In May 2016, at the end of a wonderful and intense ski season, I had a bad fall at A Basin. I ruptured my ACL and damaged my meniscus. It’s now 6 months later, and I’ll be allowed to ski this season, but only “gingerly” – my doctor used that word several times – and on very gentle, groomed runs. Nothing like my usual playground of steeps, bowls, and trees. The graft takes over a year to reach full strength. This season is going to be tough.
So, as part of my coping strategy, I’m re-publishing the lesson write-ups I did for The Ski Diva last season, 2015/16.
You can see the full list of ski lesson write-ups here: Ski School Experiences
Here’s the intro, originally posted on The Ski Diva on Dec 7, 2015.
Meta commentary: I no longer say that I “am” a level 9 skier. I say, “I ski with the level nines.” This is my attempt to recognize that while I may not yet have the fully developed skills to qualify as a level 9, I do ski challenging terrain aggressively enough that I ski with several groups that identify as level 9. The actual definition of a level 9 skier is hotly disputed on the internet, and as with so many things, it’s not worth arguing about. It doesn’t really matter as long as you’re skiing with people who can ski at about your pace and enjoy the same terrain.
I have participated in the Breck lesson club for at least five seasons. I started as a ski school level 6 and am now somewhere between an 8 and a 9 (or sometimes a 7? some days are rough!). Nine is the max, so I don’t feel I can ever claim it – there is no top end to 9. If Bode Miller attended our ski school, he’s be a 9. So it’s hard to know quite where the line is.
This season, Breck has changed the club significantly, so that you pay for a series of 10 weekdays. So you could choose 10 Thursdays, 10 Fridays, or 10 Saturdays. Additionally, if you have a full group of eight students and a willing instructor, you can sign up for ten of any other day you want.
I should clarify that the tenor of these lessons has not always been very, well, lesson-y. Early season, sure, drills and practice and refinement. Mid season, well, it depends. Maybe instruction happens throughout the day, but maybe it’s just a few words on the lift. It has a lot to do with the mood of the group and the instructor. I would say that mid season lesson club classes do not resemble what you probably picture as a lesson. It tends to be more, “Okay, where do you guys want to ski today?” or “It’s been two days since the big dump – let’s head to this stash I have in mind.”
I signed up for four lesson days in a row. I wasn’t able to choose my favorite instructor, Jenn, because she had schedule conflicts many of the days.
* Thursday and Friday with Matt. Just last season I started skiing terrain fast/confidently enough to be able to keep up with his weekday crew. Widely considered one of the best instructors at Breck.
* Saturday with Randy, a PSIA examiner. He comes highly recommended as one of the top skiers and instructors on the mountain. This is explicitly intended to be a more teaching-oriented class than is typical for the lesson club. I hadn’t ever taken a lesson with him before.
* Sunday with JJ, an instructor known for fast classes without a lot of coddling. This was the group I was least confident about, because of the rep JJ’s classes have (I probably would have felt the same about Matt’s classes if I hadn’t been in some last season) – but the ski buddies we were organizing with endorsed him, and JJ was up for it, so that was that!
So that’s the setup. Next up: Two days with MB!