Nothing But Slopes

21 Jan
Ski University Participant Karen Bareiss Conquers Park City's Slalom

Ski University Participant Karen Bareiss Conquers Park City’s Slalom

(Park City, Utah, January 21, 2013) This morning, after breakfast, twenty-seven Road Scholars skied out the door and onto Park City Mountain Resort for the first day of skiing, and – in the case of those on the Ski University Program – the first day of lessons. We spent the morning with instructor Howard Gravel and the five most advanced skiers in our group, and the afternoon with Jim Wilson and his two students. While they are all great on four edges, as they like to say, they are also some of the funniest and most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.

Instructor Howard Gravel with Alvaro Lema and Jim Broderick

Instructor Howard Gravel with Alvaro Lema and Jim Broderick

A sample of our lifelong learning lessons of the day included how to “pedal” down the mountain, which shoulder to drop and when, skiing on the balls of your feet – and to always keep your belly button facing downhill. Howard summed it up this way, “If your body tells you to do something it absolutely believes you have to do to survive, do the opposite.”

Ed Mattison on the moguls of Silver Lode Trail

Ed Mattison on the moguls of Silver Lode Trail

Park City has several historic silver mine structures on the sides of its slopes, but today we saw them as different kinds of landmarks. This afternoon, Jim told us to practice turning without poles down the hill until we came to the old ore chute on the right. It was that kind of a day – one focused on learning and improving our skills on skis.

Alvaro Lema skis all over the world, but he always attends Road Scholar's Park City Ski University

Alvaro Lema skis all over the world, but he always attends Road Scholar’s Park City Ski University

And it was a blast. Old friends teased each other about techniques that would make anyone proud. Rookies like yours truly were encouraged to have fun practicing movements that seemed “wrong” at first. Face plants were few, but they were celebrated with laughs and endless remembrances of similar moments from participants and instructors alike.

Karrie Frantz and Karen Bareiss on the way up Park City Mountain Resort

Karrie Frantz and Karen Bareiss on the way up Park City Mountain Resort

We ended the day with runs down slopes that seemed impossible just hours before, feeling more like the skiers we want to be, putting together at least half a dozen new tips into a new kind of downhill grace. The new combination of speed and control felt terrific. Or, as Howard put it, “Skiing is a thinking person’s game. That’s why I love teaching it to Road Scholars.”

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