On the Slopes with Sam Bauman: Teaching an old teacher
For the Nevada Appeal
Sometimes when you go out to do a report it goes bust. Such was last Thursday when I went to Heavenly’s Boulder base to check out the new seniors clinic being offered. Somehow the word hadn’t gotten out and no students showed up. But Heavenly offered me a private ski lesson with my old fellow instructor Martin Reich, a transplanted Swiss who has been teaching at Boulder for 17 years.
I figured it would be a lark, and it was. But it was also a lesson in how easy it is to forget the right way to ski when all you’re doing is out there goofing off on the hill. Martin brought back to me all those simple directions that I used to give students, tips that I had mostly forgotten.
As Martin led me down Comet and Dipper runs I quickly found out where I had gone astray.
First off, after a run or two, Martin said, “You’re banking on your left turns,” something I thought that I had gotten out of years ago when the shaped ski and matching technique had come: no banking uphill, keeping the body on the fall line and inside the turn.
His tip to get out of the habit: lift the uphill ski as I begin the turn, forcing the body inside the arc. It worked, despite the rule that you keep both skis on the snow at all times.
Then I complained that for the first time in many years my quads were burning after a short run. Never used to happen even when we instructors would ski from the top of Olympic chair all the way to the Boulder base.
“You’re sitting in the back seat,” he said. “When you do that you make your quads work a lot harder. Remember the ‘Z’ shape: hands and body forward, knees flexed and ankles flexed and shins against the boot tongues. Easier on the quads and better skiing.”
Right he was. Holding the “Z” took effort at first but once back in the groove, was easy. No more thigh burn.
Then there was the old relationship to the surface of the snow. Martin held up a ski pole. “You want your body vertical to the surface of the snow and hill. The steeper the hill the more you lean forward,” he said, shifting his pole in relation to the snow surface.
And later, the hands. “You remember how you used to tell your students to keep their hands out front? You’re not doing it.”
And he was right; I had slipped into letting my hands come back against my hips. That pulls you into the back seat position, as well as asking for an ACL if you fall and your body goes backward onto the snow.
Martin took me through many corrective moves and at the end of our three hours I felt like I was once again actually skiing the hill, rather than just surviving.
Incidentally, Martin in the summer raises grapes, 1,200 plants of them. In the past he sold the grapes to vintners, but last year he experimented with making wine himself. “Only four gallons but more this year.” If you want to sample his wine, check email@example.com. But not until fall.
And if you want a fine instructor, try Martin at Boulder. He did good things for this aging one-time ski coach.
Great weekend ahead
Lake Tahoe ‘s buried in snow from the big winter storm systems that have moved through the area. Nearly three feet of new snow has fallen on Heavenly Mountain Resort (www.skiheavenly.com) in the past seven days. Combined with the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system and Heavenly’s expert grooming team, the fresh snow provides skiers and snowboarders with Lake Tahoe ‘s finest snow surface conditions.
Resorts around Lake Tahoe predict a fine weekend of snowsporting. Check Web sites for updates.
With an expected break in the storm systems this weekend, Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be some of the best days this season to date. Roadways are expected to be clear this weekend.
SOMETHING NEW AT SIERRA-AT-TAHOE
If you’re one of those skiers or riders who gets cold feet out on the slopes, you might well enjoy the Slipper Exchange at S-A-T, a new 1,800-square-foot deck at the Baja Bar and Grill in West Bowl.
But for cold feet, the Slipper Exchange offers to swap slippers for cold boots so that guests can enjoy warm feet while taking a break or lunching. It’s run by Schlange “Hollywood” Schwalbe, a veteran S-A-T who knows which are the best runs and where there may be powder stashes.
• Contact Sam Bauman at 841-7818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.