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A Veteran's Perspective

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
It was the best of times.
It was the worst of conditions...

Well, perhaps not the worst. Definitely not as bad as ETU 2003! If anything, the less than optimal conditions at Big Sky allowed for a snow sliding experience that was, interesting, to say the least. My old friends from Boston, KevinF. and Madbee, now believe I have truly become a Colorado girl. I considered the conditions icy. They claim that I have forgotton what real ice is.

That being said, I'll describe the conditions as "slick." But add wide open slopes, with no lift line, refreshingly few snowboarders, and groups of skiers who have decent control when skiing at top speed, I have to admit that in a perverse way, it was a whole lot of fun! To be able to use the conditions to enhance speed, without the worry of crashing into someone down below was an exciting experience. To top it off, there were no serious injuries at this Academy! YEAH!!!

In many ways, this was the best of the three. The open spaces at Big Sky are highly condusive to learning. But even more important, three years of Academy planning have worked out most of the kinks. The organization this year was phenomenal!

The groups seem to be highly compatible. Cloudpeak, Madbee and Dwight, you are my most favorite thus far. And Dwight, rest assured that I am not a vengeful person, so have no fear about my one day seeking revenge for our little "collision."
Hey, sliding down the entire bowl on my butt gave me an excuse not to ski it!

Seriously speaking, it was wonderful working with such a positive, supportive group of people. Cloudpeak is the mother of "Son of Spindrift." If you are wondering how a teenage kid can post in such a mature, sophisticated manner, take a look at his mom!

Madbee is fearless! Her sense of humor and great attitude is contagious.

Our fearless leader was Carolyn, AKA Foosh. She lead the group with compassion, humor and a unique sense of creativity. My favorite "Carolynism" is the word "Finishiasion." Think about it!

If you ever have the pleasure of being in one of Carolyn's classes, be forewarned that her imagery is highly erotic. But it works! Hopefully, we didn't embarass Dwight all that much! Actually, her very physical approach to skiing, combined with her interesting images, was the perfect approach for me. Her style is similar to Mike_M's so the Academy was an excellent continuation of what I've been learning all season.

At one point, Carolyn asked me to create a mantra that would give me more confidence. Upon thinking about it, the image of a character I'm portraying in Love Letters came to mind. Melissa Gardener was never afraid about anything when it came to skiing. As a child, she got in trouble for going down a steeper trail at Whiteface without her parent's permission. As an adult, she writes a letter which says Happy New Year from Aspen. When asked what she was doing in Aspen, her reply was "Going Steadily Down Hill!"

That became my mantra. In bumps and steeper terrain, I used it to keep me from going across the hill. We did an exercise which involved starting a short radius turn at a specific rhythm, and keeping that rhythm throughout the entire run, even if the terrain changed. I started at a relatively swift pace, which was easy on flatter terrain. Then, the hill got steeper. UH OH! But since the rules were to not change rhythm, I had to use a much shorter, faster turn than I'm used to to get myself down. "Going steadily downhill" came in handy!

Because of the open space, the groups were able to practice drills that would have been downright dangerous at most resorts. Falling leafs, skiing backwards, and all sorts of interesting things were practiced by all groups.

Bud's particpation was great. I especially liked the part when he went to duct tape my hands to my helmet, but I won't talk about that here!

One of the high points of the event was watching our video at the end. Bob Barnes was in the room when it was showing. As he watched it, he remarked "One thing I've noticed about your group..." three of us stiffened up visibly, in anticipation of what we thought was going to be some serious criticism. Then he continued his sentence... "is that you folks do not have as many bad habits as the higher level groups."

The sound of three exhalations filled the room.
Thank you to the organizers for another awesome event!
post #2 of 14
Nice summary. You forgot one thing:

"And a good time was had by all!"
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
An awesome time was had by all!
post #4 of 14
Thanks for the report.

Would a level 7/8 skier be comfortable attending an Academy?
post #5 of 14
The majority of skiers there were 7/8.
post #6 of 14
Originally Posted by nolo
The majority of skiers there were 7/8.
... at the start of the trip
post #7 of 14
I regressed from 8 to 3 when doing certain drills
post #8 of 14
you mean, like flapping your right arm instead of your left?
post #9 of 14
or the (at my fault misnamed) "Chris Rock" **, after the scene in "Rush Hour" in which Jackie Chan is playing with his new partner's car radio.

**Arcmeister mentioned the movie with Jackie Chan, "Rush Hour," and I said it was Chris Rock who co-starred, even though I just found that it was Chris Tucker and not Chris Rock.
post #10 of 14
Originally Posted by nolo
The majority of skiers there were 7/8.
But, I think skiers of virtually any level would be comfortable at the ESA if they are interested in improving. This year, students were levels 6-9, but I would not hesitate to invite a never-ever to the ESA!
post #11 of 14
This is good to know. Holding a group back is one of the worst feelings.
post #12 of 14
jack, they've done excellently at matching groups at the past two ESAs I've attended. I haven't felt like the anchor nor like the anchored at either one.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Aftermath: I took my regular Sunday lesson at Copper today. We skied Copper Bowl! Quite honestly, I did not think I would have the confidence to ski that this season. Thanks to the Academy and weekly instruction with Mike_M in Colorado, I am not only reaching my goals, I am surpassing them! This is turning into my best season ever!
post #14 of 14
As an intermediate skier, not skiing that long, I worried a lot about not being good enough for my group, or even for ESA. But it was a wonderful experience. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to improve. The instruction I received from Carolyn was amazing. It was so much better than any lessons I have had before. She broke things down so much and gave us so many tips and excercizes and hilarious images that I learned more than I expected. Our group worked on skiing bumps and our progress was pretty amazing I think. I went up to Sugarloaf this weekend and found my skiing had really improved on a variety of terrain and conditions. I am continuing to work on the things I started at Big Sky. My group with Karen, Lisa, and Dwight (and Kes who quickly graduated to a higher group after an amazing transformation) was very supportive and good natured. Coached by Carolyn it is hard to keep a straight face and impossible to be in a bad mood.
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