March has arrived, and with it comes the end of the snow sports season. I don’t know exactly how much longer I will be teaching skiing, but it can be safely assumed that in a couple more weeks I will be done until next season. The final date of course will be determined by the number of visitors who come to Wintergreen Resort to ski or ride, and the weather.
Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia, the temperature may be 70 on one day, and then it may snow the next. The reverse is also true. About this time of year, the first hint of spring shows itself with a period of warmer temperatures. This period may last from one to two weeks. During this time the snow melts and people tend to forget that it’s still winter even though the Daffodils and Crocus start popping up. People think that winter is over, and that spring has arrived. But I know better. Mother Nature is a tease, and as quickly as she sends in the warm weather, she will (emphasis on “will”) remove it and return to colder temperatures.
This warm spell is always a challenging time for people like me who love ski. The once beautiful base of snow and powder becomes what we call mush, sugar sand, crud, or mashed potatoes. For skiers, this is can be challenging terrain. Regardless, skiing in crud makes you a better skier because it forces you to ski more efficiently. You cannot skid your turns, you must carve them. Small zig-zag turns will wear you out very quickly, but longer slalom and giant slalom turns make for much more efficient skiing. But when the colder weather returns, the resort starts making snow again, and skiing conditions improve dramatically.
As I look back over the past season, in one way it was one of my best seasons ever, but in another, it was mediocre at best. First, I had my best teaching year ever. I had some truly wonderful clients. Every year I teach, my confidence in my ability to teach people how to slide down hill increases. I have been teaching for 15 seasons and I have developed my own teaching style. I like my clients to have fun while they learn. So, part of my repertoire is singing opera (no kidding) as we side step up the hill in the learning area about 50 feet, to playing “red light green light” as we come down. Finally, I show them how to turn their skis left and right. At the end the lesson I teach the class how to safely get on and off the ski lift. So, I had a very good year teaching-wise.
Unfortunately, I did not attain the goals that I had set for myself to increase my own skiing competency this season. I should have realized that things were not going to go well when I skied for the first time this season and I fell on a trail called Eagle Swoop. Little did I realize that the trail had become cursed. Every time I skied that terrain I fell, with one fall resulting in a cracked ski helmet and a CAT scan at the UVA Medical Center. But I was determined to break the curse before the end of the season and I returned to Eagle Swoop with a student. I skied down the trail beautifully. And I went down another trail called Tyro (which is my favorite trail on the mountain). I was so happy, I thought I had exorcized the curse. However, when getting of the ski lift, my student knocked my skis out from under me when she exited the lift, and I took another tumble. However, I still I exorcized the curse, and even though the dragon may have burned me, I still slayed him.
As a result, of these experiences, I became overly cautious and skied conservatively by skiing on easy (green) or moderate (blue) terrain. Since I teach mostly beginner skiers, this had no effect on my ability to teach. Over the summer I will train hard for next season. Next year I intend to teach somewhat less so that I my concentrate on improving my own skiing.
And now, I look forward to spring. Spring in Appalachia is one of the most beautiful sights one can see. From the budding Red Bud trees, to the blooming Dogwoods, to the Daffodils and the Crocus, it is a sight to behold. I love to watch how spring first starts in the valleys and then it works its way up the mountains. It takes about three weeks to go from the bottom to the top.
And so, my dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed my attempts at prose. I wish for you only good things, and a wonderful spring.