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Newbie ski family needs some guidance

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
 A little background:

We're a family of three:
Wife:  44 has been on 30 or so ski trips throughout her life, three in the last decade, strong and athletic, had ACL replacement two years ago.  Skis blues with me.  Goals:  Improve form, stability, avoid orthopedic surgeon

Kiddo:  She's 14, just had her first trip, in love with it.  Skis greens.  Goal (mine) make skiing a life long pleasure for her by starting her off right.

Me:  40, just had my third ski trip, finally took a lesson this trip - tend to do my best to tear the mountain in half to control my speed, working on rounding out my turns better so I am fighting less.  Goal:  Last year I beat cancer and to be blunt, it really pissed me off.  I am doing century rides on my bike, eating right and generally looking to make the most out of my health, fitness and FUN.  I love the mountain, I love skiing, I don't love idle thoughts of finding a bone saw to take my boots off with the feet in them at the end of the day.  I want to be happily skiing at age 80 with an extended middle finger directed toward cancer and time while guiding my grandkids down the mountain alongside my wife.  Ability-wise:  My ideal hill would be bull run at snowmass all the way down creekside(?) to that lower lift.  That's one I can do confidently without wiping out or having any serious sphincter contraction issues due to the terrain.

So....  Right now we are pretty set on making Aspen (Snowmass actually) our home base.  We plan to buy property there in the next few years and plan on two week long ski trips next season for sure.  We live North of Dallas.  Dallas area has some good shops but I would prefer to work with someone on the slopes we ski or near them so that if there is an issue we can stop in, tweak it and get back to the snow.

I'd like a bootfitter's advice on how to start out right.  I have a plan but please critique it.  If there is one thing I know it is to shut up and listen to real pros in a new sport.

Plan:  First day of next trip:  Get all three of us in with a real pro having setup the appointment beforehand.  The way I like to do business is to find one guy/shop and establish a good long term partnership:  Get us setup right, give us the advice you would give if it was your family and take good care of us in exchange for getting a good customer with a big mouth who gives referrals freely.  I'd like to spend day one getting gear and that first week long trip adjusting it, deciding on the right skis after trying several etcetera.  My assumption is that skis are 20% of the equation for beginners, finding boots we can wear from first lift to last lift with relative comfort and maximum control seems to be around 80%.  The boots I wore this past trip were too big, nice shin bruise and they got roomier as the week went on.  By the last day my knee was sore, feet dead and control was dicier.

I want to take several lessons that first week and get my form right, ditto for daughter and my wife enjoyed her first ever lesson enough to do a few more.  By the end of that week I want us to be in control, having fun and feeling confident on blues.  The second week, probably a month later, I want us to be able to have fun all week.

Is this a good plan?  How would you tweak it?

Money wise:  I'm not made of money but my philosophy is that if you are going to spend what we plan to on trips then it is assinine to try to save $1000 by finding equipment on sale and picking it up over time.  I'd rather give my business to one honest pro who will view our trust (and getting all of our boots, skis and bindings from him/her) as a compliment and a reason to take pride in the responsibility our trust and $$$ deserves.  I'd rather spend more up front and come back to the same shop for the next 40 years and be on a first name basis.  I do, however, want someone who is one of the very best and who is dead serious about putting people int he right equipment for safety, enjoyment and to maximize their probability of success.

Working with us:  We're easy.  We are very laid back, we will ask questions but aren't the type to read a forum and think we are experts.  We treat pros like pros and prefer to listen to one voice in situations where there are multiple contradictory opinions where half of them may be quite solid but listening to more than one will screw them all up.  We're also easy to screw over the first time for those who know more about a subject and see 'sucker' on my forehead.  We don't go back to those folks however and nor do our friends.  We're also pretty fun, people who work with us laugh with us and tend to enjoy working with us.  We are not fussy primadonnas by any stretch.

Sorry to ramble, just want to be as clear as possible about our situation and goals so that we can get the best possible advice.  We'll need someone who has seen 1000 families like ours and who will take the job very seriously:  We want skiing to be a top family activity for life, the guy who starts us out right (or wrong) has a huge amount of influence over how much we will enjoy it.

post #2 of 7
Chuck, I sent one of our Snowmass ski pros a note to come look at this thread. I expect he'll offer you some great advice about the non-bootfitting questions that you have asked! 
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
 Thanks Nolo!

We have the bug bad and are already planning vacations for next season :-)  My daughter's first look at the Rockies provoked a question:  "Dad, why in God's name do we live in a place where the biggest hills are landfills, when can we move here?"  LOL
Vail, Breck and Copper were great but Aspen is going to replace Cannes as our favorite getaway... after that whole melanoma thing I am giving up on the beach and focusing 10,000 feet higher for my fun :-)
post #4 of 7
 Hello, Chuck!

My name is Weems.  I've been involved in epicski.com for quite some time, and I've been a pro in Aspen/Snowmass since 1986.  I would be very pleased to ski with you, as would many of my colleagues.  If our dates match, I will gladly take on all the tasks you ask for above.

If the dates don't match, I have a bottomless well of pros whom I consider to be truly amazing.   

You are totally correct about boots.  They are the key to the city, and we need to spend a good amount of time with them.  AND, as far as boots are concerned, it is better not to get too attached to one shop.  Let's get the boots that work best, no matter which shop.  I've got a hierarchy of boot people I go to, and I (or others) will be really happy to guide you.

As for your skiing goals, you obviously come with motivation and so I have no question about whether we can help you get there.  And it IS usually a good idea to connect to one pro and stay there.  However, the people I work with are all very much on the same page, even as they all have different styles...so sometimes there is an advantage of checking out a few.  And it is likely that your daughter may want to ski with others her age, so she can enjoy the social part of skiing.  We can speak about that later.  

At any rate, let me know what your dates are and we'll definitely get you crankin'.

A little background on me:  I am an examiner in our ski instructors organization (PSIA), and I'm a trainer in the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen (S3).  I've been teaching since 1964, in many places--in this country and abroad.  I've got a book and dvd, which you can see advertised here at epicski.com .  I recently retired as Director of Operations for S3 because I like to teach so much.  I also have kin in Houston!

So let me know your dates, and either I or my colleagues will help you become better skiers than you imagined.  We're pleased that you like our valley, and welcome you to it.

Also, Chuck....I'm the one Nolo mentioned above.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
 Wow.   I appreciate and will take you up on the generous offer Weems.

One thing I've enjoyed about skiing thus far is that everywhere we went, the professionals who really love it seem to be very committed to helping others when they see that 'lightbulb' go off in a new skier's eyes.  We haven't figured out dates yet but when we do I will absolutely get in touch with you and I'd really appreciate the help.

You are dead on about my daughter - socially she is very much your average High School cheerleader and is alllll about the social part of skiing. 

What a great sport and community who enjoys it enough to be passionate about sharing the knowledge and guiding others into the sport.

Now the hard part will be patience, never have been very good at that one :-)

post #6 of 7
Welcome to EpicSki, Chuck!
post #7 of 7
 Okay, Chuck.  And I second Nolo's welcome to EpicSki.

Let me know when you figure out dates, and will arrange some big fun for y'all.
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