February 13, 2009

The Magic Carpet

Riding The Magic Carpet

A few days ago, I completed a four day Level 1 Ski Instructor Course. It was the first time in 15 years that I'd put on real alpine boots and locked my heels. Luckily for me, the material was designed so that a even a lemur could pass. The event was held at Sunshine and most of the other participants were aspirant ski instructors from the UK who thought the word "backcountry" was Canadian slang for one's derriere. For four days, we snowplowed, rode green runs, learned to instruct 5 year old hellions, and perfected the art of intermediate parallel turns.

Despite the basic nature of the course, I had a good time. The instructors were excellent and the other students were amazing to behold. Every morning, I would release a little steam and skin up the hill on my tele sticks. I would then duck in to a phone booth, change in to a borrowed alpine set-up, and emerge with fixed heels and a cape.

I don't spend much time riding the lifts, so I learned a ton about ski hill etiquette. For instance, I learned from my British peers that the chairlift bar must come down within 0.3 seconds of getting on the chair. I don't know how many times these guys smashed me on the head with the cold steel before I learned The Rule. I also learned a new expression: Mood Hoover. Apparently, some of the other students in the course were not overly fond of one of the instructors so they graciously bestowed this name upon him. But of all the awesome things I saw and heard during this four day course, the undisputed high-light came when one of the older students, an English Bloke on leave from the Royal Air Force, became disgruntled over some unproductive feedback from an instructor. The conversation went something like this:

Instructor: "Hey Jimmy, you're screwing up x, y, and z."

Jimmy: "I know what I'm doing wrong. What is my tactic?"

Instructor: "Well, the hip socket, pivot, edge control, pressure, hands back, weight, stance..."

Jimmy (getting agitated): "I know what I'm doing wrong. What is my tactic!"

Instructor: "Well, blah blah blah edgie wedgy, forward lean and a little de-canter."

Jimmy (about to blow ): "I know what I'm doing wrong! What is my tactic!!!"

The back and forth went on like this for some time and I would be lying if I didn't admit to formulating an escape plan for when Jimmy pulled out his RAF assault rifle and commenced the blood-letting. But the altercation blew over with little more than some elevated blood pressure and Sunshine Ski Resort was spared a massacre.

The position I often found myself in during the course.

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