Archive for January, 2013

…or a bad workman blames his tools ….

On Monday, we all woke up to an overnight fall of snow, and what is gleefully referred to as a powder day.  Of course to really enjoy this requires a combination of skill and suitable equipment.  I have been skiing on my lovely K2 piste skis, easy to turn, but too narrow to float well on the powder.  However, my previous Rossignol All Mountain skis are wider in the middle and should float better, so I decided this was a good day to swap my skis.

It was my turn to lead our group, so after a session on techniques for beginners learning to walk on skis, we set off to tackle the deep stuff; we all needed the practice…..

I found it all incredibly difficult, and could not turn my skis at all.  I had forgotten the second part of the ski equation, wider skis may float better, but don’t turn as easily, particularly when the rider has little or no skill to bring to the situation, or has forgotten all she has been told.

I struggled with it all morning, and took a few nasty tumbles, and then finally seemed to find a bit of rhythm, only to crash out with a very painful knee twist when I made another mistake.  I groaned for a while, and it crossed my mind that this could be the finale for my season.

However when I dug myself and my skis out of the deep stuff, it wasn’t so bad, and I found I could still ski, though I decided that was enough powder for the day.

At lunch, I quizzed Kevin on what he had in store for us for the afternoon, and told him my knee had taken a bit of a bashing. He assured me that we would not be tackling any powder, and that I could always duck out of anything I didn’t fancy. So it seemed reasonable to carry on. He also recommended that I stick with one pair of skis for now, the ones I will use for my exam, and leave the reserve pair at home.

The slopes were all lumpy and difficult enough without venturing off piste, so when the guys all piled over the steep drop to the side of the piste, I did not follow, but stuck to the piste, where I hacked my way down like a beginner, totally frustrated with myself. I was definitely having a bad hair day.

Finally, I think even Kevin was frustrated, as he took me aside on a very long slow chairlift and proceeded to give me a real dressing down, told me to up my game, use the technique I had been taught, go for it and stop holding back.  He said he wasn’t seeing the performance he thought I was capable of, and that I needed to try harder, and not to ski in my comfort zone.  This was nothing to do with me not following the guys over the edge, just that even when I took the easier route, I made a hash of that! It was tough getting such direct feedback, none of it positive, a reality check, I think.

So tomorrow, I’m going out there to up my game.

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Who needs two skis anyway?

By admin | Filed in Blog

Our current instructor Kevin has a sadistic gene, and a fixation with activities based on incomplete and missing faculties and/or equipment. This week, I’m sure he also broke a world record for the longest time spent on one blue run without needing a chairlift – two hours and twenty minutes. In fact we only escaped onto the chair because it was about to close for the night, stranding us in the wrong mountain valley.

That day we spent the whole afternoon learning to skate on skis.  The most humiliating aspect of this was that as the only member of the group with some previous experience of skating, gained over the last twenty years, I was also the only member of the group that kept falling over, giving Kevin an opportunity to demonstrate several methods of picking up fallen clients.  Come to think of it, I do spend a lot of time in the ice rink falling over too, hahaha.

We skated on the outside edge of our one ski with our eyes closed, thus losing a leg and our eyes for that exercise.

Today, we left our poles at home, and skied without this reassuring equipment. It did mean that the previous session on skating on skis came in useful for the flat bits of the mountain, as we had no other means of forward propulsion!

Again, Kev’s various exercises required us to close our eyes, ski fast carved turns with our arms behind our backs, ski on one leg and venture into the bumps and off piste without our poles to plant and turn round.  Of course it’s all psychological, and made for an interesting day. In fact, I’m sure we skied better a lot of the time without the distraction of those waving poles.

At the end of the day, we were given back our poles to ski home, but a thick mist had descended, and we were skiing blind again.

Tomorrow I’m finishing the week with my shadowing classes, six year olds who just keep falling on top of each other and require disentangling before lifting them back up, and a group of chatty women who are planning a daughter’s wedding while they should be listening to the bemused instructor.  It’s all in a day’s work!

Scottish and Irish friends arrive this weekend and next, I’m looking forward to seeing you all.

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Catching up

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It really was a lovely week here in Morzine.  The snow under foot was in great condition, there was sunshine and snowfall, and a lot to keep me occupied. I had a sunny lunch stop one day at Mont Chery looking at this wonderful view over Les Gets and Morzine with Mont Blanc in the distance.

Our friends Norman and Geraldine from Cork had rented our apartment, so I decamped to my friend Marie Christine’s flat for the week, where I was very well looked after, and had some jolly company.

The week’s activity consisted of shadowing a group of nervous adults, as the instructor taught them how to tackle trickier slopes and steeper red runs with lumpy snow or ice. David and James had been stuck at this level for several years.  They run a small clothing company SeaSalt in Cornwall, and were amused when I told them I had several of their nautical stripey sweaters in my wardrobe. By the end of the week, James had skied a steep red that he couldn’t even step down on Day One, so the course was a great success.

Meanwhile, Kevin the instructor was also working on improving our skills, and I was keeping up well, until on Friday afternoon, he decided we would tackle some steep, lumpy, powdery crud off the side of the piste.  His suggestion that we combine this feat with an exercise in which we shuffled our skis at the same time was met with an inevitable outcome.

It was very frustrating and I spent most of the afternoon digging myself and my skis out of the snow.  I also learnt a new way to get the darn things back on when staggering around in this deep stuff (demonstrations free to anyone who asks) but it didn’t help with the primary task of staying upright. Kevin the instructor suggested that slow deep breathing might help with the rhythm and timing for the turns, but since I was hyperventilating my timing was not quite what was required!

While I was convalescing last week, it seems the others were going through this pain barrier, and so I decided I would corner Ricey over the weekend and confront my demons. In fact, I had a great afternoon today with Ricey, and although I would not describe my skiing as elegant, more of the time was spent with the skis under my feet instead of akimbo, so progress has been made.  Now I need to get out there into the deep, and practise.

Thie week I’m on my own in the apartment, so lots of time to spend on study and lesson planning, and balancing on the Sweetspot trainer.  Every little helps.


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Back in Business!

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Armed (?) with a knee brace on the right knee, support stocking on the left knee, elbow support for the right arm, helmet, skis and poles,  I ventured out on the slopes at the weekend, and tentatively tackled a few turns.  The conditions were fantastic, lovely soft powdery snow, and sunshine.  To good to miss.

It all seemed to go well, and by Sunday afternoon, I was feeling that I could tackle the course again on Monday morning.

It was great to be back out with the boys!

In the morning, I shadowed a lesson with some adults working on improving their balance and posture, run by our trainer for our afternoon session, Kevin.

In the afternoon, when our BASI Level 2 group got together, I was rather smug, as Kevin got us to tackle the same exercises on steeper slopes, and as I had been practising with his lesson group all morning, I was at least as good as the others despite missing the last week. So that was quite a confidence booster, even though I know they were covering different topics last week, and I’ll have to catch up on those over the next few weeks.

I was certainly tired at the end of a long day skiing; a good workout for the old pins.

Tonight I planned our structured practise session for tomorrow afternoon, when we are working on our own.  I had to work out a two hour schedule, with exercises for the group, choosing which runs and lifts to use, and what to practise on each piste. The extra challenge is to get us back to the starting point two hours later, and most importantly, before the lifts close for the night.

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Instead of skiing

By admin | Filed in Blog

It’s Wednesday, and another sunny and beautiful day for skiing.  Sadly, the only skiing I am doing is in the apartment.

So I’ve turned the living room into my personal ski lab.

I’ve been lent a Sweetspot Trainer to practise balancing and posture in my ski boots, and I’ve set up a mirror, so I can analyse my position  – it’s a good activity, and a bit of a workout for the old pins too.

I’ve got the huge BASI manual to read, some coaching DVDs to watch, and some online video footage to compare against the standard, and try to pick out the errors.  It’s much easier to pick out errors than to eliminate them from your own ski performance, that’s for sure.

And some physio exercises to fit in around the rest of the regime. 

Still, I’d much rather be skiing ……… looks like that will have to wait for a few more days at least.

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Scene: Late Thursday afternoon on the nursery slopes, technical session with our instructor Ricey. We are standing still discussing the correct stance for a beginner’s  plough parallel turn.

Me, me, me, smartypants Karen knows  the answer – and shows a little slice of pizza with her skis – ‘like this’,  then …

also demonstrates a BIG slice of pizza  – ‘not like this’, and starts to slide backwards, her share of the pizza getting bigger and bigger, and legs getting wider and wider, until finally she can extend no further and falls over, twisting her knee.

After hobbling and wobbling back to the cable car to be picked up at the bottom by William, feeling very sorry for myself, I came home thoroughly dejected, and seriously worried that this could be the end of the season for me. Or even my skiing career

But the good news is that once again I am very lucky, and there appears not to be any serious damage. So I have my knee on packed ice, and am to ski again only when the swelling has gone, I can run up and down the stairs, jump from side to side and have no odd twinges.  Later in the week, suggested my new friend Sarah, the resident physiotherapist for the BASS instructors, but she wants to see me first, to approve my rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, I’ll be watching videos and reading books and looking out the window at the lovely sunny weather, and willing myself better.

Ricey the instructor says I should spend the time dreaming that I can ski beautifully, and then transfer it to the slopes!

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