Sunday, March 20, 2011

skiing with Jonny

Jonny Moseley (US Olympian 1998, 2002: Gold Medal in Moguls) grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. He skied on all of their youth and racing teams and after he won his gold medal, they named a popular ski run after him. He now is some kind of mountain host for Squaw and one day while we were there the public was invited to "Ski with Jonny". Our friends the Hsiens saw the signs for this opportunity first and told us about it. Diana was determined to participate and I agreed to go also, but when the time came she backed out and John joined me.

I wondered how this would work. It was a busy saturday, would 1000 people show up to ski with him? Here he is with the striped jacket at the designated meeting place. There wasn't 1000 people, but there was probably 50.

He talked for a minute and took some photos with people and told us which lift to take and where to meet next. He said we'd start off skiing some intermediate terrain and gradually build up the difficulty and anyone who could keep up could follow along.

John and I took the first lift and got to the next meeting place, where we ran into another Olympian, Peekaboo Street (blue coat, white helmet). I know that was her because her name was embroidered on her jacket. I don't think Jonny knew she was there, he seemed surprised, they talked about doing a challenge together sometime during her visit, and Jonny's group skied off.

We went down an intermediate run first and it was impossible not to be astounded by how amazingly FAST this guy skis. I mean, there's fast, like some people think I ski, and fast like I see other people skiing on any given day, and then there is Olympian fast. I've never seen anything like it.

After the next run John decided not to continue on this little tour and he waved me on ahead. About 30 others felt the same way.

And we were left with a core group of about 18 or so and we headed to advanced terrain. I was skiing as fast as I possibly could to keep up with him, and I never did. I was always 20-30 seconds behind him at best, which maybe doesn't sound like much, but when you're flying you cover a lot of ground in that amount of time.

I was skiing with a really, really, good group of people and NO ONE could ski at his pace. Mercifully, Jonny always started the run and stopped at about half way down. There he chatted with people and waited for us to catch him, then kept going.

And he not only skied but went over boulders and did flying flips and twirls and "helicopters" and grabbed his skis in mid-air and landed perfectly again. I don't have photos of any of that, I could never predict when he would decide to do these things and I was too awe-struck to work a camera in those instances anyway.

We skied with him for 2 hours, and I was one of only two women who stuck out the entire time. We ended the tour by going up KT-22 and going to the famous run which is named after him. It's a steep, loooooooong run covered in moguls, and I tried to take a video of him, but as always, he was gone in a flash.

final ski weekend

Sunny days in the mountains and a long weekend at school, made longer by us having the kids ditch an extra day, became a great last ski trip since we have softball saturdays starting up.

We met friends up there are stayed in the village at Squaw Valley so that we could walk to everything we needed.

We skied with the Hsiens during the first two mornings while their kids and our kids were in ski school. In the afternoons we had the girls ski with us but their boys are beginners so after picking up their youngest at lunch each day they left the slopes.

I took a lot of photos of the kids skiing, as usual. But I thought I'd try a video of my own skiing, taken while heading down a hill. It's strange trying to keep up a reasonable speed while holding both poles in one hand and my camera out in front of me. It's not a natural position so it affected my balance, but I did the best I could. So John starts, then Yung (quite a fast, good skier) goes next, and while Diana does some wardrobe adjustment, I took off.

The twins told us that their ski instructor had taken them on an advanced run, which they proclaimed not too difficult at all. and they were anxious to show us how well they could handle one. We told us which lift to take and once up there we had a few advanced runs to choose from.

And they definitely could ski these places, though on some of the very long advanced runs they got pretty tired at times. I think an occasional shorter advanced runs but mainly staying on intermediates in where they should be.

By the end of the weekend, their instructor promoted Kate and Allison to a Level 5 skier (out of 9).

Erin, meanwhile, was promoted to Level 6, and her carving is getting pretty darn good.

Very proud and confident in herself, she started asking me to take her up the KT-22 lift. I think this was the first lift into advanced terrain at Squaw. The story I've heard is that when the owner bought the property he and his wife skied down this terrain and it took 22 kick turns to reach the bottom, and when the lift was built they named it after that. Anyways, it's famous, and high, and as many large warning signs at the bottom explain, there is no easy way down.

I know the territory up there but how difficult it is can depend a lot on the conditions, so after checking it out with John I decided that Erin could handle it. I took her to the lift and there were no other children in the vicinity. Because of that I was gathering a ton of odd, semi-horrified looks from many of the other skiers.
Here she is at the top:

And coming down. These videos never do the kids justice, the slope was steeper than it looks here:

She did really, really great and we even went up a second time. Cheers all around. Quite an accomplishment for an 8 year-old.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

weekend dancing

Erin begins competing as a Highland dancer in May. I've registered her with the international governing body of Highland Dancers (who knew there was such a thing) so she's eligible to compete. Before May, there are a couple of local opportunities to dance in small shows and I've signed Erin up to do those to get her some additional practice.

This weekend there was a fair for parents at a mall nearby, where tables and booths were set up by various preschools and private schools, dance studios, music schools, summer camps, tutoring, gymnastics places and swim schools. All kinds of things parents might be interested in knowing more about or enrolling their children in. Our highland dance school had a table and some of the dancers were asked to perform as well. This was one of those opportunities for Erin to get some extra performance practice but Kate and Allison were asked to dance as well to help recruit other young girls.

Waiting to begin:

Erin and an older girl set up and dance "The Sword":

My girls did a set like the one they did in their first big performance last november:

Erin and some older girls dance "The Fling", also a dance Erin did in the show last fall:

Erin danced in four dances in all, the most of any of the girls there. Overall she did well. The Sword is complicated and switches tempo to one much faster half way through, but she did great. I think she started a turn too early in The Fling this time, but recovered. I'm always impressed with her sense of rhythm. I was surprised and impressed to see her dancing along with girls who are so much older and more experienced.

All of the girls had a great time and Erin especially loved it and can't wait until the next performance.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

metal mouth

Erin entered the inevitable world of orthodontics a couple of months ago. Her dentist warned me several years ago to "start saving your money", as if I couldn't see the obvious.

When she was a baby I really, really hoped that she had been fortunate enough to inherit John's side of the family's genes for good jaw alignment and an uncrowded, teeth-proportional-to-the-size-of-head, orthodontic-free dental future. I know, I dream big. She inherited my genes instead.

When we went for an orthodontic consult a few months ago, the doctor sat me down and spelled out for me the plan for the first stage of work, which will take 2 years. Erin got upper and lower expanders a few weeks later and now about 6 weeks following that, it was time for headgear as well.

Boy, this brings back memories. Mercifully, I couldn't find any pictures of myself wearing this thing, but I had it from age 10 - 15 and they haven't changed a bit since then. Picture Erin with longer, blonder, straighter hair, and that was me.

I know it's not such a big deal. She's in good company in sporting this new hardware:

So far she doesn't mind wearing it, but it's only been a day. It's still rather novel. Unlike me, she doesn't have to wear it to school. She just has to wear it as much as possible outside of school. And there are benefits to starting younger. Whereas I had mine for years, she'll be able to correct the same problem in less than a year, potentially. Just in time for Allison to get one.

that oregon time of year

We have an 8-hour drive to our rented ski house each year, but it's a fun little trip. There is some great scenery along the way and because I thought we might hit some bad weather to slow us down this time, I suggested we leave extra early. We were on the road at 7am and since we didn't see any bad weather at all, we were first to arrive at the house, with enough daylight left for the kids to enjoy playing in the abundance of fresh snow for a couple of hours before dark.

My kids really like snow. I could barely convince them to come in the house for just long enough to put on their snow pants and boots. They just wanted to lay in it, and they did. Tasting the snow is always fun too.

Even a plain old snow shovel is novel and fun.

Over the next few days there was lots of time after skiing to play with cousins outside, build snowmen, have snowball fights.

And snuggle up at night and watch movies together.

And we also had time for some ice skating one evening. We live walking distance from an ice rink at home, but Kate and Allison had never been skating. Erin went once, at this same rink in Oregon a couple of years ago. Since I really can't skate I took photos while Terri and Randy tried to get the girls going.

They all fell a lot and had soggy pants but enjoyed themselves.
"Skating is HARD!" Kate exclaimed, "Skiing is SO much easier!"
No argument there.

oregon trails

Our annual ski trip to Oregon was last week and as usual, we had a great time. I had the girls go to ski school for the first two days, which meant I had some time to ski with and attempt to keep up with my super-skiing nephews.

I don't know why we have such crazy luck but every February the snow at Mt. Bachelor seems perfect. We always seem to arrive just after a multi-day big storm, and that was the case again this year. It also snowed off and on every day we were there so every day brought several more inches of fresh powder. It was faaaaantastic!

I had my camera with me every day but it was so cold and windy on our first ski day that I didn't take any pictures, since working the camera means taking my gloves off. I couldn't stand the thought of that on saturday. But on sunday it was just ever so slightly warmer and the gloves came off every now and again. Tim and Andrew and I spent most of the day on the back side of the mountain, where there are the longest runs, deepest powder, and lots of trees to weave your way through, if you like that sort of thing. Which we do.



The guys were constantly jumping too and I tried to get pictures of that, but the darned delay in focusing and taking the picture resulted in mostly nothing. Sometimes they were just a blurry, jumping flying skier going by me.

It was a great first couple of days.

On the third ski day the twins and John decided to stay at the ski house and play in the snow. Tim and Laura had to get back to college, and so Terri and Andrew and Erin and I went out and enjoyed the only clear day during our trip. Finally some real visibility and being able to appreciate the view from up there.

Erin skied well. She handles any intermediate run very well, but she is still cautious and doesn't ski very quickly.

She even did a couple of advanced runs with me. Here she is on one with large moguls:

A moment to get that ski back on and she finished it and asked to try it again:

Then on our last ski day the plan was for us to ski with all of the kids, but another storm was moving in and the wind was picking up and visibility was disappearing.

So we decided to head over to the west side of mountain where the lifts don't go as high and would probably be more sheltered and thus have milder conditions. Luckily, that's exactly what we found. It turns out that the lifts we had just taken were then closed because of the wind, but on the west side of the mountain we had fun skiing on some easier runs and on some side paths through some trees.

Though I didn't think it would be possible when we saw how bad the conditions were on the other side of the mountain, we actually skied until past 2:00 on our last day and had a lot of fun.