Has anyone seen my wahoo?
I don't know what happened to it. It's always been there waiting for me when I get to the skifields. This time, I didn’t really find it at all.
That's not to say that I had a bad time. I had a very enjoyable week off work. I stayed in beautiful Thredbo village in the lovely Bernti's Mountain Inn, instead of driving back and forth from Jindabyne every day as in previous years. (Except last year when I was the lucky guest of the Brindabella ski club at one of their lodges in Guthega, where I could literally ski in the door at the end of the day.)
I ate some gourmet meals, as well as a couple of very nice pizzas. I had time to read, and knit; I watched Big Brother while pretending not to, I drank good coffee, I found out not all schnapps is horrible, and I breathed mountain air. I spent time with good friends and made some new ones. I woke up in a heated room every morning, something I sorely missed on Saturday morning in the freezing air of my bedroom at home!
I thought I might have started to find a bit of the magic on Wednesday morning. Tuesday had been a pretty good day. We did a lot of skiing and really worked hard. We had booked a private, 'early bird' lesson for an hour at 8:30am, and it was exhilarating to be one of the first on the lift and to get some 'first tracks'. And it's easier to concentrate on drills and technique when there aren't many people around, and your legs are still fresh.
So on Wedesday morning I was feeling lighthearted and skiing with friends. Then I unexpectedly fell over. On what was not even much of a slope, I crossed my tips, then righted them, slid my butt right down to the snow while still 'skiing', an oh-so-classy move which is sometimes recoverable, thought I was going to recover, then suddenly found myself sliding on my side towards a tree. Amazingly I didn’t hit the tree, stopping with my head a short distance from the trunk, and branches just above me. I had felt my knee twist a bit but it wasn't too painful. After getting my breath back and starting to laugh at myself, I got up and kept skiing, although a bit more cautiously. My knee seemed to be ok. But the hint of wahoo had gone into hiding.
That afternoon, we were sitting down, right at the bottom of Friday Flat, and I got a phone call from my friends. It turned out they were within sight, near the bottom of the lift, so I stood up to wave to them. Then I found myself flat on my back on the ground. I had dropped the phone and it turned itself off. I was laughing so hard I couldn't get up, and desperately tried to signal to Jane to wave to the others. I think that might have been my newly tricky knee.
That evening I discovered that my knee didn't feel so good walking. Or, bending at all really. I kept skiing the rest of the week though, because it actually didn't hurt to ski. I did try to be even more cautious than usual, though, to avoid another fall. I also tried to remind myself to look around, enjoy the view, and just enjoy the feel of being in the mountains, as I always have before. But I couldn't really get past a frustrated feeling.
I think I concentrated too hard on what's wrong with my technique, and most likely expected too much improvement for five days. After joining a group lesson on Monday and being very impressed with the instructor (thanks Kate!), we booked a series of private lessons for four mornings, and we went to the group lesson from 11:30 to 1:30 each day as well. I tried really hard to improve my skiing, but I don’t think I had enough time to make so many changes and really consolidate them. A week is not a long time to teach your muscles several new tricks. By Thursday I was just feeling really disheartened about my skiing and how far it is from what I want it to be. My legs were getting tired pretty quickly because I wasn’t moving efficiently, and then the tiredness made me lose technique even more.
Ever year I say I should take some notes. Here is my list of things to remember for next time I go skiing:
- angulation: bending at the ankles, knees and hips, progressively curving uphill; and
- inclination (‘tipping’): top half of body tipping downhill in response. (Dragging the uphill pole is a good drill to try to get into this posture).
- don't swing shoulders around. Imagine legs and feet turning independently under the body.
- get early edge - start edging before actually turning – the turn starts in the flat part of the ‘S’
- most or all weight should be on the downhill ski. (I’ve forgotten the name of the drill for this, which is to make turns with uphill foot raised in the air a bit, and slightly crossed above the other.
- starting for the day: get into a balanced position by jumping a little.
- good stance: rounded upper back (like a string pulling from between tops of shoulder blades), hands pole width apart, legs wide.
I don’t know if these are really expressed correctly or would be good advice for anyone else. They’re really just reminders for me of the things I learned, or re-learned. It’s quite likely that some are things I’ll have to do differently once I progress further, and that’s partly what’s so frustrating: knowing there’s such a long way to go.
So what happens now? Over the years I have been skiing, I’ve had many more WAHOO! days of skiing than mediocre ones. Really, that’s why this is suddenly an issue, because skiing’s never left me feeling blue before! But I’m still bitten by the bug, well and truly, and I still want to be a good skier. I’d love to be able to go heli-skiing one day. I guess I’ll just keep plugging away every opportunity I get, and think about creating a few bigger opportunities. Like this one.