Thursday, January 20, 2011

1/20/2011 1st Ski Day: Logistics

Phew! We made it!

I never fail to be impressed with how difficult logistics of skiing are -- and I have a talent for attracting fiascos -- but we're knocking off the big ones.

I used my individual tote-bag method again for everyone's gear -- with a checkoff list this time. And this time, no one was missing anything.

Our place was adorable, spacious and really quite perfect.

With plenty of friends for Katrina. (The boys were forbidden to touch the animals after I found Gabriel whirling one from its arm to whack Julian.)

This particular ski resort complicated planning, with being difficult to reach and having a lousy Web site. Other little things took me by surprise, such as kids' ski school rental equipment either has to be re-rented every day, or brought home. Another surprise was that helmets were not included in the rental package, so I had to go back and wait on another line to get a sticker to rent the helmets.

But by far the biggest irritation is that the older kids' ski school lesson doesn't start until 10am. We were the first there when they opened at 8:30am, having been admonished to check in early so as not to lose our reservation, but they didn't tell us that once we had the kids checked in and geared up, we'd have to wait around with them until 9:45. And we needed that time to get Dave's rentals and our lift tickets so that Dave and I could safely make 10:15am lessons.

Which Dave did, and I sort-of didn't. Thanks to getting my borrowed ski's bindings adjusted, I was late for the 10:15am lesson and had to join it on their second triage run, in which they sort out your skill level. There were two groups, one of which Dave was in, so I figured I probably belonged in the other one.

The headaches mostly ended there. The snow conditions weren't great -- it was too warm, so icy in the morning and wet and heavy in the afternoon -- but part of learning is learning in all conditions. The un-ideal conditions combined with the weekday meant that Dave only had 1 other person in his lesson, and there were only 2 others in mine!!! That was great!!!

It was great to start working on things I'd learned before and adding new things. My instructor took us on what looked to me like far, far too steep a slope for me, but calmly advised us how to tackle what looks too steep. I had a lot of trouble my first time down, but the next time I went down without stopping and with a lot less fear. Progress!

That's the ugliest view at Sierra-at-Tahoe. This slope, Lower Main, would become my nemesis. I think I was more scared every time I skiied it (psych!).

After my lesson, I ran into the boys' class and rode the lift up with Gabriel, then forewent lunch to take some pictures.

This was at the top of Sugar'n'Spice, the 2.5-mile green run that brought us here.

I felt a little bad that Gabriel complained about the morning; he'd been put on the "magic carpet" as all kids are at first, to see how they ski. Despite my admonitions not to, they still put Gabriel and Julian in the same class, mostly because there weren't that many kids, and Gabriel wasn't advanced enough to join another group.

I could see that Gabriel was raring to go, he wanted to really ski, but Julian held the class back. Julian was doing fine, but he's younger and not as confident and really didn't belong in the same class.

The teacher said later that Gabriel had started doing parallel turns on his own and had advanced a level. I decided to talk to them tomorrow and "Mama Bear" a little, to put Gabriel in a more advanced class. Even if he's the worst skiier in the group and has to face much harder slopes than he's ever done, this is one kid I don't worry about being fearful or intimidated. need to push.

Katrina was perhaps the biggest surprise. She did "pizza" wedges on her skis, didn't want to hold onto a bar that helps the little kids, and did everything willingly. Her coach was surprised at my surprise, and I explained that she usually resists new things on principle, and has never exhibited much natural athletic talent. But she was one of the best in her class and had a great time!

I mostly had Dave in mind when I picked this resort for its long green run from the top. And indeed, he got a lot of necessary practice. With motorcycling, he learned slowly and steadily and safely, and eventually became one of the most consistent and reliable riders in a group for tough terrain. He describes his learning need as "saturation," so being able to spend 20 minutes skiing instead of 20 minutes waiting on a lift line and skiing 2 minutes (as was the case at Sugarbowl) perfectly meets our objectives.

I took this video to show him how he skis, but it's pretty funny because of the little kid who blows by both of us.

Toward the end of our run, we were running out of time to go pick up the kids, so I decided to tackle Lower Main again, the (for me) tough blue run I'd done in my lesson. I handed the camera to Dave for the top part of it, and I'm shocked at what it looks like. At the time, I felt like I was barely in control, doing everything I could to keep my speed in check and practically panicking before each turn. Yet the video makes that slope look SOOO easy and I look like I'm going SOOO slowly and my technique is terrible. And I thought I was skiing way better than that -- bleh! Nothing like a little video reality check!

Clearly it will be a long, long time before I can tackle moguls. The lifts went over some today, and that sort of technical terrain has me piqued. I've never been a speed demon, I like the mental stuff. Though, seeing a snowboarder tumbling down today, head over heels, completely out of control, stuff flying everywhere, headed for a massive pole was very very sobering (by luck he missed the pole and a drift slowed him down, he was OK).

We're all very tired and ready for day two!


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