Mahre Training Clinic Part 1

My Intermediate Days Are Behind Me.

As it turns out, this isn’t something new. They’ve been a thing of the past for longer than I realized.

The ski school gods know me a little, and decided to assign me to an “advanced” group when I signed up for the Mahre Training Center’s camp at Deer Valley. I balked, sort of. Then, they brought us all to Success for a ski-off. Mahre Camp veterans (and there are folks who go back 1, 3, 5 times…and more!) lined up on one side of the run, newbies on the other.

“Make your regular turns down to that sign that says “Ski Loose or Wild,” instructed Steve.

“All I see is a sign that says SLOW,” said one guest.

“Oh! That’s why I always get in trouble,” he replied. “I thought it was an acronym.”

The joke relaxed us a little. We skied down and the self-described Julie McCoy of the MTC, Chris Katzenberger (an impressive skier in her own right), waved us into place alongside our designated coaches.

“This is an advanced group,” noted Craig, our coach. “We’re going to have fun.”

The truth is, skiers of all levels and abilities have fun—there were a couple of Never-Evers in the camp, in fact. Skiers are divided into teams led by a coach who has been trained and certified in the Mahre method of instruction. The best way I can describe this method is that it takes apart your skiing, cleans out the bad habits and puts it back together so that you’re poised to think less and ski more.

By Saturday night, after two full days of skills-and-drills with my team’s coach, Craig a/k/a “Cruiser” I was on the verge of a breakthrough.

The first day was pretty cool—Craig kept mixing up hard-core drill work with free skiing, letting us try on for size the nuanced tweaks he was introducing to our skiing.

Craig told our crew of five, “I’m careful with what I tell you. I want you to know, I don’t want to overload you with information. So, I’ll watch you today and when I arrive at the one thing I want to ask you to work on, the one thing I think is holding you back, I’ll tell you.”

During lunch, Craig said he was about to start telling us what he’d observed. I listened intently each time he addressed another member of our group. I waited patiently for him to unlock my personal skiing secret. And then, as we skied into the afternoon, I waited some more. Finally, Craig took me aside.

I expected my ego to take a beating. It didn’t. In fact, it blew up a bit: “Bari Nan, I’m having a hard time—you’re tough,” he said.

I looked at him with a puzzled expression.

“You ski beautifully. I’m having a hard time coming up with what’s holding you back. There’s something in reserve—and I’m almost there, so be patient.”

Um, what?

“Wow,” I said. “I’m blown away. But maybe you should call Letitia and tell her—she made me confident, she gave me the tools to advance.” (Letita Lussier is another one of Deer Valley’s crown-jewel instructors. On the team since day one, in fact. And I was lucky enough to ski with her in Women’s Weekend last year. And, yes, I owe her a lot!)

Still, I heard myself say that, and I knew there was more to the story.

“I have to tell you, Craig, I am always and forever, in my mind, an intermediate skier,” I confessed. “And I think I need to work on that.

He nodded. He left it alone.

A few runs later, he addressed the group (and may I say, our group included a 71 year-old retired Rear Admiral in the Navy with as much grace and humor as anyone I’ve met, a 60-something triathlete who was determined to crack the code, an Australian math teacher with a sly, charming wit, and a Wisconsin woman possessed of quiet, disarming charm—and killer ski skills)—“Will you please repeat after me,” Craig began. “I am a smooth, strong and graceful skier.” We did.

“I want you to repeat it again—and tell yourself that as you make your turns,” he said. “Because that’s what you all are—you just have to acknowledge it, admit it and own it.”

Later still, he issued his diagnosis of my skiing. “You need to be taller in your stance,” he said. “And you need to work on flexing down into the turn and coming back up to full height to start the next turn.”

I went to bed that night thinking about how to inhabit my 5’1″ frame in a taller stance. And I thought about how that change was going to be mental as much as physical. I needed to finally own my skiing.

The second day, I worked at it. We were videotaped. Craig pointed out the ways in which I needed to rise up from my calves and straighten my upper body just-so. But as he described the technical stuff, I realized that I was holding myself back in those moments, that the reason I couldn’t pop up and commit to the turn was because, somehow, I didn’t feel like I could. Still, the video didn’t lie—I spotted the exact moment I wasn’t committing, and I connected it with the noise in my head that told me to hang back a little. The shift, it turned out, wasn’t about physical skill. The breakthrough would be entirely mental.

The next morning was “Epic Sunday”—the unexpected powder dump that threw a wrench into the groomer-based training that comprises the Mahre method.

“I am going to have to shake the idea, forever, that I am a low-intermediate level skier,” I confessed over breakfast to Phil and Steve.

“Yes, you should,” Steve said.

“But don’t worry—that’s very common,” Phil assured me. “It’s especially common among women. You’re better than you think you are.”

Moments later, Steve was addressing our team. He seemed to be apologizing to the group as he explained that today’s lesson plan—short turns, a sprint through the slalom gates and more videotaping—and learn a new way of skiing. He couldn’t hide his grin or the gleam in his eye as he explained it all.

We cruised the pow. The three guys took turns taking diggers as they tinkered with staying centered on the skis so the tips could float. We hooted. We hollered. I exclaimed, incessantly, over the luck of a powder day. Seriously, some might have called my enthusiasm tiresome. I could give a hoot. And a holler.

Craig and Steve kept reminding me I needed to be taller in my stance to stay centered. “And don’t forget to let your skis work as a unit,” Steve said. “They should push the snow out of the way, rather than carve in it.”

Which is how I came to be found barking orders at myself clear down the face of Bald Mountain. “Push! Push! Be tall! Be taller! Tallllllll.”

Um, yes, that was me. The crazy girl talking to herself as she skied.

And yet…there was payoff. First, the personal satisfaction I felt when I hit that sweet spot of powder skiing: smooth, controlled and balanced. Perfect pole plants, created with the flick of a wrist. And, finally, more praise from Steve.

“Bari Nan,” he said. “You’re six foot one.”

One Response

  1. […] who ski, shall we say, with a lesser dose of balls-to-the-wall than I employ. (Which, until the Mahre Training Camp at Deer Valley Resort, wasn’t that much, but that’s another story, […]

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Deer Valley Resort's Global Athlete Ambassador, Ted Ligety, is back on skis after 10 weeks of recovering from microdiscectomy surgery. Welcome back Ted! | #DeerValleyMoment ... See MoreSee Less

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Eric HandMore impressed by the steady camera work of whoever was following him

2 days ago   ·  17

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Matthew LivingstonShredd!! You're the best. Same run I fractured my tibial plateau on last year. Glad to see you're back. Hope I can do the same next year.

2 days ago   ·  1
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Lori Mencarelli WalshWELCOME BACK!!! I'm 15 months post op discectomy/laminectomy and last week was my first time on skis since :)) It felt GREAT!!! Best wishes to you and your recovery'!!! Pain free is the BEST!!!

6 hours ago
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Mitch MannWe wore the same color jacket and skied DV today as well, but our skiing form was a tad different.

2 days ago
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Bill PidwellAnd he even slowed down for the slow signs bottom Wasatch -- what a stud!

1 day ago   ·  1
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Rod WoodGreat vid... Almost felt like I was on skiis just bebind him. Luv the speed Luv the feeling

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Priscilla GrahamSitting in Florida in 85 degree weather...you have no idea how good this looks!!

2 days ago   ·  2
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Justin IrishDidn't get to see you at nationals in Colorado but I'm glad your back man !!!

1 day ago
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John TredentTrue carve turn, Ted is one of the best in the world.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Tess TeurlingsTyler Teurlings they finally got around to posting this video of me from spring break

2 days ago   ·  1
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Stephen PohlmanWizard

2 days ago   ·  2
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Larry WeiderThat's what I look like in my head when I ski. It's better I never know what I actually look like.

2 days ago   ·  1
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Kelly DetweilerLooks good to me ☺

2 days ago
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Ron ReillySmooth

2 days ago
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Justin BrownThat guy knows his way around an edge! Awesome!! Steve Levitas Lauren Stone

2 days ago   ·  1
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Max ScottPaul Stu Herlan you guys just missed ripping some runs with Ted

2 days ago   ·  1

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Jeff PetersonHe recovered well! He listened to and followed the instructions of his surgery team!

2 days ago   ·  1
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Wendy Lynne Castle SimkinsLooking good! ⛷Glad to see you are back on skis!

1 day ago
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Dennis BressGreat run and great camera work. :-) Kerry Rutherford

2 days ago

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Octavio BarreraEmilio Fernandez our next level of skiing for next winter 💪🏽

2 days ago

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Scott DillmanGo Ted. I am sure it feels really good to be carving some turns. Enjoy your regained freedom.

2 days ago
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Karen-Cecil ThompsonBeautiful to watch.

1 day ago
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Rod Wood

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Davey ClementMust be closed or no one else can afford to be there.

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Andrew NolandMichael Riley] ... I think he makes a few more turns than us... 😂

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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Deer Valley Resort has recieved over 400 inches of snow this season and still has a 101" base. You can only #SkiTheDifference for three more weeks. | Skier: Jillian Vogtli Video: Chris Morgan / Two Sherpas LLC on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
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Rose JutrasGo Jillian!! What an Ambassador!!

3 days ago   ·  1

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Adi DeOltManon Mbd she has the same color equipment like me. And I skied there. Could it be me? 😂😂😂

2 days ago   ·  1
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Claine CowdrickWhy end the season if there is still enough snow to ski on? Extend the season maximize profits

2 days ago
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Sue Mcjamesgo girl!

5 hours ago   ·  1
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Steve ZebrowskiSure didn't look anywhere near 101 inch base Saturday

2 days ago   ·  1
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Marcela MrugalaIt was a fantastic day of skiing yesterday!

3 days ago
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Ken RuanoMaybe I should come up?

1 day ago
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Brandon BenallyCute but can she ski MOGULS as fast?

3 days ago
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Lori Mencarelli WalshI look just like that skiing!!! ( in my head ; )

7 hours ago   ·  1
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Lou KaltensteinWatched her cut her teeth at Holiday Valley! Go girl!

2 days ago   ·  1
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Indy BaileyVery cool!!

3 days ago   ·  1
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Nic ReneeAwesome skiing this year

3 days ago
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Sheila RoseBobby Quinn and friends!! We are still getting snow!

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Tia Allison Mittelstadt"Received"

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Elaine Lawrencer u having a good time

3 days ago
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Larry TallmanWhat a year and still coming.

4 hours ago
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Kathy Meindel PalmerBeautiful. Have fun

2 days ago
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Tai RobinsonYeah Jillian Vogtli!

3 days ago   ·  1

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