Ski Lessons Day Two: The Hockey Stop

Deer Valley is renowned for having world class instructors. After my Max Four ski lessons, I now know why.  After two days of lessons, I was able to execute smooth parallel turns on the wide runs and make short tighter turns on the steeper runs.  Friday morning, I’d never even done a blue run and by Sunday, I’d skied seven.  Even better, the unexpected happened.  I learned the hockey stop.  Can you believe it?  I can’t!

I first took notice of the hockey stop when my husband and I were in the crowd at the base of the Freestyle International World Cup Ski Event at Deer Valley in February.  These incredible athletes flew in the air, twisting and turning only to land on their skis and immediately execute a hockey stop spraying the crowd with snow dust as they did so.

When my instructor, Mark, asked us if we knew the hockey stop, my lesson buddies and I excitedly said, “No but we want to!”  Mark, I am sure, was planning on teaching this powerful tool for safety’s sake since learning to stop on a dime not only builds confidence but prevents injury.  For me, it was all about the “cool factor.”

You see, I have three grown sons (ages 22, 24 and 29) who are all good skiers and snowboarders.  We all skied together this past Christmas and they were nice enough to do one run with their mother but were bored and subsequently ditched me (of course they all showed up suddenly around lunch time since I had the credit card.)   I can’t blame them because I was terribly slow and no fun to ski with since I didn’t know what I was doing.

The hockey stop is a life changer for me.  I have a plan for the next time we ski together: ski straight toward the three of them; slight jump turn, then rooster tail spray them from head to toe.  Then when they look at me in shock, I will say, “What?” with a shrug.  That is my plan and my instructor, Mark is making that happen for me.

We started on a green run to practice.  He gave me the basics – little jump, turn on edges, face forward.  We all did a pretty good job.  Ok now pick a point in the distance so your upper body doesn’t move – little jump, turn on both edges, keep your poles behind you.  We all did it on the practice run and then we were off to the blue runs where the rubber hit the road.

I walked away from my lessons with a new sense of self.  If you watch closely, you’ll see my head held just a touch higher with the inner knowledge that I am now “a skier” with a plan.