You always want what you don’t have. I don’t have speed and I want it — very badly. Skiers whizz right past me, not just a couple of hot shots, but literally everyone. I am sick of it! I want to be the passer not the “passee” while at the same time, skiing safely and not getting hurt. That’s why I signed up for the Deer Valley Women’s Weekend Ski Clinic.
I figured three full days of lessons with the same instructor in the same group would do the trick and … I was right! The weekend started on Friday with a nice get-to-know each other breakfast at Snow Park Lodge with both the Men’s and Women’s program attendees. There were quite a few advanced and high end intermediates all excited to bump up their skiing levels, too.
We then did a warm up run as the instructors watched and divided us into groups based on our ability. They had planned on groups of four but we didn’t match up that way skill wise. We had a couple of advanced skiers, some solid advanced intermediates, and a few “getting back into skiing after a decade” and second season skiers (like me). I was impressed at how the instructors divided us (adding an additional instructor) so everyone was very comfortable in their group. The groups fit the individuals rather than vice versa. No one felt they were put in a group that wasn’t perfect.
As my instructor, Mary Lou, rode the lift with my group to our first run, I explained my challenges with speed (which were obvious from the warm up) and my goal of enjoying intermediate runs with my friends. Her reply took me by surprise, “You need to slow down to speed up.” Instead of skiing fast, we worked on controlling speed using the entire turn. I had been doing quick back-and-forth stop-and-start turns which were not working at all.
Mary Lou used tried and true coaching techniques. When Tiger Woods trained as a kid, he purposely placed his golf ball in the deepest rough and under the most difficult lips in sand traps. Along the same vein, Michael Phelps’s coach used to purposely step on Michael’s swim goggles so they would fill with water during races so the swimmer wouldn’t be caught off guard when they were waterlogged in big races. Mary Lou took us through some obstacles to increase our skills in the way.
You want speed? Then conquer steep runs, ice, powder and moguls. Mary Lou first taught us how to control our speed by shifting our weight during the whole turn instead of making sharp “Z” turns across the hill. Then she took us over daunting obstacles and gave us a plan on how to maneuver them. She took us to the steep Star Gazer run then to Little Kate because the top can get slick. She had us slip slide the whole way. She took us down Little Bell because the top has mini moguls. We took all kinds of steep runs, narrow runs, busy runs, bumpy and powdery ones, too. Bottom line — when have some tools to handle the challenges, confidence increases.
Solid Muldoon was my test. When I actually skied it, not just ”getting down the hill,” but nice wide controlled “S” turns and actually having fun, I knew just how far I had come in only three days.
There is something for having three solid days in a row with the same experienced instructor and being part of a bigger program –we all met for lunch each day and celebrated afterwards at the wine and cheese party — that sets you up for success. I have to say, by Sunday afternoon my shins were tender and my quads were burning but I was happy. I had the speed I was looking for and much, much more.
To learn more about or enroll in the Men’s and Women’s programs, click here. Be sure to attend the celebration at the end!