Sunday, May 2, 2010

Judy Tannenhaus guest blogs National Academy!

Thanks to Judy Tannenhaus for guest posting her experience at National Academy this year!

National Academy 2010
Number Three

Yoga, the Mountains, and me

YOGA is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control", "to yoke" or "to unite”

Wow, what a week it was. Every emotion, every last bit of strength, endurance, courage, and mental focus, was put to the test. The steeps, the conditions made it so hard for me, I wished I had been in better physical shape and better acclimated to the altitude, so I could perform at my level best, but it was what I was. I had to accept that and keep on keeping on. (Next year, I can do something about it and I will.) Still, the rewards of the experiences were beyond my expectations, the gaining of knowledge, the making friends, the reuniting and connecting with old friends, the changes in my skiing, the pushing myself to the brink, the terrifying of myself, the tumbling, the not tumbling, and afterglow you get when looking up at mountain that you just hurled yourself off of and realize what you just skied. Wow, I feel so humbled and grateful having attended this years Academy and by joining a group of awesome people that ripped the mountain and were understanding and supportive of me. I also owe many thanks to my coach, who patiently believed in me, when I did not, and gave up his first tracks in fresh powder to make sure I made it down. I am sincerely grateful; David Oliver, you rock!
The person I have became during these days surprised me, wow! I rocked it and met my fears head on, absolutely with the help of my friends and coaches. They all looked out for me and made me believe in me. They even hooted and hollered when I kicked it! What I also gained was a profound respect for myself, how can you put a price on any of that? National Academy 2010 was truly priceless.
“Yoga on the Mountain”, to me describes the benefit I received this week. I got a glimpse, a taste, a chance to experience the “control”, and to “unite” with and become a part of the mountain, the group, wow, what a thrill. The beauty all around me, the blue skies, fresh air, wind, snow spray, sounds were all part of my reward. I got to be there, in the moment, reveling in the mountain experiences. It just amazed me that life could be that good and it was that good. I had a blast!

I’d like to share one particular experience in this five day event that was really stands out. On the second afternoon of our week, my elective was the video critique. We all gathered around and were introduced to our coach, Andy Docken. There were only four of us, how cool!! Excitedly, we rode up the tram, chatting and anticipating the afternoon. The plan was to go off the front side, stop and video four times on different terrain/conditions. It was fun, I felt really blessed to have Andy as my coach, and to get feedback from another National team member. We made our run under epic blue skies on sweet terrain, albeit I was kind of uptight on the steep part. It was pushed around snow and I was not sure that it had softened up to its more malleable state. Andy picked up on it said some kind encouraging words that set me at ease. Our run was fun, and before we knew it, we were indoors watching ourselves ski. We saw the whole video and of coursed critiqued ourselves in silence. My mind was saying, hmm, nice, wow, cool, oops, yikes, stuff like that. I was light hearted and ready to have Andy’s highly trained, experienced, eye critique me, so that I could work on becoming a better skier. He chose a segment of our run and individually critiqued us. He first asked us all what we were working on, and what we saw in our skiing on that video. He gave us information on our movements, which was useful for all; he then became more specific with each of us. He showed us the correct movements, body alignments and the muscle group or groups we’d need to feel while performing it correctly, and the effect of that move, position, or posture on the skis. He told us which body joints, muscle groups, how it should feel and purpose for it all. I was so psyched when I left. I reviewed the experience in my head as I scooted up to my room to get it all written down. Wow, what a critique, it coincided with what I was currently focused on, and pointed out something more that made so much sense to me. I can see where it holds me back and prevents me from raising my skiing skills to the next level. These were the finer points of my skiing, the fine tuning after the years of practice, PSIA clinics, and coaching. I felt great to be at this point in my skiing, it was coming together for me.

The next day, I had signed up for the carving elective in the afternoon. I was so looking forward to putting my new ski movements, and posture, and thoughts to the mountain snow. I stood by the group that was less aggressive, hoping to do some serious self revisions that afternoon. We were at the halfway point in the academy and the last 2 and 1/2 days of skiing for the whole season. I wanted to go out, improved, reworked, and become exhausted, before I hang the skis up for the season. I looked around and to my surprise Andy Docken was part of the carving coaches. Wow, I greeted him and he invited me to come in his group. This was magical. He introduced me as his new bff to others and fun groups were formed. Off we went, we took a warm up on the mineral basin’s groomer, Andy watched us from halfway down the hill and told me to find a spot for the group to pull over. I did. My new sensations were cool, stabilizing, seeking momentum in my mind and using the energy to my advantage. I cruised pretty fast, but never really felt uncomfortable with it. Yee ha, I liked what I was feeling, and what it was doing for me I will work keep it as I have so many times over. We spent the afternoon, describing and playing with the carved ski. On different terrain we used different type of edge angles on our skis, always trying to start from the lowest body joint and work our way up our joints including my spine. We smeared our turns, we tried a racer’s carve, high in the turn, middle, low all the ways we could depending on terrain. At the end of the day, Andy said that he did not expect me to make that change so quickly, but I had done well. I told him thanks, and that I used every tool he gave me.
My plan is to continue to train, despite the fact that my skis are hung up for the season, I will be watching videos, keeping in good physical shape, and focusing on the areas that I need to in order become a better skier. I’ll also be hoping the ski seasons come early this winter and that I can soon be on snow again picking up where I have left off. I will be remembering, incorporating, improving and smiling all the while, as my experience becomes richer, and more refined and tuned with the mountain and its demands. I seek to be one with it again, at some future moment in time, somewhere and many times over again.


Bill said...

my god!

why do they make it so darn complicated?

I taught and ripped Snowbird for thirteen years yrs ago.

The best skiers do not think like that. It is about paring down, simplifying.

Anyway , pleas e keep writing ladies! I love the way you all bare your souls

Keep it up:)

Unknown said...

Hey, Bill
Thanks for your comment. I do agree that we can make things complicated, and that the best skiers see it simply.

Rob Sogard once told me something about the journey through skiing that I have found to be very true in my own experience; and that is that at first it is simple, and then it becomes complicated, and then it becomes a dark cloud of confusion, and then, you emerge into a place where it is simple again.

I hear people often complain that PSIA makes things complicated, and I think the piece that is missing here is that I believe what we are trying to do is break things down so that we can show the pieces to each other when it doesn't seem simple.

I think that the ability to discuss in depth something so specific allows those of us that came to the sport late or are trying to push through to a new level of understanding some depth to push off of.

After the concepets are put into place, skiing them into simplicity is your task. Of course, we endeavor not to do this to the general public, but when you, as an instructor are striving to make some depth in your technical understanding as well as changing your skiing, I think that looking at the complex issues of balance and stance and pressure and seeing the "complexity" is actually helpful in creating ultimate simplicity.

And then, of course, there are those beautiful days when someone just says it to you right and it all comes together with ease, the concept, the understanding and the execution, all because someone said, try steering from your toe-piece.

I think that's why its addicting. There's so much to learn and its such an awesome journey to go from learning to living each turn. :-) Thanks for supporting Judy in her first post here on SITS!!


Bill said...

Hi Kate,

The skills concept provides terms to describe how various limbs and body parts move in a past series of turns.

All the discussion is interesting to know. But, clutter the mind with that stuff and learning slows. Best to study that stuff in summer when we cannot ski.

I cannot say enough how great it is that you ladies are speaking openly and honestly about what you are experiencing/learning. I encourage all of you to do so more.

Please thank her for posting.

passion rules

Unknown said...

I absolutely agree that the skills concept gives us a base to push off of!

I guess what I was trying to relate, is that in my own experience, sometimes its very very helpful for someone to continue answering my questions until I understand the disparate parts. To many listening, this might seem like an over complication. To my mind, it helps to understand the why of every aspect, it then seems to fall together in an uncomplicated picture.

I've taken lessons and clinics from people that are really frustrated and upset with other clinicians or trainers who "make it complicated", and feel strongly that the "feel it, do it, be it, live it" model is the right one.

For me, I learn fastest, with the deepest understanding, when I take a question to a person who is capable of breaking the whole apart, and giving me all the nuts and bolts of the whys behind my question.

I then usually go off and play with it by myself for a while, feeling it in my body and seeing if I can find places where I am intuitively doing that thing that I now understand piecemeal.

After a while, I'll go play with someone who has that simple, guru like wholistic approach, and I'll usually have a refined question by this point that I cant seem to solve on my own.

Usually, this person with simplistic clarity will tell me something, or show me something that unlocks it for me, and suddenly, I'm just skiing.

For me (and again, that's from my personal perspective), when I start the other way around, I tend to touch something that feels new and wonderful in my skiing, but because I don't know what it relates to, what it belongs to, or where it comes from, it is elusive and esoteric. I find myself chasing a "feeling" and not knowing what that feeling does to the ski in the snow. So I start changing things, searching for that feeling, without attaching any sort of function to it.

I love so much to ski with all different kinds of teachers because I feel that I get a really thorough perspective on what a good teacher is. There's so many of them, they all teach differently, from different perspectives.

I didn't mean to sound condescending earlier, I apologize if it came across that way. I was trying, in a rather ineffectual way, to describe that I agree with you, and enjoy people that can teach from that place, and also enjoy the other side of it.

This is a good discussion, thank you! And I thank you for encouraging us to continue to explore and share our passion for skiing!


Bill said...

Hi Katie

I am fed up with movement analysis. NOW if they called it the biomechanics of skiing centered on each little muscle, bone and movement, that is what each does in turns, it would make more sense.

the course could be taught as a module in the summer/fall when we do not ski.

This is not the way the best instructors teach. The best instructors are those who teach the public , and largely that only in the winter.

The best instructors keep it simple. The best instructors teach, the best skiers ski.

thx for responding , I will respond to the email you replied to in more detail.