Sunday, March 14, 2010

3/14/2010 Homebound tomorrow

What a day, what a trip!

I think the memory of logistical nightmares will fade, while the memory of the fun and excitement and challenge will remain. Car doors iced shut, clogged toilet this morning, unfamiliar gear (half our stuff had to have tags cut off) and unfamiliar routines (we bag-checked our mittens for instance), Katrina's intense and massive tantrums. I also lost my voice again and am in for weeks of an obnoxious cough. But I don't think we'll remember all that, beyond a chuckle here or there.

Today the kids did their second day of ski school, and all the advice we got about doing it two days in a row completely paid off. Katrina was reticent and timid the first day, and apparently much more cooperative and happy about "skeeting" today. I also took another "Level 3" lesson today, which really helped solidify what I'd learned yesterday.

I was floored when I ran into Julian's class in the lift line during my lesson -- we're on our way to an intermediate slope, what's he doing here?! It was his second run there, and I saw them there in the afternoon again too. Julian was still at the level at which his instructor skiied careful turns backward, facing him and instructing him the whole way, but he was doing far, far better than I'd expected. This included a steepish section that I never got comfortable with either -- how did he do that? Good for him!

So if Julian was doing so well on intermediate slopes, where was Gabriel? I finally ran into his class toward the end of the day, and his teacher looked at me and said, "he's a racer." Confident, competent, competitive, willing to try anything, and he wants to go fast. She added that he really likes jumps too. I asked if she thought I could take him down an intermediate slope (the point being that I'm still very shaky on those myself), and she scoffed and said, "oh yeah, he's fine." He'd been promoted to Level 3, and she added he was ready for poles. Just needs to remember to turn instead of barreling straight down the hill.

So after ski school, while Dave got Katrina and Julian (who'd gone down the same runs but needed a lot more help, which I'm not up to), I took Gabriel to the same intermediate slope I'd seen Julian on, and that my lessons had all been on. Sure enough, no fear, no hesitation, no problem. His technique is very rough; he looks like a kid who's just learned, but after taking some brief video and putting my camera away and getting my gloves back on, I couldn't catch him.

We did a second run in which I stayed with him, at first, but when it got steeper, I did a lot more turning to maintain control, and he didn't slow down at all. I had no prayer of keeping up with him. Partly, I'm slow deliberately -- I made sure never to lose control, and much like motorcycling, I noticed that my "technique" felt better when I wasn't trying to go fast. And I probably wasn't going any slower than when I was trying to go fast. But, no sense having an accident on that last run of the day trying to keep up with an 8-year-old.

Dave did a lot better than his one experience 15 years ago. He did two lessons yesterday, which was too much. His first lesson was a Level 1 lesson, and that was fine. The second lesson was a Level 2 lesson, but a hard Level 2 lesson that started out right away on an intermediate slope, and that wore him out. Today he took another Level 2 lesson, but stayed on the beginner slope and that worked much better for him. We had talked about skiing together somehow, but the beginner slope's lift line was far too long, and I had some exploring to do with my new Level 3 skills.

Actually, I dared myself to go up to the top of the mountain (the Mt Lincoln lift for those familiar with Sugarbowl), feeling confident that in the worst case, I could snowplow my way down the steepest sections. That turned out not to be true. By late afternoon, the snow was much icier and I wasn't used to that; and snowplow turning is too slow -- you spend too much time pointed straight downhill and it's too easy to lose control. Besides, I hadn't been snowplow turning since my first Level 1 lesson on Friday; I'm not exactly parallel but I'm past "pizza-frenchfries-pizza-frenchfries." I dug deep for all my courage and concentration to make it through the steepest sections -- technique was a distant third -- but didn't fall and manage to stay mostly in control the whole way. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't satisying -- I was discouraged at how much bad "survival skiing" I was doing, but I never could have lived with myself if I hadn't even tried.

I was hoping I could do more skiing with someone, but Dave and I are too divergent in our skills, and it will only be a matter of another lesson or two before Gabriel completely blows me away. So much for this family skiing thing! But if not for family, I don't think we would even have tried it. I talked to many, many expert skiier parents who are having the time of their lives teaching their kids and skiing with them instead -- and their kids are quickly catching up. This is really the payoff for me with having kids; this is so much fun to do with them. Well, share with them anyway. If Gabriel's progress this weekend is any indication, I won't be doing it with them for long.

It's mid-March and ski season is nearing a close, but I'm sure this is something we'll do again.


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