Wednesday, January 27, 2010

US Ski Team Powder Girls was quite fun!!

So as I mentioned earlier, I got the bizarre and wonderful experience of team teaching with four retired US Ski Team athletes last week. It was two and a half days of absolute fun, working with four or five women in a group. Each group had an athlete and an instructor.

On the first day, I was assigned one of the "hard charging" groups, and we skied with Caroline LaLieve and Donna Wienbrecht. Osstensibly, part of my job is to guide the groups around the mountain, but as many of these women, especially the high end skiers are Aspen Locals, they know the mountain much better than I do!

After doing my best to know where I was and make some suggestions in the morning of the first day, I realized that I should just get the ball rolling by asking what kind of terrain they wanted to ski, and get us moving, with Katherine or Susan in the lead.

I focused on helping the women identify what they wanted to do with their skiing, and helping them get there. For a lot of the women, it was removing fear by increasing skill, for many of them, it was understanding why they turn, and what a turn should look and feel like. What is their belief system about why and how they should turn in skiing? Its amazing how many different answers you get to that question. About as many different answers as their are skiers.

One of the amazing things about teaching with athletes at this level, is that you have an incredible picture. Donna was willing to demonstrate anything anywhere, showing us super highspeed mogul technique, and then rounding it out and slowing it down for the women, and we worked really well together explaining what we wanted from the ladies.

Caroline and I skied steeps and bumps, and Caroline is moving into more all mountain skiing now, which is evident in her incredibly adaptive skiing. I don't think I saw this woman out of balance once. Her image is one of consistent balance, and choice... I see her skiing "into the future" and adapting her turns playfully to the terrain. I had a spectacular crash skiing with her RIGHT under the Temerity lift on Highlands (yes, in uniform, yes, yes, I owe everyone on the chair a beer...)

I actually haven't had a wreck like that in quite a while, ass over teakettle, lost a ski, hit myself in the back of the head with the other ski, two full somersaults and came up smiling. Hey. It was a powder day.

We hooked up with an incredible extreme skier, Susan Plummer, after that run, and spent the rest of the morning free-skiing every gnarly line we could get into in Highlands. It was wonderful.

I also got to teach with Picabo Street for a full day, in which we focused on upper and lower body separation, and pressure on the outside ski. We shot video, which was great, and then went into Bernie's shack at the top of Aspen Mountain to review it. That day the two of us had just two students almost all day, and it was great to be able to hand them back and forth to each other and help change their understanding of what they are trying to get the ski to do in the snow, and how their body performance is affecting their ski performance.

Picabo and I hit it off famously, although she missed Megan Harvey, whom she had taught with the year before, quite a bit. Megan had made a beautiful bridge for the athletes, helping them to express what they do and giving them some tools to explain things really well. This set me up for success this year, and the whole thing went really well. Can I just say how bizarre it was to watch video of Picabo and I skiing 8s together as demonstration to the ladies? We were going for showing them the race form and the same turn with the same rhythm detuned to the recreational form.

After having such a great time teaching and playing in the snow together, there were a few days there where we thought that Picabo and I would be able to ski Powder 8s together, but the schedules don't line up for this year, Picabo has a speaking engagement on the day of the finals. So keep your fingers crossed for next year! How fun would that be!!

Megan and I will be teaching a follow up clinic to the Powder Girls for next season at the end of February, and we're really looking forward to it!

If YOU are interested in skiing with the US Ski Team and raising money for the team, which is all privately funded, please email me at kate howe (at) mac (dot) com (all one word) and I'll send your information on!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Team Teaching with Donna Weinbrecht and Picabo Street!

Well, my weekend certainly shaped up! Of course, you never want to get a booking this way, (and no, it was NOT a "Showgirls" moment...) My lovely friend Megan Harvey became temporarily sidelined and asked if I'd take a booking for her. Sure! I'd love to!

Turns out the booking is two and a half days guiding and team teaching for the US Ski Team's Powder Girls, a group of women who make a donation to the US ski team and then get to ski with four retired gold medal athletes (Picabo Street, Donna Weinbrechet, Caroline LaLieve, and Jonna Mendez) and four instructors from Aspen Mountain!

Yesterday, I team taught with Caroline LaLieve, and Donna Weinbrecht. First of all, WOW. Second of all, Donna can ski ANY terrain at incredible speed with incredible precision. Katherine Fleck organizes this amazing group of women, and I had the good fortune to be teaching the hard charging group.

What a ride! More later with photos and links for more information if any of YOU would like to ski with the Athletes next year!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ethan skis in his first ever torchlight parade! Aspen mountain WinterSkol!

Tonight was an absolute treat. Ethan and I drove over to Aspen Mountain and went down into the empty locker room. we suited up and headed over to the chair at the Little Nell where Ethan was given a torch shaped flashlight. ("Aw, mom, I want something that lights on fire.")

Apparently you have to be 12 to have something that lights on fire. We were the second ones up on the chair, and suddenly, here I am sitting in the dark, swinging in the crisp winter air, bundled up next to my eight year old, skis on, no poles, just looking around and seeing the town fall away behind us.

Riding a chairlift in the dark is a wonderful and strange experience, and doing it with Ethan was a sudden moment of bliss. He tucked right in next to me, suddenly a combination of big kid (gonna ski Aspen Mountain at night) and little boy (tiny and warm under my arm.)

"Mom, this is so cool I can't believe we are doing this." he kept saying. We got up to the top, and he settled right down, he was one of six or so kids who skied in the parade, the youngest of whom was only six years old!" We had the requisite fifteen minutes of waiting around at the top and then the torches got passed around, we were up in the front and suddenly we are off, two leaders, then me, then Ethan, and then John Fayhee, a wonderful instructor from Aspen Mountain right behind him.

I was a little nervous, the Nell is a steepish blue groomer, it was pitch black and we are skiing in a huge snake with things on fire all around us. Ethan, once again, impressed me with his ability to get it together when it really counts. He followed the line perfectly, even over the ice (in a giant death wedge, but he said he is used to sliding and was never worried), and as we crested the hill, about five hundred people let out a huge yell.

We skied it down to the bottom and put out our torches, and put up our skis. The crowd was high fiving Ethan, and asking him how old he was, and he was just absolutely full of pride. We got to stand inside the barricade and watch the huge fireworks display in our ski gear, and then troop back down to the locker room carrying our skis, getting congratulated by the crowd once again. Ethan was just saying over and over, "I can't believe how COOL that was! Lets do EVERY parade there is!"

This was truly one of those moments where you get to feel, I am sharing something I love most in the world with someone I love most in the world, and they are loving it! It was a wonderful, amazing, magical night in Aspen!

Acceptance includes letting it be this good.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew that however good something was, the hurt that would follow would be equal and opposite, and I guarded against feeling that hurt. I felt, at that time, like the hurt was punishment for me indulging in what had felt good. Yes. I was Catholic. What's your point?

What I didn't realize at the time was that I was spending enough of my energy knowing that pain was coming, that I could never live clearly in the present.

Tonight, Bodhi projectile vomited all over me. We are packed into a small bedroom right now, making it work, and my twin bed is on the floor next to the bottom bunk. He has the stomach flu and hasn't thrown up in two days, we were planing that he would ski tomorrow. He hit me in the face from three feet away in his sleep.

My beautiful friend Alissa came in, having heard the retching from her room, and got right to work, wetting towels and wringing them out, bringing in garbage bags and hauling soiled linens out. We got Bodhi cleaned up and transfered into my remade bed and did a thorough scrubbing of his bed and the floor.

For some reason after that, we were both wide awake in the middle of the night, and we wandered out and made some tea, and got to chatting about life.

We were talking about my mom deciding to move here, and what an incredible gift that is for all of us, and I told Alisa that I felt like it was another door opening on my path. And then I had this little epiphany that things have changed materially for me in the last fifteen years in the way that I view the world, and how I move through it. Now, I knew that had been happening, because it was a purposeful focus, but it was interesting to try to share in words how differently I felt now.

Amy has said to me, "Wherever you are is right where you need to be to learn the lesson that you need to learn. And where you need to be is not always pleasant or comfortable." I love these words, they have helped me clearly open the door to the mantra, "Where is the lesson" when things are difficult. And right now, things are difficult.

I feel that I needed to learn to be willing to face the thing that scared me the most before my mom could be part of my path. I had to decide that I wanted something more from my life, even though it was scary to my ex. I had to decide that I was going to stand on my own two feet and trust myself. I had to decide that i could be enough for my boys, that I could earn enough, and I had to decide that I could live in an apartment without a TV or all their toys and that that could be enough for them, as well. That us together without the destractions that I couldn't afford would be enough. That books from the library and sharing a small space would be not only enough, but good for all of us.

I had to decide that it was okay that I drive a truck with no windows, and bald tires and a transmition that is falling out, although i was worried about how to get the kids around, because I won't drive them in that truck. And then my friend Alissa agreed to come make it work with me, and I thought,this is good. This is how lots of people do it. You make do with what you have. My mom told me stories of her and her seven siblings growing up during the war, and how things got tight, and they got creative, and ended up sharing a room, and raising chickens in their attic to pay the bills. Is it ideal? No. Did she get close to her sisters and her mom and learn the value of a dollar and an incredible work ethic? yes.

This could be a blessing. This could be the lesson. A lesson I enjoyed learning when I was in Nepal. That this this enough. That we need each other more than we need our stuff. That left to their own devices, kids will get a paper and pen and make up a game and play it sitting on my lap. That hot chocolate makes a great desert, that its valued when its a treat we make together.

I had to face a lot fo fear, fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear of inadiquacy, and I felt very naked. And I had to let go of that fear actively over the first two months that i was here. I remember calling my mom in tears on my way home from Target one night. The kids were coming for Christmas. I wanted them to have a room that they felt like was their room, that felt like it was set up for them, so they would feel continuity between their old, large home with a huge dedicated playroom full of thousands of dollars of toys, and this cozy little cabin in the woods. I called my mom and I cried because I could afford to buy a bookshelf for the bedroom, but i couldn't afford to put anything on it. I was afraid the kids would come here and not be happy because they didn't have all their things.

And in the past I might have borrowed money or used a credit card to do what I thought was necessary, but when I moved out away from Tom, I decided that this was a chance to live with integrity, to begin clean in a place where I felt like I could be proud to be me without apologizing for who I was. And part of who I was was very poor. And so I had to sit with the fear that i wouldn't be enough. And I talked with mike, who has been through this himself. He had a great house in Red Lodge. He made the choice to live more humbly so he could be financially responsible. In the process, he taught his kids to love to play the guitar to fill their time, to be outside, to be creative, to be a family. I was scared. He thought I'd be fine.

And we were. The kids didn't miss their stuff. We had books from the library and a few toys that they'd brought with them, and no television. They haven't asked to watch a movie since they got here. They don't' see the TV so it doesn't even occur to them. They engage themselves in all kinds of creative pursuits, and we are rich in our relationships, even though we are in a tiny house.

I feel like I had to do a lot of letting go to get here. I had to let go of my idea of the perfect home through the boys eyes, I had to let go of worry about what people would think if I drove a truck with a cardboard window (I got a tailgate, thanks to Uncle Charlie, but the hinge didn't match, and now I'm not in a place where I have the time to get it fixed), I had to let go of thinking I needed my mom, that I couldn't do it alone, I had to let go of the things I believed that Tom had said about me and my capabilities. I had to just trust, and be flexible, and fluid, and open to the lesson as often as I could be.

And when i let go, my mom asked me if I'd like her to live here. And she found a place on the ranch that is twice the size of this one, with a dishwasher and a washer and dryer and microwave, and I'd grown accustomed to living lean and rustic and it was enough. And I think, because it was enough, for me and for the boys, becuase I know we would have been fine, working through it and taking care of each other, another avenue opened up.

I'm booked more than I thought I'd be. I was able to take myself off the schedule for both my massage jobs, because I am splitting rent with my mom and Alissa, who wore capes with the boys the other day playing bats. I still drive a truck with a cardboard window, but I n o longer feel like one day, that's going to change. I feel like that is changing. I've paid off my credit card. I bought the boys new snow boots and a new coat. I got Bodhi some new skis and boots, and Ethan got poles today. They hgave ski passes and lessons, they are in the chess club and theater. This all costs money. But there are groceries on the table and the rent is paid. No, we don't go out to dinner or the movies, yes, I have one pair of bluejeans, and not enough money to drive down valley. But this is changing. Now. not sometime in the future when I graduate, but now, as a result of the last three years of hard work.

There's not a light at the end of the tunnel, we are standing in the light. And the other shoe dropping is just part of that life, its the lesson that needs to be learned in that moment. And now, rather than waiting for it to drop and the repercussions to reverberate through my life and wreak havoc, I look for that shoe in the form of a lesson, see it's opportunity, and am grateful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm teaching women's clinics in Aspen!

Dates to come soon! What topics would you like? Comment here or email me at kate howe (at) mac (dot) com (all one word) to help get this first round set up!

Steeps? Bumps? The Pucker Factor? Would you like one day or three? Would you like to all split a couple of condos and make your trip cheaper and more group bonding? Would you like to do things together at night?

Lets put it together!

Looking forward to skiing with you all!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Its not about the container.

I have had the unique pleasure of living in a very nice five bedroom house in a small town outside Monrovia, California. It was lovely. It had a Bacheldor fireplace, and three mature oak trees, an Avocado grove, and an 85 year old wysteria. I've lived in a couple of large old homes in Palo Alto, California, and I've lived for a short time in a dirt floored house in Nepal, and in a trailer turned modular home in LaBufadora, Mexico. I've stayed with friends in their 30 million dollar homes, and stayed with friends in their trailers.

Today, I had the unique pleasure of skiing with a very insightful guy, and I was trying to explain why I don't think that the container that you live in is what defines your wealth. I was stumbling around my words, and this is what he said.

"I've spent time in the Motel 6 and in the presidential suite at a five star hotel. I've had some of the best nights of my life in the Motel Six and some of the worst nights in the five star hotel. Ive also had some of the best nights at the five star, and some of the worst at the Motel 6. Money doesn't determine that. Money is neutral."

Its true. When I was in Nepal, I realized one afternoon that I was happy. There was a dirt floor, a picnic table, and a stove with an open fire that vented through a hole in the ceiling. We had one deck of cards and some paper and pen to play with. It was enough.

I vowed that I would remember that when I came back to LA, because I was ashamed of how attached I'd become to my comforts, to the amount of money it took to live "Tollerably" in Pasadena. And of course, over time, it waned.

But one thing I knew was that I wasn't happy. Things were good, our business was good, our kids were good, but the house, the container, the money didn't make me happy.

I think wealth comes from what is inside the container. And I've finally had a chance to test this theory. That living frugally, with less stuff, less toys, no TV, but with dedication to the thing that feeds my soul, and sharing this passion for the outdoors with my family, makes me wealthy.

I see it in action with Mike. He made a bold decision when he left his hometown of Redlodge. He lives a frugal existence, choosing not to have a huge mortgage, and to save his money for things like ski passes and a canoe, trips in sea kayaks, camping weekends. Because of this, he is richer then most people I've met who have all the material needs they could want.

Don't get me wrong. Money makes it easier to facilitate living your dream. But I contend that its not the first thing, nor the most important thing to have in order to live your dream.

There is something to the lessons that we teach our children when we have to make a choice, no cable bill, no television, good food, skiing in the back yard and swimming every day. The money goes to the swim center, not to the cable bill. The kdis grow strong and independant, able to make healthy choices in their lives. The kids, in the absence of television, bond to each other, and to their family, thinking creatively every night for something to do all together, rather than defaulting to screen time.

Its true, the new tailgate's hinge didn't match, so I am still without a window in my truck. I've gotten two paychecks now, so I'm starting to climb out of the financial hole I lived in for so long. But part of those paychecks, no matter how small they are, belong to the wealth of my family. And that wealth begins with the connection of the people living in the container, not in getting a nicer container.

So we save it, and we spend it on new skis for Bodhi, a new winter coat with a hood for Ethan, new snow boots for both of them, so they are equipped to make the strong choice to go play outside, even if its wet and cold. In making this choice, they learn that they have more choice than they thought! More options, they play together, they play with me, they play with their grandma, they play with other kids that make the same choice, to be and live and exist in their world outside.

Suddenly, I'm rich. And so is Mike. Someday, we'll have money, too. Until then, I'm wealthy with love.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Requesting your help.

If you have read this blog, and it has touched or encouraged you, please contact me at kate howe (at) mac (dot) com (all one word). I could use your help on a project!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'm Inclined Toward Weems...

So yesterday, I went over to Snowmass to ski with Weems and try to sort out why I couldn't stand in the middle of my ski during a short turn, and why it had such an inconsistent top.

As Squatty says, I was juggling too many balls in the air at once.

Weems and I chated on the chair on the way up about everything but skiing, and when we got to the top, he asked what I was working on.

"Rotating my femurs into the turn to get on an earlier edge."

"Okay, lets see it." he said.

Off we went. Mach Chicken down to the Big Burn. I was talking my way through every turn, and just couldn't take the line he was on. I know that when you change your skiing it gets ugly and falls apart right before it comes back together, and I was trying to be patient for that part. But I was frustrated. I don't like feeling scared of speed. And I want to feel like I'm in the middle of my ski more often!

We chatted on the next chair. "I think you turn your legs just fine. But you are over your skis. You need to be more inside the turnand aligned." It was a bit longer than that, but that's the jist of it. I'd spent so much time trying to stop dumping my hip and so much time reducing my tip lead, that I'd climbed back on top of my skis. I was massively over angulated, again, (Josh Spuhler and Mike Hickey have been trying to get me to understand that angles develop naturally for years...), but I couldn't do anything about it because I was getting all my edge from angulation.

Weems said, "Follow me" and away we went again, I let myself go inside, but asked myself to stay straight, and had the most bizarre and exciting sensations of the ski bending, but my head was in the center of the circle and it was playing funny games with my equilibrium. "Okay, now let your head and shoulders level but let everything else stay lined up over the foot."

Suddenly, my hand is scraping the snow, but I'm not kinked at the waist. for the bottom 2/3 of the turn, I have a stable platform, and I'm in the middle of the ski. But I still don't have a short turn, and I still don't have a reliable top.

I tell Weems this. He fixes my arms again, they are too far out, and I lean back to compensate, and he tells me to push my outside ski back at the top of every turn, instead of extending.

Suddenly, I have a top. A solid top. Suddenly, I can stand on my right ski. Suddenly, I can feel the tip of the ski curling back toward me as my obliques curl in toward it. I can fee counter developing, and I can let go of the turn early, because the next one has a top.

I chase Weems again, fast. Fast. SO fast. Faster than I've skied before. And I'm fine. I'm not scared, I'm happy, because I'm in the middle of the ski. And there is a consistent platform at the top of every turn. It's there in short turns, only every third turn, but its there. An hour and a half, and my skiing is completely different. My understanding of what it feels like to ski has shifted radically.

I have no idea where it will go from here, but I know that now, I can find the top, and stand on it, without it sliding out from under me and biting at the apex. I found the beginning of what will become my turn. I ski back down to the mall singing... because its possible. She can be taught.

Ethan and Bodhi rock Aspen Elementary!

Holy Smokes what a day. The kids started school today, and I was a bit nervous for them. Bodhi has been having some trouble at his old school, but in the last two weeks, they've just been blossoming.

Visit Aspen Elementary and Bodhi's class HERE.

Bodhi is suddenly loosing his fear, hes learning to swim, hes putting his head under the water, he's making friends, he's going to sleep by himself, he's not throwing tantrums or crying... he's able to switch tasks, he's just softening and flowing with life. Its amazing to see. Ethan wasn't struggling as much, but he was having some of his own focus issues, and those seem to be smoothing as well.

Today, I was nervous. I was worried that if there was going to be a tantrum, it would be today. I was sure there would be big fear, and if there had been, it would be okay. But the kids were excited to go to school. We walked up to Aspen Elementary, which is built in a bunch of pods around a small central hub, so there are seven second grade classes, and six kindergarten classes, all of 15 to 20 kids max. It feels like a small school inside and out, which is lovely.

When we were walking up the hill, there were what looked like a hundred kids or so outside all lined up by class, and the bell rang. When it rang, they all broke out in cheers! I was shocked! Ethan got this huge grin on his face and he said, "Well, SOMEONE is excited to go to school!" And Bodhi started pointing out kids that were excited.

It reminded me of the Richard Scarry story where Huckle Cat lives in the country and they build a house next door. All through the story, Huckle wonders who is going to move in next door to him, and at the end of the story, the Rabbit family (Stitches the Tailor) moves in with all 800 kids and all their bikes. And Huckle was never lonely again.

We walked into the school and the principal gave us big smiles and led us over to Bodhi's class. We walked through the computer lab, (the boys were all oooo aaaaa about it, its very nice...) and the walls of the school are just covered in all this amazing and colorful art work... and we walked up to Bodhi's classroom, and there was a sign hanging by the door, a HUGE sign, that the kids had made, that said "Welcome Bodhi!" He was amazed. His teacher, Ms. Jill came out, and Bodhi instantly fell in love with her. He walked into the class room, and this lovely classmate came up and said, "Bodhi, can I show you your locker?"

The class room was beautiful, homey, and the cubbies reminded me a lot of Middle Creek, where Bodhi has been the most comfortable so far. He's in the same class as our little friend Cooper, so he had a friend already when he started. Bodhi immediately started putting his things in his locker, enjoying the process of moving in, and turned and said, "Bye, mom!" to me. That was it. I looked up and saw the Thunder Bowl run where we do all our early morning training right outside his window. I could literally ski to the edge of the campus and walk across the football field to say hi to him.

"Hey Bodhi. If you miss me, look up there at that ski run. I'm probably one of the skiers on it during the day!" He cracked a huge grin.

"Cool!" and he was off, into the class, comfortable and happier than I've seen him in a new setting in a long time.

Next we were off to Ethan's class room, where there was another huge sign for him, and the kids were SUPER excited to see him. They pulled him into the classroom and showed him his locker and took him to his seat, surrounding him and making him feel welcome and happy. He was so involved, he didn't even turn around to say good bye.

I went up and skied a few runs in the Highlands bowl with Katie, Megan, Georgie and Cindy Lou, had some hot cocoa and headed back down for early release. My mom had picked the kids up (thanks, mom!) and we hung out talking about school for a while. Bodhi told me that his teacher was the best teacher ever, and that he had three new friends. Spanish class was a huge hit. Ethan was super happy as well, citing recess as the only boring part of the day. (Hes a fan of learning.)

Later in the afternoon, he sat down and did his whole week's homework, and we made a deal that we'll do our homework together, I'll study my ski books and they'll do their homework while Safta makes dinner. Speaking of dinner, over dinner tonight, the kids asked if they could be in the drama club and the chess club, which is open to all ages, so that's their Wednesday and Friday activity. Ski on Saturday!

The kids were in bed and zonked out by 8, and Bodhi was speaking Spanish as he fell asleep. For real. He was talking about his water bottle.

What an amazing feeling to know that they are happy, safe, secure, and absolutely blossoming in this environment!

Reality Check: Do I live in Kate Land?

Alright. Monday was the first day on snow for the group of people who are training to try out for the Demo team in 2012. It was an awesome day, super specific, and we went out there to delve into ideas pertaining to rotation and rotary skills.

We wanted to know what we believed about rotary, what was ideal, what was real, and if any of us could execute specifically. It was a very productive day to go deep into one idea, and we had a very open forum.

We started with side-slips, the hockey slides, then pivot slips. In the afternoon session, we took what we'd learned in the low end maneuvers and looked at short radius reaching turns and short swing turns.

To be honest, I got a little distracted from the theoretical, and technical conversation, and started focusing on my specific task of changing my skiing, trying to stay open to the ideas all around me.

I've spent so much time trying to turn my legs independently under a pelvis that is facing open down the hill that I've lost the task. My upper and lower body were completely separate, and I was very much on my uphill foot.

So while the group delved into ideals of rotary, I listened, but started asking some questions about the task itself, even though for our purposes, the task was supposed to be a vehicle for the discussion.

I got some great feedback, and I found a through line into my short turns from my pivot slips. Megan had me connect my torso to the activity again, bringing my body actively into the task in a quiet, but effective way. Will had me think of the pivot as a retraction turn, and Josh had me do it independently, so I'm retracting the downhill leg while pressuring the uphill leg, pretty much what I'm working on in short turns, not extending off both.

I've been through the two legged extension issue a couple of times, and it creeps back into my skiing, frustratingly enough.

Earlier in the season, I skied with Weems, and he had told me that I wasn't inside the turn enough. I had been working so hard on not dumping and on reducing my tip lead that I'd climbed right back onto my skis and was once again massively over angulated.

The combination of all of those things led to short turns in the afternoon that felt snappy, but that STILL don't have a top. Megan and Schanzy asked me to begin the turn not with an edging move, but with a rotation of the femur to the inside of the turn. I did this, and the ski hooked up a lot higher, but my knees were not loving it. I was getting rocked for and aft, although I was finally bending the ski.

The primary focus of the start of every turn was "rotate IN", which was followed by "EXTEND!" then "SOFTEN!" then "ROTATE IN!". It was happening occasionally, but I was rarely aligned well enough to get the ski to bend predictably, or for the edge to be there for me to trust at the top of the turn. It felt like a huge crap shoot to get the ski to bend reliably, and therefore I was scared.

I wanted to trust it, I wanted to stand on it, but it just wasn't reliably biting at the top of every turn, I'd step on it and it would push the ski away from me, hooking up at the apex and accelerating me into the back seat.

I felt change happen, but I had one of those moments where I was worried that the synthesis of everything I needed to do to make this turn happen would take weeks and weeks of integration work.

I got very single minded, as focused as I could on pulling these pieces together with the rotation being the driving ideal. But it was hit and miss.

We went down to watch the video and I was not really super psyched at what I saw. Everything improved on each run, for sure, and I got a nice compliment on my ability to make change in my skiing, but sitting there and watching just how far I am from where I need to be was disheartening to say the least.

I wondered, as the talk swirled around me, if I was insane to try this. Did I belong in this room? I feel like I have something to offer, but I know that on this day, my need to bring my skill up superceeded my ability to contribute well to the technical conversation. And I know it will again and again, because that's where I am and what I need.

At the end of the meeting, I took Megan aside. "Megan, can I ask you a question? Do you think I can do this? I mean, really?"

I needed to ask. I don't want to be in a world where people are like, "Humor her. She's insane, but its fun to watch." I need the hard answers. Megan took me seriously. "Yes, you can do this. You might not make the regional team by next year, but you can petition your way into Nationals. It will be hard. A lot of hard work. But you have the talent to do this, Kate."

She wasn't bullshitting me. She made some recommendations, such as going to Rossi Race Camp rather than Academy this year, and going to Chile next fall to train for a few weeks.

I came home feeling a bit shell shocked. I knew I had a long way to go. But for some reason, I thought I'd get a small breather this season in the intensity of my training. My mom looked at me when I came in the door.

"What's up honey?"

"Mom, I feel like I've been avidly reading a book for three years and I just found out I'm on page two of a 22,000 page book. I have to rededicate. I have to completely focus on this, or I'm not going to make it."

"Well, you can't do that without help. That's why I'm moving here. Go do it. What did Megan say?"

"She said I could do it. She said it would be hard."

"Then go do it honey. That's why I'm here. Go get your ski books out and do your homework every night with Ethan and Bodhi. Go train. I'll be here with the kids. I'll help you."

I stood there, realizing one more time how incredibly blessed I am to have a mom who is willing to give me this gift. Because she is here, my rent is cheap, my home is comfortable, my kids have a consistent stable heart to hug, I can go to Movement Analysis and team training and lectures a few evenings a week. I can be with my kids in the morning and after school and on those few nights a week, she can put them to bed, and it doesn't cost me $60 or $80 every night that I need to do that.

Because of my mom, I can actually pursue this. I can dedicate myself to my kids and my goal, while making enough money to care for my kids.

I texted Weems. "What time tomorrow?" Time for me to go learn to bend my ski.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

reality check

So yesterday was the first day of training for those of us who are trying out of the national team in 2012. And while I know this is a very long shot and I've got a long way to go, spending four hours doing pivot slips with these guys rocked my world in a whole new way. I feel like I've been reading for three years and I'm on page two of a 22,000 page book! But I haven't lost heart. I've looked in the box and I have a deeper understanding of what I have to do. More to come. Right now I'm in my way to my guru to go rotate the crap out of my femurs and bend the ski! Now!

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

So my Kids are here, Thriving and LOVING life

Its amazing. Its absolutely wonderful. And my mom has decided to move here permanently. And so, there you have it. We are moving all together into this beautiful cabin called The Ponds here on the ranch, there are kids Ethan and Bodhi's age who live downstairs, they all ride the bus together to school.

Three huge bedrooms, washer dryer, dishwasher, huge kitchen, a deck, and a private pond with a beach. A kids paradise.

Ethan and Bodhi are thriving, we've had minimal behavior problems, Bodhi has stopped saying he's scared, they've been sledding at the ARC, swimming in the river there, skiing with Powder Pandas, and on a playdate with a kid in Bodhi's new kindergarten class so he'll have a built in friend when he starts school on Tuesday.

They are both super excited to go to school at Aspen Elementary, which everyone raves about as an outstanding school, although they are a tiny bit nervous. Tonight, they started chanting "School! School! School!" in their room, having got each other all psyched up.

They are going to bed by themselves most nights now, and getting up and ready quickly and happily. They are adapting so very well to life here, its amazing, more than I could have hoped for to see them grow and smile and play outside. I don't own a TV and they don't miss it. Tonight they played cards together until dinner, they draw pictures or build with their Legos. There is SO much less argument and drama, and SUCH a tight family loving feeling without television or movies. Its awesome.

We are still working out how the actual eventual parenting plan will work out, but for now, the kids are thriving, and I'm happy to see it. We've fallen into a great routine, I'm up early and my mom comes over, but I'm done between noon and four depending on the client, so I'm home early. I've been meeting them at the ARC a couple of days to go swimming, and you should SEE Bodhi teaching himself to swim in the lazy river! WOW!

Its wonderful to have a full six hours or more with them a day, and on the days that I have an evening meeting, my mom is ready and willing to give them love and snuggles galore. How do I tell you how grateful I am that they can grow up here, and have her in their lives? Their cautious fear is disappearing, their adventurous spirits are emerging, and they are stepping beautifully into life! Yes!

First Day of Demo Team Tryout Training!

Oh my god its happening. Today, I drove to Highlands, where I sat in a conference room with about 15 people who are all planning to try out for the 2012 PSIA National Alpine Demonstration Team. This is why I came here.

Led by the passion of Josh Fogg and Jim Schanzenberger, we have launched our Aspen Ski School Demo Team Training Team, a group of people that want to do what it takes, whatever it takes, to become the best candidates we can be for the 2012 team.

I didn't expect training to start in the ski school until next season, and when I got the email that we were going to start, I was just beside myself. Three whole seasons of dedicated training. Three seasons to get my feet there. Three seasons to hone my eye and get my technical knowledge deeeeeep deep deep.

Tonight, I had the same sensation that I had when I first walked in to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Arrowhead and they handed me my schedule for the next day. I was sort of shocked, I just got here, and wow, look there's eight hours of skating and workouts and training starting tomorrow. We aren't screwing around here. Lets get to work.

The amazing thing about the meeting tonight is that this is the first time that I've been a member, a peer, part of the group that is going for the common goal, and not an observer, coach, or a person who is going to try out next time. This is it.

Today marked the starting point of my own journey towards my own tryout. And I'm psyched. I want to be a part of this team, this mission, to put together a group of skiers that not only meet but exceed any standard. To push our knowledge and understanding deeper than everyone else does, to create a core of instructors who are so solid, flexible, mutable, who have a depth of knowledge and a love of the sport and an ability to play while getting it done at the highest level possible.

I also found out that I have to try out for the regional team next year! GULP! That means I have two seasons to get my feet there. Usually, the regional tryouts are the January before the national tryouts. Not this time. They are next April. Ready feet?

So here is my timeline: I'm applying to be a Diamond Pro this year, I'm trying to get my Trainer Passport filled out completely this year, and I'm going to try to complete my PSIA Trainer as well. This way I can go to E1 selection next year for Examiner tryouts before Regional Team Tryouts, and then I have the third year to focus solely on the Demo Team. We'll see if those things happen, the important thing is learning each step thoroughly and not passing on to the next until I own the one I'm on. I'm not interested in fast tracking, I'm interested in dedicated learning, in consuming knowledge and in voraciously applying it to my skiing and teaching, analyzing the results, and doing it again.

And here I was thinking that this year would be a mellow year between my 3 and my Trainer where I just worked on my skiing and assimilated into the Aspen Ski School. Not so. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Hitting the history books, its time to fill in the holes in my education and get my feet smart and hot.

Ready? The adventure begins TODAY! Stay tuned, our first on-snow session is tomorrow!