Thursday, February 24, 2011

Extended Deadline for Rocky Mountain Trials!!


Rocky Mountain Assessment Trials



Arapahoe Basin April 18 – 20, 2011

Train for the 2012 National Teams Selection.

Gain valuable insight and feedback to enhance your development.

Bring back valuable tools & coaching to your home resorts.

Represent your Division as you train together for the big show!

Open to all Level 3 Certified instructors in good standing.

Completed Applications are now due March 20th to the RM office.

Download the Trials Application on the RM Website.

Cost is $300 for the three day event.

*Disclaimer:  This divisional process is NOT required to attend the National Selections in 2012, although it is strongly encouraged.  Whether or not you are able to attend the regional training/selections, you will need to let the Rocky Mountain office know of your intention to participate in the National Teams selection by November 1, 2011.

Sign up for the 50/50 PSIA National Academy!

Whether for one night, a few days or a whole week, come help celebrate PSIA-AASI's first 50 years and at least 50 years to come! Those thirsting for a National Academy or Rider Rally experience will love the education components, and if you're just plain thirsty we've got you covered there too. Want to bring friends and family? Go for it! See old friends, make new ones, and have a blast both indoors and out at the PSIA-AASI 50/50 Celebration.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

RMT Results! Happiness!

WOW what an experience!

Over the course of the three days, I lost 9 pounds, improved my understanding of skiing, improved my skiing, improved my ability to recognize and develop my own performance cues, not to mention I made at least 16 new friends and had a great time.

I did really well on the clinic leading and on the MA and Technical parts, and I missed the skiing by 1.1 points.

I feel really good about my results, I learned so much in the process, and I'm psyched to share it all with you! Its taken me a few days to recover, I'm MUCH more tired and sore than I thought I would be!

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who showed up for results and gave hugs, thank you to all the folks who emailed and texted from all around the globe, (I even got flowers!!) Thank you for helping me learn how to better support YOU all when you go for your next event.

I am happy, excited and eager to take what I've learned and press on. I've analyzed the numbers and drawn some conclusions, which I'm also excited to share, and I'm looking forward to the Rocky Mountain Trials at the end of the year!

Thanks again!!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 3 of RMT, Results at 5:30!

Hi everyone! Well, I'll say this. It went as well as it could. My skiing got better as the day went on, I was able to make, keep and improve the change that Todd gave me.

There were moments where I bobbled, but I'm pleased with the overall performance. Peter wrote a note on my Face Book that I got this morning, that REALLY helped me stay present and playful, as Weems had reminded me to be, and I ran into Megan on the chair, and she gave me a performance cue that helped me do what Todd had asked.

I incorporated Chris's flexion into all my runs today, about 60% of the time, and I had my best off piste skiing probably EVER in the last run of the day under the chair in Temerity, on Kesslers, a steep, double black sun baked crud run with some bumps.

We finished up with indoor presentations, and Kristin Heath and Joey hit it out of the park, mine was okay, but man, we were all cooked by the end. I forgot to tell my group which KIND of questions I'd like them to ask each other (oops) and I'll tell you more about the presentations later, but for now, its over!

My assessment: The teaching passes, the technical knowledge passes, the presentation passes, the skiing is sometimes above and sometimes below the standard, and they need to see it more consistently above. I think they saw the skiing get better and better over the three days, but that they are going to ask me to go again next year when I own the changes I made today.

Results are at 5:30 at the Highlands fireplace, my Twitter isn't working on my phone, so stay tuned, I'll get results up as soon as I can.

Regardless of the results, it was an AWESOME experience that has made me a MARKEDLY better skier and teacher, and I'm super stoked at the VERY clear path in front of me. I have fantastic coaching cues and I can't believe the exciting jump my skiing is making because of the hard work and dedication of the trainers and examiners in this process. What an INCREDIBLY supportive environment to go get diagnostic in!!

Thank you to everyone who put the event together, worked so hard in it to make it a great experience for ALL the candidates, and to all the AMAZING people who I got to ski with over the last three days! Holy WOW, this is why I can't stop doing this!!

Talk to you soon!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Days 1 and 2 of Rocky Mountain Trainer Accreditation

Okay, here we go!

Yesterday was day one of the first PSIA certification I've done in two years. I forgot how fun it is to be in a group of candidates training toward a goal, the excitement is palpable, the energy is awesome, and the athleticism goes up right as the stakes do.

I can't honestly believe I'm in this group. Its a bunch of really good skiers and teachers, from all over the Rocky Mountains. Copper, Steamboat, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen and Telluride. These dudes rip. And yes, they are dudes. The only other girl in the RMT is my friend and training partner and fellow MWR (Mommy Who Rips), Kristin Heath.

Yesterday, I got up early, had everything laid out, I'd washed my jacket in Oxy Clean so it looked professional, braided my hair, my skis were newly tuned, my hot bag had my boots at just the right temperature, and all my training materials were in my bag and ready to go.

I got to the Highlands locker room on time, only to find that my name wasn't on the roster because I was told I could bring a check the day of. (Yes, this is an issue that I am really focusing on. Its hard to raise two boys by myself as a ski instructor, especially with taking a lot of time off to cert train, and the cost of clinics. I'm grateful that my sponsors, public and private, have really helped me out raising the money for RMT and for the RAT this spring. Now, its time to make sure that I manage money really well for the next two years and into the future. Its time to get really good at that.)

We got it squared away, and the locker room was filled with the awesome buzz of certification, all the E1 potential hires (that's Examiner, Rocky Mountain is hiring two. There were at least 13 candidates), and all 16 RMT candidates. There were three examiners for each group of 8, as well as well wishers and the regular staff. It was awesome. Pre competition rituals abounding all around as we prepared to go show our best.

The nerves were high, and I wondered where my skiing would be. We started right off the chair with wedge christies and basic parallel, which I think I skied well for me. I'm worried about some small movements in the basic parallel, I think I've shown it well since then, but its on my list of things to make sure I ski right in front of the examiners tomorrow.

I had my list of performance cues in my pocket, tidbits that had really helped from Jenny Macarthur, Jenn Metz, Schanzy, and lots of other folks who have helped me build my skiing in the last few months. 

We moved on to one of my favorite tasks, medium radius carve turns, and I felt that I skied them twice really well. Not as well as on the preview day on Sunday, but good enough.

The whole morning, however, I was feeling like there was something going on, I was missing something. I couldn't figure out what the heck it was.

We switched examiners, and the feeling got worse. My goal was to make sure that the skiing continuously came up, as well as the attitude, over the day, but I couldn't find the key.

I felt good, I was nervous, but not too nervous, I was happy, I felt present, I was on my feet, I could feel my skis, I just was missing... what?

We went back around for another lap of tasks and in the Medium Radius Carve Turns, something weird happened (Cindy was video taping it, I have no idea what it was) and my inside ski wandered, and I nearly did the splits. I saved it, got back on my feet and made three good turns after it, but there was something very strange about my movement patterns on my skis.

We took a break and I wandered around wondering what was going on. I remembered my first level 3 when Weems and Mermer Blakesly were at Big Sky with Squatty, and how they caught my terrified little carcass in their arms. I got on the phone and called Weems from the Merry Go Round.

Angel that he is, he answered the phone. I explained what was going on.

"Kate, did you forget to go skiing?"

uh. Yeah.

That's why I love him. I had, that was it, that was the missing piece. I forgot to let my body do the moves it knows how to do. I was so concerned to show my best that I was skiing my focus rather than going skiing with a focus. I know better than that! SHEESH!

On the lift, I put Cindy Lou and Kurt in my heart, looked over on the chair and saw Shanzy and Andy laughing at me and making fun of me. I thought about what it feels like to be surrounded by friends playing in the snow and bringing your performance up at the same time.

The next run was sodbuster, and I had promised myself, and Schanzy, that I'd keep what we were working on in that run. I committed to it. We skied it, and I did the task. Fall line bumps the way we'd been working. I stayed in the short swing realm to make sure I stayed in the fall line, and it felt pretty good.

The second pitch was even better than the first, and I caught myself smiling and saying "Yeah!" as I was skiing. Because, you know, I was SKIING!

The day was over after that, and Jason ClossicSchanzy had given me, and then it was time for cuddles with the kids, a quick bite in town, and time to talk through my teaching segment and write the clinic outline.

I was late to bed, I crawled in around 1am, and got up at 7 to take the kids to school. I woke up not nearly as bright eyed and bushy tailed as I would have liked, but something felt different. The kids were hugging and kissing, cheering me on, and I headed in for day 2 of the exam after dropping them at school.

I walked in on time, turned in my Proficiency Log, and sat down to go through my ritual.

"On snow at 8:15!" came a call through the locker room.

Are you KIDDING ME? Its 8:05 and I'm still in my snowboots drinking coffee! When did THAT change! I thought we were supposed to be on snow at 8:45!

Right. Its a good thing that I came prepared, I hate to be rushed ANY time I'm competing, but that's why we live out of our bag for three weeks before any big event, I knew what I had to put on, where it was, and I was on snow at 8:15 ready to go.

Kristen taught first, and did a great job slowing everyone's extension down in medium radius carve turns. I was excited to have another opportunity for redemption, and so I decided to light it up on the NASTAR pitch in flat light while practicing a new move.

Can you see where this is going? Yeah. Double E. I came out of both skis and went down hard. Lucky for me, I was far inside the turn, so I spun out. I couldn't believe it. Really? This is my FAVORITE maneuver! And I feel good and I'm going skiing! What the HECK IS GOING ON???

Oh, wait, I wasn't going skiing. I was excited to show them what I could do, and I dialed it up before I should have. In flat light. And I paid the price.

I got back in my skis and carried on.

I was teaching next, there was no time to hang onto worry, here.

My teaching segment went really well, I taught Movement Analysis 301 on snow, and we used one footed no pole whirly birds for a circus trick to do MA on. Everyone got to play around a little, we laughed and got it done. It went well, and I got to show and warm up some of the new movements in the next segments in the bumps.

The rest of the day just got better. The next guy to teach taught using Medium Radius Carve Turns. Really? I get another chance? FOR REAL???

We skied up to the top of the pitch, and our group, which had gotten really tight, was so awesome, Joey said, "Okay, Kate. Redemption Time. You go first. Crush it!" and everyone in the group was encouraging me to ski it.

I shook my head and thought of the day that Weems and I went and made WHEEEEEeeeee turns at Highlands, all inclination, no angluation, not even in the eyeline. It was SO fun and we skied So fast. I tipped my skis over and pulled my hands up and suddenly, I was over my skis, over my feet and the turns felt like my turns again. They weren't the BEST turns EVER, but I was still standing at the end, and every turn was better than the last. The group put me there, and for that, I owe them a HUGE thank you.

The skiing got better and better as the teaches went on, we have some outstanding teachers and skiers in our group, John from Telluride, Joey from Copper, Kristen, Boomer, it was an amazing day, and I was really honored to be included in this group.

We ended early, around 2pm and then went in to change. I headed home and grabbed the kids, and we came back to Highlands Pizza to wait for the results of the E1 selection.

My friend and training partner Andrew was in the selection and skied well and worked hard, as were Will and Benjamin, both good friends and training buddies going through this selection. The division was only hiring 2 examiners, and none of these guys got the job, but Ben Roberts, one of my coaching clients from last National Tryouts got selected, and it was awesome to see him again. I was proud!

The kids had a blast running around Highlands with all the other kids of the examiners and candidates, and then it was time to come home and prep for tomorrow.

I got a piece of feedback from Todd Metz at the results, I asked him if there was anything in particular that he needed to see in my skiing tomorrow. He had something, and it is serious.

Its a small change, but a very important one, and a very hard one to make. I was knocked back for a minute while I was listening to this. I was SO grateful for his honesty and his willingness to tell me when I asked.

I realized that without this change, I will not pass this exam.

I realized that this change is one of the hardest and most sought after pieces in any one's skiing, and its something I've been chasing. I thanked Todd and left with a sinking feeling, knowing what I'd need to do.

I left and brought the kids home and then drove into town. While I was in town, I thought about my skiing, when it feels really good,when its on and the skis are nimble, I have options, and they can go where I want them. I've done this. I've made this change before. I've skied like this for days on end.

Its time to commit to owning this piece. I realize that this is a change I'm not only capable of making, its a change I'm capable of showing, and keeping.

Tomorrow is the last day of selection, and I'm ready to go skiing!!

Even deeper profound insights into the blatantly obvious: Flexion and Extension movements in the bumps help a lot. For real.

OH my gosh I have SO much to tell you guys! But I only have a few minutes to write a couple of blog posts because I have one more day of the Rocky Mountain Trainer exam, and I get to give an indoor presentation tomorrow afternoon which I have to build tonight. WHEE!!

FIRST: Bumps. After the exam yesterday (yes, hang on I'll get to that), I was at the bottom of SodBuster with Jason Closic. He asked me if he could give me a coaching cue, and that was to move the flexion or absorption movement that I was doing at the bottom (or top) of the bump (take your pick) up higher.

So imagine you are travleing down the trough toward the transition of the bump, and rather than waiting for the tip of the ski to begin pushing back toward you because the bump is coming at you, but seeing the transition and begining your flexion movement in anticipation of the transition.

I did it, and an AMAZING thing happened. Suddenly, I had time. More time.

Jason asked me if I had another turn other than a short swing turn in the bumps, and I told him, yeah, I have a reaching round turn, and I've been trying to figure out how to blend them together or pick one or the other in order to be in a more "create" space than "choose" space when skiing bumps.

Jason asked me to ski some of each, using the adjustment of the timing of the felxion movement. A wonderful thing happened.

Because I was able to judge and decide on the flexion BEFORE I got to it, I wasn't looking at it or thinking about it when I was doing it. I was glancing briefly at the lip of the transition and then looking to the next transition. I could decide how round, how much twist and when and how much to dive my skis.

Suddenly, I had six turns where I had options in every turn. I was able to find a steep one and choose to launch into the air, and land in the trough right where I wanted to. I could round out the next one and make the next four quick slidy check turns. I was beginning to paint. And the colors weren't getting muddy.

Wanting to be able to blend the turns the day before, it was miraculous to get a coaching cue the next day that gave me a key to do just that.

You know what it felt like? An integrity gift. I promised to keep my fall line turn that Schanzy had been working on with me in the exam. And I did! And then, waiting as a present at the bottom of the run was Jason, handing me a key.

Today, bumps were an entirely different animal to me. I was playing more and more with them, and that's just what it felt like, playing. Its not always pretty, don't get me wrong. But its changing. The time in the bump seems to be stretching out. The options are opening, and now I get to play and create sometimes. Oh, its BLISS!

At the end of a run in a teaching segment where we got to get air in the bumps on a run called Deception at Highlands in the most BEAUTIFUL chalk snow at the end of a long teaching day, Chris Doyle gave me a new cue.

He said, you get down there well. Stay down longer. He showed me this beautiful move which I've seen in the best creative free skiers in the bumps, which I've felt the beginngs of sometimes in my skiing, but not really identified what it was to make it repeat.

He absorbed early and kept absorbing as he went over the transition. His skis passed the transition and kept absorbing. His ski boots were almost off the snow, the entire forebody of the ski was off the snow, but his flexion movements were from not only his knee, ankle and hip, but also from his spine very effectively, and he was STILL absorbing. Because he was also strongly countered, he was in a great position, so as he twisted his feet, the skis also dived into the trough.

So now I get to add: See it. Begin to move early, get to it, keep moving down, keep that counter developing while absorbing even more. Then go.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Profound Insights into the Blatantly Obvious: In which Kate learns to ski Bumps. Again.

About three weeks ago, I was working with Josh Fogg and Kevin Jordan on bump skiing. I love skiing bumps. And over the years, I've learned lots of things about them from lots of different people.

Dave Evans at Bridger Bowl first gave me the Nollie, Ollie lesson on getting the tips to dive and stay connected to the snow. My first understanding of ski/snow contact came from him.

Steve Hill and Chris Jones gave me opening and closing my ankles in the bumps, and Weems helped clarify it for me.

Lots of people have had me do Pivot slips down the bumps, in the bumps, on the groom, everywhere in order to work on leg steering.

Dennis Handley was the first person who had me ski the outside line (I know that lots of people had explained it to me before, but I wasn't really ready to incorporate it into my skiing yet.).

Squatty gave me "Sun Valley"turns, or upside down bump skiing, which works well in blue bumps.

Kurt made me do 8000 retraction turns on the groomed terrain before he would ski bumps with me again, and then Cindy skied behind me for two days yelling "NO" whenever I was extending off the top of a bump.

Over time, I had thought that I was going for one movement pattern that worked well in the bumps, whose DIRT, (Duration, Rate, Intensity and Timing) changed just a bit to suit the size of the bump.

I knew on some level that there were several ways to ski the bumps, several types of lines you could choose, but I was sort of looking for that "create" place where the line evolved as you skied. For some reason I was thinking that that line would evolve out of one kind of turn as it changed for the bump in front of you.

When I was working with Josh and Kevin, we went back to pivot slips. I got a rotary movement that Josh liked, but I increased my BBI (ballistic bump interface) and decreased my speed control. I wasn't really thinking about the tactical choice we were making, that of skiing fall line bumps, or the zipper line. I was thinking about skiing down the fall line, but not (for some reason) thinking that "skiing down the fall line" was the same thing as skiing the zipper line. Hmmm.

I realized during the day that I needed to make my rotary motion match the distance traveled down the bump to the next transition, just like any good turn on groomed snow.

After I put that piece in, Kevin told me that I had lost my ski to snow contact. How could I blend that diving movement back into this new movement pattern? By being conscious of that concept. The next run down, the tips were diving, I was pivoting through the entire turn and diving again. I was on my downhill ski. I was happy.

Then I went and skied with Jenn Metz, and she asked me if I could round the turn out more. I spent the day high siding until I pulled the movement patterns into a better sequence, and rounded out the turn, but stayed in the fall line.

Here's where I made my mistake. I've spent so much time thinking about one way to ski (oops, first off) for instance, on the groomed in a specific task, (for instance, medium radius carved turns), there is an optimal blend of movement patterns that go toward a better medium radius carved turn.

I let go of what I had learned with Josh and Kevin and continued toward what Jenn and Dennis had given me, thinking that this was headed toward the "optimal" and therefore more mutable bump turn.

What I didn't realize was that I had learned two different types of turns to use in fall line bumps. One is a short radius, reaching turn, and one is a short swing turn. Both of these turns are useful in fall line bumps, one is more optimal than the other depending on the bump, line, or rut you are facing. Having both well developed and being able to develop the blend of skills not ONLY in each turn according to the bump, but being able to blend these turns together as well, as needed is where the CREATE part of fall line, or any kind, of free skiing in the bumps happens.

Yesterday, I was skiing the rounded, reaching short radius turn down the fall line, and I felt really good about my ski to snow contact and about my development of my bump skiing.

Today, I went out and skied with Schanzy. He asked me to ski fall line bumps. I smiled. I was happy. I know that to get where I'm going, I have to ski bumps much better than I am, but I felt like in the last two weeks, I'd made a HUGE breakthrough in my fall line bump skiing, and I was glad to get to practice it now.

I skied the run.

"That was nice, but it wasn't fall line bump skiing."

I was confused.

"In fall line bump skiing, your center of mass doesn't really leave the fall line, Kate. Yours was going back and forth across it." Yes. Because I was making short turns. I was skiing bumps in a corridor, but I wasn't skiing the task of fall line bump skiing.

Schanzy showed me the pivot slip down the bump. I looked at Cindy in abject panic. Why was the "optimal" or "ideal" turn in the bumps this other vocabulary that I'd let go of? I felt like I'd spent weeks taking that out of my skiing on purpose!! Shit!

I let go of my fear and decided to open my ears as big as I could get them. The point here is to become a better skier. Passing the test is a milestone along the way, and not the point. The point is to understand with DEPTH the movements we make and why we make them. I'm here to learn from Schanzy, not to defend my old belief.

I peeled my fear off of me, dropped it in the snow and skied away from it. I kind of wanted to skate back up the hill and get it, but my ears were big and Schanzy was giving me gold. Screw it. I'm brave enough to walk down this path and fail tomorrow.

I worked on this turn. I worked on it until I heard him say that I had great steering and was doing what he wanted, but I wasn't diving the tips and could I add that back in. CLICK! Oh, this is THAT turn, for real! Yes, I can, I know I can because I did it before.

I added it back in. The last three turns had the piece I needed. I had still been, in this turn, missing something, and that was often times speed control. I also wasn't sure what to do when I came upon a bump that this wasn't the best tactic for. (Completely ignoring all of these other choices: a short reaching round turn, airing it out to the next bump, cutting the bump off, skiing the cross line, making an extra turn on the back of the bump... hello, Kate! You are hauling your bag of tricks around FREAKING USE IT!)

Sometimes I get so focused on the lesson I'm trying to learn that I forget that this is an integrative sport. Its about choice, its about creation, its about playing on the features the mountain presents to you. its about choosing from your bag and moving down the face. Its not about skiing a task ONE WAY.

As we stood at the bottom, Schanzy talked about edging in this turn. I love the way he teaches. He asked me, is there edging in this turn? Yes. Where? At the bottom and only for a moment. The rate is quick the duration is short. Its a check that happens just before the flexion or absorption of the bump, or right with it, depending on your choice.

We talked for a while about the blend, about the fact that that's where the mastery is: in the blend, as it changes, over the run.

For now, we'll take four things in sequence and over time, they will blend. Check. Absorb. Dive. Rotate. Repeat.

I had two runs like this, on the way down to the bottom. Then we got to a nice final steep pitch, and the concept of not only blending the movements in this turn, but blending the turns came to mind as I remembered that Schanzy had begun a run following four big bumps around and when they got smaller, he went to more of a check turn.

What if, in these bumps, I made some of each, and some that were both in some places?

It worked. It was the beginning. Finally, I feel like the lexicon has cracked open and I don't have such an unfortunately myopic view. It took real truths from Schanzy for me to see it.

"Often times you choose a bias and it shows all the way down the run. You don't have depth, Kate. You are showing me, right now, I'm working on steering. Right now, I'm working on fore/aft. Right now, I'm working on checking or quick edging movements. Eventually, I don't want to see that. I want to see that sensual, snaky, creative bump skiing that evolves with the run."

Oh, man. Me, too. I felt it a few times today for sometimes as many as six bumps. And there is no feeling I've felt in skiing quite like it.

Its time to get serious, its time to develop. Its time to commit to depth of understanding and move away from pictures into blends that create on the hill. Its time to start skiing.

Take your truth straight up, let go of your ego, and FLY.

If you are going to fly, you have to commit.
Yesterday was an incredible day, as I mentioned in my last post. I skied well, the snow was, as Kurt calls it, "Buffo Deluxe," and I got to practice my performance cues for each maneuver.

I was a bit nervous, because in my time in the theater when I was younger, we always used to say that we want a lousy dress rehearsal so that the opening day is spectacular. I'm not sure I could hope to put it together on Sunday much better than I did on Friday.

I fixed that worry by skiing with Cindy and Schanzy today. The thing about Schanzy is that he is tough. He calls it like he sees it. He does not sugar coat it. He holds me accountable and makes me nervous. He calls me on anything that doesn't make sense, and he's not there to make me feel good. He reminds me of my old figure skating coach, the one who used to yell at me, "Katya, you look like 800 pound cow. I won't watch."

The only difference is that he does it from a place of kindness that is true and real. I trust Schanzy more than almost anyone. If things fall apart, he's the one I talk to. When I need the truth, he's the one I ask. 

In the coaching realm, this is a kind of coaching I respond well to. I can't do it 24/7, but I need a lot of it. It pushes me to do better, every turn, all the time. Cindy asked me what I needed from her today, and I told her, I need her to be present, to show up as Cindy, to talk and to say what's real.

She said, "Oh, good. That was crap. I don't know what that was, but it wasn't like anything I saw you do yesterday. Don't do that again." I smiled. Oh hell yeah. Now we are getting somewhere.

The three of us had a great day working on MA from the chair and on snow, and working on short turns and fall line bumps. We skied from about 10 to about 2, with a nice lunch at Highlands Pizza Co. It was an easy day on the legs, and an intense day in the emotive, intellectual, and motivational aspect. Just what the doctor ordered.

At one point during the day, Schanzy said to me, "If you ski like that, Kate, you are not going to win." and he skied away. He had a point. I thought to myself as I stood on the top of Aces and Eights, a steep double black bump run with gladed trees, and thought to myself, I'm not here to show up, I'm not here to get a score, I'm here to win.

And by winning, I don't mean getting the highest score in the group, I mean owning my own skiing and purpose to such a depth that I have shown up and continue to show up in every turn. That also means being willing to show up and continue working on the movement patterns that I'm working on, rather than defaulting back to what I know will "work" and show less possible mistakes.

I know this to be true. I know from all kinds of competitions, from skating to climbing, to tennis, to boxing, that if the coach changes my grip on my racket, and its harder to connect as often as when I used to, but when I do connect, I send the ball with accuracy and speed that was never in my repertoire before, I need to keep that new grip.

If I change my grip, or default to what worked "well enough" in the past because I'm in a pressure situation and I just want to connect and want the win SO badly, that new movement or grip takes WAY longer to incorporate into a permanent, owned place.

Instead, I flip flop back and forth between the two for months, using the new grip in practice and the old grip in competition, until the line in-between is so muddy that neither is effective.

So at that moment, standing at the top of Aces and Eights, I made the choice. I'm showing up with what I'm working on. I'm bringing the game in progress. I'm not resting on what worked "well enough" last week. I own, more than anything, my commitment to myself to develop depth in my skiing over time. To do that, I have to LET GO of all that was so I can become what is.

Sponsor Appreciation Day! POC Rocks!

Thank you SO much to POC Helmets and Armor who are helping send me on my way to my goals!! Thank you for the gear and the support to get to events, but most of all, for believing in me!

After my scary crash in which I broke a bone in my neck, I wear my spine protector every day, as well as my helmet. Thanks for keeping me safe while I train hard to get where I'm going!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two days to Selection and counting...

I often find myself in the position where I wonder where I am in my skiing. I have, for so long, been the weird girl that people generously not only tolerate but encourage and help. I'm the one in the group of outstanding skiers that is falling, coming out of her gear and skiing like a spaz.

There is still a voice in my head that says, "Hey, you are doing okay. I think you are skiing in the top third of the group. The bottom of the top third. Nice." and then there is a voice, about 75% off the time (Thankfully OFF snow) that says, no, that can't be right, you are surrounded by wonderful, loving people who are indulgent of your ridiculous optimism and when they say "That's good!" what they mean is, "That's good for you. But its still way way way far away from where you need to be."

My job this month especially, has been to gently and lovingly examine the source of that voice, rather than listening to it and capitulating, or listening to it and getting angry, or believing it, or any emotional reaction.

I feel that way because that was the truth for a while.
But that was me three and four years ago. I'm half way through the fifth year of my journey, and I'm realizing that I'm prepared for this exam.  I've trained to it, I've studied for it, and I've double checked my internal coach with the examiners and selector's eyes that I've been skiing with. It seems like when I'm skiing below the bar, I know it, and most of the time, I'm in the box.
Of course, there are several things to this selection aside from the skiing. There is movement analysis, technical proficiency, and teaching, as well as indoor and on snow presentations.

Today, a group of about 13 of us skied Highlands in a mock selection with John Wiltchen. It was fantastic. The snow was about as good as it can ever get, the bumps were perfect, the temperature finally warmed up, and the company was outstanding.

"Tom Repairing" went to a good home today, and the exam is officially ON.
I got to ski with Kurt and Cindy, two of my best friends and inspirations. Andrew Rumph, who I've been training with for a few weeks, got me back on the horse as far as being willing to pop off stuff and I even dropped about five feet off of a little rock, and realized that I can do this, I'm a solid skier, I have the technical ability to drop things. I'm back on the horse, and I have Andrew's inspiring and incredibly athletic skiing to thank for that, not to mention his infectious playful attitude.

The group was nervous as a whole, and it happened all the sudden. We got together, we were going to ski the tasks on the likely terrain we would be tested on. We rolled up to the top on the first run, and suddenly, it felt just like the exam. Butterflies galore.

It was a great morning, I was glad at first that it wasn't the day of the exam because I was so incredibly nervous, and I got to practice implementing my own performance plan on myself. It worked well, and in spite of the nerves, I felt like I skied to my potential.

On the chairlift, I found out that I had sold a painting, which means I can pay for my exam (nothing like three hours before the deadline!). I'm so grateful for that support, the timing is really not an accident, but I'm glad that I have something of value that I can give to the person who is so generously helping me reach my goals.

In the afternoon, we had some blow out fun runs on short steep pitches and then I came home to play with the kids and hang out with my friend Eric, who is here from Beaver Creek and crashing on my couch for the exam.

When I left Highlands today, I had an incredulous feeling. I felt solid, happy, and prepared. I feel like my skiing, in general, is where it needs to be do pass this exam, and when I am skiing really well, I might do really well on some sections of the exam.  I'm excited to go. My kids are excited for me.

Last night, Bodhi made me tea and tucked me into the couch while I read Harry Potter to the kids. Ethan got my heating pad all ready to go. Liat has been my dedication coach, my positive morale booster, and a great helping hand with the kids when it gets intense.

Tomorrow is a fun ski day with Schanzy and Cindy in the morning, and to bed early before the three day selection starts. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive, and good luck to all the TA and E1 candidates who are going this week!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TA Selection Study Guide

Those of you going for Rocky Mountain Trainer's Accred, I've compiled a study guide from all the places that I've found requirements and materials.

This, by the way, is what you need AFTER you complete the requirements for Application, which can be found here

Letters of reccomendation (no more than 2)
Letter of recommendation from your Ski School Director

  • Core Concepts
  • Alpine Technical Manual
  • Bob Barnes' Complete Encyclopedia of Skiing
  • Ron LeMaster's Ultimate Skiing (for physics concepts)
  • Warren Witherall's Ski Technique: Learn and Improve (Chapter on Bootfitting is excellent)

STUDY AND KNOW: (many of these things are found in the books above, if they are not, I've included links to what I could find online.)
  • Stepping Stones 
  • ATS: A great description from the Nordic system is here.
  • GCT: (Grids are available at here, the full workbook can be copied from someone who has an original copy from the Winter Park materials)
  • CAP: interactive web presentation on PSIA here.  A more complete description can be found in this PDF from Children Specialist 2.
  • Learning Styles
  • Teaching Styles
  • Maslow's Hierarchy
  • The MA Model, applied to levels 1, 2, 3
  • Basic Ski Physics
  • Ski Design
  • Basic Boot Set Up and Alignment
  • The Skills Concept
  • Bio mechanics of Skiing (ie: 4 types of rotary mechanisms)
  • Kolb's Experiential Learning
  • The Multiple Intelligences
  • Bloom's Taxonomy
  • Facilitating Guests Needs and Developing Goal Statements
  • the IDPs for Movement Analysis, Skiing Standards, and Teaching
  • Training by Objective Handout
WATCH: (DVDs, Internet)
  • Movement Analysis
  • Teaching Theory
  • ITC Training
  • Tech Foundations and Presentations
  • Skiing Standards for Rocky Mountain PSIA
  • Clinic Outline and notes from Performance Skiing 401
  • Clinic Outline and notes from Technical Foundations and Presentations 401
  • The Alpine Trainer Selection Process
  • Scoring for Trainer Selection
MA in exam Format:

From Schanzy and Rick V.

1. Pick 2 skills: Primary and Secondary
2. Talk about Primary through all 3 phases of the turn using DIRT for SKI performance
    Talk about Primary through all 3 phases of the turn using DIRT for BODY performance
3. Talk about Primary through phases of the turn using DIRT for SKI performance
    Talk about Primary through all 3 phases of the turn using DIRT for BODY performance
    Talk about Secondary through all 3 phases of the turn using DIRT for SKI performance
    Talk about Secondary through all 3 phases of the turn using DIRT for BODY performance
4. How do the skills enhance or hinder each other? (Relate back to the primary)
5. Relate to the ideal, creating prescription for change. GOAL. What is the result?
    Make sure you address BOTH skills and how coaching one effects the other.

6. Reduce to a Level 2 MA - Primary ski and body performance from one phase to another
7. Reduce to Level 1 MA - Snapshot of the Primary Skill for ski and body in 1 phase.

From John Wiltchen:

Level 1: Pick 1 skill and give a snapshot in one phase of what the ski and body are doing
Level 2: Add movement. What are the skis and body doing from one phase to another? Use DIRT.
Level 3: Pick a second skill. How does it enhance or detract from the primary in all three phases of the turn. Use DIRT.  (Comparative words, quantifiers)
Rx For Change: Compare to the ideal. There is NO teaching in Rx for change, this is a mechanical analysis only. ie: If this skier wanted to make a more ideal parallel turn, he would need to move forward in the ski to pressure the ski more in the center of the ski, allowing him to rotate both feet at a consistent rate through the entire turn.

Clinic Presentations

Download all 9 possible clinic outlines under Alpine Education Course Outlines
Complete Clinic Outline Form to reduce each one of these topics to a 15 minute presentation. (Review Tech Foundations and Presentations handouts and notes for help doing this)
  • All Mountain Performance
  • Performance Bumps
  • Teaching Contemporary Skiing
  • Extreme Mountain Performance
  • Precision Skiing 301
  • Teaching Beginner Bumps
  • MA 201 on snow
  • MA 301 on snow
  • Jumping Improvement
  • Proficiency Log
  • NASTAR Gold or Platinum and attach
  • Clinic Application
  • Trainer Accred Application
  • Carved Uphill Arc (both directions)
  • Wedge Turn
  • Wedge Christie
  • Sideslip in Fall Line or Guided Arc
  • Linked Hockey Slides or Hockey Stops
  • Basic Parallel
  • Switch Basic Parallel
  • Entry Level Bumps
  • Linked Railroad Track Turns
  • Medium Radius Carved Turns
  • Linked Pivot Slips
  • Performance Short Radius Turns
  • Bumps
  • Variable Terrain and Snow Conditions
  • Half Pipe / Natural Transition Skiing

Signatures from Ski School Director: This candidate is:
  • learning to be a ski school trainer
  • is a role model and a mentor at the home area
  • contributes positively and is accepted by ski school staff
Additional signature from SS Director: Directors letter of recommendation

Signed off by a current home ski school trainer.
  • Practice MA from video
  • Practice MA on snow
  • Teach MA clinic for Level 1 or 2 instructors at home area
  • Create indoor clinic with technical content and materials
  • Do MA on your own skiing from video
  • Practice describing skiing in accurate, concise format
  • Pinpoint cause and effect relationships in high level skiing
  • Teach MA clinic for Level 1 or 2
Signed off by a current ski school trainer, and a peer
  • Lead a clinic at home area and have a trainer evaluate
  • Attend a clinic and gain ideas on presentation skills
  • Have a peer attend your clinic and provide feedback
  • Create written lesson plans for developing clinic content
  • Assess the needs of your home ski school and create clinics
  • Create a series of 1 hour clinics in a progression
  • Create a clinic in your weakest topic area
  • Create a clinic evaluation form that will give you feedback
  • Have someone video your indoor or on snow clinic
  • Determine Goals for Personal Development
  • Develop a plan and Time Line to Achieve Goals
Verified by home ski school trainer
  • Attend PSIA National Academy
  • NASTAR verification (Gold or Platinum) : ATTACH RESULTS
  • Ski fun half-day with another Ed Staff Member
  • Peer Coach Ed Staff member during ski day

Monday, February 7, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends! 5 Days until Selection!

There's a lot of material to know before going to the TA exam!

Yesterday, I was supposed to go train with my friend Cindy, who is an incredible skier, teacher and friend. And we had some hiccups in our communication, and at the last minute, I ended up crying in her bedroom and going through more tissues than one could think was possible rather than skiing.

Can I just say thank goodness for friends like this? Our miscommunication brought up some tough points that I needed to look at about scheduling and rescheduling. I have been working REALLY hard on being more consistent, on follow through, and on not overscheduling myself.

For instance, I KNOW that I am too busy to do ANYTHING else during ski season other than teach, train, and play with my kids. I had to say no about ten times to my massage job at the St. Regis, where I'd LOVE to work. But I know that if I commit to even one day there, I will eventually get overwhelmed, stretched too thin, and dissapoint the people who I love working for. Therefore, thank you so much for asking, the extra cash would really come in handy, but I can't say yes, because I KNOW I can't hold up my end of the bargain.

I'm getting better at it, but I did make a poor choice earlier in the year, when I asked Brian if I could keep Doc (the big horse I love) at my friend IVs ranch for the winter.

I don't have time to have a horse in the winter, I don't have time to fold the laundry, let alone drive to old Snowmass three times a week to care for and exercise a horse. I was initially thinking that once a week, or once every other week would be enough, and then I realized that I wasn't even getting out there once a month. Doc got rambunctious and difficult, IV had to take care of him, and he got in trouble.

Doc lives in Silt now for the rest of the season, and I am left with a reminder that I need to caretake my friendships carefully by saying no, thank you. It was SO lovely and tempting and delicious and to feel my family grow, to feel welcomed by IV and her family, to know that my horse was out there with Melissa's horse, to think that maybe we could keep that awesome connection going through the winter, that I overrode my gut to go with what I wished could be true.

Ultimately it was my responsibility to look forward and know that while it might hurt my friend's feelings in the short term that I can't come out to old snowmass to play during the winter (even though I really really want to), being clear with MYSELF with that boundary and honoring it will protect and caretake the friendship and relationships better in the long run.

I'm dissapointed in myself for not sticking with what I knew in my gut. I was hoping it would be true, that I could pull it off. But I know that in order to accomplish my goals and take good care of my kids, winter for me means home and work and that's it.

I'm grateful for the grace that I've gotten, but even more grateful for the lesson that I learned, first with Doc and IV, and yesterday with Cindy.

My little sister Liat has also been helping me be more efficient and on top of things than ever before, for instance after three months of trying, I finally got my phone linked to my calendar so when people ask me if they can come over for a massage (I do about 3 a week from my home when I can.), I can look in my phone on the spot and say yes or no without having to get back to them and then dropping the ball or being afraid that I've overscheduled myself once again.

I'm not sure why this has always been such a tough thing to do, but I've been diligently practicing for the last two years, and in the last month, I've managed to make big changes that make me feel really liberated and happy and I have MUCH less anxiety about the whole thing.

A big piece was yesterday, I had been afraid to clean my house because I was afraid that the three hours it would take would take time away from studying, but I didn't even know what I needed to study, because I hadn't had time to sit down and plan. I've been reading material piece meal as I've found it, and my study guide looks like a giant spider's web.

Cindy to the rescue. She found a way to string a few spare minutes together and help me get orgainzed, I now have about 4 1/2 hours of dedicated study a day, plus time to finish my passport on snow before the selection, and three days to train on snow, time to clean my house, do two massages and get my skis tuned.

This use of her patterned brain helped me see how to organize my own materails into time chunks that were managable, and also helps me say no. I'm busy right now! I'm super busy! Until February 15, I'm swallowed whole by the exam process and my kids.

The wonderful thing is, because of Cindy's help, I got my house clean without panicing, I gave a great 2 hour massage at my home and felt present during the whole thing and energized afterwords, I helped Ethan with his big school project, read some Harry Potter to Bodhi, and I STILL feel on track and on top of my own homework.

I get by with a little help from my friends. Thank you Cindy for your help and understanding, and Liat for your support and encouragment and holding space so gently while I practice all this stuff, and to Melissa, IV and Lissa for hosting Doc. I'm sorry that it didn't work out, and I'm grateful to you for all you did for both of us.

Five days to exams and counting, and the lessons of this journey continue to challenge me to be a better Kate. I'm grateful for the opportunity!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cross Country Fun!

Bodhi with a little kick and glide
I just wanted to share a couple of smiles, I'm so lucky to have two amazing kids. Ethan and Bodhi and I went out cross country skiing the other day at the Nordic Center in Aspen. For $9 we rented a full package of skis, boots and poles, and we skied over a mile and a half!

It was a beautiful, sunny day, we sat and had a snack about half way around, and Ethan was sprinting along, showing us the technique that he had learned in AVSC, and Bodhi, his first time on cross country gear, got the hang of it really quick!

I think its going to be great for his Alpine skiing, as he has to actively stay forward, since the boots aren't rigid enough to hold him up if he leans back. He had a great attitude, got himself up every time he fell, and even got a little kick-and-glide by the last 1/2 mile!

The awesome Nordic Center staff helps Ethan and Bodhi get into their gear
What a great way to spend the afternoon!

Fuxi to the Rescue! HOT BAG is the only way to travel.

I can't believe I waited so long. I mean, granted, Hot Bags are expensive. But they are also incredible. I traveled to Whitefish, MT a week or so ago, and this is what it looked like to carry on my boots and helmet, the two things that I am NOT willing to check on a plane, because they can't be replaced once I get somewhere.

Yeah, its about 40lbs of stuff, boots, helmet tennies and coat hanging off the back!

That's a lot of stuff!

My friend Frans aka "The Fuxi" had recently sent out an email from his store that they were running specials on the pro size Hot Bag. I've always wanted one. You can put two pair of boots inside, there are pockets for goggles, hat, mittens, waterbottle, socks, keys, and helmet.

I called Fuxi from Whitefish, and low and behold, in two days time, there was a brand new Hot Bag on the doorstep at a GREAT price. I fit all 47lbs of stuff for the return trip comfortably in this bag, and best of all, my boots were WARM and DRY every time I had to put them on!

The bag has a car charger, too, so when I have to drive to Vail to ski, I arrive with my boots toasty warm (much warmer than they were when I had them shoved under my ski partners feet and against the heater), dry, and ready.

Its a great way to keep track of all of your gear, too, there is a pocket for everything. This is truly the ski professionals bag of choice, and once you get yours, you'll be amazed you ever went skiing without one!!
Saved by the Fuxi! Hot Bag to the rescue!
Visit Fuxi Racing to buy yours at the best price now!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Brilliant Skiing Every Day!

It's here! Weems Westfeldt has re written his most excellent book, Brilliant Skiing Every Day! This book is almost as good as having Weems in your pocket, its written in clear, personable language, taking the often complex concepts of skiing and making them really accessable.

Weems reintroduces the Sports Diamond, the framework on which the top pros at the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen teach, and puts it in your own hands. The photography is spectacular, the writing is fantastic, and the content is essential! If you don't have a copy, GET ONE!

(Is that clear enough? This is a great book. You need it in your library. You need it by your bed. But you don't need a highlighter and protractor to read it.)

Visit and get your copy today!

In which we get back on the horse after The Big Wreck

I was slightly terrified, I'll admit it. My pointer finger and thumb are still numb, and I'm not sure if that's because of the exacerbated injury to my neck, or because I did something bad to my shoulder, which still hurts quite a bit.

I'm choosing to believe that it's because of my shoulder. My body felt like it was run over by a truck until this morning, a week after the crash.

I'm still sore in my whole spine, and of course, more so in places where I was already injured, in the SI joint, and in the cervical area where I have previously compressed discs, and where I broke off the bone spur.

Yesterday was day one of Precision Skiing 401, a clinic that is a recommended prep clinic for the Rocky Mountain PSIA Trainer's accred. I was SO stoked when I walked in and realized that Jenn Metz was leading the clinic, the wife of Todd, who I had just taken Clinic Leading 401 from in Vail. How often does that happen?

These guys are inspiring for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they have been happily married for thirty years and are still madly in love. They are both extraordinary teachers, and I was excited to meet the other half of this dynamic duo!

Jenn has a truly inspiring way of presenting information, the group was moving, the clinic was tailored to the needs of the group really well, we got a wealth of deep technical information without bogging down our minds, and our skiing dramatically improved as a group. My only complaint is that I didn't have a video camera, because I would have loved to watch the things she told us over and over again so that I could remember every single tip and explanation. They were all really well said, clear, concise, and easy to digest.

Day one for me was scary, I was shaky on my skis, afraid to fall, worried what would happen if I did fall, and I felt like I was floating about six feet off the snow. Visibility was challenging, and we were skiing Snowmass, whose terrain I like, but I always feel a bit disconnected when I am there, slightly lost, even though I know where I am.

I felt like I demonstrated the worst of my adequate skiing, if that makes any sense, and I wondered, if I ski like this at selection, will it be enough to meet the standard? Jenn told me she'd let me know at the end of two days.

I stayed on my feet, and by the end of the first day, I felt much more connected. We got some great work done skiing basic parallel slowly through moderate bumps, and I was grateful for the pacing of the day.

The next day, today, was at Highlands, which is probably my favorite place to ski. It is also where the TA selection is going to happen this year, lucky me!!

I got back on my Blizzard Crush's (I had skied the day before on my GS skis, which are precise, for sure, but unforgiving), and we skied the 9+ inches of fresh pow with huge grins on our faces.

Something was different. My body still feels a lot of pain, but I was connected to the snow like I was before the crash. We dove into Sodbuster and skied what felt more like about 18" of windblown pow over huge bumps. It wasn't my best skiing, but it was okay, and I took three falls along the way. Hey, if I was going to fall, this was the place to do it. The snow was soft and forgiving, and even though the falls were ALL highsiding on a turn to the left, I landed comfortably and let go of my fear.

Sodbuster - like terrain
Jenn had some fantastic specific feedback, not just "do this" but why. Why she wanted it, the expected outcome on the ski, how successful she expected me to be at it, all the points that we are supposed to hit when we are giving clinics, but very few trainers hit every point every time. Jenn is so accomplished at delivering that message succinctly, that I felt really motivated to make a change.

Over the course of the day, my understanding depend, and my ability to move changed, and my skiing improved. It was an incredible day, no more falls after that. We skied hard all morning, double black bumps until lunch, and then got into Wedge Christy land. This went surprisingly well, Squatty's old advice about the slinky, about pressure management like a slinky going from one hand to the other is still fresh in my mind, and with some tweaks from Jenn, suddenly, I had a passing form.

We jumped into SodBuster again at the end of the day, and I was stoked to ski it well, even with tired legs, and no falls. I asked Jenn what she thought about the skiing over all, and she told me on the first day, I was below the bar to just touching it all day, and on the second day, I was above the bar to just touching it.

I was happy to hear this, as today I felt like I skied fairly average. It wasn't my most accomplished skiing ever, it wasn't a super star day, but it was solid. And what feels solid looks above the bar most of the time.

I am so happy to be in that place, I have some great notes to go work on and keep making positive change, I have a LOT of work to do to complete the application and requirements, and I have 12 days until selection!!

Thanks to everyone for their help and encouragement, and good luck to everyone who is going to selection for Examiner and TA!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Good Luck!

Good luck to all the Level 2 and 3 candidates going for the ski exam today! I heard that the folks from our MA group did really well in the Movement Analysis portion, I'm proud of you guys!

A special shout out to Melissa, Candice, Mary Catherine, Patty, Denny, Alissa, and Will! Good luck guys!

Get after it and let us know how you do!

Trainers Accredidation for Rocky Mountain PSIA... 12 days away!

No, really, I got it. Its all under control...
Oh holy cow, here we go! 12 days to trainers accred, this is the Rocky Mountain equivalent to trying out to be a clinician. Last year, I decided not to pursue any accreditation, as I was looking to find my place in the ski school, see where I fit, meet folks, and get my feet under me (literally) as well as improve my skiing.

With the encouragement and help of a bunch of folks (Aspen is an incredibly positive training environment), I've decided to go for both in-house trainer as well as trying out for the RM-PSIA trainers accreditation. This would mean, if I get hired, that I get the awesome and excellent job of helping to train instructors at the ski school.

I started this year with hosting an MA group, which was a lot of fun, and really helped me deepen my own understanding. We had some simple, basic foundational things which we kept coming back to over the 14 weeks that we met. The group, comprised of level 2 and 3 candidates, worked really hard, was willing to practice, to try, to fail, to succeed, and to question. As a result, we had some pretty excellent talks about skiing!

In order to get to TA this year, I had to fill out a Passport for the ski schools of Aspen, which means that you get several skiing maneuvers signed off by verifiers, as well as attend a physics lecture, a bio mechanics lecture, host a trainer level MA group, get your boots checked and understand alignment issues, and that you are working as a mentor in the ski school.

The TA for PSIA is very similar, there are four pages of passport called the Proficiency Log which you have to get signed off, everything from ski with a mentor and critique their skiing to hold a clinic and get your own work critiqued back, as well as the skiing maneuvers. There are several mandatory clinics that we attend to qualify to go to TA, and you also need to have a platinum medal in NASTAR, as well as some additional certification (mine is in Freestyle).

The first clinic I took to meet the requirements was also the first PSIA clinic I have done since I moved to Aspen. It was amazing to be back in the fold again, and to see the process in this division. I traveled to Vail to attend Clinic Leading 401, which was led by Todd Metz, who I later found out was at Winter Park with my very first skiing mentor, Michael Hickey!

It was fun to find that out, and I thought a lot about Michael that week. I am still grateful to him every day for believing in me, taking a chance on me, and being willing to dive back into the PSIA pool with me after a long absence. Ever single time I teach, or use, a patience turn, I think of him, and I swear, one day, I'm going to make sweatshirts that say "Team Hickey: we leave our mark!" on them.

Clinic Leading 401 was excellent, it helped me to understand and integrate what the National organization wants as a structure under your clinic topic, so that there is some consistency from one clinic to another. It is a really well thought out skeleton on which you can hang any topic, and Todd led by example really well. He created an excellent environment for us to try and to fail, and to succeed in, and I was happy to feel like I belonged in the group.

It also helps that skiing with Todd is a bit like skiing with a border collie. Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball! The group did not lack energy, that's for sure!

For once I wasn't the weakest skier in the group, I think my skiing was solidly in the middle of the field, and I was comfortable there, while still pushing myself to perform.

I went out on snow with one of our home trainers, Rick Vetromile, and my favorite training partner, Cindy Leuchtenberg (who is skiing SO amazingly well its inspiring every time I see her turn), and we worked on short turns. Rick let me know that the skiing he was seeing from me was withing the box for TA. YES, I was happy to hear that! I have a lot of work to do, but I'm on track!

Next up: adventures in getting back on snow after the Huge Wreck in Clinic #2, Precision Skiing 401 with Jen Metz!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The good news is, I didn't need the bone that I broke anyway.

The bad news is that the bone that I broke is in my neck.

Okay. Here's what happened. I went up to Whitefish, Montana to teach a mental performance clinic to the ski school, and while I was there I got to ski with the Mike Stief and his kids, which was awesome.

Ethan Stief is, as you would expect, a little ripper, at 12 years old, he's quite comfortable hucking himself off of 15 foot cliffs. As I'm preparing to compete in the Colorado Freeride Championships, I figured that a little freeskiing would be good for me, and chasing this nimble, Tigger-like kid all over Big Mountain seemed like a good idea.

We spent the morning hopping off of all the little hits and drops and basically having a ball. Then, the ante went up. Ethan dropped off a big rock, and I skied up behind him to look at it. He landed it clean, a little further out than I wanted to. I decided it looked good, and rolled off it, feeling happy and excited.

The transition was a bit abrupt, and I assumed that the snow was harder than it was, so I elected to come in at an angle closer to the ramp rather than really huck it and reach for a flat landing.

Turns out the snow was softer, WAY softer than I thought it was, and I stuck both the tips of my skis right into the snow below. WHAM, I went down, face first (and chin up) into the powder, booted out and my feet came up over my head. I flipped over, my face coming out last (and taking a really, really long time to come out.)

I laid there for a while seeing stars. Mike is a paramedic, and he was over at my side pretty quickly. "Gee, I wasn't sure your head was going to come out of the snow, Kate." he said.

I couldn't talk for a few minutes, I felt like all my systems were shut down and rebooting. I realized that my right arm was completely numb, and my neck, back and ribs were really hurting.

"Okay, just little movements, okay?" Mike said. I nodded slowly. I shook my head a tiny bit. I was okay. I sat in the snow for another fifteen minutes waiting for my senses to get back on line. I hadn't broken my neck. I hadn't broken anything, actually.

The rest of the day was a slow, confusing blur, we continued to ski, but way more conservatively. I didn't fall again, but I did find out that my pointer finger and my thumb were still numb on my right arm. By the end of the day, I felt like I was at about 70% of normal functioning, and the pain was starting to increase.

The next morning, I decided to go get an x-ray just in case. I spent the day doing errands and then went over to the urgent care center in Kalispell.

Turns out I did break something. Remember that car accident from two years ago? I have a bonespur on C-5 because of it. In hyper flexing my neck like that, on a disc that is already thin and compressed, I hit bone on bone and broke that bonespur clean off. Its now floating in my neck right in front of C-5.

There is some further slight subluxation of C-5, also as a result of the disc that is not the right shape or in the right place, allowing the bone to slide forward.

My flight got canceled due to fog, and I headed back up to the mountain the next day to get back on the horse. I was terrified to fall. I did three groomer runs, and then ventured into the off-piste, where I immediately hip checked (probably due to being so incredibly nervous) I barely tumbled and the movement of my head made my whole arm go numb again, and suddenly, it was back, and in screaming pain.

Oh, shit, I thought. I really did something bad. I'm hurt in a way that is not good. Now, normally, I am a very optimistic person, and it was occurring to me that this might be a situation where you can be as optimistic as you like, but you'd better also take into consideration the fact that you may be seriously hurt.

I wedged my way down the mountain and called it a day. I went into the Whitefish locker room to say thanks and goodbye, and was psyched to meet so many friendly and welcoming instructors.

The mountain is a truly special place, huge, open, with snow entombed trees on the top that the locals call "snow ghosts". The runs into the bowls remind me of the backside in Telluride, like a lift to the middle of nowhere.

The lodge boasts a huge pass through fireplace and enormous comfy chairs to stretch out in, the food is great and the skiing, if you can see where you are going, is phenomenal. I was sad to be leaving, and really bummed not to have a chance to explore the mountain more fully.

I came home and spent another two days off skis, laying on a heating pad and sleeping a lot. Then, it was time for a PSIA clinic that I needed to attend to prepare for the Rocky Mountain TA selection (clinician tryouts). More on that next!

Retraction Turn Dryland Exercise

Here's a quick video on how to practice retraction turns on dryland, for later use in the bumps.