“You’ll find that 30 minutes on this hill is a long time,” Mark, an instructor with the Skidoctors, told me. I was climbing onto the world’s longest ski slope – an indoor ski simulator at the Aspen Club.
As Mark helped me onto the deck and clicked my boots into the child-sized skis, he explained that on the simulator, very small movements would be magnified. Because Mark would be standing in front of me (as opposed to skiing in front of me), he could watch my feet and clearly see what I was doing right, and wrong.
It’s All in the Little Toe
After getting me into place on the deck, essentially an angled, carpeted treadmill, Mark instructed me to tip my right ski onto my little toe edge. “Little motions,” he reminded me. “Tip your right foot slightly to the right.” I tipped and turned, gently, easily. Once I’d slid across the carpet, Mark had me bring my skis back into a flat, edgeless stance. Over and over we did this, turning with the little-toe edge of each ski and skiing between turns in a neutral position.
Almost immediately three things became clear. One, I turn a lot better to the left than to the right. Two, I’m used to switching rapidly between my edges, without savoring the edgeless glide that should be in the top third of each turn. And three, I am directionally dyslexic. Mark would tell me to move right and I’d think left. He’d tell me to initiate a turn with my downhill ski and I’d get confused. Finally, he hit upon something I could understand. “Tip your ski in the direction you want to go.” Bingo!
Over the course of the lesson, Mark put me through a variety of drills to get my little toe edges engaged. I scraped the “snow” with my little toe edge and the other ski followed. I lifted my ski an inch and put it down on edge, immediately the other ski followed. Between each turn, he had me focus on edgeless skiing. Pretty soon, I was very comfortable on the deck and practicing universal skills that can be used on corduroy, in crud and in moguls, too.
YouTube Video Courtesy Clendenin Ski Method/The Skidoctors
From “Snow” to Snow
A big benefit of a deck lesson is that it allows a skier to practice off snow in a very concentrated and controlled environment. It’s a “jump-start” to changing old, and learning new, technique.
The next morning, we met Mark for first tracks at Aspen Mountain. Boarding the gondola ahead of everyone else, my husband and I were raring to go. I mean, first tracks, no one else in sight, let’s go fast, right? Wrong. Mark explained that we’d be going slow. As he reminded us, speed can mask problems. The best skiers warm up slowly. They practice deliberate, precision turns and that’s what we’d be doing. Producing wide, rounded arcs, we followed Mark down the untracked corduroy, allowing our skis to drift uphill at the end of each turn, and effortlessly tipping from one little toe edge, to edgeless, to the other little toe edge. Just like on the deck, but this time on snow. By focusing on small, little motions, I made some big changes.
The Clendenin Ski Method
Mark is an instructor with the Skidoctors in Aspen, Colorado. Skidoctors was founded by John Clendenin, a two-time World Freestyle Champion, and all instructors teach the Clendenin Ski Method. The Clendenin Ski Method focuses on four simple words — drift, center, touch and tip — that remind skiers how to turn, effortlessly and effectively. These words, and the technique they describe, are called “The Keys to the Kingdom.”
John and his team specialize in teaching skiers of all levels how to ski moguls with control, grace and style. Skidoctors works with skiers from beginners to experts, teaching private lessons and multi-day mogul camps. Snowboarders, of any level, from beginner to expert, can get in on the action, too, with private lessons.
My husband writes the insurance for Skidoctors (full disclosure) and has repeatedly encouraged me to attend one of their camps. It’s never worked out. This year, Santa brought me a Clendenin Ski Method DVD. I’m sold. The instruction is clear, simple and not overwhelming. The tips are useful and memorable. It improved my mogul skiing after just one viewing and some on-snow practice. The next time my husband offers me “time off” to go to camp, I’m in. I might even take him with me.
Win The Keys to The Kingdom
John Clendenin has graciously offered a copy of The Clendenin Ski Method DVD “Finding the Love Spot” as a giveaway to readers of The Brave Ski Mom. If there was ever a way to improve your skiing while sitting on a couch, this is it. To enter, leave a comment. One winner will be chosen by random drawing on Tuesday, April 3.
The schedule for next season’s Clendenin Ski Method camps will come out in the fall and I’ll share it then. If you can’t wait until next winter, there is a seven-day camp in Portillo, Chile in September. Additionally, you can schedule a deck lesson year-round. Deck lessons are available for skiers and snowboarders of every age and ability and are great for training, rehabilitation and overall improvement. For more information please visit skidoctors.com.
To facilitate this post, I received a complimentary deck lesson and DVD from The Skidoctors/Clendenin Ski Method. All opinions are my own and are exactly what I would tell my family and friends.
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Brave Ski Dad David!
© 2012 – 2017, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.