31 March 2010

Ski Days 21 & 22: Evaluated and Evaluating @ MHM

This past weekend was another one of those skiing weekends where I skied both days and the experience on each day was completely different. I kind of like those - because different is interesting and interesting is good - but when you start out with the sunny bluebird day, you don't want the second day to be different...

Anyway, Saturday was nothing short of awesome. I wasn't dispatched to patrol, but I had received a phone call last Sunday from our training director to talk about how my team was looking and who was ready to test. He mentioned that there was some desire that I take the NSP Senior Ski & Toboggan (S&T) test at Mt. Bachelor on April 11th, and that there was a clinic I needed to attend first, on March 27th.

I hadn't planned on doing the NSP Senior stuff until next season, but I thought, 'why not?'. If the patrol needs another Instructor Trainer, and I get to ski at Mt. Bachelor, then cool. If I don't manage to pass, at least I got to ski at Bachelor, and I'll hopefully know what I need to work on.

So, I went to the clinic. I couldn't have picked a better day to go skiing, and we basically took all our warm-up runs off the Cascade chair, which gave us access to some really fabulous wind-blown powder as well as some of the most perfect groomed corduroy you'll ever ski. Once we were finished having fun, it was down to business. We had a guy with us who has been patrolling forever (Dave, he's 78!), who has been an evaluator on a lot of NSP Senior S&T tests and knows what they're looking for.

The first thing he wanted to see us do was carved turns - large, meduim, and short radius. Now, when I carve large and medium radius turns, I get fast. This, in my opinion, is the natural effect of carving good turns. Unfortunately, despite my nicely-carved turns, I was told I needed to slow down for the evaluators. Even if I'm in control, they aren't going to like it if I go "too fast". So, I worked on that. Dave did say my short-radius turns were "absolutely perfect", though, so I was feeling pretty damn good about that.

But I had better be good at this stuff by now. I've been skiing a long time. And I've had some great coaches.

After all my showing off, it was time to see if I was any good at running the four-handled toboggan ("Cascade 350"), and find out if my tail-roping is as good as I thought it was. I had only run an empty 350 twice before Saturday. Sounds like I did pretty well - the trainers said I didn't look like a guy who had only run an empty 350 only twice in my life. I actually like running the 350 in the rear operator position. The 2-handled toboggan we used was a brand-spanking new Clipper, which is my favorite sled to run. It just handles so well.

The snow was pretty much perfect all day, even when it started to get a little mushy when things warmed up in the afternoon. Just fantastic. And I was feeling really good about my chances for passing the Senior S&T test on April 11th.

Sunday, the weather was entirely different. It was another blizzard, basically. Okay, maybe not a blizzard, but it was definitely snowing pretty hard and fairly windy. The snow was kind of heavy, and the sun-facing slopes were pretty chunky and a little firm underneath the newer snow. This made sled-testing a little challenging for the apprentices, and it got tougher as the day wore on and the snow got heavier and wetter. Still, we passed 8 of the 10 that came up that day. One of my guys didn't pass, and I think he just had a bad day, because I'd seen much better from him the last day we trained. Two of my guys who passed were guys I wouldn't have sent up for testing after what I saw last week, but I guess things clicked for them.

We de-briefed at Charlie's in Govy afterward, and passing 8 guys worked out perfectly, since the shot-ski has 4 shot glasses on it. :)

My knee held up fine over the weekend, but I was definitely sore after back-to-back days. The swelling wasn't bad, and I wasn't as stiff as I expected on Monday. Hopefully, the knee continues to be less and less painful after ski days, and next season will be better.