Ski Camp, Day Three: The Keys to the Kingdom

Clendenin ski method camp aspen

As you might guess, John has a relationship with Kastle. Nice skis!  Photographer: Sharp Shooter Imaging Aspen

brave ski mom logoThe great thing about a three-ski camp is that it gives you time. Over the course of three days, you have time to throw out your old habits and begin learning new skills.

You’ve got time to feel that maybe, just maybe, you’re mastering new moves, and you’ve got time to forget everything you just learned. You can regress and progress and finally, end with confidence.

Ride a Wild Pony

Yesterday morning, I was feeling pretty cocky. The previous afternoon had been superb and I felt like things were making sense, my feet were obeying my brain, my skis were steady, my turns were strong. So what did I do yesterday morning, on the third day of the Clendenin Ski Method camp? I daydreamed. I crossed my ski tips. I dug in my edges. I regressed. On a run through some defined, kind of hard moguls, I wasn’t smooth and light and easy. Nope, I signed up for the wild pony ride (but luckily I kept control of the reins and stopped it cold after three turns).

Confidence, what confidence?

Clendenin ski method camp

John giving some directions to his group.

Keys to the Kingdom

A beautiful thing about the Clendenin Ski Method is that you learn what John likes to call “The Keys to the Kingdom.” The Keys are simple, basic on-snow exercises that reinforce good technique, help build foot-eye coordination and emphasize the fundamentals of good skiing.

When I came to camp, I told John and his instructors that I wanted a “toolbox.” I wanted some tools that would help me quickly analyze what I was doing wrong (and right) and then help me self-correct. In my mind, that is exactly what the Keys do.

And guess what? They work! After my complete regression in the bumps, I slowed down, got focused, quit daydreaming and practiced the Keys with John and our group. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one struggling a little bit yesterday morning. Working together, we practiced, progressed and practiced some more. Soon, skiing was fun again, for all of us.

clendenin ski method aspen colorado

Two southern skiers, Jill and Patrick, practice with John Clendenin.

Camaraderie Rules

And that’s another good thing about Ski Camp: When you’re in a group, the focus is not always on you. Although you’re learning as an individual, the group is also working together. You progress together, laugh together, get confused together and hopefully, progress together. You also support one another, offering encouragement, sincere compliments and sometimes, even advice (although not about ski technique – that’s the coaches’ job).

I have a friend who skis Retallack each year with a big group. When I’ve asked him why he recommends multi-day ski cat trips over one day trips, he always tells me about the “bonding,” (yes, I did write HE). He puts it this way, “When you do a multi-day trip, you’re sharing a larger experience. Each day builds on this experience.”

The same is true with Ski Camp. Although we weren’t staying in the same lodging or eating all of our meals together, we were meeting each morning, skiing together all day, having lunch together, and meeting up again the next day. Two members of our group, Stephen and Joe, both from Canada, came to camp together. The rest of us were strangers, but by lunchtime the first day, we were friends.

Why You Should Go

So why should you, a busy mom or dad, a busy professional, someone with lots of obligations take three days out of your winter and go to a Clendenin Ski Method Camp?

John clendenin aspen colorado 1

John demos some perfect form.

1. You’ll be learning from the best. There is no better validation when you’re about to start a ski lesson than having another instructor ski by and shout, “you’ve got the best teacher on the mountain.” And, it’s true. John is a two-time world champion freestyle skier, so no one knows moguls like he does. His coaches are hand-picked and basically apprentice with him before working with students. They are the best of the best.

2. You’re not going to learn The Clendenin Ski Method anywhere else. Well, that’s not a quite true. Clendenin Ski Method offers private lessons, deck lessons and John has a very useful DVD explaining the Keys to the Kingdom which I think is super useful (he’s got a book, too, but I haven’t read it).

That said, the Clendenin Ski Method is wholly unique. John is an avid student of skiing and motion and with his background in freestyle skiing, he wants to help his clients become outstanding mogul skiers. Toward this end, he has developed a way of teaching controlled, nearly effortless, rock-solid skiing.

While I came to improve my turns in bumps, Stephen came to the camp to learn how to ski with less effort and stress after a knee reconstruction. Moguls were a secondary focus for him. Another student, Jill, took up skiing in her ’20s (she looks about 29 – really!). She told me that she finds groomed terrain “boring” and came to improve her mogul technique. That she did.

3. You’ll keep improving. John calls them “keys,” I think of them as “tools,” but in either case you will leave after three days with the knowledge and skills to keep improving. By becoming conscious of how you slide on snow, you can determine what is working and what isn’t, what feels good and what doesn’t. Then, using the Keys, you can always coach yourself back into good form.

Many of John’s clients are repeat customers. Some come back each year to tune up their skills, others will come to every camp this season to continue their progress. Many of these people make huge strides during the time between camps, according to John. Working on their own, with the Keys to the Kingdom, they just keep progressing, with or without direct coaching.

john clendenin aspen colorado

John Clendenin is all smiles as Craig from Cleveland follows to the bottom of Seibert’s. Three days ago, Craig had never skied in moguls.

When You Go…

There are eight more Clendenin Ski Method camps scheduled this season. Most of them are in Aspen, but two are in Park City and one, in September, is in Portillo, Chile (sigh!).

For more information, about the camps, John’s method, DVDs, books and private lessons, check out the Clendenin Ski Method website at

Yes, it might be a splurge, and yes, it will take some time away from work and family, but with this investment, you’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy great skiing.



Related Posts: 



© 2012 – 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.