Saturday, February 5, 2011

A perfect ski lesson

[On the right: Me making tracks in powder. Photo courtesy of Sasha.]

This is the third in a series of blog entries about cold and winter. (The other two are Onsen (温泉): the right way to do cold and Frozen in Tucson.)

At the very most charitable, I'd call myself a beginning intermediate skier. A friend of mine, Sasha, whom I've known for about 3 years, is an elite skier and coach.

With Sasha, I've run, biked, hiked (e.g. the Grand Canyon, see here), and swam but never before skied. The other day, I got the rare chance and good fortune to have her skiing with me and provide expert, one-on-one instruction and critique for most of a day. Needless to say, such opportunities don't come often, and I leapt at the chance. I must say, after her coaching, I truly don't remember how I managed to ski before. (Some might say what I did before hardly qualified to be called skiing anyway...)

The location? Sunrise Park Resort owned by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Nearly 4 hours drive from Tucson or Phoenix. Lift ticket just under $50. My equipment rental was $25. My 4 hour lesson? Priceless.

It was a beautifully sunny day just below freezing with almost no wind, and an almost empty park the day after an arctic cold front had dumped lots of snow on this 9,200 ft (2800m base height) small resort. The highest of the three small peaks is at 11,100 ft (3400m). Seems like we had great conditions, I even managed my well-supervised first attempt at ungroomed (powder) in the picture above.

On the approach road to Sunrise Park Resort (panorama taken with my Olympus E-P1):

Click here for the panorama.

Things like leg extension to partially shift weight onto the uphill ski, feeling the effect from moving the center of mass, not to mention use of those previously-thought-useless appendages called arms and pole planting with only the wrist at leg extension time, are abstract concepts that have now been grounded in tactile feel. In other words, they have begun to have real import and meaning. From neither rhyme nor reason to a bit of both now...

Late afternoon photo at 10,700' (3260m). It was a really clear day (picture taken with my iPhone 3G):

The obligatory souvenir picture:

I survived and had a great day of instruction. Thanks Sasha!


  1. Glad to see you moving into longer skis!

  2. Thanks Evan! Never going back to those little skis and no poles again...

  3. ...and never need to make that last, difficult (and ultimately unnecessary) step up to 200s. Lucky you!

  4. I used 150cm skis rented at Sunrise. I guess I could have gone up to 160cm.

  5. Wow! The snow there looks like fine powder. I bet you had a great time skiing. Great shots, by the way. =)