I’m the kind of person who likes to plan ahead. In fact, I often write my posts at least 2 weeks or more ahead of time. So what I’m going to do this week is way out of my comfort zone. But I’m doing it for a good reason. I’m doing it because by participating in a three-day adult ski camp, I’m hoping to get way into my on-mountain comfort zone. And while I’m doing this, I thought I’d share the experience.
So here goes, almost live blogging from the John Clendenin Ski Method three-day camp in Aspen.
Pre-Camp Meeting: Sunday, December 9
“Watch me turn. If you look closely, you’ll see that I’m releasing to the future and I’m embracing gravity. I never work against gravity.”
Read this sentence out of context and you might think that I’m at an ashram or maybe some sort of funky yoga camp. I’m not. Instead, I’m watching John Clendenin, world freestyle skiing champion and coaching professional based in Aspen, make turns on an indoor ski deck. In context, what he’s saying makes perfect sense. On the deck, he’s demonstrating seamless ski turn: turns which flow easily from one direction to the next. Turns which use gravity both for momentum and control. He’s showing us our goal. And while I forgot to take photos, here’s a video of Wayne Wong on the simulator from the Clendenin Ski Method website.
Filling My Tool Box
For the next three days, we’ll be working with John and his staff to improve our skiing, especially in moguls.Tonight we’re meeting one another and sharing our goals. My goal is to fill my tool box. I’ve skied a long time and I enjoy mogul skiing. But there are times when I find myself fighting the mountain. I find myself becoming tentative and tense, sitting back, shifting my weight onto my downhill leg, erroneously thinking that in gripping my muscles, somehow I’ll be more in control. I know that’s 100% wrong, but I don’t always know what to do to regain control and snap myself out of this fear cycle. So, I’m here to learn how to diagnose and cure myself. I’m here to collect some tools.
Most of the other campers are like me. They know what they do wrong and they know why they do it. They are ready and committed to improving.
One camper, Patrick, hails from New Orleans. For him, ski camp is an annual event. He doesn’t get to ski very often, but he enjoys improving. So rather than take a traditional ski vacation, he spends his time on snow getting coaching. Another camper, Rick, is also back for more. In fact, this camp will be the first of four he’s attending during the 2012-2013 ski season. He explains it this way: “I read about the Clendenin Ski Method camps five years before I actually came. I’d reached a point in my skiing, where I wasn’t sure I could improve. Sure enough, I did improve. And I keep improving.” This year, he’s brought his wife, a new skier, along too.
After the introduction on the ski deck, we watched a clip of Jean-Claude Killy skiing. Clendenin introduced Killy saying “he’s a free-skiing angel straight from ski heaven.” Watching Killy, in his tight 1970s pants, on his long, straight and narrow 1970s skis, is revelatory. His technique isn’t flawless. His equipment, archaic by today’s standards, would be impossible for most of us to ski. Yet, his turns are graceful, and effortless and breathtaking. He truly dances down the mountain, and the dance ain’t hip-hop. He is one with his turns.
Now I know my real goal.
- Ski Camp, Day Three: The Keys to the Kingdom, December 14, 2012.
- Ski Camp, Day Two: The Sun Came Out and the Lights Came On, December 12, 2012.
- Conscious Incompetence: Ski Camp, Day One, December 11, 2012.
- Small Motions, Big Changes: How an Indoor Ski Lesson Improved My Turns, March 26, 2012.
- Tight Turns: Improve Skills with Ski Camp, Books and Better Skis, October, 2012.
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