am still long at the bottom of the turn, and that I don't start releasing the pressure on the outside ski until I am ready for the new turn. In other words, I'm still hanging on to my turns.

I slowed down the turn and worked on large radius turns, trying to change the timing and movements and see if I could walk through the whole thing, it worked like this.

Starting neutral at the transition, both ankles closed, leg length equal and flexed, I begin to point my toes, opening my ankle into the new turn as I let my leveled pelvis be drawn across the platform. The inside leg is soft, and continues to shorten, being drawn up the inside of the new outside leg. Softening the new inside leg while pointing the foot was challenging, and I realized that this might be why in the short turn, I'm extending off both feet, because oppositional movements are difficult at best, and this is a secondary set of them. (The first being lengthening one leg while softening the other, the second being opening both ankles while softening one leg).

Now we are at the apex of the turn, the longest and strongest, and this is where I should begin letting go, rather than twisting hard at the bottom of the turn and coming off the heel (although that helped out yesterday in the deep mank, and Weems said he was skiing off the heels a bit in that stuff as well...) Anyhow, Apex. Outside leg is long and strong, advancing, inside leg is soft at the knee, falling to the inside of the turn, strong in the ankle as both ankles close and flexion begins. Inside foot is pulled back strong for me, as I love to let that sucker squirt forward. Now we are in the bottom third of the turn.

I should begin letting go (if you ski close to me, you'll hear me saying "soften!" at the bottom of every turn) of the outside leg, and as a result, ski begins to flatten, and I travel back over the platform. Ankles begin to open, diving toward the new turn as inside leg softens and draws up. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

So, now I'm headed down to the sauna to ski in there and see if I can keep the timing of this in shorter turns, practicing opening my ankles while softening, taking the sensation of my upper back stiffening and being pulled back when I open my ankles out, and trying to reprogram a soft spine with an easy, flowing attack with the core. I'll let you know how it goes!

Heading down the hill this afternoon, first, gonna stop at the Moose and buy cookies and chocolate and red bull for my jacket for the next two days. Then, gonna snuggle the kiddos, then Alex is coming over and we are going to do a traditional Crow smudge ceremony for serenity and balance, good night's sleep.

Up at six to wax the skis, on snow by 8:30, let the games begin!

Thanks so much for all the encouraging emails and notes, its been WONDERFUL to read them!! You guys rock!