First, a brief editor’s note: The editor did not mean to inspire alarm by mentioning her move to Virginia Beach in her last post. She would like to emphasize that she will still be living in the D.C. area for a large chunk of each month, and will be going back and forth between her temporary home there and the D.C. area, where she will continue writing what she hopes are compelling, interesting stories for her wonderful D.C.-area clients. She will continue to be available for swim dates, trail runs and other D.C. adventures, and will try not to brag too much about her long runs along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach. Also, the post-move chaos has mostly subsided now, and the editor will start communicating with the outside world again very soon.
One more brief editor’s note: If you’re new to this blog and aren’t already tired of hearing the editor whine about the ACL tear that derailed her ski training last winter after months of medical training, read about it here and here and here.
Now: The weekend. After getting our stuff semi-settled in Virginia Beach, Steve and I did the only sensible thing: Took off and drove up to Whitetail, which opened a bunch more terrain last week. We woke up at 6:30 a.m. to help open the mountain. Then, at 9 a.m., I joined this year’s ski-patrol candidate class on their first day of ski-and-toboggan (S&T) training.
The class consisted of three hours of thigh-busting ski drills and skills, including a lot of snowplowing. A LOT of snowplowing. Do not underestimate the impact that snowplowing will have on your glutes.
After a brief break for lunch, the rest of the class broke off to do mountain operations, which I limped through last year with my own candidate class. I asked the head S&T instructor, a former pro skier who’s known for transforming mediocre skiers into great ones, if he’d keep working with me in the afternoon. He agreed, and we started by working on my pole plants.
The thing I’ve done with my ski poles since I started skiing at age 7? That’s not what you’re supposed to do with poles. Previously, my poles (and therefore hands, and therefore upper body) were always lagging behind me—or worse, were held out absurdly far in front of me to compensate. So I worked on planting the pole downhill from me to unweight my edges each turn (don’t ask me where I was planting it, other than “the wrong place”). The first run I tried it, the change felt absurd and wrong. The second run felt good, except for the fact that every fiber of my being wanted to revert to my old, bad habit. The third run, I looked up at the instructor to see if I’d done good—and found him beaming.
The pole thing fixed, like, seven other bad habits I’ve been harboring. This will make sense to anyone who’s worked on their running or swimming form, or diagnosed a phantom overuse injury—our body parts don’t work in isolation, so of course changing one thing about your form will change everything! All because I fixed the dumb thing I was doing with my poles, I now finish my turns, lean forward rather than sitting back, engage both my edges. I have more balance and stability. We skied a few more runs to make sure I’d gotten it—I had.
I had also gotten REALLY sore, which the next 24 hours did not help with. A brief snapshot: I skied around a bit more, because although I was tired, the snow was so nice! I popped out of my skis and ran up one of the beginner slopes while wearing my ski boots with a few other patrollers to respond to an injured guest who needed to be put on a backboard. I hoofed around in ski boots a bit more after convincing a kid who was hopping around on one foot to come into the clinic and get his ankle checked out. I helped close the mountain at 10 p.m. that night, and woke up at 6:30 a.m. to help open it the next day. When I finally got home last night, I was beyond wrecked—like, post-marathon sore, the kind of sore in which you make funny noises when you have to stand up.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I realized my mentality had shifted. Last year, I was borderline obsessed with the coveted red coat, which you get after your training is totally complete and you’re a full ski patroller, and felt kind of pathetic and alone and absurd in my blue candidate coat after my classmates graduated. This year’s candidate coats are actually much more reasonable, and are simply regular red ski-patrol coats that have “candidate” written in the white cross. But as I was going through the class on Saturday morning, practicing the skiing techniques I’ll use once we’re in the handles of a toboggan, I realized the whole coat thing was kind of beside the point. I felt the same way in the afternoon, when I wasn’t thinking at all, but rather just focusing on each turn in that coveted state of flow. Somewhere along the way, I stopped caring around the end result, and stopped obsessing about whether I could do it, whether I was scared to do it, whether I’d be good enough at it … and started making like a Nike ad and just doing it.
Now, I’m not obsessed with when I’ll get the darn coat (which, for the record, I still want). Instead, I’m obsessed with when I’ll get to play with sleds, when I’ll get to transport my first patient, and when I’ll get to beat the pants off Steve while skiing with him.
At the end of the day, my cheeks were bright red—not from sunburn, but because I was smiling so big the whole day, my cheeks were sore from scraping the bottom of my sunglasses.
Better yet, as I write this, it’s snowing in Silver Spring!