Nice strobe work, pdxammo--inspirational, and nicely demonstrating that flashes aren't just for lighting the darkness.
For all who are advocating that TrekChick "needs" a fast $2000 zoom or telephoto lens, please consider the following, from a practical, if not necessarily photographically ideal, standpoint:
While those lenses are truly awesome, in the typical very bright sunlight of skiing, and with today's DSLR's, you can still get a useful action-freezing shutter speed with a much slower lens. Before all my gear was stolen, I used pretty much only fast primes (non-zooming single-focal-length lenses), and shot almost exclusively in manual mode. The only zoom I used much was Nikon's venerable 50-135, which was legendarily sharp, quite fast (f/3.5, if I recall), and just as important, maintained its maximum aperture throughout the zoom range (important when shooting action in manual mode, because without it, you'd need to readjust shutter speed as you zoom). One of my favorite action lenses--surprisingly, perhaps--was a 24mm wide-angle.
But the phenomenal metering systems of today's cameras, combined with the ease of fine-tuning exposure with Photoshop, if you really have to, makes it much more reasonable to shoot in aperture-priority automatic mode. That allows you to use the maximum possible shutter speed, adjusted by the camera, even with typical "super-zooms" (like the Canon 18-200) that change apertures as you zoom.
And what are we talking about for shutter speeds, realistically? I used to shoot skiing and whitewater on Fujichrome ASA 50 or Kodachrome ASA 64 film. To use a fast action-stopping shutter speed of at least 1/1000, I would need to shoot at f/4 or better on a bright sunny day. But now, with a digital camera set at the equivalent of ASA/ISO 200 (the slowest and highest quality mode of many new non-pro-level cameras, although some go down to 100), you can use the same shutter speed at f/8. TrekChick's 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 is more than fast enough for ski action on a bright sunny day, and she won't even need to shoot it wide-open, for better sharpness.
True, if you want to use a polarizer, you'll lose another stop or two. But you can easily bump up the ASA-equivalence to 400 if necessary, with minimal loss of quality (much better than using high-speed ASA 400 or faster film). And yes, the only way to get the very narrow depth of field that keeps the subject (skier) sharp against an out-of-focus background is to use a very fast and expensive lens.
But since TrekChick wants to be a skier who takes great photographs, rather than a photographer who just slogs to the "location" with a ton of gear (at least, for now!), she'll benefit most from a compact and reasonably light, wide-range zoom (ie.
the 18-200 that she has) that will serve a broad range of photographic needs very well, even if it isn't the ideal super-specialized lens for any given situation. In the harsh environment of skiing, it's definitely a plus not to have to change lenses--even if you had the "perfect" lens in your bag. It's a lot like skis--you can choose to have a quiver of special-purpose skis, but even if you had a caddy to carry them all around for you (yeah, right), it'd still be a nuisance to change skis for every run, every changing condition, or every different turn size.
I think that TrekChick is going to love the "superzoom," and I expect to see some awesome photographs from it as she continues to learn to get the most from it. At any given focal length, it may not be as "perfect" as a pro-level "prime," but it's very good, and it will take much
better photographs than a truckload of expensive lenses that you left at the bottom of the hill!
Have fun, TC!