Wow, what a great trip!
I flew into Denver on the 3rd from Arizona where I was visiting my parents, brother, sister in law and nephew for a few days and for Easter. I went over to Harb Ski to get some boot work done. I got some work done on my left boot to help me get more aligned. I knew I needed to get that done and now was a good time to do it. I then got to my hotel and settled in. I went out for pizza that night and turned in kind of early.
The next morning was the PSIA Central Spring Rally. We gathered at the Vail basecamp, got into our groups and introduced ourselves and said what we’d like to get out of the two days. We had about 12 of us in our group in the morning and we took the gondola up. We then got a nice tour of the mountain by our group leader, Erika Meier. She’s our Training Coordinator where I ski, Cascade Mountain. We worked on balance, stance and some other things and skied most of the day with a small break for lunch.
That evening we had a get together where I was staying (Lionshead Inn) for the people attending the rally – there were 34 people they said. Not all came to the get together but there were a lot of people. We did some video taping that day, so we were watching the playback in slow motion. That’s a great way to really see how you ski and catch all the little movements you do. That was fun.
The next morning, we met again and had about the same group. Some people switched groups. We had a guest that morning, Jennifer Simpson, who taught us along with Erika the first two hours. She had a great way of explaining some things that I never head of before. She’s quite the accomplished skier and it was fun hearing what she had to say and watching her ski.
That evening, a bunch of us got together and it was funny because usually what happens is that everyone gets talking about skiing. We’re total “ski geeks” and it’s hilarious to stop, look around the room and see people paired off talking about the technical aspects of skiing.
On Saturday, I skied with Mark, Erika, Bob, Bruce, Terry and Beth. We found some really great snow. That night, we sort of chilled out. I think we were all pretty tired.
On Sunday, I skied with just Bob and Bruce. They only skied the morning. I skied all afternoon and had a breakthrough with my skiing. I think I finally got a chance to just put everything together and I had a blast. There was snow coming down, too. It was great. I knew I improved because at the end of runs and at the end of the day, I wasn’t too tired. Everything just clicked and worked… it was quite a moment for me and it was the last day of skiing for the year for me – too bad!
One of the coolest things for me was just having so many people I knew out there. I’d be walking in the morning and run into people or around the hotel or even out on the mountain. It kind of felt like we owned the place. Staying right at the mountain was so cool, too. Everything was close by.
Another cool thing was that I got complimented a few times on my skiing. People said I did the bumps well and Erika commented once or twice that I was doing Level 2 (PSIA) skiing. That felt good.
I ended up renting skis the first two days at Vail Ski Tech. I was on some Head Rev 90 skis (163 cm) the first day, then the same thing but in 170 length the second day. By the end of the second day, I was sold. I wanted some! They were able to apply my rental fees to the sale price (50% off), which made it a really great deal. I got them the third morning and skied on them Saturday and Sunday. I love them… no wait, I LOVE THEM! The edges really dug in and they control really well. They are awesome skis. If you have the means, I suggest picking some up. I actually won some money at a casino in Arizona on Tuesday and that covered the cost of the skis, so that worked out well.
My Skiing Breakthrough
Ok, here’s the part that you can skip if you’re not a ski instructor or ski geek. It’s a bit technical and maybe boring for you.
The way I describe it is that it all just kind of came together for me – all that I learned about skiing the last 6 years. This includes all the clinics I’ve been in, all the studying I’ve done, the dryland training I’ve done and even the lessons I’ve taught.
I got to the top of Northwoods (at Vail – on Sunday, by myself) and I was do some basic parallel – but a certain way (I’ll get to that in a minute). This run had everything… a catwalk, bumps and this green (blue in the Midwest) flat run called Flapjack. When I’d get to Flapjack, I combined dorsey flex along with collapsing a leg to initiate a turn. That along with planter flex and closing the ankle (being forward), everything just worked. I could make short radius, medium radius or large radius with hardly any effort. I’d just pull the foot back and it would work. I had no tip lead. The skis just shot around and I was completing my turns. This controlled my speed. I faced downhill the whole time and I was getting angles.
Again, it just all worked.
It felt great. I couldn’t believe it. To get this done, I know I had to be skiing by myself, which is what I was doing but after I got it, I wanted confirmation. I with Erika was there and I was trying to look for Jennifer but I couldn’t find her. Having one of them confirm that what I was doing was right and not contrived would have been the icing on the cake but I still believe I was doing things right because of how it felt.
It just sucks that it was my last day of skiing for the season. I just hope I can remember this and carry it into next season as I go for my Level 2 again. I plan to study this summer and I have a feeling I’ll just completely nail it this time (last time, I was right on the line / almost passed – I’m better now).
Overall, It Was Awesome!
It was just a great trip overall. I got some great skiing in, met people, got new skis for skiing out West and I had fun – which was a big goal of mine. The group we had was great and I liked hanging out with everyone. I can’t wait until next ski season!!
If I go tonight (which I plan to – maybe, it’s snowing good today (I did end up going) but it’s pretty wet since it’s around 30 degrees), then I will have skied 5 times in the last 6 days. Nice!
Here are some pictures from our trip to the Upper Penninsula (the “U. P. where the Yoopers are) this last weekend. We skied Granite Peak on Saturday, then continued up to Big Powderhorn in the U. P. that night, skied Powderhorn on Sunday and then skied Indianhead Mountain on Monday.
It was a great trip. There were 7 of us guys, which was fun: Jason, Al, Jeremy, Dave, Adam, Dave (“Steve” as Al called him – Jason’s dad) and I. We rented a cottage at Powderhorn, which was really nice. It was good enough sized for all of us and it had two bathrooms, a kitchen, two bedrooms, a fireplace and a hot tub outside. We were there two nights and we had a ton of fun there with the normal, guy antics that you would expect.
We also went into Hurley and had awesome Pizza at the Liberty Bell Chalet (and famous Caesar salad).
The best skiing all weekend was at Indianhead even though we went on a Monday and not everything was open. They just had 3 lifts running. Honestly, I don’t get why places charge the same amount if they don’t have the whole mountain open. That’s not right. Regardless, the snow was good and the terrain that we could get to was nice to ski on. We also enjoyed Granite Peak a lot (kind of expensive though). Big Powderhorn was kind of a let down this time. The snow could have been better and their lifts kind of suck (old, center bar chairs – blah!).
It would have been great to have some fresh pow but that didn’t happen. It wasn’t too cold and we had sun all three days, so we didn’t have to deal with flat light.
All in all, it was a great trip. All of our legs were tired at the end and we had a lot of laughs.
There aren’t going to be many of these left probably. The ski season is going to wind up soon in Southern Wisconsin. If you want to ski or snowboard, then get out there while it’s not bitter cold like it was earlier this month. Dress warm and go enjoy it.
Almost every time I’m out skiing I think how there are people inside just watching TV or something when they could be outside really enjoying the snow. Once you learn to love it, you don’t hate it like everyone else and you enjoy winter… I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. I think people who don’t have a winter sport of some kind (even ice skating) are missing out big time.
Another great picture shot with the iPhone. It was a pretty busy weekend at Cascade with some great weather, too. Not much time left to get out there!
Well, winter is dying down here but I have friends and others that are wondering what winter in Wisconsin is really like.
Well, it’s pretty simple:
- Any temperature above 20 in January is "warm" or even "hot."
- When it’s sunny out, it’s cold.
- When it’s cloudy out, it is snowing or will snow.
- When we get to February, the cold spells last a little less time. Also, a groundhog gives a meaningless prediction that either makes us feel happy or more sad but he’s no weather expert really. This is merely a distraction.
- By the end of February, it starts getting warm again, which means 40 degrees.
- Snow melts in March… usually. I like to say that until it’s June, it could snow at any moment.
- It’s kind of miserable until May (rain) and then the flowers bloom and stuff.
Of course, I’m a skier, so the best conditions are something like 20-25 degrees and sunny with lots of snow or 20-25 degrees, cloudy with snow coming down like crazy! I’d rather have it hot but if you dress for the cold, you can have a lot of fun in it.