Being at the XTeam Clinic at Grand Targhee is a little like crashing a family reunion. Coaches were Dan and John Egan, Eric and Adam DesLauriers, and Dean Decas. Also along were Dan and John's dad Bob, their brother Bob and his three kids, the videographers Muppet (Natalie) and Matt Moe (sp?) who mans the camera for TGR when he's not making his own movies, Sara (valleygrlvt) the organizational genius, and all the people who return year after year who are treated like extended family. By the time we said our farewells we felt like part of the family too.
Along with two half days of cat skiing the guests get a half day with each of the coaches (two half days with the coach they have the first morning before the ski-off to form the groups). The coaching is not so much instructional as it's aspirational -- by that I mean that the coaches took us out of our comfort zone and gave us an ideal to strive for as far as going for it and the inspiration of their utterly bulletproof skiing. The coaches were true to their word about enlarging each of our freakout zones. I don't think we did a single drill, but we skied fast and furious every day from the opening bell to the last chair, and every skier in our group sharpened their skiing noticeably over the three days. My husband and I made the idiotic mistake of using this clinic to get into shape for the ski season. At one point after a somersault in powder I just did not have the energy to pop back up, though I finished in perfect position for a recovery, feet first with skis on. I vowed next year to get to the gym before chasing the XTeam around over rocks and through recently cleared cuts and down steeps through choppy snow mined with early season surprises. But dang if it wasn't a lot more fun than doing reps inside at a gym.
The accommodations on slope at the Teewinot Lodge were cozy with all the modern conveniences like flat screen TV, satellite receiver, high speed Internet, luxurious linens, exotic toiletries, etc. There's a hot tub down the hall and a larger hot tub and outdoor heated pool across the mountain mall from the Teewinot Lodge. The mountain mall has everything a skier needs. Our daily phone message touted the live music at the Trap Bar, yoga from 8-9 mornings, bingo for the kids, the indulgences of the on-mountain spa, etc., but after a day with the XTeam, it was all we could do to make it to bed before nodding off each evening after dinner.
The snow was terrific for early season. We skied all sorts of snow from creamy hero powder to powder with a coating of rime to chowder (chopped powder) to scraped off steep little gullies and corduroy groomers.
In summary, we had a great time, met some wonderful people and made friends, learned some new skills, enlarged our vision of ourselves as skiers, and thoroughly enjoyed a terrific mountain with a friendly staff and more than adequate facilities for skiers seeking an uncluttered ski vacation playing in "snow from heaven, not from guns."
Thanks to Dan, John, Eric, Adam, and Deano for my best first weekend of a ski season EVER, to our cat guide Shannon Walsh for guiding us to the goods, and to Jeff Naylor and Grand Targhee for their warm hospitality.