Monday, February 9, 2009

Reach the Peak

Because I work at a ski area, I work with a lot of really, really good skiers and snowboarders. I know this sounds obvious but as someone who learned to ski as an adult, I am a little self-conscious about my skills, even though by most standards I'm not bad. I get to ski more days in a month than most people do in years.

Considering I work with all these great skiers, and have access to lessons on a daily basis, one would think that I would have taken a lesson or two over the years. But in the 7 winters I've worked here I have rarely done so. That changed yesterday when I made a visit to the Sunday morning ladies' group that our ski school offers every non-holiday period.

There were about a dozen of us coached by our ski school director Karen Dolan, instructor Sally Anderson and seasonal program coordinator Mary Miller. I work with Karen every day but had never taken a lesson from her. What a treat!

All of us were intermediate to advanced skiers looking to move to the next level and improve our technique. Personally, I am growing fond of bump skiing and hitting the glades. I can make it through a mogul field or tree run, but it ain't pretty.

Our first run together focused on getting forward and getting on edge. Like many other women in the group, my turns skid and put pressure on the tails of my skis. We practiced skate skiing on flat areas to build awareness of how your legs should extend on the turn and how keeping the skis flat on the snow slows you down.

Next run was down the bumps on Schneider. Half way down, Karen stopped me and told me to aim for the snow, turn on top of the bump and drive my tips into the snow. "When you approach a bump, your skis point upwards, putting you in the backseat. By concentrating on pointing your tips down into the snow, you avoid this. Keep your skis on the snow," Dolan instructed.

I tried it and it felt totally different - much more in control. I can't wait to get out there later today to work on this some more!

I also got advice on keeping forward - something I hear every time I have ever taken a lesson and something I should really work on. Feel your shin against the front of the boot; press down your big toe to initiate a turn; keep your feet hip width apart.

Cranmore has been a teaching mountain since Hannes Schneider came here 70 years ago. While we may not have the highest elevation or vertical drop in the state, we do have a ski school that can measure against the best in the country, and teaching terrain that can challenge all abilities.

If you haven't taken a lesson in years or think you're all that, try taking one of our "Reach the Peak" group lessons for intermediates, or better yet, take a private lesson. The thrill of making progress after many years of status quo is worth the effort.

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