Ski School [Day Five]

Brrrr…. it’s been cold here in the foothills of Colorado all week! For almost a week now, the roads have been covered in a thick layer of ice and snow and the temperature has barely climbed above freezing. When the sun’s out, it’s actually not so bad- but at night… watch out! You can imagine my enthusiasm for being outside all day this past Wednesday when I saw the weather forecast- with a high of zero degrees (and sunshine). The Women’s Program meets every single Wednesday- no matter what it’s doing outside- which has ended up being a very good thing. As I said after my last lesson, having different conditions each week has taught me that I can ski in various types of weather (and snow!).

As we drove up to Eldora on Wednesday, I nervously watched the temperature on Greg’s dashboard. It was -12˚for most of our commute! As we got up to Nederland (the town where Eldora is) the temperature started rising steadily and it got up to a whopping THREE degrees. I thought it was really strange that it was actually warmer up above 9,000′ elevation! I had four layers of clothing on (which made me feel like a marshmallow) in attempt to stay warm. I also had my trusty hand warmers in my mittens, which usually help on super cold days.

When I got to the resort, the parking lot was more empty than usual. Only about half of the women in the program showed up- I guess the others were scared off by the cold weather! Since there’s only six sessions total, I definitely didn’t want to miss any of them. Luckily, my buddy Jenn was still there- and it ended up being just her and I with our instructor Jane that day!

halfpipe

It had snowed a little bit the night before and since there was (quite literally) NO ONE on the trails we had corduroy to ski on. It was really nice to have the entire lower mountain to ourselves (okay, there were like five other people skiing) but it was eerily quiet- and definitely much different than how it was over the weekend! One of the great things about skiing on corduroy was that we could easily see our tracks- which is very helpful when you’re trying to improve your technique.

lift

groomed snow

One major beef that I have with Eldora is that only a few lifts are open on the weekdays. On the lower mountain, only one is open, which takes you to a few green trails. You can cross over to a blue about halfway down, but there wasn’t anything open that would lead you to a full blue run on the lower mountain. This really bummed me out because I really wanted to practice going down Sundance (my first blue that I skied last weekend), but could only access the bottom half of it.

Since it was just Jenn and I, Jane decided that it would be good to spend the morning practicing various skills- wide and narrow turns, keeping skis parallel and other “good form” skills.

recording

My main issue has been NOT keeping my arms in the proper form (out in front- like you’re holding a balance ball) and I tend to lean back when I turn. I also hadn’t been flattening my bottom ski completely when I go into a turn and keep it slightly on edge. I discovered on Wednesday that it’s a lot easier to turn when you flatten the bottom one out! Jane also recorded us so that we could check out how we looked- and here’s the video that she took of me (spoiler alert… Jane isn’t really the best at taking video :))

We ended up doing seven runs in a row- perfecting our faults on each run. It was really great! Eventually it was time to go in for lunch, where I allowed my feet to thaw out. I hadn’t been too cold during the morning, but definitely went through periods where my fingers and toes started to get a little bit numb. By the time I warmed up, it was time to go back outside for a few more hours of skiing!

Jane had me follow her down the green/blue trail that we had been skiing that morning, asking me to stay right in her tracks, turn exactly how she turned, etc. This was something that she’s asked me to do before, but I always had trouble with because I just didn’t have good control. But on Wednesday, I followed her flawlessly! It felt really great to be able to do narrow turns easily and keep control of my speed.

follow

After five or six runs, it was almost the end of the day. I was really bummed about not being able to try any new terrain and determined to do a full blue run before the day was over. In order to do that- there was only one option- to head over to the BIG mountain. You see- Eldora is divided into different sides of the mountain. The small mountain- which has mostly beginner terrain (and one blue/intermediate run) is where I’ve been hanging out. The big mountain is all blue and black runs- intermediate to advanced/expert terrain- which are the strips of snow that you can see in the back of this picture.

bigmountain

Just looking at the big mountain used to freak me out! I’ve looked up at those trails so many times and thought there is now way… But, as I’ve gotten more confident going down steeper terrain, those runs didn’t look so scary anymore. And what you see there is only about 1/3 of the run- it goes way higher than that!

I knew I had to go for it. It was getting really close to end of our session and Jane was done instructing us for the day. I didn’t want to go alone- and luckily Greg showed up just in time. I told him that I wanted to head over and give the big mountain a try, and Jane assured me that I was ready to tackle it.

We headed over to the lift, which runs at least twice as fast as the ones on the lower mountain- and goes about ten times higher! We just kept going up, and up and UP! When we eventually got to the top, I was a little shaky- but knew that I had the skills to get to the bottom. Everything looks different on that side of the mountain, and the color green is nowhere to be found!

big mountain signs

One of the more advanced groups from my program was at the top at the same time (who have skied on the big mountain over and over again). It was so cool to see them there (and follow them down the mountain)!

womens group

I started over to Hornblower, which was really easy and not crazy steep in the beginning. My plan of attack was to just go slow and steady, take wide turns and stop whenever I needed to. Greg followed me the whole time and gave me great encouragement. There were definitely times that I looked ahead and saw how steep it was and thought oh crap. I got a little distracted at how steep it was and basically tripped over my skis- but pulled myself right back up. After that, I found my rhythm and finally made it down to the bottom of the run. It was so long and took forever- but it was awesome!

lauren big mountain

I felt super badass and proud of myself for going down that run. I would’ve loved to go down one more time (because I’m always better the second time down a run!) but it was getting pretty late. Regardless, I’m very pleased with my progress and the fact that I didn’t totally freak out at how steep the run got- and just went with what I had learned. I definitely wouldn’t have guessed when driving up to Eldora that morning (in -12˚ weather) that this would’ve ended up being the best ski day yet- but it was just amazing.

I’m back at Eldora today skiing again- and hopefully tackling that same blue run over and over again. My pass runs out on the last day of class (next Wednesday!) so I’m trying to get up there as much as I possibly can before that. Thank goodness for flexible work schedules!

Have a great weekend!

How do you deal with something that scares you? Do you face it or go the other way?

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Lauren! I’m back to snowboarding and skipped lessons but this makes me want to take a few to get that teqnique down. Sharing a class with others would be fun too. Great job on your progress! Can’t wait to ski with you guys sometime!

  2. Nice work! These posts are REALLY making me want to take a trip out to Colorado (and watching the olympics doesn’t help either).

  3. I’m so so happy that you’re loving! I’m a wee bit tempted to throw the skis in the car and head that way!

  4. I always used to go the other day from fear… and now I try to just dive right in. I figure that there’s a 99% chance I’m going to come out on the other side unscathed, so why not?

  5. Congrats on your progress!! skiing in CO is unbelievable. You’re so lucky is basically in your backyard!

  6. Your skiing posts make me want to get back into it!! Congrats on all your progress so far.

    I have been following your blog for a while and love it. I also live in Colorado, so it’s fun to read about your adventures around the area. I literally JUST started a blog, do you have any advice on how to get started?

    Thanks!

    http://veggiepreferredrunner.com/

  7. You’re kicking ass! Following close behind someone was how I learned to tighten up my turns too. It helped me get less distracted or scared from steep parts off in the distance. So fun!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Want to know how I’m spending the big day? Skiing at Eldora! Back when I signed up for the Women’s Ski Days Program I noticed that the final class would fall on my birthday. I remember saying “I better like […]

  2. […] so hard for me to really believe, but my time in ski school is already over. I’m fairly certain that these last six weeks have been the shortest of my […]

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