Final ski tips of season
TWIN BRIDGES – Kathleen Halet took her quest to be a better skier outside her family. The San Francisco woman’s husband, John Hillstrom, was once an instructor at Northstar-at-Tahoe. She chose Sierra-at-Tahoe Sunday to get an overall review on improving her style.
“He’s such a good skier, but I wanted to get tips elsewhere,” she said, getting on the Easy Rider chairlift that morning for a warm-up run.
Halet was one of four skiers who showed up for the last women’s ski clinic of the season. The all-day clinics, which include lunch, run $65 with a pass and $105 without.
Sierra’s instructor Lynnea Anderson gladly accommodated Halet, disputing at least one of the pieces of advice her husband claimed.
“My husband told me to drop my shoulders when I turn,” Halet said, looking for an affirmative nod.
“That could get you into trouble. You just want to make sure your shoulders are parallel with the slopes,” Anderson said from the top of the West Bowl chairlift.
Anderson sprinkled the day with tips that involved all body parts. The main objective was to make turns more efficient, she said.
The 11-year veteran of ski instruction told the group to make a concerted effort to stand on their tip toes as they move their belly button into the turns. This tip follows an earlier suggestion to imagine a string between their belly button and the turning pole. She also suggested women should widen their stance to help decrease the stress on the knees. Women have wider hips.
Style is something the class agreed goes ignored in the passion of skiing.
There is one body part that was mentioned several times – especially when negotiating challenging terrain.
“When I’m skiing, I think a lot about my feet,” Anderson said. “So I’d like to make sure you all stand on the center of your feet.”
The extra balance and readied stance helps move skiers with grace through spring conditions that quickly fluctuate from crust to slush. The Sierra Nevada mountains have experienced a major meltdown in recent weeks, making conditions more challenging for groomers and skiers alike.
When moving through slush, Anderson recommended her class push on their uphill toes to slice through the heavy stuff while making turns.
“That was a very nice turn, Holly,” Anderson said, turning her attention to skier Holly Foster. The helmet-clad Placerville resident came up for the day to learn “to be graceful,” she said.
The requests women submit to ski instructors vary a bit from men, who sometimes turn the class into a competition according to Doug Pierini, ski and snowboard school director.
“Women aren’t necessarily looking to see how fast they can go,” he said.
With his first year at Sierra under his belt, the former Jackson Hole instructor and adult ski school manager, Scott Chaplin, wants to focus much of his energy on keeping the women’s clinics on tap to build their confidence and turn the slopes into a full-mountain experience.
From propelled dummies to skiers in drag, many resorts stage special events to maintain the level of excitement into the spring when many outdoor enthusiasts have moved on to other activities.
Pierini said he wouldn’t flinch at having clinics so late in the season. In particular, some skiers use the instruction to cross-train for other summer sports like mountain biking.
“It’s similar to skiing. When you’re going downhill, you need to react fast to the terrain,” he said.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
-Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org