Saturday, January 29, 2011

North Thunder via Bells out Coalpit

This morning, Brother Sam, Chad, and I toured from Wasatch Blvd., up Bells Canyon, through Thunder Bowl, and to the top of North Thunder Mountain.  Then we skied the Coalpit.  Great tour!

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

From 2011-01-30

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Teaching Hiro to Ski: Lesson 1

Hiro, my youngest son, turned 2 yrs old a couple months ago. For Christmas, he got a pair of ski boots, size 14.5 mondo. As far as I can tell, no one makes boots smaller than that. He can stick his little foot into the boot without unbuckling it. And he does that quite often. Lately, several times a day. Then he clomps around the house. At least he doesn't sleep in them -- something he did when he got them. I think the toes of everyone in the house have been stepped on by Hiro and his ski boots.

Given his enthusiasm for the boots, I assumed he would be equally enthusiastic to ski. Plus he talked a good game, telling Bart that he was going to go ski with him. But when the actual moment came and I latched him into his little skis he freaked out a little bit. And since Christmas, he hasn't been willing to entertain the thought of skiing. Just boots. The sight of skis causes him to wrinkle his face and cry a bit.

However, this week, we had a breakthrough moment and as of yesterday, Hiro has decided that boots and skis go well together. So, tonight we had our first ski lesson -- dryland training, on carpet. Here is a video (I am "daddy" and "Buster" is Hiro's nickname):

My other two kids, Ethan and Miya, both started skiing at 2ish or 3. I'm definitely not a pro at teaching kids, but here are the steps we have generally followed and that seem to work:

Step 1: The Tow I've found that towing the kids around initially and letting them get the feel of having their feet bound down and sliding on snow (or carpet) is a good way to start.

Step 2: The Pizza Slice Once they are comfortable and happy being towed, we take it to the next level: the "Pizza Slice," which with an edgy-wedgy is quite easy for a little person. All he or she has to do is step outwards.

Step 3: The Harness I have a harness made by Lucky Bums that has worked well. I've yet to try it on Hiro, but I will soon. With the harness on, I can control which direction they go, and stop them if necessary. At first, I use the harness a lot to control them, but soon enough, they pick up the snow plow.

Step 4: The Turn I struggle with teaching my kids to turn. They like to just go straight. But, one way that is effective is to simply reach one arm up into the sky. I ski in front and we play follow the leader with me raising my arm and the child doing the same thing, causing him or her to turn.

Step 5: Ditching the Edgy-Wedgys Depending on the kid, this may be hard, or it may be insignificant. With my daughter, I found that her 3 year old legs weren't strong enough to keep a snow plow without the assistance of edgy wedgies. Some instructors say that edgy wedgies are evil, but I think that for small children they work miracles. So, my thinking is, use them until the kid doesn't need them anymore.

I think Hiro is ready for the Harness. We'll see.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

'Twas Not to Be

One of my objectives this year was to make the 2011 US Ski Mountaineering Team.  To qualify I needed to do well at a series of races, held Jan 8 (Nationals at Jackson), Jan 9 (Targhee), and January 14th (Sunlight, CO).  And I'm sorry to say that I didn't do well enough at Jackson, skipped Targhee, and couldn't get it done at Sunlight.  So, no US Team for me this year.

At Jackson, I was flu-ish, but was drawn there because I didn't want to miss the largest gathering of skimo racers in the sport's history.  It was exciting and inspiring to line  up with a multitude of skimo racers on US snow, and confirmed to me how much I like the sport.

(Photo Credit: Powder Mag)

Unfortunately, I couldn't match the high output of the race's leaders, and lost the lead group early on in the race.  I ended up finishing 15th or so, way out of consideration for the US Team.  

I skipped Targhee, hoping that I could take that time and use it to recover for Sunlight.  While I think it helped, by the time Sunlight came around, I hadn't gotten rid of  the chest congestion and pesky cough that has been plaguing me since Christmas.  I went anyway, hoping for a break.  During the Sunlight race, there were a few times when I was with the qualifying group or when the qualifying group was within striking distance, but I had a rough time breathing.  Then, at a critical moment during the 2nd descent, my right boot broke.  

From 1.16.11

With some prodding by Scheefer, I decided that I would plod along and finish the race as fast I could.  My skinsuit held the top of the boot to my leg, but it was floppy on both the up and the down.  And on the 3rd climb, I knew that my chances of making the team were gone.  As I postholed with one foot and skinned on the other (since I had lost a skin and didn't want to bother putting a new one on) into the last major descent, I had to laugh at the sorry shape I was in: lungs heaving, postholing with one leg, sliding on the other leg with a broken boot, and carrying a ski in one hand, and a iced up, crusty skin in the other hand.  That sorry picture should have been a signal to me, but I kept going.

The last leg of the race turned into a rally against Andy.  And in a moment of poor judgment, I tried to nip Andy at the finish line.  I failed, and instead crashed into a static, steel, ski rack.  Perhaps my broken boot had something to do with that.  The crash resulted in me getting strapped and taped to a backboard, taken to the hospital in an ambulance (while taped to a backboard, which is more uncomfortable than crashing into a steel ski rack), examined, x-rayed, and then released.  The final diagnosis was muscle strain, but no broken neck.  Phew!

From 1.16.11
Photo by Andy.

Of course, I'm disappointed that I missed making the team, but the fact is that I'm not performing at the level of those who made it on the team.  It's unfortunate that I trained hard and was on a good trajectory, but then lost a chunk of fitness due to illness, right when I needed it the most.  But, to mix metaphors: that's the way the slope fractures.

And now, time to focus on my kids, my yard, and some wild speed ascents and traverses.