Saturday, February 6, 2010

Trainer Passport Journey Begins!

One of my goals is to become a trainer for the ski school at Aspen. To this point, I've been training this year refining my understanding and movements. In order to become a trainer, you have to pass your current Level 3 cert (they look at your skiing again to make sure you are skiing at a contemporary Level 3 level), and complete the Trainer Passport, which includes the following:

Professional Development:
Interview with your Coordinator, Lead Trainer and Team Leader
List of Accreditations (Including Freestyle, Children's, Coaching etc)

Teaching Ability:
Current Level 3
Organize and lead a small group indoor movement analysis video session, formatted with the current GCT model. 4-7 people.

Technical Understanding:
Completed assessment with boot alignment pro (or checkup on current alignment)
on snow movement analysis of another trainer skiing
attend a physics/biomechanics lecture

Skiing Skills
Verifiers can sign any number of maneuvers - must have 2 signatures when one verifier has signed more than 3 maneuvers.

Short radius leapers
dynamic medium radius turns
wedge christi
linked pivot slips
short radius performance turns
open stance parallel turns (in the bumps)
railroad side cut turn
Fall Line Bump Run (double black)
Crud/ powder run (double black)

I was not really expecting to get any signatures on my passport until the end of the season, and then maybe just one or two. I met with Rick Vetromile, our Lead Trainer at Aspen Mountain to ask him if it was appropraite for me to go down this path, if he could see me as a member of the trainer pool, and he was very enthusiastic that I get started. With that encouragement, I went to the Race Clinic that he held, and have been working hard ever since our first Demo Team training day on getting short turns down.

Being in the brushes, and stubbies and skiing with some true legends from ski racing for two days really changed my understanding of what I was doing and how to get to that outside ski early early early. I was pretty beat up by the end of the clinic, but I was beginning to bend the ski in a way that I never have!

With this new understanding, I went out to our verifier day and was lucky enough to have Mike Haas as my clinic leader. Right off the bat, he re certified my Level 3, and signed off my bumps and railroad track turns as skiing at the trainer level. I was BLOWN AWAY!

We had a big talk in the large group before we went up about Aspen's standards for trainers and how high they are, and how stringently the Verifiers keep to those standards.

My short turns were STILL not quite there, and I could feel it. By the end of the day, I was touching it, the turn was shaping high up, but I was still getting kicked into the back seat with the skis squirting at the end of every turn. It was making me crazy. I am getting obsessed with short turns and how to take the movement patterns that have changed SO significantly in my skiing exist in such a compressed timeline.

Mike asked me to allow my hip to come through, apparently I've worked so hard at keeping my pelvis open to the hill that now I'm all locked up. Mike asked me to advance my outside foot through the turn. I couldn't believe it.

I'm getting the ski to its edge by pushing the toepiece back! This is the thing that is moving my core foreward and against the platform progressively. I feel power and control with that move, I don't want to change it!

But, as Milton Katsellas used to tell us in acting class, you have to be willing to kill your babies. Its true. Don't ever love anything in your skiing so much that you aren't willing to try it differently. So I tried advancing the ski.

Suddenly, something clicked. When, where and why?

I can still push my toe piece back at the begining of the new turn, and then slice the ski through the snow. Think of slicing a tomatoe. You have to pierce the skin first, and then slice the knife through. If you just push down, you will crush the tomatoe. If you glide a blade with no pressure across the tomato, you won't get any penetration through the surprisingly resiliant skin.

If you drive the tip into the tomatoe, and then slice the knife forward, it goes through beautifuly.

I was now able to pressure the ski at the top and bend it just before the apex. Of course, once again, I got rocketed across the fall line from the energy of the ski, and spent the rest of the day learning to want that energy and put the energetic intent of my core down the apex of the turn while letting my feet turn under me.

The only issue now was that in short turns, the skis were still squirting.

Kurt and I went out a few days later, and he agreed that my skiing had changed significantly, it was smooth and much more powerful. But the short turns don't match the rest of the skiing yet.

The next day, Cindy and I went out together to train in the bumps and take a break from the insanity that was becoming my obsession with the short turn.

Though my bumps had been signed off, I still have a lot of work to do in the bumps (and always will!) We participated in a clinic with Weems in the morning on hand positions and pole planting (a hand jive clinic) which gave me some clarity about alowing my hands to "float" in a neutral position that is equidistant from anywhere they might go were I to get out of balance.

With this piece floating in esoteric extsacy around my brain, and with Megan and Katie's video analysis of my hands in the bumps from the week before, we went to work.

Cindy and I worked Scarlett's, a long blue bump run on Highlands and lapped it with Weems. I am working hard to learn to steer a flatter ski in the bumps, engage my spine, and quiet my hands.

We spent quite a few laps up there, and by the end of the day, my understanding of how to navigate my way through the bumps had changed and improved YET again. Cindy was incredible, she's working hard on her movement analysis eye and her ability to communicate coaching ideas, it was an ideal day for me!

We discovered that we have similar learning styles.

Stop me if I am doing it wrong, I want to identify in effective movements as well as effective ones, so I can feel when I am doing it "wrong".

Tell me (and show me) what you see, and what you want to see. Tell me succinctly with a good picture.

Tell me what I can expect to feel when I do what you are asking me to do.

Let me practice, stop me if I am doing it wrong.

Using these guidelines, Cindy coached me to a new level of understanding in the bumps in about five runs. It was fantastic!

Today, Cindy and Schanzy and I skied at Snowmass together, Schanzy was working on a new movement concept which he borrowed from Martial Arts, and Cindy and I were his guinea pigs. It was outstanding, as it plugged right back in to the short turns training I've been doing, and seemed to be the next piece.

Schanzy was talking about energetic initent (which I love). He was talking about what its like to throw a punch in martial arts, where you turn your fist over, effectively doing a corkscrew type movement with his arm and fist.

We applied this idea to the new outside ski, screwing the ski down into the snow as it lengthened. This simple idea combined so many movement patterns in one thought, we had tremendous success with it.

By the end of the day, I realized what was going on with my almost short turns, and was able to screw the ski down into the snow directly under me, trusting that this impetus would force the ski to bend and turn under me. As usual, I had a run of my best twenty turns about ten minutes before I had to go pick my kids up from ski school.

It was a great day of discussion of ski technique and technical understanding, Schanzy and Cindy are both terrific at creating a safe space to experiment and play, there is no judgement, just open discussion and space to create your skiing.

I came home exhausted but happy things are happening under my feet, my skiing is changing and I think I may just get my trainer passport signed off this season. Even if I don't the journey there is incredible.

Tomorrow the kids go back to ski school, I have on snow Demo Team Training again!

1 comment:

Windy said...

The dedication that you've got for this sport, and the requirements that are necessary just boggle my mind, completely. It seems as if the quest to be the PSIA version of perfect is impossible. It must be SO important to you having come this far, to do what it takes. Kate! Phew..