Monthly Archives: January 2010

Bone Chillin’ Cold

Actually, is was a very beautiful, Vermont winter’s day.  Unfortunately, you had to be a polar bear to truly appreciate it!   The sun was shining brightly but it was near zero degrees Farenheit and the wind was blowing about 15 mph.  That means the wind chill was down near -20 degrees Farhenheit (-28 Celcius).   Whew.  I had lots of layers on but I still got a slight case of frostbite on my right cheek skiing from Sterling to The Village at Morse.  Undeterred I went into 3 Mountain Outfitter who were amazingly well stocked with full face Turtleclavas.   It’s a good thing too.  They were very busy!   

With my new Turtleclava and my goggles I had no skin exposed.   That’s a good thing because with the windchill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes.  So, I was ready for class and hoping my students were also well protected and ready to learn.
We had quite a good turnout, considering the weather.  I was excited to have 3 returning students.    Carrie, Rebecca, and Oasa all showed up, well dressed, and ready to learn.  I always feel fortunate when I get students who are eager to learn and willing to place their trust in me.   I teach skiing day after day so I know it works.  But, it takes a leap of faith for students especially since I ask them to do some things that are not only counter-intuitive but downright scary.
Skiing on very cold snow is a bit more difficult because it is not as slippery so the skis don’t function quite as well.  With the cold snow, cold air, wind chill, and the difficultly of learning something new and sometimes frightening, we might well have had a very difficult day.  Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.  Carrie, Rebecca, and Oasa were so patient and so trusting and so brave, repeatedly giving their best effort and putting up with my admonishments (sprinkled with some praise LOL) in these difficult conditions.  And then after about an hour they had this tremendous breakthrough!  It truly was a wonder to see.  On our final run down from the top they just burst out of their shells!  I wish they could have seen it from my perspective.  Each of them cruised right through the steep ‘Waterfall’ section of Garden path (it’s really a blue pitch) making these beautiful round turns.  My heart soared!  ( I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.)   I realized immediately what a leap in skill and ability had been achieved.  How cool it was to ski the rest of the way down the mountain with them.  They looked so good.   It was so cold, I took only enough time to congratulate them.   I wish I had told them that they are all ready to ski on Sterling and take a Level 5 lesson.  (Oasa, Rebecca, and Carrie,  if you read this, be advised you should go to Sterling for your next lesson.  Congratulations on your achievement.   You really made my day.
My afternoon lesson with Stacy and Angie was also very good (it felt even colder out).   Both of them struggled (as is usual) with new technique at uncomfortable speeds.  But, they stuck with it and by the end of the lesson they were skiing must faster and more importantly, with much, much better technique.  They are ready for the top of Morse and a Level 4 lesson.  I have little doubt they’ll be ready for the big mountain very soon.
The air was cold today but my spirits are as warm tonight as I am next to my fireplace thanks to some terrific, adventurous ladies today.  I eagerly shared everyone’s success with my ski instructor brother John over nice beer at the Brewski. 
 Thanks to each of you for making my Friday very special indeed.

Moving to the big mountains

One of things I most enjoy about teaching skiing is taking students to the big mountains for the 1st time.  At Smuggs we have a great beginner training area at Morse Mountain.  The trails are perfect for the new skier to progress from very beginner lessons on Sir Henry’s right up to Level 4 skiers who are getting confident with their parallel turns and skiing down Garden Path & Sam’s Run which are wide and gentle yet still have a couple of blue pitches that provide a bit of a test.  These are great places to build the skills needed to progress to steeper slopes and the fun that awaits advanced skiers.  

Today was the day for my morning class, Oasa, Sandy, Rene, James, and John to make the transition from the security of Morse Mtn. to the more challenging Sterling mountain which has no green trails.   It is often a bit intimidating especially when you’re riding up the Sterling chair lift and you see such intimidating trails as Exhibition, Harvey’s, and Hangman’s.   We used the terrain on Midway, the connecting trail, to review and reinforce what we had learned. We also learned about some of the landmarks so we could find our way around and get back to The Village.  But, inevitably, we had to ride to the top and ski our way down.   By breaking down our run down Rum Runner into bite size pieces and working on improving our skills on slightly tougher terrain everyone progressed and ended up better skiers.  How fun it was for me to see each of them ski under control on pitches that were steeper than anything they had ever skied.   Everyone got better at making nice round turns.  Sideslipping skills got way better!  There was better pole utility and turn shaping.  But, most important was the improved confidence.      What a great day!  Congratulations to everyone.
My afternoon group moved a step closer to their trip to the big mountain.  Chris, Rebecca, and Patrick all improved their carving and sideslipping skills.  It won’t be long before they make the bit move also.
Dress warm tomorrow everyone.  The cold is coming!

Great Recovery

Wow, what a great recovery from Monday’s bad weather.  Smuggs got 6 – 8 inches of new snow and skiing on Sterling was magnificent!  I wouldn’t have believed it could be better than Sunday but it most assuredly was.

Really productive lesson today with David, Lisa, Oasa, and Merdat.   They learned to sideslip down the waterfall portion of Garden Path.  Plus, they can all ski backward and do 360s!   They also began carving and using the shape of their turn to control their speed.   What a great day for all of them.  They are very close graduating to the big mountain.  Maybe tomorrow!  

Winter in Vermont

I’ve traveled all over the world and everywhere I’ve been people say ‘If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute’.   Well, it’s really true here in Vermont!   

Yesterday, we had 55 degrees F. along with rain and wind which wiped out a lot our snow.  It was pretty depressing when I got to the mountain today.  However, as usual, our Smuggs groomers did a fantastic job and the snow was way better than I expected.  They must have got there very early this morning because it had to be too warm to groom last night.   Thank you groomers.  I really appreciate what you do.   
I’m teaching over at the Village (Morse Mountain) this week after a couple of weeks up at Madonna & Sterling.  Because of the rain, I had to take Meadowlark (my favorite trip to the Village, Ruthie’s & Gary B’s were closed).  Meadowlark is fun but it involves a bit of walking.  Much to my delight, one our wonderful lift attendants came by and gave me snowmobile ride to the Village.
Normally, I teach adults but today they needed help the kids so I went over to help out Dave and Pat and had a good time with Ari, Zachary, Alex, Alex, and Ben.  In the afternoon, when I was having fun with some great kids from Highgate, the snow started to fall so hard we could hardly see.  We must have gotten 3 inches this afternoon!  How great.  More snow coming tonight and later in the week.  The temp may get down to single digits by the weekend!  LOL
Welcome to Vermont, home of Smuggs and great people and great skiing but unpredictable weather.

A Day in the Sun

Big rain coming tonight and tomorrow.  But, today was beautiful:  Sunny, high 30s, light breeze, small crowds.  No teaching today, just free skiing with my big brother on trails where few others go.  What fun!  I bit scratchy and a few patches of boiler plate but a quick resharpen and it was pretty good.  We had to ski around a few rock outcroppings and some small skating vertical skating rinks but boy did we have fun.  

Let’s hope the rainstorm is milder than predicted and some snow follows shortly afterward.

Generation Gap?

The sun shined brightly today on Vermont, Smuggs, and me in particular.  After several days of cloud cover and fog, clear skies and bright sunlight warmed both face and my spirits.  The air was cold but the air was still and the sunshine felt so very nice on my face and on my black ski pants.  

Friday has always been my favorite day and since I get to spend some time with my brother it’s especially so in the winter.  We rode to the mountain together and made our plans, including contingencies so we could ski together at least a couple of runs.
Adult lessons were light today but thanks to a generous kids supervisor, I got to ski with a couple of great young people today.   I was assigned to ski with Alden and Stephanie (from Philadelphia) and we had blast.
Now, I admit to being a bit surprised even skeptical that Stephanie could be a level 6 or 7.  But she really impressed me today.   Oh, I should tell you the Stephanie is 6 and 1/2 years old!    Alden made it clear that he was a skier and wanted to ski some glades and bumps.  I was a bit worried about Stephanie but she said she was willing to go anywhere.  So down to Harvey’s we went and they cruised right through those moguls (which were pretty firm in the cold air).   And, we went pretty fast which was quite impressive.   
Since they did so well, I figured some trees were in order.  Off to Poacher’s Woods we went. We cruised right through including the BIG drop just before the entrance and the big jump at the end.   Now, normally a 90 minute lesson allows only enough time for 3 runs but these kids were game and we managed to get a 4th run in (the last one was pretty fast!) and arrived just 5 minutes late and Stephanie’s mom was awaiting our arrival.
We all had a wonderful time and it got me to wondering.  Is there another athletic endeavor that is so good for you, and so much fun that a 6 year old girl, a 10 year old boy, and a 60 year old man can do together?  Especially in the middle of winter at about 10 degrees!   How cool is that?   Skiing Rocks!!
My afternoon lesson was with Sarah who has a sister Katie (I have a special affection for those 2 names).   Sarah is older than my grandkids and younger than my children.  She had only skied 3 days before we met but by the end of the day she had become a level 6 skier!   Very impressive.   
When I finished the lesson with Sarah ( I hope to see her again.  It’ll be fun to watch her progress.)  I was excited to see my brother waiting and eager to take a run.   What fun we had!   A couple of really fun runs and we headed to the Brewski for a cold beer.  What a day.
How I love winter!!


The sun came out late today.  What a morale booster.   Great clinic today with Tom Glynn including a bonus run down the bumps.   Looking forward to sunshine all day tomorrow & skiing with my brother!

Cloud Skiing

We skied in the clouds today.   Really, it was pretty thick too.  Skiing without visuals made me want to get defensive.  I know how new skiers feel.   Snow was nice but skiing by feel can be daunting.    Sunny tomorrow!!  

Recipe for a great day

A good base + a few inches of fresh snow + nice temps + willing students = a great day.

I woke up this morning to find a fresh dusting of snow on my car.  What way to start the day! I hear people talk about how they don’t like mornings.  But if you’re a skier, like me, opening the front door to get the morning paper and finding a fresh layer of snow will really wake you up.  It’s like that enthusiasm you get when you awaken and realize that it’s the 1st day of vacation.   Hmm, come to think about it that’s exactly what most of my days are like.  
After my morning routine that includes 2 breakfasts and exercise I made my way to the mountain being careful not to drive too fast for conditions.    The closer I got, the more snow there was in the road so I had a feeling it was going to be really good.  And it was.
 My lucky day!   Great conditions and great students are always special.  That was especially true today.   My morning class was a Level 5, Max 5 (Maximum of 5 students in the class for 2.5 hrs) with Kristin, Hope, and Brandon. ( Forgive me if I misspelled.)    
We took the Sterling lift to the top and started off with a quick tip on skating followed by a warm up run with focus on some fundamentals that got everyone thinking.   The conditions were so nice that we were really able to work on our skiing without worry about what we might encounter.    My 3 new friends from Pennsylvania were good sports, fighting their intuition and really trying to get on edge and shape their turns.  I could see almost immediate improvement which let me know we could continue building.   
The next run down Rum Runner was about side slipping and how it teaches us edge control, body position, and steering.   As usual it was a bit challenging, but we made lots of improvement and it was time for tougher terrain.   
To cap off a really great lesson and learning experience we applied our new skills to Black Snake which included a visit to a few small moguls to help us reinforce and apply our new skills.  
If you haven’t skied Black Snake, I can tell you that it is a Blue run but it has a small Black Diamond pitch that will get juices flowing the 1st time you ski it.   Well,  Hope, Kristin, and Brandon did exceptionally well.   It made me feel really good to see them carving down that steep section!   A great day for all of us.   Rum Runner will seem much easier for them tomorrow!
My afternoon class was a couple of gutsy Level 7 guys who learned how much fun it is to ski moguls. 
After some pre-bump lessons to learn some essentials we headed over the Harvey’s where the bumps start small and keep growing as you go.   Menahem & Brenden are among my heroes!    Bumps can be really scary the 1st time.   But these guys put their fears in their hip pockets and dived right in.  Sure, it was a bit awkward at 1st but they kept improving even as the bumps got bigger and by the bottom they were taking good lines and making nice turns right through those big piles of snow.   It was awesome to watch!
After class I took a lesson of my own.  I skied with some great fellow instructors and we worked on ways of refining and improving our lessons.
Just another fantastic day at Smuggs!  Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Great temps, great snow, no crowds!

What a great day for skiing at Smuggs, , today!  

My first run of the day when I’m teaching serves to give me a good warm up.  I get my workout done before I leave the house but a warm up run helps me to get the feel of skiing and get the blood circulating again after the ride up to the mountain.  But, more importantly for me, I get to check out the conditions prior to taking students out for a lesson.  I want to provide the best possible learning environment.   Today’s 1st run was a real waker-upper.  The snow had thawed and then refrozen and was very icy!   Fortunately the temperature rose just enough to soften the snow and give us great conditions for skiing.
I was disappointed not to get a lesson.  The crowd was surprisingly small for a holiday.  But, I was very fortunate to get to make a couple of runs with Sherm and Warren, both great guys and great skiers.   I love watching great skiers make those beautiful round carved turns.  Just skiing behind a good skier seems to rub off on me and make feel like a better skier!  LOL   I don’t know if it’s true but it feels like it.   Of course, I have to mention my spill at the top of Rum Runner :).   My grandson is coming in a few weeks and he loves to take those little ‘just off the trail’ routes that invariably have rollers and jumps so I’m trying to get ready for him.  Well, I went in a little too fast and got knocked on my butt just before my boss, Sherm, came around the corner and saw me with my skis up in the air amidst a cloud of snow.  LOL.  It’ll be a while before I live that one down.  I was worth it because it was more fun than embarrassing. 
Anyway, I didn’t get any work today but I seized the opportunity to get quite a few runs in including a couple of trips down Black Snake to work on my short radius turns.  What a great feeling when you are in control on a steep pitch.   Then, I made several runs down my new favorite trail,  Harvey’s – Jolly Roger – Harvey’s Hidaway,  full of mid-size bumps and still pretty well covered with snow.   There’s a lot of fun to be had on skis, but to me, bumps are the best.  Maybe, it’s because I struggled with them for so long.  But I had some great lessons and found out how easy they can be with proper technique.   The more I ski them the better I’m getting and, in turn, the more fun they are.
If you’re a level 6 skier and you haven’t learned to ski the bumps yet, ask your Snow Pro Instructor to show you the easy way down the bumps.  You’ll be glad you did!
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I’ll be there bright and early.  Because the weather looks promising, the snow is great, and I’ll have a blast helping someone get better at having fun on skis or I’ll enjoy some great bump runs and I’ll keep trying to perfect my short radius turns.