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.