Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Tahoe / NASTC report:
Ski days 4, 5, 6, and 7

Today is my first day back after four days of skiing up at Tahoe, and it's an understatement to say that I'm a little disoriented. For one thing, this is the longest I've left my blog unattended given that I didn't set hands on a computer the entire time I was gone. Sort of like leaving your baby for the first time. Well, no—not really. But there are other factors involved in my mental state. I leave the world of news for five days and the subject of the Mona Lisa is identified, O.J. is apparently in and out of jail again, and the markets have taken a dive, leaving my brokerage account in the crapper. Makes my head spin.

But anywhoo, I had a great trip. This is how it went down.

Sunday: Sugarbowl. Having plucked my dad from the airport the previous day, we awoke at the butt crack of dawn Sunday morning and headed to Sugarbowl. We were totally relieved to see that the recent storms left things in much better shape than they had been at Christmas. We were in for a beautiful, sunny day, with lots of snow.

Husband, Sophie, Dad, and I met my brother and one of his sons for a great family ski day. (No Husband in picture: He's behind the camera.)

Since the big storm, it had rained just a little in the Tahoe area—enough to leave some pretty hard conditions. Definitely a day for the groomers. And big crowds. This was the first weekend since the storms, and I think a lot of people thought of it as opening weekend. Good for the resorts; not so good for us. But we were happy just to be together out on the slopes.

Sunday night Husband, Sophie, Dad, and I checked into our lovely hotel, the Cedar House Sport Hotel.

We liked it. Especially the sink.

Proof if you ever needed it that we are simple people who are easily amused.

Anywhoo, we moved in and immediately made a big mess of our room. (We've got a lot of stuff, you know.)

Sophie liked it best, probably because she started each day like this:

She made friends with Jeff, the owner, who made her hot cocoa with tons of whipped cream. She was one happy customer.

But on to the real stuff.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: Squaw. I met my Luna Chix NASTC (North American Ski Training Center) instructor Lee in the village only to find that there was only other person enrolled in the class. So really I was in for three full days of nearly private lessons!!! What could be better than that?

Well, for starters the fact that I like my instructor right off the bat. She was everything you would want: friendly and easy going as well as extremely competent. My classmate was an ER doctor around my age and from the same town "Bostonish" town as one of my favorite bloggers, Libby! She said she didn't know any Libbys, which is funny because I thought Libby ran that town. (Well, she should—just because her blog is that good). Classmate reported that her hometown was being pummeled with snow, and whereas we could have used a little more fresh snow, she was loving our California ski weather and observed that the sky is just never as blue where she skis.

Classmate and I spent the next three days having our minds totally twisted by learning that almost everything we have ever learned about skiing is wrong. In fact what Lee wanted us to do was almost completely opposite of how we thought we were supposed to be skiing. Which was sort of a relief—inadequacies in my skiing not my fault, you know? In a nutshell, the NASTC method has you scooping and turning on a center line of your imagined corridor and then skiing away from the line in the same direction but at a different diagonal until you curve around and scoop in the other direction. So it's scoop, go, scoop go, etc. It's a technique that gives you a lot of teeth in steep, narrow, and off piste terrain, but I found that it allows you to ski even groomers with more control and considerably less effort. After skiing four days my legs are usually pretty shot and one of my knees sore, but after these four days I could have skied four more. My legs felt fine.

Classmate and I were fairly well-matched, with Classmate being a better technical skier with more control and I being a scrappier faster skier with a higher tolerance for speed. Lee's work was to get Classmate to extend her "go" and me to extend my "scoop." The differences were probably reflective of our personalities. Trust me, you'd much rather encounter Classmate in an emergency room than me. But I'm probably more fun in a bar. That said, I really liked Classmate a lot. She was traveling by herself to attend this clinic in preparation for a European ski trip , but she happily and patiently merged into our group, even coming down the hall to our room one evening to hear Sophie practice her violin. I couldn't have asked for a better Classmate! And instructor Lee? I absolutely love her. Her other job is training ski instructors at Alpine Meadows, and I'll be checking in with her later in the season for a followup private lesson or two. We've got Dad signed up for a lesson with her the next time we're up.

The only regret was that the conditions were frozen enough that we didn't have as much opportunity to work off terrain. Some of the off piste softened up in the afternoon, but much of it stayed pretty solid. Skiing over it made a noise that really unnerved me, and I felt like the Grinch, lamenting "The noise! The noise!"

But in spite of the fact these were days more for this

rather than this

I did get in a little off piste work. Title this one "I fall down and go boom." Or, rather "Boom, sliiiiiiiide." Pictures taken by Dad, when he and Sophie met up with my class. My lovely instructor thinks my mental shift toward them distracted me and caused this event. That's me at the top.

And in the middle (click to enlarge).

And at the bottom.

But I was unhurt and on to ski another couple of great days, although I was seriously put to shame by this:

The Pink Rocket. Who checked into a ski class on the last day at Level 7/8

and skied with her instructor down the infamous KT-22

which was ungroomed at the top. Not a problem, she reported (I took a pass). But then she's a tough little nut, enough so that she didn't cry when she later fell with enough impact to bend a pole. In fact, she was pretty pleased about it.

I couldn't be more proud of her, but it does mean that one of my primary objectives for taking the NASTC clinic—to keep up with my daughter—is shot right in the butt. Oh well. Things could be worse.


ElleBee said...

Looks like fun. I went skiing once. Down a hill. On my face. Haven't been since.

Libby said...

What a marvelous trip!

Would you look at Sophie up there looking so at ease- she's looks like a little Picabo Street in the making. And those photos of your crash- you are one tough cookie, Cindy!

Now: "In a nutshell, the NASTC method has you scooping and turning on a center line of your imagined corridor and then skiing away from the line in the same direction but at a different diagonal until you curve around and scoop in the other direction." I have to confess, I can't even begin to wrap my mind around the meaning of that, never mind actually pull it off while on skies.

...wanders off humming It's a Small World After All...

suburban mom said...

That looks like so much fun! and that hotel looks fab. We went up near Truckee last weekend, but just for the day. Oh, and that fireplace you remarked on is in my parents' home - they live on Cragmont near Euclid. I can't remember if I already told you that :)

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

Looks like you had a wonderful time... and I'm salivating at the picture of Sophie and her hot chocolate...

Mrs.Preppy said...

What a wonderful trip! I also love that sink.