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TR: ESA AspenSnowmass 2010 -- the best ski camp in the world!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 


If you are looking at this thread, then I have gotten your attention. Good. I actually have not attended any camp other than Epic Ski Academy, so I really cannot really say that ESA is the best. I am sure that there is plenty of good ski instruction out there, and there are plenty of good ski camps as well. However, I get really tired of hearing people on another website make derogatory comments about the instruction that has made me a better, more aggressive, more efficient skier (and I am 56 years old, essentially self-taught, and I have been skiing for nearly 40 years).


We had a fantastic ESA at Aspen/Snowmass. I skied with some folks the day before and then the day after the camp, and the improvement in their skiing was phenomenal. My own group consisted of six people: Jackie, John, Grace, Stephanie, Brian and myself. I think that it is fair to say that we are all accomplished skiers -- we all ski Alta/Snowbird on a regular basis, and can ski any terrain that those mountains have to offer. I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that we came to ESA with an open mind and with a desire to improve our skiing.


Our coach was Robin Barnes, a member of the Demo team, an amazing skier and instructor, and a great person to spend time with! Within one run, she had us all “scoped out”, and set to work on helping us achieve our goals (and the goals that she thought we needed to achieve). Over the course of the four days, we combined drills on easier terrain with exploring more difficult terrain. For me, the combination of White Pass Turns with a countering move to keep my hips facing downhill was key – things came together for me on day 3 when Robin took away my poles for the better part of an afternoon, so I could concentrate on NOT using my upper body to initiate the turn. What really seemed to click was Robin encouraging us to use a “White Pass Stealthy Move” to initiate the turn. I am not sure that this drill is written in any manual, but it really made sense to me. The proof of how great ESA is for skiers is seen in the videos that were taken throughout the camp – the difference in the “before” and “after” videos was remarkable. On top of all this, we had the opportunity to make new friends, get re-acquainted with old ones, and have a generally good time.


But what I really wanted to write about is this:


One very important distinction to make is that Epic Ski Academy is NOT epicski.com. With all respect to those that post on the forums, the academy experience is nothing at all like the experience of surfing the website. While the forums lend themselves to long discussion of minutiae that tend to make my eyes glaze over, the coaching and information gained at an Epic Ski Academy is straightforward and easy to incorporate into your daily skiing; in other words,when you attend an Epic Ski Academy, you get straight skiing information and no BS. Unfortunately, with the academy being an offshoot of the website, it is often assumed that all things posted on the website are representative of what occurs at an academy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Also unfortunately, most of the coaches of the academy do not post regularly on episki.com. The notable exceptions are Weems and Bob Barnes whose posts, while playful and thoughtful respectively, do not totally reflect their coaching styles. My belief is that most of the coaches, who are almost entirely PSIA examiners and/or Demo team members, have neither the time or energy to engage in the kind of discussions on the website that can get bogged down in BS and/or semantics. Rather, it seems that a Robin Barnes would rather respond to a question via direct e-mail from me (which she has, repeatedly), and therefore communicate in a manner that helps me the most. Yes, this may result in the website not having the density of quality posts that it did 5 years ago, but with a large community such as ours, there is a lot of noise that needs to be sifted through.


Again, ESA is not epicski.com. There are other forums out there that would have you believe that their programs are superior because they tightly control the content on their forums, and tightly control what can and cannot be taught at their camps. I have also seen them take potshots at PSIA – an easy target, because it is a large and somewhat cumbersome organization. I have seen them claim that we at ESA are being taught wide stance, two footed skiing from a wedge, and all I can say is “HUH?” In six years of attending ESA's, I have never heard anyone tell me to ski with my feet wide apart. I have never been told to use rotary, whatever that is. I have never been told to weight my skis evenly. The lies about ESA that I have seen posted on another forum are the worst form of negative marketing that I have ever seen. Personally, I would not want to hang out with a group that builds itself up by talking about how bad everyone else is.


If you have been to ski camps and/or had lessons that have worked for you, then great. If you have not, and are curious about a ski camp experience, then you owe it to yourself to try an Epic Ski Academy -- I truly believe that it is a tremendous value and a great experience.

post #2 of 9
Here here.  Just to validate, I find it useless to monitor the instruction forums on ESA.  However, the coaches at ESA are truly the best I've had anywhere, and I've taken a fair number of lessons at various resorts and attended other camps.  ESA is value for money.

post #3 of 9
One of the original intents of ESA was to link on hill coaching with the website to create an ongoing "academy."  I don't think this has happened to anywhere near the extent originally envisioned, although it is a very difficult goal to achieve.  Only a few of the ESA coaches participate meaningfully at epicski.com.   Unfortunately the appearance (at least to me) is that ESA is a very good ski camp but more like a benefit of epicski.com as opposed to an integrated component of the community.
post #4 of 9
Bob, nice post.
The technical discussion you're talking about usually take place late night at the bar or for instance Bob Barnes's room. Never on the hill. Short ones possibly on the chairlift if someone really wants to discuss it.
Note to Bob B's doctors: If Bob's ever unconscious, instead of smelling salts start discussing some ski concept like "getting forward". This will be much more effective and he'll spring to life and start drawing diagrams.
As for the integration of esa into epicski.com this is a difficult area. The web site is about skiing in general and not about going to a camp. If it's too integrated people complain that it's all about esa and they're left out. Originally it was started for some of the instructors on the website to teach the members at a reasonable cost, yet pay the instructors a fair amount. That sounds fairly simple. The realities are that when one actually makes a go of it in our world of skiing you've got insurance and all sorts of expenses that constantly try to squash the whole thing. If it's going to cost more, then you really want high level coaches who may not spend a lot of time on the website.
The other reality is, that "discussions" on the website are often completely counterproductive to what someone has learned on the hill. We've had them before where people who've never even attended start pontificating about the situation. This just gets confusing.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

I believe that you are correct about the origins of ESA (it started before my time here).  I cannot disagree about your second comment, but with the large membership/readership of epicski.com I think that it would impossible to keep ESA as an integrated part of the community.  I actually am fine with the way that it is -- I get different things from the website than from the academy.

James, good point.  I always knew that I could get involved in intricate discussions about ski technique if I hung out in the bar late at night, but I never seem to need the inducement to sleep!  If we take Bob Barnes as an example, the BB I see on the website (and probably late at night...) is a "different" BB that I see on the hill during the day.  His coaching on the hill for the average skier (such as myself) is succinct, entertaining, and easy to incorporate into my own skiing. (sorry to pick on you, Bob -- you know that we love ya!).

My point was to have a post that lets the general website-lurkers know that the camp is a way different thing from the website.  It is cleaner, more user friendly, energizing, and incredible fun!  The people on other forums that put the Epic crowd down (regardless of their agenda) have no idea what they are missing by dissing the academy.  As far as I am concerned, you have no right to criticize something that you have never attended just because the "style" may be different from what you believe in (or because of the Kool Aid that you drink).
post #6 of 9
 Bob, this is a great message.
I'm sure that my praises of ESA seem self serving because of my involvement, but I became involved because I was blessed by great coaching, great friendships and great confidence through my ESA experience.

As for the other ski camps that may try to diminish the value of our coaches and their impact on ski teaching, I will make this observation...
ESA and the Sports Diamond is multi-dimensional.  The coaching has the profound ability to reach what ever focus the student needs to become a better skier, which is a huge asset to people like me who can get stuck, mentally.

More to the OP: Even though the EpicSki community and ESA are closely related, the two are most definitely two separate entities with two separate vibes.
post #7 of 9
I agree with bbinder.  Although not able to compare to other clinics, ESA Snowmass was incredible.  I cannot imagine how ESA could have made it any better.  Awesome coaches - all of them - Annie was fantastic; unbelievably great group of people; relevant and well done off mountain activities - Weems, Bob, Robin, Schanzy, Terry, other coaches; on-mountain boot analysis (thanks Greg for the two folded up business cards under my heels, I can't believe the difference - Phil's videoing and help.  I think Mother Nature is the only one who could have made an improvement. 

As far as the forum - you just have to take it for what it is - people talking.  Be selective in what you take to heart. 

If you are reading this and haven't done a clinic, you are punishing yourself.  I suggest you start saving your allowance money. 

post #8 of 9
 Steve, I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing you and your lovely daughter again!!
post #9 of 9
I have had the great opportunity to be a "mouse in the corner" at numerous ESA's.  As the video guy I have skied with many groups and watched some amazing coaches.  I have also been an instructor for a long time so I have logged more clinics and tech talks than I can remember.  In my personal path to becoming a better skier, great on snow coaching, an increased awareness of my equipment, and my own motivation  was how I got better.  This simple formula is what makes ESA work so well.  The instant feedback from the snow or your coach, the video watched right after a run, your boots adjusted and then immediately try them, would be impossible to replicate with discussions on a web site.  ESA and EpicSki.com are two separate spheres in the world of skiing.  Use each for what they are.  It is such a great pleasure to attend a ESA and watch people become more aware of their equipment, their body, the mountain and come away from the experience a better skier.

One of the original intents of ESA was to link on hill coaching with the website to create an ongoing "academy."--Si
I am not sure if this is possible.

Thanks to bbinder for the great review.
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