Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Busy Busy Busy

This is my busy time of year when I'm working like crazy at my 4 jobs. And Ace is feeling the crunch, too, working all over the place for PSIA. Here's our current week:

Saturday, 2/20Me: Teaching Skiing at Plattekill Mountain, taught morning lessons, then skied up on a people struggling in afternoon, gave them a couple of tips, and they booked me for a private lesson in the coming weeks. Ace: Examiner for Level I Exam at Thunder Ridge Ski Area.
Sunday, 2/21Me: Attended Kåre Andersen Memorial Telemark Event at Bromley Mountain, did the Tele Race in the morning, and Taught Tele Clinics in the afternoon. Ace: Day Two, as an Examiner of Level I at Thunder Ridge. Everyone passed, we have new members and good course evaluations for her.
Monday, 2/22Me: Understudy a Telemark Bump Event at Belleayre Mountain, teach all day, and drive back home at night. Ace: Back to work at "regular" job, 8:30-4:30.
Tuesday, 2/23Me: Continue to understudy Telemark Bump Event at Belleayre, certify a new 20 something year old instructor as Telemark Level I (again, good course evaluations). From there, drive up to West Mountain, where I teach a Community College skiing class on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Taught skiing from 8:30-2:30 and 5:45-7:45, with lots of driving in between. Ace: worked regular job from 8:30-2ish, then drove to Mount Snow, where she's understudying another event for the next two days.
Wednesday (today)Me: Finally back at "real" job, working 7:00-4:30 (I work extended hours to get every other Monday off). Stock club meeting with some buddies after work, then home to do laundry. Ace: Understudying and Teaching at Mount Snow.
Thursday, 2/25Me: Working at "real" job from 7:00-3:40, then going up to West to teach the skiing class (unless they don't open, in which case, I'll be teaching a ski tuning clinic at the college). I'll be doing that from 5:45 to 7:45, and probably getting home around 8:30. Ace: Day Two of Teaching and understudying at Mount Snow, then driving home.
Friday, 2/26Me: I'm taking another day off of work for a Plattekill Telemark Festival, and probably teaching telemark skiing all day. Ace: back at "real" job for her crazy busy day on Friday.
Saturday, 2/27Me: Back to work as a regular "Part Time" Instructor at Plattekill, where I have a group of kids who telemark in the morning, and private lessons in the afternoon. Ace: joining me at Plattekill, where she has private lessons booked all day.
Sunday, 2/28Both of us at Gore Mountain, where we thought we might take a day off from teaching and just ski, but a guy I met at the Bromley thing wants to ski with me and work on some stuff, so I'm going to help him out, and maybe a few other Telemark people I know from various places. Hopefully I don't get too sucked into this (because I'll desperately need a day "off" at this point), but once I start teaching, it's hard for me to shut myself down. 
Monday, 2/29Me: Adirondack Backcountry telemark event for the Community College. Hopefully being able to coach some telemark skiers up to Level 1 status to get more people involved in PSIA. Ace: back at "real" job, 8:30-4:30.
So there's a little taste of our lives. Currently, it is POURING rain outside, so I don't know how much longer the season is going to last here in the east. I'm still looking forward to more skiing, though. Here's a taste of that Monday/Tuesday event at Belleayre:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I'm going to Breckenridge!

I made the tryout for the PSIA National Team! If you're interested in the details, click here:

Here's the gist:
Round two of the 2016 PSIA-AASI National Team Selection process is complete and congratulations are in order for the dedicated, select group of ski and snowboard educators, and PSIA-AASI members who have been invited to the final on-snow interview in April, in Breckenridge, CO.
What is the PSIA-AASI Team and how are Team members chosen?
The PSIA-AASI Teams are formed every four years following a rigorous selection process that enables PSIA-AASI to select the nation’s best instructors to represent the association at the highest level. The outcome of the 2016 selection will be a team that embodies three attributes outlined by the Teams Taskforce:
  • Inspirational educators
  • Lifelong learners
  • Inspirational athletes
Currently, the PSIA-AASI Team comprises 30 men and women selected from among the best instructors in the country. They represent the full breadth of the ski and snowboard disciplines: adaptive, alpine, alpine freestyle, cross country, telemark, and snowboard.

Once chosen, Team members are responsible for promoting, supporting, and assisting with the development of PSIA-AASI education programs and activities at all levels. They set the standard for U.S. snowsports instruction!
There will be an on snow part, with skiing and teaching segments, and an off snow evening presentation that I'll have to prepare. 
I'm excited about all of it. I'm not really sure what kind of skier they're looking for, but I'm going to ski my way, teach my way, and hopefully come out of it with the greatest job in Ski Instructing. I'm stoked.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Football and Footwork

Just in time for the Super Bowl, I have another instructing article for you. I wrote this one earlier in the year, thinking that I might use it for my National Team application, but it ended up being too long, and I don't feel like it really dove into the technical details enough. I explained the things that you should do, but I didn't explain "how?" or "why?", and those things are pretty crucial to ski instruction. But I feel as though it works pretty well in this space. Enjoy!

Telemark "Footwork"

Before the ski season starts, I watch a lot of football games, and I watch a lot of football analysis. One of the favorite topics is “footwork”. They’ll talk about whether a quarterback is using a three step drop or a five step drop and what each movement entails. They’ll argue over an offensive lineman’s starting position, and whether it will allow him to move his feet to block that defensive end. Footwork, it seems, is very important in the NFL.

In skiing, footwork separates telemark skiers from the rest of the people at the mountain. While alpine skiers have limits in the fore/aft direction and snowboarders are locked into a constant stance width, tele skiers have more freedom to put their feet wherever they want as they slide down the hill.  But great freedom comes with great responsibility. If tele skiers aren’t practiced, positive, and precise in their footwork, the risk of calamity and catastrophe grows.

photo courtesy of Harvey Road

Practice is essential, in both skiing and football. By the time they reach the pros, quarterbacks have been doing 3 step drops for years, and know exactly how long the first step should be, how far the second step crosses over the rear leg, and where the last step has to be so that they can plant their foot and make a powerful throw. These ingrained movements take a long time to learn, and every time a quarterback moves his feet and legs in that specific way, he learns a little bit more, either consciously or subconsciously. We do the same thing in telemark skiing. With every turn, our bodies relay little notes to our brain: “That worked.” “That didn’t work.” “What are you trying to do now?” “Ouch.” The trick to filling your brain with useful notes is to make both great turns and bad turns. Make turns with a wider than normal stance, or with more fore/aft separation between your feet. Notice any footwork changes in variable snow conditions. What works best when you’re on something steep? Think about the duration, rate, and timing of your footwork, and how that affects the turn.

With practice comes positivity. If your brain absorbed all (or most) of the messages the body sent it, you start to develop a little confidence in where you place your feet. You know what works, and you can repeat those moves on demand. Now you can start to change little things in the footwork that will add to performance. You might find that tipping the new trailing foot when you pull it back aids in the development of your edging skills. You might realize that subtle moves in your feet and ankles allow you to adjust your balance in new and interesting ways. You might discover that sometimes, the best footwork is to leave your feet exactly where they are and do 3 monomark turns in a tight spot between trees. Like the NFL, other parts of the game open up to you when you gain confidence in the basics.

As you develop your telemark skills, the final hurdle to great skiing is precision. Plenty of quarterbacks never achieve greatness because they just aren’t precise enough. It’s similar with skiing, where a small change in edge angle, foot placement, or ankle flexion can make a big difference in a turn. In skiing, precision is the hardest thing to achieve, and even if you have it in one turn, it might be gone in the next.

Adjustment and adaptability are important in both skiing and football. Even the best pros make mistakes sometimes. And not every turn will be perfect. But if your footwork movements are developed with practice, enhanced with positivity, and refined with precision, it will allow you to make the next turn better than the one you just made. And that sounds like a solid goal for everyone.