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Lou's ESA Report

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
From his newsletter called Lou's News, Lou Rosenfeld writes a glowing report of his ESA experience that I wanted to share.

Epic Ski Academy Big Sky 2008
I just returned from four days of skiing at Big Sky with Epic Ski Academy and in a word or several it was a great learning experience with exceptional coaches and new friends at a fabulous mountain. We were twenty skiers spread amongst four and sometimes more coach/guides which made for fast moving classes with plenty of attention. The highest level class had only four students and we got in tons of skiing.


Coaches included Weems Westfeldt, Bob Barnes, Mermer Blakeslee, and Squatty Schuler. Past coaches have included Deb Armstrong (U.S. national team member and Olympic gold medalist), Eric DesLauriers, and Rob Sogard (PSIA demo team member, Training Director at Snowbird) and Stu Campbell (PSIA Examiner, Instruction Editor for Ski Magazine, former Director of Skier Services at Heavenly Valley) among others. I don’t know how they manage to attract such great coaches but it certainly makes time spent skiing and working on technique worthwhile.



Weems has more enthusiasm for skiing than anyone I’ve ever met and if you have made a change in the right direction with your technique there is no way you will miss seeing how happy he is for you. I guess you don’t get to be head of the Aspen Ski School without enthusiasm and ability.



Bob Barnes philosophy is that turning is not for speed control but simply part of the tactics used to get down the mountain. He skis rocket fast and learning to GS steep bumps with him was more fun than can normally be had on snow, although admittedly a little scary. Bob is a former instructor at the Mahre Training Centre in Keystone and a PSIA examiner.



Mermer Blakeslee is the author of the book In the Yikes Zone, A Conversation with Fear, is a former member of the PSIA Demo Team and now serves as a selector for the team and the last coach Squatty just seems to have been around skiing forever. He is an examiner in the PSIA, a trainer for Snowmass and also teaches in New Zealand.



These classes were not like typical ski school. They were all day in small groups, with focused attention to skiing technique and lots of turns in all sorts of terrain. There is nothing to do with technique or technique problems that these coaches can’t pick out, analyze and help change.

They have ten different ways of saying the same thing, more ways to demonstrate and every trick available to get us to do it. Classes were fast paced and nearly every group skied the entire mountain. How many intermediates skiers out there would venture onto 50 degree slopes? Well it happened with Epic due to the fast pace of learning.



The session at Big Sky ended with great enthusiasm and it appears it will be a yearly stop with the Academy in addition to the session in Aspen. From reading the coaches’ bios I assumed the Academy would be valuable. It was really much more valuable than I thought it could be.



I’ll be back next year and hope you’ll come along.
post #2 of 29
Thread Starter 
Lou also wrote some very nice things about Big Sky:

Big Sky
Well, reports on two ski areas in this issue makes it look as if I’m not working, but the trip to Big Sky definitely mixed business and pleasure. I was invited to address Epic Ski Academy attendees on binding position and ramp angle. Along with the work came the offer to ski four days with amazing coaches. More on that later.

I don’t know how to adequately describe the Big Sky experience. The mountain, or mountains are amazing. It sprawls over acres and acres and quarter sections and sections, and is filled with a stupefying amount of terrain, capped by a dominating peak that alone has more skiing than many ski areas.

The drive in is magnificent and you’ll need a camera with extra batteries, especially from Bozeman on. I saw some bighorn sheep that were more than a little bit bigger than the ones we have here. I’d say more like ponies, but stockier. I just missed a roadside photo-op of a male grizzly that had just left its den.

What is really important though is the skiing. Not only does this resort offer steeper skiing than I have seen before, the groomed stuff is wide, very wide, long, and with rollers and swoops that make it a blast to ski. The quality of the grooming means there are no surprising snow consistency changes over steep rolls and it makes them easily enjoyable by any intermediate skier. The width and lack of crowds mean skiers of all speeds can comfortably coexist so that if you are tracing big, fast, carved turns there are no concerns of separating a family from its first born and anyone out for a day of comfortable family cruising wont feel like a target. Stashed inconspicuously off many of the groomers are nice bump runs featuring round bumps instead of gullies and cliffs. Then there are the steeps.

Off the top of Lone Peak are a myriad of snow fields and chutes at pitches of 45° and more. Steep enough that if you fall you’ll fall for quite some distance, and then slide a ways too, but if you ski all 1,100 or so vertical feet non-stop you will definitely pause at the bottom, look up and savour the moment with your partners. It will make for an enduring memory. And then you get to ski down to the fifteen person Gondola and do it all again. Fifteen people spread over more than fifteen options and more than 1,000 vertical feet makes for very, very sparse population. I could write more, breakfast was great, there are several restaurants in the village, slopes are uncrowded, down comforters in the Huntley Lodge, very friendly with skiing at all levels, a large, heated, outdoor pool, but I still won’t have touched on all the wonderfulness.

Just go. I guarantee you’ll go again.
post #3 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

They have ten different ways of saying the same thing, more ways to demonstrate and every trick available to get us to do it. Classes were fast paced and nearly every group skied the entire mountain. How many intermediates skiers out there would venture onto 50 degree slopes? Well it happened with Epic due to the fast pace of learning.

Ok, I'll bite. I'd love to hear about how the intermediates tackled the 50 degree slopes. Do tell!
post #4 of 29
I believe the chutes were actually 47-48 degrees on the day we skied with Bob's group. (that would be the "intermediates" I assume he's refering to). Of course it might actually be 45-46 degress who knows although possibly Rio could easily tell us. The chutes were actually at Moonlight basin just on the other side of the ridge that is the border of Big Sky. The challenger lift of Big Sky and the Moonlight basin lift actually meet within maybe 25 yds of each other.
Later some of that group including lbt ("intermediate") skied a much shorter but steeper (it might be near 50deg for 15-20 yards than tapering quickly to low 40's to mid 30's). That was between "hanging rock tongue" or something like that near the challenger lift.

I went right after lbt in that chute. No one, including him, would call his turns "pretty". They were though suprisingly controlled and steady. I must say he has a lot of guts. I think he might have talked to himself outloud the whole time when he skied that steep part but I was too nervous about going next to remember properly. He did fall towards the bottom of the steep section and because of the change in pitch there and windpack slightly soft/deep snow did not slide. One side of his head and body was covered in snow when he got to the bottom. One frequently encountered him in this type of look and he found it quite funny. (as did we).

Had any of those slopes had snow conditions were self arrest would be instantly mandatory skiing them is obviously a different story. As for the degree of pitch who knows, I'm not a great judge of that but I will say that they were freaking steep and the ones that were long were very long. Off hand I'd say no, I didn't ski 50 deg but that short pitch might be close. The others (there was a lot of steep stuff) though are probably in the 42-48 degree range. Rio could probably answer these questions because he skis there all the time.

We are in fact talking about a few degrees here. Just change lou's number to 45 and it'll probably be accurate without measuring. I know the chutes at Moonlight were filmed. Of course being video, it looks like a steep blue probably. It most definitely was not.

On a further note, the next day we were with Weems. We'd had a couple of great runs and now were heading up the tram. Lou and I had been talking endlessly about skis and we decided to switch skis at the top of Lone Peak. I knew in my mind that this was probably a bad idea but did it anyway. We sort of thought we were going down Liberty/Dakota bowl which is relatively tame. It was soon apparent when we wrapped around the mountain on a god for saken steep traverse we were going somewhere else. (I'm just not used to them some may do it with their eyes shut)

I think it was one of the Dictator chutes. Whatever it was it looked much longer and steeper than the chutes we did at Moolight the day before. It's probably just a perspective issue as you could see much further down and it was steep most of the way. Lou and I briefly considered switching back our skis but rejected the idea as being far worse than just dealing with them. (Mine were 174? k2 apache recon demos w/one ski thoughtfully bent at the tip so I wouldn't dig it in. His were 177? mission somethings roughly 84mm underfoot they had a very gentle bend at the tip per design)
Anyway we both skied about a third of the way down and when we stopped promptly started cursing out the other's skis.

"My God I hate these skis" or "These skis suck" to "No way, these skis are far worse. I can't stand them. You couldn't pay me to ski these things"

It was really quite classic. We'd picked absolutely the worst place to suddenly try a different ski. Towards the bottom of the run where it was less steep I started making longer turns and was begining to sort of like them. I think. I know Weems must have been entertained by us at the top. Towards the bottom he yelled at me "You might get to like those skis!"
It was way too late though. The pitch was going to get steeper again and we had both been so disgusted at the top that we were switching back immediately.
In fact had there been a functioning woodchipper on the slope there I think we both would've fed the other's skis in just to make a point. "God, I'd rather walk down then ski on those things! Here yah go...RRRGHJJJIIIKIIIKkKK":
post #5 of 29
Tog, thanks for the explanation and rather entertaining story to boot (pun not intended, but what the hay ). Out of curiousity, what was the lesson or lessons being taught (e.g. skills, etc.)?
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post
I went right after lbt in that chute. I must say he has a lot of guts.
We saw that in Snowbird, when he re-appeared on the slopes the day after his accident!
Great to hear how he has progressed over the past two years!
post #7 of 29
Everything said earlier is on target. Lura and I were in a lower group but we also spent most of our week on black ungroomed slopes with just the right mix of places to practice newly learned techniques and then integrate them into more difficult terrain. No chutes, but lots of wide open crowdless runs. It was a great trip. We'll do it again.
post #8 of 29
SugarCube- I will answer your question just don't have time now.

As for lbt, he and mrs. lbt were headed up to Whistler for a week from Montana! I don't know...has anybody heard from them?

(oh..lbt stands for "lost both teeth")
post #9 of 29
Tog, he's alive and well. Back in England. I'm waiting to get a trip report from him!
post #10 of 29
Does he still have his teeth!?!
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
I've heard from him about skis...he won the K2s.
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Out of curiousity, what was the lesson or lessons being taught (e.g. skills, etc.)?
SugarCube, Tog must be busy shopping, so I'll give you my interpretation of the ONE or TWO major things I learned from each coach during the week that helped me ski better and hope that the others in my group will chime in.

We started the week with Mermer, where we were immediately diagnosed by the Maestra as one of two kinds of retreaters: head retreaters and genital retreaters, the difference being which body part you value the most and try to protect when threatened. People who are head retreaters tend to extend away from their direction of travel, whereas genital retreaters tend to "squinch" and get stuck in a flexed position. Either way your options for movement are limited. So, with Mermer those of us squinchers worked on getting more stretch, and those of us stretchers worked on getting a bit more squinch. We skied a lot of bumps to emphasize the feeling of more length (for the squinchers) and more flexion in the hip joint (for the stretchers).

The next day we moved to Bob who immediately challenged our conventional thinking about pressing on the front of the boot to initiate turns. He demonstrated to my satisfaction that actually the exact opposite phenomenon is at work, and at initiation we will feel a bit of pressure at the back of the boot. He explained it as classic Newtonian physics--if we were pressing the front of the boot we'd move away from the direction of travel, which is not desired especially at that phase of the turn. It was a very clever way to start the day, creating believers of your group. What I got from Bob was feeling in my boots that split-second when "neutral" occurs and the skis are ready to go the other way. A split-second too early or too late and you will have to make it happen; right on and it's utterly effortless and natural. I got the feeling while moving slowly on the access roads, not going mach-9 following Bob down the run, but I found that once I nailed the feeling, following Bob was actually comfortable. Another common notion that Bob exploded was that we always want to have our hips ahead of our feet. Instead, he urged us to let the skis travel ahead at the transition and catch up with them in the fall-line, playing cat and mouse with CM and the feet as the CM travels a shorter route and the feet travel a longer one.

The third day we skied Moonlight Basin with Squatty. What I learned from Squatty may seem small but was really huge: allow the skis time and about one foot of space to seek the fall-line, even on steeps. He introduced the idea in bumps, where many people like to force their turns. The idea of letting the skis run a bit before turning is the secret to smooth bump skiing and maintaining flow in the steeps.

Our last day was with Weems, who is the perfect coach to end a week of great coaching. He really reinforced all that we had worked on the previous days, especially the idea of letting the skis take a longer arc by extending the legs and getting inside the circle, even on the steep stuff. I understood his idea of the platform as the slope created by the skis themselves irrespective of the slope of the hill. Worry about creating and standing firmly on the skis' platform from the edge change rather than how steep the slope of the hill is. If you manage your ski-platform, the slope of the hill doesn't matter so much.

There you have it, in a nutshell, what I learned that helped me make my best turns ever on the afternoon of day 4. (It's too bad we can't see them--Bob set up a video segment on Challenger and he told me I nailed the mark and the run, but his camera was on pause...) As I said somewhere else, it truly was the best coaching experience I have ever had--and that's saying something, given the cast of all-stars I have had the opportunity to ski with and be coached by, and all the training experiences I have had from PSIA, USSCA, and junior racing.
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
My husband wanted me to add that the coaches were smart enough to let the mountain do a lot of the coaching, especially insofar as getting the students to pay attention. He said, when you have a group of good students, the thing to do is make them ski fast, ski bumps, ski steeps, or ski tricky snow, because they'll be just a little bit scared and will want to know how to make it better.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
My husband wanted me to add that the coaches were smart enough to let the mountain do a lot of the coaching, especially insofar as getting the students to pay attention. He said, when you have a group of good students, the thing to do is make them ski fast, ski bumps, ski steeps, or ski tricky snow, because they'll be just a little bit scared and will want to know how to make it better.
Along these lines (of letting the mountain do a lot of the coaching)... One thing I've had hammered into my head during past ESA's (unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the Big Sky event ) was what Bob Barnes calls the 50/50 rule: 50% of the time, do it right; 50% of the time, do it anyway. If you're doing it right more then half the time -- speed it up. If you're doing it wrong more then half the time -- slow it down. (Obviously there are exceptions when you're in serious "don't mess up here !" terrain).

My bump skiing especially really improved a lot when I kept that in mind.
post #15 of 29
Hey - I missed this thread somehow!!

We did head up to Whistler and had a great time there too. A mix of snow/fog/sun and some fantastic skiing
Sadly the flu caught us on our return and we're just getting back to life - at least we only missed work

Tog - I loved that pitch. I hadn't been that steep for over 2 years and I was forgetting how much I enjoy it - hence the naff bail-out/fall. Will do better next time I promise. Hopefully someone can find something like that at Aspen? Or is it a bit namby-pamby over there
(Oh, and I wasn't talking I was whooping but please remember I'm British so it could have appeared reserved for Montana )


Thanks Martin - I am definitely getting better, apparently I even showed signs of angulation at one point (only two years late but, you know...). I think following your tip about doing Extremely Canadian was probably one of the best decisions I've made - it certainly enabled me to learn about self arrest and one-ski skiing on single-blacks... probably why I didn't actually go anywhere this time!

I am still considering what we learnt - especially the will and touch aspects to use Weems' terms - Go and Release are probably my keys this year - more when I've finished thinking...

I actually wandered in here to ask for some help with picking my K2s and when I saw a post from Lou I started reading... (Hey Lou - thanks again for those loan skis, and the help with the boots and the talk and for being in our group - glad to hear you'll be back) ... so see my K2 post too please.

And Tog - you haven't forgotten the table-football match have you? (It was you in the bar that night wasn't it?)
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
SugarCube, Tog must be busy shopping, so I'll give you my interpretation of the ONE or TWO major things I learned from each coach during the week that helped me ski better and hope that the others in my group will chime in.
Nolo, thanks for your post, sounds like your experience was significant on all levels (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.).

Going back to my original question, it sounds to me like the folks skiing the 45-50 degree pitch were not what I'd define as intermediate-level skiers, so perhaps my question is not really valid. I recently skied, for the first time, a short pitch that Uncle Louie approximated as 38-40 degrees, and I was pretty much paralyzed for 10 seconds 'til I forced my first turn. I didn't ski it, I rather survived it. I'm an advanced intermediate, and just can't fathom skiing a pitch any steeper than that. At least not at this point in my skill development and confidence.

Thanks, all, for the thread, nice to see that ESA Big Sky was the success it promised to be!
post #17 of 29
SugarCube - when I did those pitches I had 11 weeks under my belt. Ever. I've got some good skiing in me sometimes but realistically I don't have the experience to be much beyond 'intermediate'.

I wasn't fast smooth and elegant but I wasn't a frozen, cherry-picking mess either ;0
(Someone tell me I wasn't...)

Personally I think the reason I could do them is that a few years/weeks back I did a Dave Murray camp in Whistler. My coach told me how to counter in the steeps to set up a platform and then we dropped in over a tiny (6") cornice onto a traverse on a fairly steep (40 maybe) pitch. After quite a few seconds of meditation (!) I just trusted her and went for it. It worked. From then on that's been my safety rope. I've traversed pitches that must be 80 degrees+ using that technique. (OK they were bump faces - but it's the same principle!!)

So, whilst I wont go to places I've not been taken that I'm not pretty damned sure about; if my instructor/coach says "you can do it" then I see no reason on earth why I should doubt them? In which case the only thing standing in my way is my own skill assessment and inability to rationalise. Clearly the only sensible thing to do is admit I'm wrong and do as she says (it's always been women who seem to delight in taking me to the most extreme places - go figure)

I admit - when your coach says "commit down the hill" it does take a tremendous amount of willpower to JFDI. But what I'm looking for is the feeling of stability and control that comes from executing the movement they've described. Once I find it then I can breathe a sigh of relief and kinda say "I told you she knew what she was on about" to my whimpering body+psyche
[A little detachment and objectivity can be a wonderful thing]

The only reason I fluffed on that pitch was self-doubt. Not lack of skill.
I initiated a left turn and then changed my mind. Stoopid!


Anyhow - it sounds to me like you can do this stuff. Firstly a decent instructor told you so - in my book that's golden. Secondly:
Quote:
I was pretty much paralyzed for 10 seconds 'til I forced my first turn. I didn't ski it, I rather survived it.
So that's it. Now do it again. And again.

Also don't make the mistake I made when I went tandem skydiving - I was so relaxed and calm about it I was bored jumping out of a plain at 13000'.

Scream!! It's so much more fun when you do... :
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lbt View Post

And Tog - you haven't forgotten the table-football match have you? (It was you in the bar that night wasn't it?)

Yeah, the loss was completely Tog's fault -- it had nothing what-so-ever to do with my incompetent playing, nothing what-so-ever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarCube
Going back to my original question, it sounds to me like the folks skiing the 45-50 degree pitch were not what I'd define as intermediate-level skiers, so perhaps my question is not really valid.
The level of coaching and the confidence it inspired seemed to really knock down the pucker-effect too. I wasn't in that group, but it seemed like that level of steepness was coached-to, and all the coaches did a good job getting everyone past that "yikes" zone.
Everyone in that "intermediate" group was skiing really strongly through the end of the week, and I, for one, was really impressed with everyone's skiing on the steeps.
post #19 of 29
SugarCube, sorry it took so long to get back.
nolo, thanks for taking up the slack

As for shopping - I would have just called Lone Mt. Sports in BS and ordered the Stormrider Dominque Perret's at 1/2 price!

Quote:
There you have it, in a nutshell, what I learned that helped me make my best turns ever on the afternoon of day 4. (It's too bad we can't see them--Bob set up a video segment on Challenger and he told me I nailed the mark and the run, but his camera was on pause...)-nolo
For lunch that day, AlephNull, Lou, and I somehow managed to lose everyone else. This was fine as we were able to interrogate Lou on footbeds and binding position without distraction, but it caused me to miss seeing what nolo had for lunch. I assumed she must have had at least 3 red bulls because she came out in the afternoon skiing as if she were Ingrid Bacstrom.
Everyone noticed this as we would still be there gabbing and nolo would just suddenly bolt. Then we would just stand and watch her go down. "Look at those turns!", "Yeah she seems to have kicked it up a notch", "A notch, a couple of notches", "What the hell did she have for lunch?"
I wouldn't have been surprised if she suddenly said, "I'm going to huck that cornice and enter the slope over there."

As for instruction from Weems that day we were working on engaging the tips at the start of the turn-or as early in the turn as possible. Realize that these were all advanced skiers so lots of explanation isn't needed. We all know what was meant by engaging the tips. In a way it's one of those things I guess that you coach by trying to remove the impediments to something while also set up the conditions to do it. In other words, set up the conditions that will allow early tip engagement and get rid of the movements that are preventing it.

We had a very similar focus with Bob as nolo refers to above. With Bob, we talked about "letting the skis run out to the side" at transition. First off, Bob started off with "Release, then turn". This sounds like another "duh, I knew that" phrase but one tends to forget or ignore it on steep terrain. I can pretty much guarantee that if you just focus on that on steeps things will improve greatly.
For me, what I tended to do was "get it all done at once", that is try to turn at the same time as releasing or not even fully release and crank the skis around. Basically, : "I've got to turn!" so do it now!. Focusing on releasing first and allowing the body to go down hill sets up the turn-starts the turn- and makes the turn much easier. Yeah, I thought I knew that and it's "obvious" but I wasn't doing it.
Of course there are many shades of not releasing before turning and on groomed they can often be obvious such as a downstem at turn initiation. When that happens I've gone past the point where I should have released and then need to "push off" with the downhill foot to start the new turn. It feels like I'm "down in a hole" and need to push off to get out of it. In soft snow there can be all shades of non release before turning and the turns can look quite good but a sharp eye can spot it every time. (They all had sharp eyes-damnit!)
If you change the term "skiing" to "releasing" then you're more than half way there as the skis themselves will engage and you will naturally do some sort of engagement. It might not be an efficient engagement which will affect an effficient release, but you will engage.
The release begins the "downhill" part of "downhill skiing".

"The Mother of All Pointers", according to Weems, is "to change your ski edges perfectly". This of course includes release and engagement.

My biggest impediment to engaging the tips at the top of the turn is when I start "shopping for a turn". Maybe I didn't like the look of a certain clump of snow below so I start going across the slope looking for a "better" place to turn. The downhill hand with palm down and knuckles forward then comes across the body as I search for the perfect spot. This is some sort of "go ahead, make my turn" signal to the mountain but I've yet to meet one that understood and cooperated. Just by "shopping" I've already missed the greatest bargain of all - using my momentum to carry me downhill and into the next turn.

On that day with Weems, I've managed to curtail the obvious shopping across the aisles, but the subtler remnants of shopping linger. The biggest one is the hand coming across the body and rotating my body away from downhill to following or being square to the skis. I then loose edge angle at the bottom of the turn, disrupt the momentum flow downhill, and force myself to make a far bigger move to get downhill for the next turn. All of that makes it much harder to engage the tips at the top of the turn.

The solution to this I take from Mermeer and has to do with the poles. You focus on keeping the basket of the pole in your outside hand next to the boot. This eliminates the hand coming across the body and makes you continually move the hand forward through the turn. It gives one something concrete to focus on and the pole plant is much more natural and it's easier to let the body go down the hill. I suppose you could contort yourself into some odd position with the elbows glued to the sides, "dinosaur arms", and the basket still on the boot. If you eliminate such awkward postures and just let the hands go naturally to the side it's quite an effective focus.

I notice another side effect of eliminating the ouside hand wrapping around my body. It greatly improves my vision down the hill. I don't know why, but somehow when the hands/arms get in close to the body I tend to focus much more on the area immediately in front of me. Keeping the hands out from the body seems to free up the sight. Vision is probably the most underrated aspect of skiing but has huge effects on one's performance.
It is I think key to efficiently altering one's turn rythm or shape.

One of the other things with Weems was the concept of the platform that nolo referred to. I can't remember the sequence of how it was talked about but the upshot was that one is always skiing on a platform so where we were in soft snow on steeps is in fact "just like the groomed". The object becomes "managing the platform". The platform doesn't mean that your feet have to be together. It is perhaps a subtle shift in focus which is helpful in variable soft snow. Engaging the tips at the top of the turn is in effect "setting up the platform" and once you do that most of the work of turning is done. The concept of the platform makes dealing with the bumpy variable snow easier because you set up the platform and in effect "ride it out". Your legs and feet will deal with the bumpiness below the platform almost without conscious effort -just like the suspension system in a car. When a car goes over a bumpy road the suspension deals with it and the driver can concentrate on directing where on the road the car is directed. In skiing you then concentrate on when to tip the platform over, (release), allow the skis to run, and direct them around the other way.

Since you've established the platform, and your legs are managing it, you can concentrate on going down the hill inside the (at this point imaginary) new turn. Someone on epic once coined the phrase "falling into the future" which is a pretty good description of allowing your body to essentially float in space while your skis catch up. Doing this on the steeps (soft snow here, hard is much more difficult) and engaging the tips early in the turn makes what normally is just a : moment into a ::: moment. If you pull it off though it's actually much easier and quite fun. It takes a bunch of expereince though to get comfortable with it.

Since our focus was on early tip engagement it's easy to see why Lou and I had such difficulty when we switched skis since they had very different tip styles. (Mine were "normal" and his were gently curving up from maybe ten inches from the end) Now, I don't know what Lou's problem was since I gave him skis that worked, and I got "those things". Seriously though, perhaps it's just the feedback from the skis was so different that I didn't realize the tip of his skis were engaged so I started flailing.

Part of the problem too was we sort of thought we had received some sort of innoculation against fear of steeps after the day before in the chutes at Moonlight Basin. When we got onto that slope we were sort of like "where did this come from!".

If you want to read more on Bob's concept of turn transition and "letting the skis run" he did discuss much of what was in his talk and our lesson in this thread. (I think these are most of the photos he used in the talk):

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?p=876346 A Teaching Scenario post #24
post #20 of 29
lbt,
On this side of "the pond" we call "table football", "foosball". Rhymes with "loose".
Now if you call it table football, usually people will know what you mean. If you're in a rowdy bar though, and it's late, and people are "sauced" they might think you've invented a new game. Then they'll start running on tables and throwing a beer bottle as an American football. If this happens they'll be no sidelines anymore and you might want to get out of the way.
I thought we actually won that game. (What were all the high fives about?)

Quote:
Hopefully someone can find something like that (pitch) at Aspen? Or is it a bit namby-pamby over there -lbt
Well between Whistler and Big Sky I'm not sure you are going to find such long sustained pitches over here unless you go way north. Dare I say it, there does exist an area of mountains on the planet to the east of you that might fill the bill. Go east over the Channel, continue across a certain country that decades ago was more effective at stopping the introduction of bratwurst into their cuisine then an invading army into their cities, and you'll run into them.

We are of course delighted that you and your wife come over here. I must say I am mystified by some of your countrymen. Somehow, when they get out the scales and put "Killington, VT" on one side, and "The Alps" on the other an odd thing happens. The side with "Killington, VT" goes straight to the floor, and "The Alps" side weighs almost nothing. Now I know this has nothing to do with the exchange rate since it's been going on for years.

I'm not sure an explanation is even possible.
As for Aspen, it is a great mountain. There's a lot of history there and you're as likely to bump into a former wc skier as a guy in his 80's who was in the 10th Mt. Div. in WWII. Of course there's also the poss. of some sort of celebrity siting too. Just try not to literally run into anyone as it'll just increase the rep. of your country for producing skiers such as "Eddie the Eagle".
They'll be a lot of steep bumps. Then there's Aspen Highlands whose bowl is quite beautiful and will supply a long steep pitch but requires roughly 45 min hiking. Squatty informed me that you can ski it without hiking it'll just be a shorter run.
Snowmass has all sorts of stuff and if there's a lot of snow there's some good steep chutes at the top. They are short though.
Perhaps when you get over to Aspen you should make some sort of apology offering so the mountain doesn't punish you for your insolence.
It is not possible to "conquer" any of those mountains. If you think you have, then phone squatty and he'll prove you haven't.
post #21 of 29
SugarCube,
I know Squatty's group was up on Liberty Bowl as we ran into them up there. While that pitch is not 45 degrees, it probably starts out close to 40 and goes down into the mid 30's. It is steep enough that this year in Feb.(?) the whole slope avalanched. I think this actually happened during the day but no one was there at the time. I'm pretty sure that patrol went out and probed the slope though.

I think one has to get comfortable with steep pitches gradually. It would be good to go with someone who really knows the place and can introduce small quantities of steep pitches at a time before you get to a long one. If there is a groomer with a very short steep pitch that ends in a flattish part, you can build up to going straight down it. (I'm talking short here and not that steep. Can even be a small side slope). This will start to get you comfortable with well, "falling" on skis.

lbt is somewhat of an anomoly in this regard. It is generally accepted that his wife has a lot more sense.
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hey thanks, Tog! That was such a fun afternoon skiing Challenger with such an outstanding group. My lunchtime secret was a double jolt of mocha java and a monster peanut butter cookie.

It's good to read your synopsis, especially to be reminded about our emphasis on tip engagement. Phil took a bit of video at MB and on Lenin that last morning, where the presence/lack of tip engagement is very apparent. I believe Bob B. downloaded all that video footage on his computer.
post #23 of 29
LBT

There is some good steep stuff at Aspen -- not as long as what we skied at BS, but certainly as steep. Lines in Highlands Bowl are a bit less steep than BRT but longer than BRT. There is Robertos and the Headwall at Snowmass. Plenty of stuff to work on steep skiing.

In general, Colorado has less steep skiing than some other places, such as Jackson, Whisler, and Big Sky. But there are still some places with good steeps -- the Lake Chutes at Breck, which top out at 50 degrees, Extreme Limits and Rambo at Crested Butte, etc. Come to ESA Aspen next year, and we can find a day or two to show you some other stuff!

Mike
post #24 of 29
Has anyone seen this?
Perhaps this was the Grizzly Bear that Lou saw on the side of the road!

Grizzly Bear at Big Sky

You can also access these from :
http://www.bigskyresort.com/Photos-Videos/index.asp
go to TV Spots - "Hibernation" or "Making of the Bear Commercial"

on same page:
I also recommend Winter - "Relax and Enjoy, Warren Miller"(2:27)
- can't figure out how to post it in here though
post #25 of 29
That bear sure doesn't have much movement.
post #26 of 29
Perhaps trying to figure out if the slope is 47 deg. 48 deg or 50. Or perhaps not an engineer type bear and just happy with damn steep.
post #27 of 29
"The next day we moved to Bob who immediately challenged our conventional thinking about pressing on the front of the boot to initiate turns. He demonstrated to my satisfaction that actually the exact opposite phenomenon is at work, and at initiation we will feel a bit of pressure at the back of the boot. He explained it as classic Newtonian physics--if we were pressing the front of the boot we'd move away from the direction of travel, which is not desired especially at that phase of the turn. It was a very clever way to start the day, creating believers of your group. What I got from Bob was feeling in my boots that split-second when "neutral" occurs and the skis are ready to go the other way. A split-second too early or too late and you will have to make it happen; right on and it's utterly effortless and natural. I got the feeling while moving slowly on the access roads, not going mach-9 following Bob down the run, but I found that once I nailed the feeling, following Bob was actually comfortable. Another common notion that Bob exploded was that we always want to have our hips ahead of our feet. Instead, he urged us to let the skis travel ahead at the transition and catch up with them in the fall-line, playing cat and mouse with CM and the feet as the CM travels a shorter route and the feet travel a longer one."

I wish our group had the benefit of just half a day to be introduced to Bob and his concepts.
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I wish our group had the benefit of just half a day to be introduced to Bob and his concepts.
Did you attend his slideshow/tech talk on Tuesday afternoon? My blurb was a nutshell version of his talk that day as well as his clinic (our group also skied with him on Tuesday).

I wish every group could be with every coach, but the limits of time and space prevent us from making that happen. Alas, we can only imagine how cool that would be.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post
Quote:
"The next day we moved to Bob who immediately challenged our conventional thinking about pressing on the front of the boot to initiate turns. He demonstrated to my satisfaction that actually the exact opposite phenomenon is at work, and at initiation we will feel a bit of pressure at the back of the boot. He explained it as classic Newtonian physics--if we were pressing the front of the boot we'd move away from the direction of travel, which is not desired especially at that phase of the turn. It was a very clever way to start the day, creating believers of your group. What I got from Bob was feeling in my boots that split-second when "neutral" occurs and the skis are ready to go the other way. A split-second too early or too late and you will have to make it happen; right on and it's utterly effortless and natural. I got the feeling while moving slowly on the access roads, not going mach-9 following Bob down the run, but I found that once I nailed the feeling, following Bob was actually comfortable. Another common notion that Bob exploded was that we always want to have our hips ahead of our feet. Instead, he urged us to let the skis travel ahead at the transition and catch up with them in the fall-line, playing cat and mouse with CM and the feet as the CM travels a shorter route and the feet travel a longer one."
I wish our group had the benefit of just half a day to be introduced to Bob and his concepts.
All Bob has told me is:
Be spontaneous!
...........errrrr......or sumthin' like that

I haven't had the good fortune of having Bob as an instructor at ESA, but I've had the pleasure of spending time with him, during which he has shared a wealth of knowledge.
His descriptors are such that, even my blonde head can absorb what he's saying.
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