Aside from the vast mileage and daunting size of Killington, the
mountain also has the unique ability to draw an eclectic crowd. For
the second day of my learn to ski program, our class was made up of
an orthopedic surgeon, a retired gastroenterologist, the spouse of
a Central American Google employee and me, a physical therapist.
Much like my first day, ski school instructors divide participants
into groups according to skill level. From a bird's eye view we
must look like penguins congregating into groups with our miniature
Feeling a bit more confident than my first day on skis, I was
still weary of the kiddos on the slope. Even before skiing, I had
an image of little kids and what they looked like on skis. I
pictured two types of kids; one flew fearlessly down the hill
without regard to their surroundings and the other sat there eating
snow. The first does exist, however, they are smarter than I
thought and safer than I could have imagined. As for the latter, I
did not encounter any. I guess those who sit in right field picking
daisies during summer little league either do not ski or are more
amused with this activity and choose to participate.
But back to my lesson.
My primary goal for the day was: Do not fall onto or off of the
lift. Day two instruction begins immediately with boarding an
express quad at Snowshed Lodge. Having a minimal elevation gain
this hill most resembles what I deem "the bunny slope."
Boarding the lift was a breeze, however the descent off was
trickier. We were four amateurs riding a lift for the first time.
Even though it slows way down at the top, it felt fast. In my mind
we looked like horses out of the gate at Saratoga Speedway bumping
and jostling for positioning. In reality, we likely resembled colts
on their feet for the first time. But we did not fall, so I call it
Day two was by far the day I learned the most and actually felt
as though I was skiing for the first time. Our instructor, Mo,
tailored cues and feedback individually to each of us. Instead of
plowing or pizza wedging our way down the mountain we learned to
bring our heels in and keep the skis parallel. At first this was
difficult but through a number of drills I was able to get the hang
of it by the end of the first run.
The turning point for me was learning to corner using only my
down hill ski, more or less skiing on one ski. For others the
simple reminder to plan for what's 20 feet ahead helped with speed
control. What the theory behind the drills was I don't know, but
based on the results I do not question Mo's methods.
After instruction there were a number of runs taking a quarter
of the mountain at a time. This allowed me to blend the technique
drills and really work out the kinks. The methodology allowed us to
combine what we learned and actually move fluidly. This was a stark
difference from the red light green light stop and go of learn to
ski day one.
The most intimidating compenent to skiing for me is speed
control and stopping. Sure this is easier on a green low-angle
slope but what happens when you inevitably bang a right down a
The easiest way to slow down is to run perpendicular to the
slope. We learned the emergency stop or what I call "the little
4-year-old that came out of no where maneuver." This was
surprisingly easy and very similar to performing a hockey stop when
ice-skating. Stopping quickly involves throwing your heels forward
down the hill and your skis across the grade.
My secondary goal for the day was: Do not fall. Kids are not
afraid of falling and in fact they often seem to enjoy it. There is
something about being young and not having the experience of true
pain that makes this less of an issue. But, proudly, I did take a
plunge my second day on skis. It happened after I went over a large
mound of snow then around a bank. I started to pick up speed and
all of a sudden I turned too quickly and rolled over. But the fall
was not as scary as I anticipated and I learned what quick turns
and rash motions will do.
All in all it was a beautiful day with fantastic packed powder
and not too busy despite a large Google corporate outing. I learned
how to descend the mountain without looking like a fool. I was most
excited to learn that upon completion of a 3-day learn-to-ski
program I am eligible for 50% off lift tickets, lessons and rentals
for both 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons. I'll be back next week to
wrap up day three.
Killington, you really know how to hook 'em!