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!!