Saturday, January 24, 2009

Old Dog - New Tricks? You bet!

I started skiing 30 years ago and yesterday I learned how to ski.

After all this time on snow I consider myself a decent skier. I can make my way down any black diamond, I can pick my way through a mogul field or a glade, and I can move right along at pretty good speeds while maintaining control. I don't know what "level" skier I am. I had never taken a lesson prior to attending my first Women's Alpine Adventure program three years ago.

There's always room for improvement but I honestly didn't think there were any more epiphanies in store for me with this sport. As an eastern double-planker, I don't get much practice in real powder, so there's potential there. I'd like to feel more confident in the bumps and glades - but these creaky old knees have seen better days. Overall, I just wanted to feel less fearful in conditions and situations that placed me beyond my comfort zone. I just want skiing to be fun - no matter what.

Mission Accomplished!

It was during last week's two-day, intensive Women's Alpine Adventures program that I took my skiing to an entirely new level. Learning how to really get up on the edges of my skis to fully carve my turns allowed me to experience a euphoric sense of weightlessness that is more addictive than Dove Promises. I first recognized the feeling during an exercise that our instructor, Laurie had us doing. Then, once I figured out how to repeat it on the big carving turns, I started applying the same technique to small radius turns and it felt like I was flying! I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for it all - physics, gravity and mass versus inertia or some other mumbo jumbo that I wouldn't begin to understand. I just know that at some point during each turn, it felt like I was defying gravity - like my legs didn't belong to me and that there was some magical force at work beneath me. WOW!

What a great program! There were five women in our group and we all skied at a similar level, so we were all working toward similar goals. We weren't all there for the same reasons, but we all wanted to become better skiers. It's amazing how quickly bonds form under such circumstances. We skied together, we rode chairlifts together, we ate meals together. We shared laughter, frustrations and accomplishments together. We offered support to one another and compliments passed freely between us. We picked each other up - physically and metaphorically.
Laurie had us skiing through glades and bump runs more comfortably. We each took our turns running gates. We practiced "railroad tracks" and "garlands" and "falling leaves." We mastered "cowboy turns" and "shin-tongue."
Thank you to all the women in my group: Jenn, Helen, Tina (not Rita!) and Rebeca. Thank you, Laurie Cobb. Thank you, Maria and all the women of the WAA WAA sisterhood. I am an athlete. I am a skier. Cheers!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

cold, schmold...what's the big deal

Last week when the weather people were sounding a lot like Chicken Little, I decided to test the weather myself. So, on Thursday, Jan 15th, in the middle of the "deep freeze" I went cross-country skiing at the Okemo Valley Nordic Center.

Temp: zero. Snow: packed powder, groomed classic tracks. Wind: minimal. Weather: sunny, with crystal blue skies. What a great afternoon it was.

You see, the benefit of Nordic skiing stay warm by being very active. I've been an alpine skier for decades now, and Nordic skiing does tend to give you a more of a total body workout. Thus, on a wintry day in Vermont, all was well with the world. I actually went out on the x-c skis four times last week. and the warmest day was in the low teens. And Mr. Frost Bite was not around.

My point....don't let the weatherman scare you. If you dress properly, cover up potentially exposed skin and ski or snowboard with a friend, being outdoors in the winter is great fun. Can you get cold? ...of course. That's why they invented base lodges, warming huts, hand warmers and hot cocoa.

So remember, as a true northern New Englander once told me: "There's no such thing as a bad weather day, just an inappropriate choice of clothing."

See you outside!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Helmet Head Finalists

Okay, the time has finally arrived... drum roll please! Be sure to vote for your favorite (see right hand column for voting).

















Sunday, January 18, 2009

MLK Day in the Mountains

There's a quote I heard on an NPR broadcast durning the recent presidential election. It was so powerful a sentiment, I have carried it with me. After doing a little research to determine its origin, I've discovered that it has evolved in variations since the 1990s. It seems especially poignant right now.

Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Barack could run. Barack ran so our children can fly.