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EpicSki Academy review

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, I’m back from the EpicSki Academy and thought I’d share some of my thoughts and impressions. First, my conclusion – where do I sign up for next year’s Academy? No, really. After a couple of Super Ski Weeks at Taos and after a whole bunch of locals’ ski week clinics on my local ski hill (Steamboat), I can easily say that this year’s Academy has been my best ski learning experience, ever. Throughout the four days, I kept thinking that I was having a uniquely great experience with my group, but I kept hearing that the participants in other groups were also having uniquely great experiences, too. I guess my “unique” experience wasn’t so unique, after all.

It was such a blast hanging with a bunch of students and coaches whose earnest focus was to elevate all of our skiing so that we’d all be able to enjoy it more. You couldn’t help but feel good when you’d hear about other participants achieving specific accomplishments in their skiing throughout the Academy.

So, my group included TomB, Si, and me as students, with Arcmeister as our coach and Tog as an assisting coach. I met TomB on a lift at Brighton the day before the Academy, and we ended up skiing together that day, then through the Academy, and then for one day at Alta at the EpicSki gathering after the Academy ended. His enthusiasm for both his own improvement and his encouragement for my improvement were a big part of what made this such an enjoyable experience for me. (TomB, thanks for doing most of the work in changing that tire when I blew out a sidewall after hitting that rock driving down the canyon from Brighton on Monday afternoon/evening.)

I think Si was an Academy student, although I’m kind of thinking his sole purpose in being there was to encourage me to ski conditions and terrain that stretched my normal comfort zone. I’m blown away by Si’s eagerness and ability to dive (sometimes almost literally) into any and all terrain, but I’m even more impressed with his eagerness to share his joy of skiing with the rest of us. That was a huge part of the experience for me.

I can’t say enough about Tog’s addition to our group. He joined us after lunch on Tuesday and skied with us for the remainder of the Academy. He consciously let Arcmeister do most of the coaching, but Tog would add the occasional comment that really made a huge difference. Just following his strong and smooth skiing on all terrain was a lesson, in itself. It was always interesting getting Tog’s perspective on anything and everything ski-related, including his thoughts on the performance characteristics of specific skis.

And then there’s Arcmeister. His blend of truly technical exercises with an almost Zen-like philosophy of teaching and of skiing was amazing. I could go on for quite a while about his skiing and teaching abilities, and his overall attitude and enthusiasm, but I really wouldn’t do them justice. There are a few things I can say, though. The four-day Academy lent itself to continuity in teaching and learning, and Arcmeister really exploited that format. Each day was a study in reinforcing and extending the progress of the previous days. And his efforts were quite individualized. His focus in working with me was often different than his focus with the other skiers in our group. What I really noticed and appreciated was his ability to find root causes and solutions for specific skiing issues. That ability can’t be over-emphasized. And Arcmeister wasn’t limited to single solutions for specific problems. He’d approach the same problem from a variety of exercise and tactical perspectives until some approach clicked. And then he’d continue to approach the problem from different perspectives in order to integrate the solutions into the “whole” of skiing. I think the most telling thing I can say about Arcmeister is that I really felt throughout the four days that he was as interested as I was in seeing me progress in my skiing. From his coaching, in addition to what I think is real progress in my skiing, I’m pretty sure I’m taking away a heightened awareness of specific movement patterns and feelings that may help me continue to improve myself.

I knew I was having a pretty exceptional experience at the Academy when I went to get some new custom insoles for my boots one day after the lifts closed. Arcmeister was there to discuss my skiing with the expert bootfitter, Steve Bagley of Superior Ski, and their discussions led to Steve making some simple modifications to my boots. Talk about getting all the experts involved in helping you dial in your equipment!

On top of all this, Bob Barnes was constantly floating around from group to group, giving specific feedback and encouragement. All of the coaches offered suggestions and encouragement in those frequent moments when we ran into each other. I know that it was probably impossible to run this whole Academy without any glitches, especially since this was the first attempt at the Academy, but I can honestly say that if any glitches existed, they were hidden from me.

Yeah, I know this sounds absurdly positive, but that’s truly the experience I had.



p.s. Melf, I hope you’re feeling better.
post #2 of 15

Great post!

I second your sentiments of Arcmeister. I had the pleasure to link up with he and Ann on Friday at Alta for a few runs ...kinda like an academy bonus day! Arc really is interested in helping you get better.

But, if you're following him, watchout for those TRENCHES he leaves in the snow!
post #3 of 15
Dear stumblebum, I mean stmbtres

Great review of the Academy. I would just like to add that in spite of many claims to the contrary, Arcmesiter's group was absolutely the greatest. Both stmbtres and TomB started out as very smooth and competent skiers with very advanced skiing ability. What really impressed me was their willingness, desire, interest, joy, and comaraderie. These guys were a blast to spend a few days with both because of the quality of their skiing and their attitiudes. From my point of view I think they both made very significant improvements in spite of the high level of ability demonstrated by them coming into the Academy.

Now I have had the pleasure of skiing with Arcmeister a few times before. Thus I kind of knew what to expect. Arc's sking is a great blend of finess and power. It would be a dream to have skills in one of these categories that came anywhere close to him. To develop skills along both of these axes is a whole other dimension. He also has a very simple and straightforward approach to teaching that is very effective and always makes sense. Add into all that mix a guy who gets as much joy and excitement out of skiing as anyone around and you have the PERFECT ski companion and coach.

Last but not least let me say a few words about Assistant Coach Tog. I initially recruited him into our group on the second day. Having skied with him at Snowbasin on Saturday I was quite sure he would be a valuable addition to our group. Also, he was initally in another group with 2 assistant coaches. Well, his addition had far greater effect than I even expected. Tog has wonderful athletic ability and shows it in his skiing. He was a great example (in addition to Arc, of course) for us all and really gave us something to emulate. It was also great to see him work so hard to apply some of Arc's lessons to his own skiing, a clinic in itself. I look forward to trying to get together with him for a free skiing frenzie out west some time. Of course I feel quite the same about everyone in the group and I truly expect and look forward to skiing with them again. In fact plans are already being talked about.

Ok, with all these accolades, did I have any criticism's? Well perhaps these guys could have taken a little more air [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] . Of course in Arc's case I wish it had been a little less air - How's the arthritic knee cap Rog?
post #4 of 15
I participated in the Academy as a student and was overwhelmed by what a great experience it was. I've attended multi-day ski camps before and what distinguished this one in my mind was:

1. The very high quality of the coaching, and
2. The exceptional camaraderie of everyone involved (which I suspect was enhanced both because of our pre-existing online relationships and the self-selecting nature of those who choose to be part of an active skiing community such as this)

...and now the coach/student relationship and learning continues online -- I've never been able to do that with an instructor before!
post #5 of 15
stmbtres, Si, Tog, Arcmeister

Thanks guys for making my experience at the Academy so memorable. You pushed me way out of my comfort zone and I learned a great deal from you guys.

Best experience: the snow quality in Alta and sharing it with my new friends. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Scariest experience: hanging on for dear life on the Bookends traverse in Mineral Basin. BobPeters insisted that I will enjoy it, so I came along for the ride. Well, dropping into Mineral Basin was sweet (thanks Bob for insisting), but the traverse freaked me out. Sorry AC for holding back a little, but I was on the verge of vertigo up there. :

Worst experience: leaving on Sunday while SLC was getting dumped on.
post #6 of 15
Hey guys, thanks for the kind words. It was really great to ski with you all. Ya know it was a very tough decision to leave Weems's group and go over to Arcmeister's but in the end I got to see two great teachers.
I think what made it both a lot of fun and a great learning experience was the group really wanted to learn and push things a bit. Sometimes learning in advanced classes means groomers...and sometimes not. I think Roger did a great job of balancing excercises on groomers with skiing advanced runs.

Si really gave us a big "go for it" attitude and example. The way he tries to get air on everything makes him seem like a 10 year old kid - a good thing. Yeah I guess we all need to get a little more air eh? Another one of his examples is the commitment in tough terrain. I think both TomB and Stumbletrees(uh..phonetic spelling?) got a good taste of how commitment to go forward or commitment to turn can really help in tough situations. I remember first learning this at Taos several years ago. You're standing there looking down on terrain that can really scare you shitle$$ and the natural reaction is to back away and be tentative. This is exactly what can get you into trouble. You're going down the hill anyway and commiting helps you to do it standing instead of sliding possibly face first out of control. Yeah easy to say that eh? So Si really gave a good example of commitment in tough terrain. (Half the time you wondering "he's skiing what?" or "where is he? - oh at the bottom already?" )

Then again, you want encouragement from those trying to help right? That's why I yelled to y'all on top of that blind rock turn in the woods "Hey guys! Don't worry- it's worse than it looks!....No, Really!!" uh...that's not quite what I meant.

I had a great time with y'all and a big thanks to Roger for letting me join up.

o.k. now, hold hands and "kumbaiyah..."
post #7 of 15
Tog: ... So Si really gave a good example of commitment in tough terrain ...

Yeah, but constantly changing underwear was somewhat difficult for me.
post #8 of 15
Well, 160's aren't the best in that stuff....Maybe you should try those blue popsicle sticks next time.
post #9 of 15
Oh, and St. MB Tres, it was great skiing with you after the Academy!

post #10 of 15
Originally posted by Tog:
Well, 160's aren't the best in that stuff....Maybe you should try those blue popsicle sticks next time.
Hey, I've already got a prosthetic hip, you think I'm going to let my ego stop me from putting a couple of others on my feet! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #11 of 15
Well Si does have this mesmerizing style of skiing. You can get really caught up watching him, then all of a sudden you say "What the heck am I doing on this stuff?"

People should consider coming to the next academy just to watch Si ski!

Although I still have not forgiven him for stealing Tog from our group! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Si:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Tog:
Well, 160's aren't the best in that stuff....Maybe you should try those blue popsicle sticks next time.
Hey, I've already got a prosthetic hip, you think I'm going to let my ego stop me from putting a couple of others on my feet! [img]tongue.gif[/img] </font>[/quote]As a point of clarification, those blue popsicle sticks are Si's Salomon Pocket Rockets. As another point of clarification, I think Si chose those skis for their aerodynamic properties -- he seems to spend at least as much time catching air as he spends skiing on the snow. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Wear the fox hat:
Oh, and St. MB Tres, it was great skiing with you after the Academy!

Fox, I really enjoyed skiing with you at Alta, too. At the risk of blowing your cover, it was fun to immediately realize that you take your skiing even more seriously than you take your beer (is that sacrilege?). Looking forward to our next opportunity to ski together.


post #14 of 15
STeMB T RESearch,
One has to have priorities!

post #15 of 15
bumping up for our marketing dept.
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