12/30/2007 – A great day at Vail with Alex

This is the 2007-08 edition of the Jon and Al show

One of my favorite days of skiing is when I get to ski with Alex G. Is it that we have been skiing together since he was 4? Yes. Is it because he like to ski fast? Yes. Is it because we can go almost anywhere on the Mountain? Yes. Is it because he just enjoys skiing? Yes, it is all of that and more.
We started off the day meeting in Vail at the Lionshead base. Was this going to be a normal ski lesson. Obviously from my statement above, we know it is never a normal ski lesson with Al.


The day was far from normal. Although the temps were about 15* warmer than the previous day, there was a good 4″ of snow on the front side of Vail, and much more in the Backbowls of Vail. It snowed all day long. We skied nearly alone in Blue Sky Basin, and definitely alone in Little Tea Cup Glades. Pete’s express in Blue Sky Basin opened up some fun glade skiing. I like getting off the Pete’s chair to the left, following the ridge line until it looks good to dive through the trees on the left. “Ski Good or eat wood’ is a rule of thumb worth adhering. We found some gullies to play in too.
After eating at Two Elk for lunch the backbowls and blue sky basin were closed due to wind and weather. No problem, Vail is big enough to go somewhere else. The choice… Highline, Blue Ox, and Roger’s. A very pleasant addition to Vail is that the 3 person Highline fixed grip chair has been replaced. A new high-speed Quad was there in it’s place. Vail certainly does things right when it comes to lift quality and capacity. The bumps were so fluffy, that half of them were just mounds of Powder with absolutely no impact.
Since Alex had new skis (155 cm) for this trip which were much larger than before, it was time to adapt our skiing. Rounder turns. As you can see in the video, skiing a longer ski with a very direct line can cause a lifting of the inside ski at the initiation of turn. It can also lead to the upper body leaning back to facilitate this lifting. Towards the middle to the end of the lesson, we started widening the turns slightly. Initiating the turn at the same place (on the face of the bump), but allowing the ski to travel a little wider, outside of the rut line and on the shoulder of the outside bump.

Another common theme was to keep Disco Al’s hands in front of him, swinging the poles with a flick of the wrist, rather than large arm movements. He was getting it. When we ski again we will work on the ability to turn the legs, while keeping the hips over the feet.
By the end of the day, it was blowing and snowing at the top. The drive back was not difficult, but it was slow. A normal 45 minute drive took about 2 1/2 hrs due to some accidents. I felt sorry for those who are not used to these type of driving conditions. However, not that forgiving of some of the rapid lane changing fools who think they know what they are doing.
Upon arriving home, I was greeted with a wonderful surprise birthday party. A number of friends braved the weather to celebrate my 40th. It is a wealthy man, who has such friends.
Here is a photo from the house on New Year’s Morning… Perfect start to ’08

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