Ladies Day Jan 2014 – Just Like Riding a Bike (or Speeding Down a Mountain)!

This is Lindsay, here to fill in for Nancy and share my first Sundance Ladies Day experience of 2014 (Nancy will pphoto 2ost next week).

I am excited to be participating in Ladies Day for the third time.  I have been snowboarding for about 9 years and really love it.   However, my children (ages 4 and 6) are learning to ski and I want to be able to ski along with them and help them to progress, which is hard to do on a snowboard.  I also like the versatility of being able to choose my sport based on weather and conditions.  My family has been coming to Sundance regularly since moving to Utah 5 years ago and I love everything about the beauty and peace of the land.  I had a wonderful experience learning to cross-country ski at the Sundance Nordic Center Ladies Day a few years ago, so when Nancy suggested that I join her for downhill ski lessons, it didn’t take much to convince me.

Last winter I had a great time learning to ski and found that my downhill experience, combined with the great learning environment of Ladies Day, made it easy to progress in my skiing ability.  After a month of lessons, I skied a few times on my own, then signed up for another month of Ladies Day instruction to advance my skills.  However, a fall on an icy patch in the second week resulted in a knee injury that cut my ski season short.

So, it was with some nervousness that I approached my first ski day of 2014.  I was not afraid of an injury, but I was worried that after going 9 ½ months without practicing my newfound skills, they would be lost.  Utah was treated with some great early season snow, but each time I went to pack up my gear I regarded the skis with wariness (do I even remember how to put those on?!) and instead chose my old standby, the snowboard.  I remembered that I liked skiing and it felt very natural to learn, but that seemed so long ago.  My snowboarding skills are much stronger than my skiing abilities.  I thought, “What if I get up there and forget everything and waste a great snow day?”  Thus, the skis stayed packed away.

The morning of the first Ladies Day arrived and after the usual frenzy of getting my kids to school, I began the 30 minute drive to Sundance Resort.  As I entered the gorgeous Provo Canyon, my nervousness began to dissipate as I let myself be calmed by the natural beauty.  The drive to Sundance is lovely in any season, but in winter the snow on Mount Timpanogos and the surrounding peaks make it difficult not to feel at peace.  But, the butterflies returned when I struggled getting into my boots and tried to remember the right way to carry my skis and poles through the parking lot (one board is so much easier to manage!).  By the time I got to check-in I was unsure how to identify my skills to the Ski School staff since I had convinced myself that I was likely a Beginner again even though I ended last season in the Advanced group.  I settled on Intermediate, hoping not to embarrass myself too badly if I was wrong.

As I checked in with the Ladies Day staff, I was greeted by the friendly face of Kelly.  Kelly introduced me to my instructor, Cody Hale, who is the husband of the awesome Linda Hale.  Nancy and I had the pleasure of being in Linda’s class for Ladies Day last season and had a wonderful time.  I also heard great things about Cody from Nancy, who was in his class during her first experience with Ladies Day, so I was excited to get to work with him, as well.  Also in my group were two other women, Gayelynn and Becca.  I expressed my concern to the group about not remembering all that I learned last season and Cody gave me a reassuring smile, saying it was just like riding a bike.  I wasn’t convinced, but I was committed.

To my delight, I did remember how to put on my skis and made it onto the lift without falling.  The time on the lift was used to talk about our skiing experience, but for Cody the best assessment was to watch us ski.  We got off the lift at Mid-Mountain and he allowed us to ski for a bit without interruption so that he could determine our individual skill level.  He quickly noted our strengths and weaknesses and we began to work on edging and turning.  With some new techniques from Cody and echoes in my head of Linda’s past advice, it did not take long for me to feel the confidence return to my body as I made my way down the mountain.  Even though it had been many months since making the same movements, the skills came quickly back to me and it felt GREAT!

After making our way to the base, we rode Ray’s Lift to the top and worked on some different techniques while heading over to Jake’s.  We were happy to find that the conditions near Jake’s lift were great; the sun was shining and the trails were perfectly groomed for working on our turns.  The pitch of the hill allowed for us to work on our edges and practice using our speed, which the speed-demon in me loved.  After a few runs at Jake’s, I was really happy when Cody said we should go to the Back Mountain, via Flathead Lift.

One of the great perks of Ladies Day is riding the lifts with the other women in the group.  I enjoy getting to know them and finding out what has motivated them to learn to ski.  For Becca, it was to catch up to her 5 children who have all learned to ski at Sundance and are each becoming very skilled.  She wants to be able to ski with them and feels she needs to improve her skills to match theirs.  Becca’s 4 year old son was taking a lesson that day with the same instructor, Rebecca, that my son worked with a few weeks before.  Rebecca is a new instructor to Sundance and Becca was happy to hear that my son had a great experience with her.  She was glad to be able to bring him to a lesson while she was enjoying hers, which is another benefit of Ladies Day.

photo 1 The view from the top of Bearclaw is one of my favorite spots on earth.  This was the first time for Gayelynn to be there and she seemed very open and relaxed, which was inspiring to see.  We took advantage of the crystal clear view and took a photo from the top.  After the photo, we put together all of the skills we had been working on throughout the morning for the last run from the top of the mountain to the base, taking Bearclaw to Round Up, a diverse and scenic trail which is a family favorite.

We made it to the base exhilarated but disappointed that the lesson had come to an end.  It had been a great lesson to review and to build on my previous skills.  It was hard to recall the doubts I had just a few hours before.  Cody’s easy reassurance was right.  Once you learn to ride a bike, you cannot un-know it.  Now that I have learned to ski, I am a skier.  Though I cannot change that my first love was snowboarding, I’m grateful for the experiences at Sundance Ladies Day that have provided me with yet another way to speed down a mountain.


Skiing as a Family

Nancy and Lindsay discuss how to get the entire family into winter sports like skiing–both downhill and cross country.  Don’t stay locked inside the house this winter–get out together and enjoy an amazing, healthy time together.

Learn more about skiing lessons at Sundance Resort on our Sundance Ladies Day page. Learn about the 5th and 6th Grade Ski and Snowboard Passport.

Check out Lindsay and Nancy conquering the mountain!LadiesDayGroup

Reaching the Top

TopThe Last Day of my 2013 Sundance Ladies Day  classes was everything I could have hoped for.  Utah was caught in a crazy snowstorm and my husband did not want me to go up the mountain.  But how could I miss out on fresh powder?  I checked the road conditions in the canyon and got a call from someone who had already reached Sundance and knew the roads were better in the canyon than in town so I went for it.

The kids and I crept up canyon.  It took us twice as long to get there–but I cannot complain because that is all of 30 minutes.  When we reach Sundance, the sky is almost clear and everything seems perfect.  I realize that we have forgotten my helmet and goggles. I know it will be snowing up top so they are a must.  At the Sundance Outfitters, I am quickly helped by a rental helmet and a generous 40% off on a pair of goggles (didn’t know I needed new ones, but Hey–can’t miss this day).

Problem solved we head to Ski School.  The kids quickly find their instructors and head out happy for a day of skiing.  Lindsay has brought her daughter for her first downhill ski lesson.  Her daughter has skied cross country, but never downhill.  As always, Sundance is ready for anything and has an instructor waiting for her.

Our first activity is to try out the pole plant.  Linda is a bit worried that we are not ready, but she is such a great teacher that we quickly get a handle on it (or at least a basic understanding of what we are supposed to do–I don’t get it each time but I can see how it is helpful).

With the first lesson of the day under our belt, we decide that we had better tackle the top of the mountain today.  When I started Sundance Ladies Day this year, I thought MAYBE we would get to the top, but I wasn’t sure that I would be ready.  I find myself totally excited and ready to do it.  Something about being with Linda, one of the great instructors, and with other ladies makes it seem natural.

TopNancyLindsayRachelWe head up to find that the storm brewing in the valley is also at the top of the mountain.  So there is no clear view of the valleys below.  But here is the proof that we made it to the top!  I am so excited that I made it there.  It is my first time EVER making it to this point.  But now, we have to ski down (and remember that pole plant technique too!).  I was a bit nervous and I think all of us were a bit unsure since we could not see too many feet in front of us with the blowing snow, but we trusted Linda and headed out.

Amy’s Ridge is beautiful even in a snowstorm and so easy to ski.  LOVED IT!  I even got some pole planting done.  The powder snow was amazing! Wow is all I can say.  I had often thought people who ski are sadistic–who would want to hurdle themselves down a mountain on slippery wooden planks?  Now I get it.  So much fun!

On our way down, I am able to practice pole planting and also a bit of deep powder skiing.  On one of the runs (Roundabout), we get into some deep stuff.  I took two spills, but thanks to my protection pants, nothing hurts.  I love these pants created by Demon Sports.  Check out my post about equipment here.   I don’t fear falling anymore and I am even able to get up myself so I have made great progress since last year.

We are able to get in another fabulous run on Jake’s Lift and even though I still have tons of things to work on, skiing is getting to be just fun and exhilarating.  We are   doing more straight down the hill skiing and feeling how to control our speed and have fun with the turns. We are also able to see Lindsay’s daughter skiing down the first stop and even jumping on her skis for us.  She has learned to ski in one lesson!  She is as cool as her mommy!

LindaNancyI can’t tell you how sad I am that next week, I don’t have a lesson.  I can’t take in February or I would.  I will be back in March because it is so much fun.  I have loved Sundance Ladies Day this year even more than last year and can see why ladies come back year after year and bring their friends.  I have two other friends who will be coming in March and Rachel and Lindsay have sworn that they are coming too!  So, start in February and then join us in March!  We would love to see you on the mountain!

For more information on my experience this year and last, check out my Sundance Ladies Day  page.

Crunchy Ladies Day on the Mountain

IMG_0676  Day 3 of my 2013 Sundance Ladies Day was bitterly cold!  REALLY.  But the sky was bluebird blue and the air was clear.  This winter, that is a huge plus since the air in the valley has been very unhealthy.

IMG_0673One of the best things about Sundance Ladies Day is that you can bring your kids and they can take ski lessons for only $120.  The lessons are semi-private, but most of my childrens’ lessons were one-on-one.  We have participated in other Sundance Ski School lessons and I find that these are the best ones.  Check out these happy smiles!

IMG_0672Another thing that is great about Sundance Ladies Day is the opportunity to ski and meet with other women.   First thing in the morning, we gather together and chat as we get ready to ski.  I have met some great women and made some new friendships.

On to my lessons: The snow was reminiscent of last season when the snow was icy and crunchy.  A lot of my old habits began to appear.  I was tense and struggled to learn the nw skills.  But Linda is such a good teacher that she helped me over the hump.  Not everyday is going to be easy and Linda was able to fine tune her teaching to help me.  We spent the lesson learning how to get our bodies into the C shape needed to ski correctly and getting the parallel turns correct.

IMG_0680Again, Linda took me to places that I have never been on the mountain!  We had so much fun trying new places and working on our skills.  Even though the day was COLD, the scenery is amazing so it was totally enjoyable.

Additionally, something I really cherish about my Sundance Ladies Day classes is how much space there is on the mountains.  We practically have the mountain to ourselves.  I get angry on the weekends when I have to share the mountain with others.  Check out this video of us doing a first run of the day.  Not my best skiing (blame it on the ice), but not too bad for a beginner.  First Pass of the Day

Thanks to Linda, I was able to get past some of my bad habits from last season and get better at skiing on not-so-perfect snow.

The BEST Day Ever! Skiing in 2013

Today was the start of Sundance Ladies Day and I can’t say enough about what an amazing day it was!  The snow is SO much better than last year and skiing on snow instead of ice is really amazing.

But, I get ahead of myself.  I checked my kids out of school and we headed up the mountain.  Living 20 minutes from Sundance is really a blessing.  When we got there, we found that my neighbor had come up for her very first time on skis in her life!  We had not expected to see her there, but it was fabulous that she is starting–and can I tell you–she did way better than moi on my first day.  I did not get off the bunny hill and she made it to the first stop (and down safely)!

The excitement continued to build as we headed for Ski School.  My kids went to meet their teachers and I greeted my friends Cody and Linda Hale and saw a few familiar faces from last season.  But, I did not see Lindsay, our co-host, who was supposed to be at the class and learning to ski for the first time (she snowboards so I was hoping she would be in the same group as me).

We took the lift up to the first stop so the instructors could see our skiing levels and divide us into groups by abilities and desires.  Of course, I knew I would be in the beginning group (not the new skier group, but one step up).  I did not embarrass myself, but I could see that the other ladies were much better than me.  But that is OK because this is my second season!

I was so excited to find out that Linda Hale would be my instructor for Ladies Day.  We were joined by Rachel, a mom from Australia who had not skied in 10 years and wanted to get her technique better.  We started our class by discussing what our goals were for the season and where we feel we were at.   I wanted to get myself out of the wedge and into parallel skiing with more ease.

Linda is an Amazing instructor (as they all are) and she quickly knew what skill drills we needed to start with.  At first, it was a bit difficult, but soon all those skills I tried to learn last year came back to me and they were actually working on REAL snow.

I can’t say enough about the day.  It really was my best skiing day EVER so far.  I started out hoping that by the end of the 4 weeks, I would be parallel skiing to actually being able to parallel ski on the first day!  Working with other women is fabulous because we all support each other.  I could see what Rachel was doing that I had done previously and I could quickly give her a pointer that I had learned.  She could help me and was patient when I was having issues.  Of course working with Linda made it so easy too because she knows how to teach other women to ski.  Like she told me 6 years ago–she has never lost a student!

Closer to the end of the day, we found Lindsay and my friend skiing with their instructor.  Since Lindsay had snowboarded before, she was more comfortable with skiing and she joined us in our beginner class.  It was so much fun to ski with her.  Something about skiing together with other women makes skiing more fun and easier to learn–I am not sure why but it is better than a 1 on 1 lesson by far.

I was able to see my kids enjoying themselves and I even saw Alex skiing backwards!  He really rocked the mountain!  The kids had a fabulous day and loved everything.  Their instructors were both fabulous and I am excited to get them up on the mountain again!

LOVED LOVED LOVED everything about today’s Ladies Day!  It feels so good to conqueror the mountain! I promise to post a video next week.  I was so nervous that I forgot.  But I did get a picture!  Check our smiles out!

For more information on my experience this year and last, check out my Sundance Ladies Day  page.

Sundance Ladies Day: Can’t Stop Now

After 4 lessons at Sundance Ladies Day, I decided that I needed to keep going and I signed up for another 4 lessons.  The experience was different the second time around.  I did not take my daughter (how much school can one kid miss?), I already knew what I was getting in to, I had a different experience with the instructors and I had some actual snow to ski on for one of the days.

Sundance Ladies Day Lesson 3 Getting the Hang of This

This time at Sundance Ladies Day, I actually did something closer to skiing.  Don’t pay too much attention to the flailing arms, but look what I did on my second day actually getting off the lift at the first stop.  Can you believe it?  I could not. In only three lessons, I am going down the mountain! Even though I fell quite a bit, I am so glad to be up on skis instead of down on the snow.  I think I am getting the hang of this skiing thing. I can’t wait to come back next week!  Cody has been such a great teacher and it has been so wonderful to get to know him as we have been sitting on the lift.

My daughter smoked down Sundance–she even went to the second stop. Oh how I wish I had learned as a kid.

Such a wonderful experience and now I can ski a bit! I am looking forward to learning more and getting better.  I don’t have any illusion that I am done learning, but I am on my way!  No more bunny hill for me.

Sundance Ladies Day Lesson 2 Got On The Lift

This week’s Sundance Ladies Day lesson was not half as bad as last week’s.  My daughter and I had an easier time walking to the lessons in our boots and our angels were there to help again. Thank goodness those lovely ladies are there to help the stranded.

Once we got to the Ski School, my daughter took off happily with her instructor.  I met up with Cody with a bit of fear in my heart. He had told me last week that we would be taking the lift up for sure today. I cannot even imagine the idea of getting on the lift, not to mention getting off the lift.  It is one of my greatest fears.

Cody and I took off to the bunny hill and after several semi-successful runs (with fewer falls), Cody said I was ready to take the lift.  However, I first had to make it down from the bunny hill to the lift–a very daunting task for someone on her first lesson on a day when there is very little snow to soften the fall.  Thanks to Cody and his patience, we made it down to the lift.  I was so scared.  I have been on the lift in the summer with a mountain bike, but that is one thing–no storm trooper boots with sticks strapped to your legs to get in the way of getting off.  How was I supposed to get off and not fall off?

Cody promised me that I would be able to get off successfully.  He has this ability to make me feel calm and trust him.  So, I went with him.  We chatted for the few minutes it took to get to the first stop–not long enough for me.  When the first stop came, he guided my elbow and somehow, I got off the lift without falling.  It was a great achievement for me.

And then I saw it–the mountain!  It was the bunny hill on steroids.  How was I supposed to get down from there?  People were swishing around me with smiles on their faces, enjoying themselves.  But I was stunned by the task that was ahead of me.

I really don’t know how I made it down.  I fell a few times and it took us about 30 minutes to get down, but I made it.  I actually skied down the first stop!  My daughter passed me several times while I was trying to get down.  She was so happy.  Oh, to be small!  I am proud that I made it.  Even if I never go up again, I made it down!

Sundance Ladies Day Lesson 1 The Might Fall Hard

Today was one of the hardest days I have had in a long time–just getting from the car to the Sundance Ladies Day ski school took everything I had.  How do skiers walk in these dumb boots wearing these hot clothes and carrying these heavy skis and poles.  Make this times two since I had my daughter with me and had to carry her stuff and help her walk in the boots. Luckily, no one was filming us because we probably looked very silly.  When we finally tromped to Sundance, we were met by a legion of angels–women there to help lost people find their way around. They helped us find how to finish registration for Ladies Day and Ski School and one lady was even kind enough to walk back to my car and retrieve my poles which I forgot.  Then, these angels helped us walk to the ski school and even gave Anna a certificate for a free hot chocolate at the end of her lesson (I guess I wasn’t fooling anyone that I was ready to be anything than the hot chocolate mama).

My daughter, of course, was ready and excited to learn to ski.  She took off with her teacher, Kaleb, and was happy as a clam.  Never having been to Sundance Ladies Day , I was very pleased to find out that my ski instructor would not be a college-aged kid who does not understand the workings of a older body.  To my great joy, my instructor turned out to be Linda’s husband Cody.  After years of convincing me to learn to ski, Linda could not be my teacher, but Cody stepped in.  The touch of grey in his hair gave me confidence that I was in good hands (along with the fact that everyone kept telling me he was the best instructor around).

That was the best part of the day.  I actually want to forget most of the rest of today.  While my daughter whizzed around me doing everything with ease, I had a hard time doing anything.  I thought it was bad while I was at the bottom of the hill (trying to make small turns and shift my weight and move the skis around), but then, Cody and I went up to the bunny hill. Walking up there in those boots almost put me under!

Surprisingly, I did great at the tow rope–thanks to lots of tubing runs at Soldier’s Hollow. But then, the real test came–getting down the bunny hill.  I have bruises on my bruises.  I fell so many times and I don’t think I will ever get the hang of skiing.  Four lessons is not going to be enough.

All I can say is that I feel bad for Cody who had to hold my skis so I did not fly down to my demise.  Why did I ever think I could do this?  Actually, it was a bit fun and I could see if I can get the hang of this, I will probably enjoy myself.  Well, I guess I will be back next week to try again. Learning something for the first time is always hard.

As an FYI, my daughter conquered the bunny hill before I even got to it and took the lift to the first stop where she skied down with her instructor.  Oh, to be young, foolish and close to the ground! We ended our day with hot chocolate, of course!