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Moment of bliss

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Ok, its fricking July and I want November. So, in trying to keep something about skiing I post a question, for you, the reader (sorry if it was asked before, but why not revisit?):

Do you remember what you were doing when you finally got it? I mean a time, place, condition when you truly realized why you ski, or nailed something that you have been dying to learn? Where were you, what were you doing (or trying to do), what was the feeling like? It could be a trip, teaching a loved one to ski, watching your child take their first turns, skiing with a pro, and epic powder day, a beer on the sundeck, a snowy road on a lonely stretch of highway on the way to the resort, a credit card bill from a trip that you are still paying off years later, anything. Please use details, pictures if you like. Lets talk about skiing this July!

For me there was one incident when I finally nailed powder skiing. It was shortly after I moved to Utah, and I had been taking most of the mountain’s fair share of face plants. I knew it would take time to master powder, to stay on top, not to drop your tips to far, not to lean back, and all the other "rules." One run in the morning I was moving really fast, in about 20" of fresh in the Wildcat area of Alta. It finally sunk in, my ability that was. I felt "it." I achieved what I had always dreamed of, carving a turn in powder and the face shot that resulted. It was as if a whole New World of skiing had just opened up for me. I couldn't stop laughing, smiling, sweating and gasping for air. I then worked on the motion to set into stone. I was able to ski the pow, and ski it in a way that I had wanted to long enough to get me to pick up and move from my home state back in the Midwest. Why I love to ski.

So, while the peace and connection with nature is one of the draws to skiing, for me the moment of bliss is to carve a turn in powder. What’s yours?
post #2 of 23

plenty of technical epiphanies between day 1 and now but i have to say the biggest and most important breakthrough for me was not long into that first lesson. after those first mostly parallel turns down that tame green trail, i knew i was a skier. it's certainly rewarding and exciting to get better in powder and bumps, etc., and linking short turns down progressively steeper terrain, but something about that day - some moment therein - remains transcendent, like being given a gift.
and nice to know you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Great ryan, that is exactly what I was looking for!
post #4 of 23

You read my mind. I was thinking about this very topic before I had my first double latte of the day. (A performance enhancing drug...or so I tell myself.) The trouble is, my folks started me skiing when I was a tot. So my moment of bliss or breakthrough is more generalized into the whole childhood tableau.

I can tell you about a very early memory of being left at home with a sitter when my parents went skiing. I was 3 or 4.

I was pissed. I remember stomping around and crying for them to take me too! I wanted so much to go skiing even before I ever was allowed to go. My favorite activities (coloring, drawing pictures of Cinderella, reading The Duchess Bakes a Cake for the zillionth time--it just killed me how she was able to put so much yeast into her cake that it subsumed the entire village) were a total drag as the interminable day ticked away with the pendulum on the clock. I remember positioning myself at the front window after my afternoon nap, on the lookout for the Pontiac Catalina to turn in the driveway and signal that Mom and Dad were finally home from their great day of SKIING and would now tell us all about it.

They always came home so rosy, happy, and a bit disheveled--not unlike those times when I would wander into their bedroom late at night looking for someone to get me a glass of water.

So, from a very young age, I have associated skiing with love. I think of skiing and an olfactory memory comes to the surface: the smell of wet wool on a family of skiers driving home in a steamy car. This brings to mind the fun of drawing pictures on the windows and the feeling of the eyelids going down, down, down, and then, like magic, WE'RE HOME.

Saturdays were good, because we could leave the skis on the car, stumble in, put the wet stuff out to dry for tomorrow, eat, and crash, to do it over again on Sunday.

We were a family who skied. We took lots of ski vacations, often to Canada. I grew up skiing Mt. Spokane, Chewelah Peak (now 49 Degrees North), Schweitzer Basin, Jackass (now Silver Mtn.), Red Mountain, Kimberly, Big Mountain, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Crystal, Alpenthal, Mission Ridge...

My folks made the pilgrimage to Sun Valley once a year. When I was 13 my sister and I went along.

I met the guy I would marry on that trip.

So, there's no singular moment. For me, skiing was a foregone conclusion. I loved it before I even knew what it was.

[ July 18, 2002, 10:03 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #5 of 23

Yeah, I've had a few of those. I think my biggest break throughs have come on the balance side. The better my balance gets, the better my turns are.

I really work, on balance.

I know one thing, but I'm not really sure when it happened. When I was able to let my skis go downhill, man. I really started to rip. My skiing, really got better.

I've talked about it before - letting those skis go. And, falling downhill - letting your body fall downhill as well. I guess the two are the same.

If you were to ask me what one common problem all intermediate skiers have, it's easy. They never lean downhill.

What would I teach if I was to? Balance, lean downhill.

post #6 of 23
I'm with ya' there, SCSA.
Skiing has come and gone over my lifetime, but is back pretty strong now. It started out in the days of "jet stix" and the "way back machine" method of turn initiation. (Still, I brought the snorkel for the milk runs in the bowls. Standing in the gondola shed, electric lights pushing out the predawn dark, but not the cold.)
Skiing in the East said "Do it Right"/ Lead with the head! We are like a winged horse at full stride. If the head is out front, it is just like flying! (This is not an endorsement of a posture, rather an attitude)

The feeling is inside, It comes through right action. (And a bit of good fortune.)

post #7 of 23
Now CalG.

You realize that agreeing with me compromises your fine reputation here, right?
post #8 of 23

Regarding SCSA

Indulge me on this one very small point, and only this once......

It's just ...just...just.. SCSA is right!

There I've said it!

Alta skier

More vivid for me is the events that fueled the skiing gaps.

In particular.

The time: early 1970's (If you can remember the seventies, you weren't there)
Setting: Weekday, Early spring with winter conditions. BlueBird. I ski alone, as usual.
The Run: Vail's Northstar
A run I enjoy, rolling , narrow and woodsy down low. And lifts to take before you can "get out". nobody around There is always some good snow somewhere near this one.

The first pitch: a lovely field of bumps.
The experience: effortless rapid fire, snow in my face, sheer delight. Everything working!

I pull up and shout out "That was Great!" , My hands reaching to take in the whole sky. My head shaking with vitality.

My thoughts... what? What was great? What is so different "this time". What is IT? It isn't me, same me.
Not the run, I've been here hundreds of times. The snow, the bumps No Way! The sky the skis, the boots, the.. the.. the... the...
IT is not out there. IT is something else.
The trail down seemed a bit dark, I notice nothing but my ski tips smoothing over the snow before them. I forget where I had intended to go. I stood at the lift for a long while before taking the ride out.

Page turns chapter closes,

The story continues

post #9 of 23
Originally posted by AltaSkier:

Do you remember what you were doing when you finally got it? I mean a time, place, condition when you truly realized why you ...... or nailed something ...... Where were you, what were you doing (or trying to do), what was the feeling like? ........ with a pro ..... a lonely stretch of highway on the way to the resort, a credit card bill ........ that you are still paying off years later, anything. Please use details, pictures if you like ........
I don't like to talk about it but who told you, how did you know?

post #10 of 23
Oooo - way too many - & they are still happening.

I'll write tonight if I have time -otherwise maybe next week
post #11 of 23

I love this topic! There's one epiphany day that's always stood out for me.

It was an afternoon in February of 1971. I was a Midwestern college kid taking a winter off to be a ski bum in Aspen. I had been skiing for two years, but only during the usual one or two week breaks from school. That winter was my chance to learn to *be* a skier. (Of course, what I've discovered since is that the more you learn, the more there is to learn.)

Anyway, what that means, of course, is that I had more enthusiasm than skill. My skiing technique was about as poor as I was. In particular, I couldn't figure out that *powder* thing.

So it started snowing hard around noon just as I was coming down from the upper part of Aspen Mountain. I came out onto Little Nell and there was about two inches of untracked snow on top of the groomed run. I skied it and enjoyed the feeling of moving the new snow around even though I was really just skiing on the groomed base. I rode the chair back up as the snow fell even harder and made another run. Each time I rode up, there was a little more untracked new snow for me to butcher. Amazingly enough, absolutely no one else was skiing that lift. I just made run after run - each one in progressively deeper snow.

By the end of the afternoon I was soaked (this was long before fast lifts and Gore-tex) but I had really gotten the feel for skiing powder (as well as the passion). From that day on, I started searching out new snow rather than floundering through it.

What a great day.

post #12 of 23
Days of Bliss...(*#&$%&...a point for quality over quantity for me..(aka Intermediate hits stretches of feeling like an *Advanced*...since this last winter here in NewEngland was a total BuSt ...as far as days on the mountain is concerned.
All in all...getting dialed in at the footbed/boot level set the stage for each day seeming like
one of those blissful, breakthrough days. I'll tell ya', getting out in the morning...and..picking
up pretty much where I left off the previous day......*it sounds like just a small step for mankind...but for me...what a change...
Balance, leg extension...

Can't wait for Winter!!... [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #13 of 23
I was just mooning over a couple of these episodes this morning. I had a great reawakening at Sugarloaf, Me. many years ago now. Because of the time demands of being a musician on the road, and hours of work required to maintain and improve as a lead trumpet player, skiing was unintentionally put on the back burner until a concert at the Loaf's lodge where we played with South Side Johnny. The dump of the winter hit as we drove up to the mountain and I began to realize how excited I was getting about arriving and not about playing, but skiing. The load in was a breeze, the show rocked, and all had a great time but I was early in bed and too anxious to sleep. In the morning it was confirmed that we were snowed in for a for at least the day. It kept snowing. At 8:00am I was able to procure top of the line demo equipment for a few well placed t's and tapes. Bribery does work sometimes! I believe the skis were some of the first semi shaped mono blocks from Elan and Raichle Flexons?(blue/yellow?). The first few runs I took with my bandmates, none of which were into skiing like I was, safe to say I was better than 97% of them , but I soon grew frustrated by all the waiting.

At the top of a run close to as far skiers left as you can go, I was standing impatiently for the guys to get on down the approach, when the skies cleared, the sun came out, and I simply knew "this was IT", the time was right. We were the only people on the run and I knew I had stood there for a good 5 min and not a soul came in sight, so I just pointed them.

The run is a steep/plateau/steep type of rolling terrain. I dropped into a tuck and went straight. I wonder to this day what possessed me to do that at that instant, but I did. As I shot across the first plateau I had a moment of wondering if I should slow down, but I didn't, I just let the skis go and trusted my racing background from junior high and high school to tide me through, I think at that point I was wondering if I still "had it"(whatever miniscule little bit of "it" I've ever possessed). As I went over the first rollover I realized I was going very quickly indeed, I barely lost the weightlessness and settled onto the snow by the time the next plateaus compression was upon me. At that point I began to turn( I'm still in a tuck) and the skis hook up like nothing I had ever felt before, the feeling was incredible. When I rode that newly discovered sweet spot into the next sweeping turn and realized I could stand on it at will, I started to scream and laugh and TURN!! I felt a release in my chest that I haven't quite felt since, kind of felt like years of weight sloughed off of me. "THIS is what I've missed!!" kept going through my head as I kept diving and turning until I was burning and sucking air and too tired to continue. Standing up and feeling the slap of air on my chest and sudden deceleration of becoming a sail again did nothing but widen the smile on my face, as did the inordinate length of my stop. I realized with crystal clarity that this was something that spoke to my soul like nothing else. Something not to be missed or neglected. Ever again.

I got to the bottom and was so elated I couldn't help blatting to the 60yr old lift attendant who looked to be a non-skiing local and kind of gave me a strange look. I've seen that look through the years in others and it keeps me aware of how lucky I am to have grown up with skiing and been able to experience what is truly a beautifully unique experience of your own making. Those two snowed in days in Maine were some of my best. Skiing and life have not been the same since. Thanks to all of you for sharing this amazing thing that is our passion. Damn, I've gone and tried to write a novella again.


p.s. This occured in the mid eighties and my previous equipment I owned and had been skiing on were totally over the hill Rossi ST650's and Nordica Astral Slaloms, also high mileage. Equipment does make a difference sometimes. That didn't date me did it?? [img]tongue.gif[/img]

p.s.s. and then there was my very first time at the Hole when it dumped.......finding 4' of light, untracked windblown in the "Bad" and "Ugly" area, skiers right of the little cornice along the edge of Rock Garden at Targhee, and airing into it all bluebird morning long, shadows reuniting with bodies erased in explosions of white.....can't wait
post #14 of 23
It's a good novella, Joel. That feeling in your chest, where it all breaks loose and just expands, what do you call that?

I call it a snogasm.
post #15 of 23
..., got booted off of the library system during
editing time..

the numero uno link to this last winter's bliss_on_
the_hill was " STANCE "....
A balanced stance, relying more on the stacked skeleton allowing for more dynamic ankle rollin'.
...and the short radius stuff all came together on Wachusett,you know...your little *Home* mountain..
where the truly relaxed skiing is at night, without
the crowds.. [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ July 19, 2002, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: HaveSkisWillClimb ]
post #16 of 23
Originally posted by nolo:
...That feeling in your chest, where it all breaks loose and just expands, what do you call that? I call it a snogasm.
Phlegm? Congestion?

(Sorry, the devil made me do it.)


Tom / PM
post #17 of 23
No--no--no--NO! SCSA CAN'T be right!!

I used to think that balance was key, but now that SCSA is stating that, it is forcing me to reconsider my point of view.

(Just kidding, SCSA--good post! The better the balance, the better the foundation for all movement! I will add one small thought, though--balance, being so fundamental, does not to me fall in the category of "revelation" or "breakthrough." I reserve that for those slap-yourself-on-the-forehead moments when something suddenly becomes crystal clear, when something I've been working so hard on suddenly happens without effort--that "aHA!" experience, when your whole LIFE makes a new turn!)

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 23
I read an article in a ski mag called "Ski Like Tomba!". About '94 or '95. Next time I skied, I rented some Dynastar G9's, and did the stuff in the article. Stuff like wide stance, high edge angle, inside ski weighting, retraction. Standard stuff now, but new to the general public back then. Anyhow, to make a long story short, I skied like Tomba, and my confidence level shot way up. This led me to start experimenting with all kinds of different techniques. A very happy day.
post #19 of 23
My blissful memories.
They are very recent but are fast-fading memories until, maybe, I get back into the mountains.

I associate them all with lesson experiences and instructors.

One instructor who dragged me down through the trees and set a goal: ski (not scramble down) Fraggle Rock.

One who introduced a technique and helped me refine it to ski that run. The same guy who introduce knife-edge jumps which caused me to cruise down Arthur's choice from top to bottom like it wasn't there (with an enormous grin on my face at the lack of effort).

One who made more changes in one week than in the previous four months. Shame I had to return them to the toolbox to pass my level CSIA II. I think I may have lost them too.

One afternoon, just after lunch, I found I could follow our group doing BIG, SWEEPING GS turns at high speed. It was like I had traded a 250 Superdream for a Triumph Trophy 900. Just open the throttle and go. No balance issues, feet racking out to the side, legs absorbing any undulations. I knew I was going quick 'cos my turns had to be longer and wider just to stay behind. NO EFFORT. I looked forward to the next day with such anticipation but I either think about the mechanics too much or can't do it. I couldn't repeat it.

Earlier that week I floated down a short, steep mogul field like it wasn't there.
The run before was hopeless, as was the run after.
But that feeling, at the time was ........ indescribably memorable.

What brought these on? lots of cumulative work, but also 'Push and twist' more at initiation, skiing in a powerplough for stance along with avalement turns (Austrian) and skiing like I had bandy legs.
Not the most flattering of tactics to practice but at the time they hit the spot.

They were moments in time. I can look forward to many more as skiing is never the same twice.

Not quite skiing but I love sitting in a single man chair and relaxing in the quiet, crisp, early morning shadows. The moments only punctuated by silence.
post #20 of 23
Somehow my little brother, Scotty, convinced my Dad to take a vacation that did not include fishing. This first ever non-fishing family vacation would be a ski vacation to Mt Bachelor, Oregon. Scotty had been skiing for a year. I had not. I remember Scotty looking at me and saying, “don’t worry, there will be things for you to do.” The gauntlet had been thrown down. I had been challenged. I would ski; I would show him. This was my first epiphany: I was a skier; I just didn’t know it yet.

That fall we both went to the Sneevoglie sale in Portland. Scott selected a pair of 190 cm K2 4’s. I selected a pair of 195 cm K2 Winter Heat’s, in need of a pretty significant base repair, but for the price of $10; I thought it was a deal. All right, I had to cut off about 5 inches of the outside edge metal at the tip of the right ski, but I wasn’t going to ski on that part of the ski anyway. A little epoxy, and four sticks of P-Tex dripped into the hole, and, voila, a ski.

Now boots took more thought. I needed professional quality boots, not those intermediate boots for pikers. I looked for the boot, and found a San Marco with three or four cants on each boot. Since only a pro would know how to use all these cants, gizmos and gadgets that had to be the boot for me! I put them into the bag for $45.

I spent the two months waiting for our ski vacation to begin by ensuring that I knew exactly how the boot and skis worked. I fiddled with the fore/aft and other cants daily until my second epiphany: only a pro would ski with the cant in the forward position. So I began to crank the cant, and I cranked though intermediate, and on into advanced and on to expert, I was cranking for honor, I was cranking for the U S of A. But I did not stop there, no, I continued on until the cant finally could turn no more, Professional! That was exactly where it should be, my level, Professional.

My third epiphany was that there sure was a lot of waiting to go skiing when you were a poor kid who had spent all his money on gear. Scotty and I whiled away the time by making down parkas (really), after all it might be cold skiing.

Finally the Day of Atonement and my opportunity to avenge my honor (remember the gauntlet) had arrived. We packed the gear reverently, solemnly for we knew we were going into the very house of God, the SKI RESORT. My parents promptly knocked the edge off of the reverence thing. My Dad by driving, in the words of my Mother, “cavalierly” and my Mother by tossing out a few choice words in describing his driving. All capped off by a bout of indecision between them resulting in good old Dad running the truck into a 20’ snow drift in the resort parking lot. Classic!

I didn’t have too much trouble with the gear, in the parking lot at least. Although I did have to get used to the boots, fortunately all the time spent over the last two months with gear familiarization was paying off! My fourth epiphany was that wearing ski boots was a lot like having two manhole covers welded to your feet. Weaving like two drunks, we eventually we made it up the hill and around the lodge to the lift line.

In the line it became apparent that I was about par with the average skier trying to make it on the lift, the beginner lift I would later find out. Armed with the mistaken belief that I, as a novice, was better than average, I set off with my brother to ride the lift and prove I could ski. Getting on proved not to be a problem, inflating my ego and paving the path to ruin.

Did I tell you that I had confidently told Scotty that I didn’t need his silly pointers on turning, stopping or anything else? No, I had skied 5 or 6 years before and, indeed, I knew how to ski. I had skied 5 or 6 years before for the sum total of three days.

Disembarking the lift proved to be the first significant problem. I waited one second too long and had to jump to the landing from about 2’ off the ground. I survived, but didn’t look pretty and didn’t have the balance to make the clean right turn necessary to ski off the apron and on to the slope. No, I took the turn with the grace and aplomb of a 60’ tour bus with both master cylinders blown and leaking brake fluid. Instead of stopping at the edge of the slope, I continued on gaining speed but not understanding.

The next few moments are a blur, but this is what I think happened. Two girls were standing on the edge of a slight knoll and I was not able to stop for them. While I was not going very fast I hit them firmly enough to make both of them move forward and begin to slide down and onto the ski run. More importantly, I had my right ski between the skis of the girl to the right and my left ski between the skis of the girl to the left. With one girl on my right leg and one on my left we toddled off. Beginners all, we could do nothing. The girls were in no better shape to stop or turn than I. Worse yet we were all afraid to fall. So, instead of falling we gained speed, until one of the girls in a panic, sat down causing her ski to release.

Lest, dear reader, you think this meant that I had half as many problems, you must understand that these were still the days of the infamous runaway strap. The girl’s ski was now somehow caught between my legs and for a few seconds the other girl and I dragged our fallen comrade, until the loose ski tangled my legs too greatly and I fell taking the other girl with me. We all lost our skis and spent the better part of ten minutes untangling runaway straps. If I had been nolo, I would have ultimately married one of those girls. But alas it was not to be. My fifth epiphany was that skiing was going to be harder than I previously thought.

Not all of my epiphany experiences have been negative or humorous. I remember in 1993 demoing a pair of Élan MBX 18’s during a heavy new snow day and having that euphoric/horrible feeling that I had been skiing for years on manhole covers bolted to 3/8 inch steel plate. I was euphoric because I had found a truly fun ski. I was horrified because I spent so many years on what amounted to steel plates. I bought those exact skis that night, fearing that if I bought another, even an identical pair, they would not work as well.

Another time, I remember making a hard left turn coming into a field of small moguls. As I hit the first mogul, the tip of my right ski came all the way back and hit me, HARD, in the right shin. I went over the “handlebars” and into the moguls below. That resulted in a number of epiphanies, including: 1. No matter how small the moguls, they hurt like hell when you body slam into them at a high rate of speed. 2. When your ski tip hits you in the shin, it is time to get new skis. 3. Dynastar does not comp skis, even when they are defective. 4. You can ski on a broken ski and enjoy it. 5. Demo days always seem to happen at the right time (I was able to spend half of the day demoing skis for free).

Oh so many more, but so little time.

post #21 of 23
Great stuff, LOL, you should have seen some of the substitutes I came up with for Jet Stix in
about '70 or so. Noone sold them in the U.P. and I probably wouldn't have been able to afford them anyway. Best one was a pair of hockey shin pads with a bolted on strip of steel up the back and one of Dad's leather belts through the mess to attach it to the boot! This on the back of a used pair of rigid fiberglass split shell Raichle's, the ones that clamshelled over an inner boot and had zero forward flexion(it was literally rigid with a tiny little pad where the shinbone hit the boot). Talk about overcoming equipment problems and shin bang. : Great trip into your past, Maddog. Thanks.

post #22 of 23
I promise this will be on topic and about skiing, but first, I must digress.

I went to my cousins wedding in NY this past weekend. Since he teaches jazz saxophone, he had a real jazz band, as opposed to a cheezy wedding band.

As with most weddings, there was an over abundance of good food. But when dinner was served, the band played an awesome rendition of my favorite Eliington piece, Satin Doll.

There was a deep soulfullness to the sound of the saxophone, one that permeates your entire being, making you at one with that sound. All other needs became trivial. Who can eat when one is so completely fulfilled.

Flash back, I was one of those first time skiers who was afraid of the glide. It took me forever to just let the darn things slide. When I finally got it, music started to play in my head. It was an Artie Shaw rendition of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You".

Corney, yes. But it was not lyrics I was feeling. It was sensation. The absolute fulfillment of the smooth jazz of sliding.

That's what got me hooked. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #23 of 23
It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing,

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