Learning how to ski

For the first time since I started my ski lessons, I experienced the glory of powder. Sure, it wasn’t the nice untracked stuff that you get on the upper mountain, but it was much nicer than the hard packed snow I’d become used to over the past few weeks.

  • Mar. 28, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Ski lesson classmate Denise and instructor Bob Livsey.

For the first time since I started my ski lessons, I experienced the glory of powder. Sure, it wasn’t the nice untracked stuff that you get on the upper mountain, but it was much nicer than the hard packed snow I’d become used to over the past few weeks.

This week it was lesson three. I’m getting used to the drill, show up early for rentals, and then wait for my instructor to arrive. But this week I had a couple of unexpected surprises.

The first surprise was I wasn’t alone. My past two lessons, despite being group lessons, were just my instructor and I. This week, Denise from Regina, Saskatchewan joined me for the adventure of lesson three.

The second surprise was when my instructor arrived. It was Nature Bob. Nature Bob is a nature guide, ski instructor, and artist in Fernie. I met him for the first time when I had just arrived in Fernie, and was doing a story on the Christmas Bird Count.

Denise had had a lesson in the morning with Bob, which meant she had had a chance to warm up and get her ski legs.

Bob started off the lesson by asking me if I preferred fast or slow.

Something I’ve found over my past couple  of lessons is that slow isn’t always easiest when it comes to skiing. Speed, I’m finding, helps give the momentum to make the turns, which Bob told me has to do with centrifugal force.

In my last lesson I struggled with my T-Rex arms, which kept sneaking up on me. I’d start off at the top of the run, arms loose and extended in front of me. Half way down the run, I looked like I belonged in Jurassic Park.

Unfortunately, the T-Rex arms were a bit of an issue again in lesson three, but as we learned to use our poles to time our turns my arms started staying where I put them.

Bob also worked with me on moving away from the snowplow and into parallel turns.

As we worked with our poles, which timed our turns, I found that it was easier for my skis to move together and to move away from my big turns and into the little turns you see when a good skier moves down the hill.

I felt much more confident and balanced over my skis, and after watching a video Nature Bob had made on his iPhone of one of my last runs I could see what I need to work on: Hands forward, knees closer together, feet moving parallel, and move away from the snowplow.

The ski lesson wasn’t all about skiing though. Nature Bob gave us some lessons about the rocks and the trees on our way up the ski lift. We learned a bit about how the mountains were formed, about the sediment placement, and about the forest canopy and cedar trees.

Bob’s style of teaching was much different than my last with Luke. Bob focused more on technical explanations where Luke used images like grapes in my ski boots, and flashlights on my knees. But learning with a variety of instructors, I think, is helping me learn more than I would with one.

On to lesson four.

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