A Great Day of Ski Instructing!
Updated: Apr 25
Went to work, parked in a parking lot that meant I had to walk uphill with my skis and in my boots because it was an offsite parking day. Real pain in the butt. I was cranky.
Then, morning “meeting” on the snow, in the sunshine, message: be safe, it’s April 1, Gaper day, drink and get high and dress up and ski day. The partying starts on the Park City Mountain and it would move over to Canyons. In honor of the day, I was wearing a black tutu over my ski pants and under my ski jacket. I mention to one of the supervisors, Sebastian, that I had a couple of instructors over for dinner last night.
“I can do it again,” I say.
“Great,” he says, “Party at Kate’s!”
Checked a bunch of kids in. This means introducing myself, kneeling in front of them, saying "hi" and then asking them if they can turn, if they can stop and to show me with their feet how they turn or stop. The parents typically don't know. "He can I was slotted--and worried--to teach youth, who are 7 to 14. was relieved when Emma, another supervisor, said she needed me to work 4s, I was like, FINE!
But then Sebastian needed me on Youth and radioed Emma so I stayed on Youth. Gulp.
While I waited with my group as it formed and reformed, I made sure I knew everyone’s names and they knew their names. i started on boot exercises --doing movements that they’re going to have to do with their skis, just to start to familiarize themselves with how it feels. I have them do a wedge and ask them where they feel it in their legs, which muscles, so that they can recognize it when they are on skis and flying downhill.
And we also work on the responsibility code. Be safe. ski in control,, down hill skier has the right of way, that means you have to go around them. And then, HAVE FUN!
One girl, Hannah, had a nut allergy, she and her brother were also gluten intolerant. I hat it when they had me the giant epiipen box. I’m like, I hope there’s two in there because if I have to administer it to her, I am going to go into shock myself and will need it myself.
On the gondola, I talked to them more about the responsibility code--Safe, Fun! AND THEY GOT IT!
Then I wanted to know what they wanted to do. The two boys, Fitzgerald and DJ wanted to race. The girls--13-year-old Talia, her sister Liana and Hannah, DJ’s big sister, just wanted to learn to ski.
And they fucking did.
It did not start out well. More than foot of new snow on the ground, Cloudless blue sky and sun that made the snow really packy. Cleaning off the bottoms of their boots--with my food scraper--took forEVER because they’d lose their balance, put their foot back in the snow and bang, more snow on the book for me to chip off.
Sebastian, a really cool supervisor who has been getting kind of grump with me because I was not great in getting a couple of crying kids up the hill, comes by, and I’m like, fuck, he is going to continue to think I am such an incompetent.
He’s pretty understanding, though, and leaves.
It gets worse. Fitzgerald starts to cry, he is so frustrated. I’m like Thank God Sebastian isn’t around to see this! I totally understand Fitzerald’s frustration.! And then, I just spread out my jacket on the ground and have them stand on it, I chip the snow off their boots, and I get all their skis on them.
And then, instantly, the day got better. And I discovered that I love working with Youth, or at least the Never Evers who are younger..
Here is why. I love the little kids, the three- and four-year-olds. Zero artifice. They are SO CUTE. And funny! And adorable. However. I had spent the day before with two adorable four year old twins--identical, I had to look at their skis , whcih had their names on them, to keep their names straight. They were Never Evers and learned how to ski down hill. But they liked falling down to stop --they were not interested in wedging. So I was picking them up--they have vests with handles on them--all day long.
Even though I know how to lift without hurting my back, it’s tough. And it’s not because of my age.
Another instructor, a big young guy, had three little kids and had to keep picking them up.
“I am going to need a drink after this,” he said to me at the top of the magic carpet. At least you can drink, I thought to myself.
But the Youth? Whoa. They are seven and up. they learn to put on their own skis and kick the snow off, They can get up when the fall down without me having to pick them up. They can get their thumbs into their mittens.
Going to the bathroom? Piece of cake! And there is a big difference in their cognitive ability.
I pretty much stick the to progression--that’s when you start with movements boots only and then add skis. just one ski at a time. I do go faster than I want to because they are so impatient. But I want them to get the thrill of one run down and then we can go back and review if they are really in trouble.
They GET IT! THEY FUCKING LEARN TO SKI!
Fitzgerald comes up the magic carpet.
“I love skiing!” he says.
OMG. My heart floods with endorphins or whatever it is. THEY ALL GET IT!
I have them go down the hill a bunch. Repetition builds neurological something or other I learned in one of my clinics. Plus they are loving it. We go in for lunch--they don’t want to go! Dig it.
After lunch I say “Okay, we have to get good on turns if you want to go on the big hill. Here is what I want you to do.” I don’t let them put on their skis. I tell them we are going to walk down the hill in a pattern--like what Eliana and Gav used to do in riding lessons, one of their instructors had them walk the pattern before they did it on the horse. I want them to do wide turns down the hill because when they’re on the big hill, they are going to really need how to slow down.
So we make a big conga line, I impress on DJ and Fitzgerald the importance of following the person in front of them and we do a series of S turns down the hill. Just in our boots.
And by God, it worked.
I let them put on their skis.
Their first turns are narrow. “You gotta make ‘em wider,” I say.
“Coach Kate, Coach Kate, we want to go on the big hill!” That’s just some of them. Talia, the 13-year-old, is tall, it’s harder for her. She has NO interest in the big hill. I love her; she has great fashion sense and has dressed both cutely and appropriately for a sunny day. Overalls and a long sleeved midriff top. Adorable. I had them all take off their jackets. Just too damn hot
“My mom told me to put on another later and I didn’’t,” she says.
“Smart,” I say.
Anyway, every time someone says they want to go on the big hill, I’m like, “I have to see you slow down, I have to see you stop, I have to see you make right turns and left turns.”
I tell them a little bit about putting more weight on one leg to turn, but not much, What works best is if I run in front of them , zig zagging down the hill and they keep their eyes on me and they instinctively turn.
“You go where you look,” I tell them. And then I add, half to myself, “It’s a good metaphor for life.”
After lunch, the twins from yesterday show up with another instructor. They remember my name! “Miss Kate, Miss Kate,” they say, waving at me. Ooh they really liked me! And they are adorable.
As I walk up and down the hill, I pick up other instructors' threes and fours who are lying there saying “help me, help me,” even when my kids say, “Coach Kate, help me!”
It’s like a war zone, bodies scattered all over the hill, cries for help subside, not because they’re dead or frozen but because they start entertaining themselves by eating the snow or trying to make snowballs or looking up at the sky or just getting lost in their thoughts.
But as the afternoon wears on the calls go from “Coach Kate, help me!” to “Coach Kate, watch me! Watch me!”
And when they get it, I am SO damn excited. I am fucking jumping up and down in my ski boots. Almost all of them can turn.
Talia, who is so tall, always falls about half way down. And then, she MAKES IT! I am jumping up and down. “You did it! You did it”
She comes up the magic carpet, “You did it, you did it! Are you proud of yourself?”
And she gives me a big smile. She is.
She wants me to take photos of her, I take 20.
I really want to take them up the lift. But I am really only confident in Hannah.
“Look, Hannah,” I say to her. “You are totally solid, I could take you up the lift now. But not everyone else is ready and we have to be safe, So I want you to keep working on your turns and just get really, really good at them and tomorrow, you can go up the lift first thing.”
She is nine years old but she completely gets it.
And THEN, another instructor wants me to take one of her kids, who is not ready for the lift, so she can take her four other students, who are ready, up the lift. “Of course,” I say. “Can you take Hannah?”
“Deal,” she says. I text our supervisor, so he knows, give the other instructor Hannahs’ epi pen and off they go. I get Sansom. Yes, Sansom, not Samson. Why? Who knows.
It is a really good day. We head over to the gondola to go back to the base, the other instructor gives Hannah back to me and I give Sansom back to her.
“Hannah,” I say, “How was it? How was it?”
“It was FAST,”” she says, eyes big. I can tell, it was a big deal. But it was good. Really good.
My kids and I get into the gondola to head back down to the bottom. Emma, one of the supervisors, gets in with us. And Fitzgerald says to me, “You were great, Coach Kate, you taught us how to ski!”
OMG, I think, how do I tip this kid?
Then he says to Emma, after looking at me, "She's old!"
Forget the tip, kid, I think.
I rush home, do a quick meditation, shower and change because I am working as a volunteer at the KImball Art Center benefit. I’m in a little black dress wearing high heeled black suede boots.
I am on my feet for hours, first directing attendees to coat check. There are a lot of retro fur stoles with long gowns. “There’s a coat check,” I say to them. “But I like the look, if you want to keep it on.”
They like that.
Then the live auction starts and a high school student, Scarlett, and I chase down bidders. Scarlett dad is there bidding. He always drops out but he gets the bids going. He adores his daughter. It is so cute.
But my back is killing me! I cannot spend consecutive days running around in ski boots and then hours in high heeled black suede boots.
Bidding ends. I look at another volunteer. "Time for a drink," I say. "Good idea," she says.
i get a High West cocktail
I have about a third of it. It hits the spot.
As I drive home from the benefit, I think two things.
I HAVE to take a magnesium bath. Someone has recommended that to me for muscle aches.
And my next through is Thank God I have tomorrow off!