Tuesday, January 01, 2013

1/1/13 First ski of the year!

Posting a day late here....first ski of the year! We went to Tahoe-Donner, the small downhill ski area right in the development we're staying in, also called Tahoe-Donner. They had availability for all-day ski school for Katrina, and a half-day lesson for Julian, so we could all get our feet wet again.

Except for the full-day reservation ski school at Sugarbowl, I've had a problem every time with Katrina not being put in a lesson at her level. So when I dropped her off, I was VERY VERY clear: She's skiied blues all day long at Sugarbowl, she is WAY past the bunny hill, give her a real lesson. They put her in Level 3 with a red vest, and the Snowflake School had their marching orders.

After dropping Julian off at the bigger-kid regular lesson, Gabriel and I went off to play. Conditions were perfect, and we raced each other (with varying results) on the fastest run we could find. With only one "real" lift there, the cycles are short: about a 7-minute lift ride, and a 1-minute ski down.

I picked up Julian at noon, and he'd had a great lesson (whew). After lunch, I basically let the boys go their own way -- Julian wanted to ski some runs he did in his lesson, and this ski resort is small enough that it's easy to find someone -- you can see the whole front side of the mountain from the lift.

Gabriel and I wanted to find a re-named "black diamond" from last year though, and found ourselves doing a little "off-piste" skiing, which was so much more interesting that we went back to it several times, venturing deeper into the trees, where there was still untouched powder.

Powder skiing is the best, but if you lose a ski, you're doomed. I basically tripped at a standstill and a ski came off. Fine, so stand up and push it back on, right? No -- as soon as I tried to stand, I sank in waist-deep. My other knee just about came up to my shoulder. Poles are useless, they sink even further and don't come anywhere near to bottom. There's some pole-crossing trick that's supposed to help, but I couldn't see how it would right then. It's really hard to extricate yourself, let alone get a ski back on.

Fortunately, I was only about 20 feet from a groomed run and pretty much butt-slid down to it, where there was solid ground to push down onto the ski. Even then, I couldn't get it to stay on until my 10yo son pointed out that the lever needed to be pushed down.

By then my fingers were completely frozen, so that was my last run for the day. I de-skiied myself, found the boys and gave them a time and place to meet me, and went to retrieve Katrina.

When I finally found her, the teacher explained she had been in the Snowflake learning area, with the magic carpet, but her class couldn't handle it -- so they moved her class to a shorter and easier magic carpet. I was floored. "Are you serious? She spent the whole day on the easy magic carpet?!" He apologetically explained that they have to teach to the lowest level.

I couldn't take it out on the poor teenager, but I was pissed! I saw plenty of other Snowflake groups out on the bunny hill and other runs -- why not Katrina? How are they forming these groups if a "level 3" 6-year-old (this school is for 4-6) gets stuck with rank beginners who are still crying?

As I was taking her back to the lodge, she skiied down a little incline, and made a handy controlled turn and stop right in front of the Snowflake school director. "Nice turning, that's what I like to see!" he said. "What was she doing on the magic carpet all day then?" I asked. Turns out, he'd taught Katrina in the morning before she got moved to another group for some reason. "Didn't you evaluate them?" I asked. He made light of it, saying they used her as a teacher assistant, demonstrating to the other kids how to go around cones and under tunnels. Which meant they noticed she could actually ski, so why was she on the stupid magic carpet?

He said I have to communicate to the teachers when I drop her off, and I just about hit the ceiling -- "I DID! I put her in level 3, she had a red vest, I said NO MAGIC CARPET, and yet this still happens!" Then he said I should stick around for 15 minutes to see how the classes form -- yeah right, ski instructors love parents hanging around micromanaging. Then I just look like a nutty helicopter parent to be ignored. He said they love graduating kids to the lifts -- too bad he hadn't known. What, do I have to hang a sign around her neck with all the receipts from the Sugarbowl ski school stapled to it?

This is so frustrating, I just don't know how to prevent this, it happens again and again, and this time was the worst. It really sucks being a decent 6-year-old skiier who has to depend on lessons instead of parents to advance.

Waiting for the shuttle bus back to the parking lot.

Katrina was a great sport about it, but I was in a foul mood about it all night -- it actually kept me awake. What a squandered opportunity, again. The boys and I had a great time though, and none of the kids seemed worse for wear.

She wasted no time playing in the snow again when we got home. This is a snow seat she built out of my bank of shame (where my car got stuck) -- notice my car now safely parked at the edge of the driveway!

I semi-plan not to ski tomorrow at all, partly because I feel really sick tonight, and burned my thumb badly, but I just can't stand that my poor girl didn't get to actually ski today. She really loves it, and nothing is happier for me than to see my kids enjoying something like this so much. I need her to have a great time!


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