Moving on up

While evaluating my skiing progress, I find that there seems to be a huge gap between Levels 1 to 3 and Level 4 and up. To move from Level 1 to Level 3, the necessary skill set follows a steady and gradual advancement. But when you get to the point where you transition from green runs to beginner blues, that’s where it kind of gets tricky. Do I stay on Level 3 or should I move on to Level 4?

It also depends on the ability of other people in your group. Like last week, I was signed up to go on Level 4, however, the only other person in my group already skis intermediate blue to black runs. I was more than happy to stay on Level 3 because we knew it just wouldn’t work. She wouldn’t be able to work on the skills she wants to improve; I, on the other hand, would be overstretching myself to even attempt those advanced runs. I knew it was a right decision when, at the end of my lesson, I saw her at the bottom of the hill with a huge grin on her face. She was able to get the one-on-one instruction she needed to advance in her skiing techniques. “I was getting ahead of myself. Now I learned that I should slow down a bit and really focus on building my skills,” she told me.

“My sentiments exactly,” I thought to myself. I learned that slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean regressing. It was just making sure that you have a skill set down pat so you can keep building on it. You can’t be a solid skier without a solid foundation of skills.

Today, I was fortunate to have a one-on-one lesson with my ski instructor and yep! I’m in Level 4! I thought I can finally try new runs and just push the envelope a little bit more.

My ski instructor was Katie, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with two weeks ago. The runs for today were like exams of increasing difficulty: first was a warm up on Five Mile with a few mini lessons on balance thrown in.

Ever tried skiing with one foot while keeping the other raised? I found that flamingoes would exhibit more elegance than I in that respect. But I did saw some improvement the more I practised.

Next up was Sundance where I applied the lessons I learned but on a steeper terrain. We also worked on edging. For this part, I executed well with the downhill leg but needed a bit more work controlling the uphill leg to really make the skis’ edges grip the snow.

The third run was the ultimate test and one I’ve never been on before: Cruiser. The initial part of the slope was fairly gentle, so Katie took this time to revisit the side slipping technique. It’s the all-time lifesaver for skiers who end up on a very steep terrain and aren’t comfortable about skiing down. You basically position your skis parallel to the slope and slowly let the skis slide down by rolling your ankles slightly downhill. This time, side slipping while facing right was much easier. However, doing the same while facing left was a challenge. All the while, I was keeping a mental checklist on which ones to work on and this would be one of them.

I admit that Cruiser makes me slightly nervous. And nervousness is a funny thing. It snowballs inside the head until it manifests in the way you ski. That’s what happened to me. A couple of falls later, I realized what was happening. So I reigned in my thoughts, kept thinking positively and couldn’t believe it when I did make it down without any more falls. And let me tell you, it felt great! As the season is almost over, I look forward to skiing more and challenging myself more each week. See you on the slopes!

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