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!