21 March 2011

Ski Days 21 & 22: Tryouts and Tune-up

Sunday the 13th was Day 21, and the first day in a long time that I wasn't training patrol apprentices. Instead, I was helping evaluate candidates for next year's group, same as back on Ski Day 4. One thing was different this time, however - I got put in charge of the ski test portion of the tryouts program.

Since this one was kind of my baby, and we were expecting maybe half of the number of applicants we had in December, I thought we'd try a station-based approach instead of having it group-based. So, we had pairs of evaluators looking at all the candidates doing different ski/ride skills instead of groups of evaluators only looking at 8 or so candidates doing all the ski/ride skills for the test.

The weather wasn't as bad as we had expected, but it did rain on and off at Ski Bowl. Our scorecards held up better, thanks to some better paper and better use of zip-loc bags. The tryouts went pretty well. I paired up with "Tool Time" again, and we were evaluating the candidates' ability to handle bumps and off-piste skiing. We ran laps on Calamity, and the snow and bumps over there proved pretty much perfect for seeing what the candidates were made of.

After the last group came through, we packed up our stuff and headed back over to the patrol building in Govy to wrap things up. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, and it wasn't too long after we settled into the discussion that we lost power thanks to what turned out to be downed trees. We had a nice little thunderstorm going on as well. After a flurry of phone calls and everyone at the patrol building waiting anxiously for word on whether or not we'd have to run off to one of the areas to help with lift evacuations, we got word that we weren't needed.

We'd heard a lot of different reports about road conditions and blockages due to fallen trees and so on, so tried to check and see what the trip home would be like. We didn't get any good indications one way or the other, so we headed home on US26 per usual. We encountered stop-and-go traffic maybe halfway to Sandy, and it was pretty slow going even after we passed where the major power-line problem was. There was no power to anything in Sandy - it wasn't until we got to the A&W just west of Sandy did we see any lights or evidence of power.

Day 22 was Saturday the 19th, and it found me back coaching again, this time at Meadows. As part of my bid to become an Instructor-Trainer (IT) for the patrol, I was asked to put together a training plan for a more focused clinic than our usual training days call for.

I put together what I felt would be a good tune-up for the skiers, focusing on getting back to some of the fundamentals and really exaggerating some of the movements and stance stuff that they all were still having issues with, to varying degrees. I split the group up into two groups: one group that would work on more ski-skills stuff to try and get some of the more basic things addressed, and the other group would work more on fine-tuning their technique running the toboggans. I probably could have done a better job in the initial briefing to make sure no egos were bruised, but at the end of the day, everyone seemed to have gotten what they needed out of the training.

It was a gorgeous day, too. Sun, fresh snow, light and smooth. We made sure we didn't go off and track out all the good stuff early, so we stuck to the groomers - which had probably about 3-5" of fresh on them anyway. Glorious warm-up runs on the smooth stuff.

I was with the second group, and we started off with some rope-handling drills to make sure everyone was getting on the same page as far as hand position, and focusing more closely on what they were doing with the hands at transition. So we had them out of their skis, walking the ropes in and out, with tension. I think it worked pretty well, and we moved from that into rope-a-goat, and then started working on some more stance stuff. I wanted to get the apprentices to really square up their shoulders, and we did a drill where the 'driver' takes the inside hand off the handle and puts it on the downhill thigh. To keep the toboggan under control, we had tail-ropers, empty toboggan, and we ran on a gentle slope. Pretty neat little drill, as it works the driver and the tail-roper on different things. The tail-roper kind of gets some rope-a-goat practice, while the driver works on body position. Seemed effective.

We did sneak in some turns in the trees over on Star just before breaking for lunch, and it was glorious. Managed to find a few untracked lines over there, which was a bit of a surprise after 11am.

We moved on to the steeper stuff after lunch, loading 'em up and working on transitions in the steeps in chunky snow and getting some traversing in as well. We moved on to the really steep and challenging stuff later on, and while some fatigue set in, we saw some really good things from the apprentices on the last couple runs. They were really clicking, for the most part, and apart from a couple tactical bobbles that caused some falls and frustration, they looked good. Some of them looked to me and the other coaches to be ready for testing next week.