2011 – 2012

The 2011 – 2012 season is in the books and I’m not happy about it.  Well, not entirely happy.  It IS nice to get some down time and it IS nice to get back into the gym.  However I didn’t get to completely scratch my itch despite having a new best 35 days on the snow this winter (according to my hours of math and calculations).  Some highlights of the season:

  • First off I think the best part of the season was developing my own skiing skills.  Based on more math and more calculations my improvement the past two years has gone something like this


Deep, I know!

  • Developing deeper friendships with a lot of the other coaches at Winterplace.  On some of those super busy days fellow instructors are the glue that holds the whole operation together. 
  • Taking Level 2 at Timberline.  Despite the fact that I didn’t pass it was still a great experience and I’m going for it again…next season
  • Being called an Olympian skier by one of my kids in the 5 week program.  I think this was also the same kid who called me ‘dude’.  Fun times
  • Having a student ask me to call him ‘Bones’.  Keep in mind this guy was maybe 9 years old….weird
  • Re-vitalizing my passion for snowsports instruction.   It’s going to be a looooooong summer.

So what to do in the mean time? 

Well, I’ve finally gotten back into a training routine and I plan to really focus on sports-specific movements during the off season.  I’m also thinking about buying a pair of flat-soled shoes which will hopefully boost my ankle range of motion and strengthen those joints. 

Goals for next year:

Join a NASTAR Race League

PSIA Level 2 fully certified

Coach at Stowe in Vermont!  I’m really thinking/hoping for a move to the Boston area and I think Stowe would be an awesome mountain to coach at.  That’s it for now, I’m planning to start posting my workouts on here once I start skiing-specific training.


Retaining PSIA Level 1

Posted: March 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m back from the Level 2 exam and needless to say I’m dissapointed I didnt get to the next level. On Monday I felt personally it was one of my better days on skiing – blue skies and soft snow and I felt pretty good at the end of the day. Tuesday morning was cold enough for everything to firm up and get nice and crunchy so all the movements I had been doing incorrectly were magnified on the fast/slick surface.
All three examiners kept me back at level 1 saying my hips were too far back over my feet for truly efficient/effective skiing.
Looking back at my skiing I know they are right because 1) they are trained examiners all with very good eyes for skiing mechanics and 2) on the slick surface I had no turn shape – a classic give away that I wasn’t skiing on the shovels of the skis. It’s been a theme for me all season – a lack of ankle flex and that results in the body weight being behind the heels leading to parking and riding on the tails of the skis.
Where to go from here? Well I am scheduled to ski this coming weekend at Snowshoe and then probably next weekend at Winterplace. I’ll probably work on a few drills to get me flexing my ankles more and try to hammer that home for the off season.
In the mean time I’ve – finally – gotten back into the gym and needless to say I’m out of shape.
All – in – all it’s been a pretty good season I’ve definitely made a big jump…even more of a jump than I made last year. I’m hoping these incremental improvements will continue.


Posted: February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s finally here…PSIA level 2 skiing start tomorrow. The more I’ve thought about the PSIA level 2 exam clinic tomorrow the less I’ve tried to think of it as an exam. I’ve tried to view it more as an event…an experience that will hopefully make me a better skier. I spent today driving up to Wv (gorgeous drive), skiing at Timberline (free lift ticket FTW!), and just finished drinking a few beers with two fellow skiers one of which is taking Level 2 skiing with me. Does tomorrow make or break this season? Definitely not, I’ve learned so much about skiing this year there’s no way to quantify or put it into words. That being said passing is the goal!
More to come tomorrow

Level 2 Exam

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

My exam is coming up on Monday February 27. I hope I’m ready for it I’ve been working hard on tasks and skill development. Hopefully all the hard work will pay off.

Level 2 Tasks
Ski turns on a single leg (left leg is still giving me fits!)
Medium Turns
Short Turns
Lane Change
Ski an Hourglass

What a weekend! This was probably the best weekend I’ve had at Winterplace in terms of teaching and skiing. Saturday morning I had my first ever adaptive ski lesson with a 13 year-old guy. Adaptive skiing is tailored to those with disabilities (physical or mental) and while very hard work, is very rewarding at the same time.
After the adaptive, I took one of the new guys – Rick – on the Winterplace team out for an hour where we talked beginner lessons, what it was like being on the ski team…and oh yeah of course we skied. The snow was solid the whole weekend – it’s amazing just how much snow is still on the slopes considering how bad the weather has been this winter (kudos to the winterplace snowmaking/grooming team). Rick also got to see me teach a level 2 lesson to two boy scouts who were having trouble getting out of a breaking wedge and into a skinnier wedge more conducive to turning.
I finished up coaching at 2:30 and went straight to Turkey Chute to get in some more practice on the bumps. Turkey Chute is (in my opinion) the toughest trail at Winterplace with the steep pitch and big bumps making it a solid diamond trail. I am starting to get pretty comfortable…even confident skiing them by now. Coaching and lots of repetition make for increased confidence and in turn increased proficiency on the mountain.
Sunday started off with uber-thick fog that stuck around for most of the day. Two level 2-3 lessons and more bump skiing rounded out the weekend. All in all it was a really fun weekend.
I’m planning to ski Tuesday, Thursday, and possibly Friday nights this week to get in more level 2 practice.

Intro to Bumps

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am now officially an expert at skiing moguls.  Ok, maybe not but I did take a clinic Monday and Tuesday at Elk Mountain, PA.  This was my first non-exam clinic with PSIA (second overall) and I loved it. 


I drove up to Elk on Sunday, the day after they received 8 inches of powder so needless to say the skiing Sunday night was great.  I practiced short radius turns for my upcoming level 2 exam and just explored the mountain.  Elk is a great mountain; not huge and family-oriented but still with a decent amount of terrain and a good vertical drop of close to 1,000 feet.  The snow Sunday afternoon/evening was good powder from the previous 8 inches.

The actual clinic started Monday morning.  Our clinic conductor was Bill Beerman (the man!).  We started off with an easy couple of warm up drills including following a partner’s tracks in the snow, side-slipping, hockey stops, and skidding to a target.  All of these drills were (to my knowledge) meant to get us edging and comfortable skidding.  These were all nice easy drills and give me things to practice at home!  Next we hit up the bumps, doing simple traverses while staying flexed.  This is where it started getting rough as I’ve never been a good bump skier and have always skied them defensively in the back seat.  So even doing these easy traverses muscle memory kicked back in and that all-too-familiar burning sensation in my quads returned.  We spent the rest of the morning getting more accustomed to feeling the bumps and learning to turn/pivot over the tops of them.  I think with more mileage and practice bump skiing can actually be pretty fun.  We spent most of the afternoon skiing from the top of Tunkannock – the only mogul run on the mountain.  There were at least two other groups skiing bumps all day as well.  They were the Intermediate bumps clinic, level 3 prep course, maybe more.  I felt like I hit a wall around 3:00pm and didn’t progress any farther and called it a day. 

Sunday offered more of the same – ripping through the bumps.  Ok so it wasn’t necessarily ripping.  I had a small mini-breakthrough on the last bump run of the day by picking a line and just going!  That seemed to keep me much more targeted down the hill and fluid – both critical elements of efficient skiing.  Overall it was a great clinic and I’d love to ski Elk again.

On another note I’ve passed my level II written exam and now am all set for the skiing portion!

Weekend Teaching 1/14-1/15

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Finally, a cold winter weekend! Winter was finally in full effect for the first weekend I’ve taught this year. Every other weekend I’ve taught the conditions were spring-like…mild, occasionally rainy, and mushy snow. This weekend ,however, saw temps both days not make it out of the 20’s, there were even some light snow flurries Sunday morning and it was a chilly 19 degrees. Talk about a change!
Saturday was a busy day work-wise for me…6 hours worth. We also received paychecks on Saturday…THAT was nice to see. Lessons for Saturday included a level 2 lesson with one skier, a beginner lesson with 14 students and another beginner lesson with 10 students. After the second lesson I got my first ever tip, $20! After finishing up work Saturday I tried to stay and ski for a few hours but it just was not happening. I blame all the work. Anyway, better to quit while still ahead and not revert back to bad habits like skiing in the back seat.
Sunday morning several instructors and I were lucky enough to get some coaching myself from Steve Robertson, one of the senior coaches on the staff. He’s an incredible skier and a lot of fun to watch. Some of my problems I’m still experiencing are being too rigid on the steeps, dipping my inside shoulder during the turn, and not completely finishing my turns, all issues I need to resolve before I go for PSIA Level 2. Teaching on Sunday I had one standard beginner lesson and then a level 3-4 lesson to finish the day. The level 3-4 was my highest/most advanced lesson I’ve ever taught. The lesson was great, I got my student – a 42 year old man – to make beginning Wedge Christie turns on the Panorama Glades trail. He really seemed to get a lot from me, which is what it’s all about for me, giving back and coaching the sport I love.
I’ve start really putting hours into studying for the Level 2 written exam. The deadline to register for the level 2 skiing exam is February 8 so I HAVE to pass the written portion by the 7th at the very latest.
I’ll have more after Wednesday’s practice skiing.

Winterplace 1/72012-1/8-2012

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Winterplace 1/72012-1/8-2012
Well I’m definitely back in the weekend teaching/skiing swing of things. It’s only been about two weeks since I’ve been back teaching on the hill and already winter season is about 1/3 over . That being said I’ve tried to spend as much time as possible at Winterplace. So far I’ve taught or worked a total of 28 hours…about a quarter of my goal of 100. Saturday’s lessons were two upper level lessons and two beginner level lessons. What is an upper level lesson you ask? Well it’s certainly not a lesson for upper level skiers (I’m not THAT good of a skier just yet) but we refer to an upper level lesson as any lesson with a level 2 and above skier. What’s a level 2 and above skier you now ask? A level 2 skier is any skier who has either skied on their own before and is still struggling or has taken a previous beginner lesson (our mountain or another) and has begun to explore the difference between a gliding and breaking wedge and can also do easy wedge turns on green terrain.
At one point during the afternoon on Saturday 20-some of us instructors were free for the hour (no work or lessons needed) and got to free ski. We all went straight for the top of the mountain to Plunge and Nose Dive, two of the steepest trails Winteplace, and all skied picture-perfect dynamic parallel turns. Ok, maybe all of us were absolutely on the money but it is really cool to watch other instructors who have skied much longer than me do their thing on the steeps.
Saturday night I was able to get out on my own to practice some of the tasks I will have to do for my level 2 exam coming up at the end of February. Tasks I practiced and the trails they were on:
Lane changes – Highland Run (green)
Wedge christies – Look at Me (blue)
Skate down the fall-line – Compromise (easy green)
Ski the inside leg – Compromise
Open track parallel turns – Drop Off (black) and Look at Me (blue)

Sunday was a slowwwwwww day teaching-wise: only two lessons. The first was another level 2 lesson and the second was a private beginner lesson. The private lesson was given to a dyslexic 9-year old boy. I didn’t learn he was dyslexic until after the lesson was over but there was not one ounce of give up in him. Every time I asked him if he wanted to try his wedging again his answer was always a firm “YES” no matter what happened on the previous run. THAT is what makes me enjoy teaching and THAT guy deserves props for that, and THAT is all I have for now.

Night skiing 1/6/2012

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thursday night two friends and I made the short trek to winterplace to get in some night riding. Two skiers (myself and my buddy Michael) and one boarder (Juliet) went up. Even though she’s a boarder we still associate with her :). Conditions were as follows…
On the flats – groomed/packed powder which was a remarkable upgrade from the surface last sunday
On the (relative…for the mid-atlantic) steeps – evenly mixed between powder/tracked out snow/icy spots. I guess the technical term for tracked out snow is crud, although it was still decent to ski.
My favorite trail of the night was Look at Me. Drop Off was also solid. My favorite trail, Snowbowl was closed but it did open earlier today so I plan to hit that up this weekend. It was my fifth day of skiing of the season, Michael’s first of the season, and Juliet’s first trip in two years!
All-in-all it was a fun night for all three of us.

Weekend work goals for 1/7-1/8:
Teach at least 7 groups and pick up two hours of setup work at the 8am lineup.
Begin practicing tasks for the next level of PSIA certification – Level II
Tasks to practice:
-Wedge Turns on Look at Me
-Falling Leaf Traverse…also on Look at Me (I think this is going to be my trail this season)
-Ski one leg on easy terrain (aka beginner land)
-Open parallel turns down, you guessed it, Look at Me and then progressing to something steeper