February 20, 2021

Weekend Recap: Ski Instructor Certification

This week was kind of a five-day weekend, in that I took Wednesday through Friday off from consulting, but kind of a one-day weekend, in that I spent Wednesday through Saturday up at Beaver Creek getting my Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) level 1 certification and then teaching. It was definitely tiring – but I’m really proud of myself for getting through it!

I headed up to Minturn on Tuesday night after work, and stayed up pretty late doing some final last minute studying for the exam. Wednesday was focused on movement analysis, where we watched various skiers on the mountain and then had to assess their movements across several different dimensions: fore/aft pressure control, ski-to-ski pressure control, edge control, and rotational control. We had to pick a specific phase of the turn (initiation, shaping, or finish) and a specific dimension, then the instructor would pick someone out to watch and describe what they were doing.

Blue skies are a good omen, right?

I did really well early in the day, when we were all practicing as a group before the one-on-one assessment, but I tripped myself up a little bit during the actual assessment by going right to the “fix” instead of impassively starting with the current state. What can I say, I’m a typical consultant – getting right to the problem solving!

Thursday was all about our own skiing – and while I was the most nervous about movement analysis day going into the exam, ski day turned out to be harder than I anticipated. There were a few elements where I struggled to demonstrate quite as perfectly as I wanted, so while I knew I wasn’t failing, I was also disappointed not to be exemplary and “above the standard.” But we had two people in our group who had taken the exam before and failed certain days, so I reassured myself that just passing was a success.

Finally, Friday was focused on teaching – we were each assigned a partner who would act as our student, and we had to demonstrate how we’d introduce ourselves and assess the student’s abilities and goals, then teach a short lesson that incorporated their personality and goals. (E.g., for a teenager who loves art but was struggling with edging, we’d encourage them to shift between drawing a pencil point line in the snow with skis on edge vs a wider paintbrush line with skis flat.) All of us were kicking ourselves after our individual teach sessions were over, as there was a ton to fit into a quick 10 minute lesson and it went by so fast, but… I passed!! And by the end of the day, I was just so proud of myself to pass that I didn’t care as much about my scores, even though I got them later that night and they were actually quite good 🙂

I did it!! (Also, I think my ski helmet kind of makes me look like a bobblehead doll.)

In non-COVID years, there is normally a big celebration and ceremony for those who pass. This year, though, we just got handed a certificate. However, my instructor from training, Linda, made it a point to be there when we were done with training, and I was really excited to get photos with her.

Linda has been teaching skiing at Beaver Creek for more than 30 years, and she is absolutely incredible – I feel so lucky to have trained with her and gotten to know her.

One funny story about Friday’s certification. I had booked all three days off my consulting job in order to do the certification. However, a major presentation came up on Friday, and the person who was my backup couldn’t make it. However, as luck would have it, the presentation was scheduled for 12pm MT, which is when we normally took our lunch break during certification. I spoke with the adjudicator and he was nice enough to say we could plan on lunch from 11:45am-12:30pm, so that I could do the presentation. However, we ended up being a bit later than expected, and I wasn’t able to find a quiet corner of the Hyatt for the call; instead, I had to take the call from the lodge on the mountain. At first, I thought it was pretty quiet… but that was just because it was before noon. As more and more groups came into the outdoor dining tent (all spaced well apart, of course – I don’t harbor any misconception that a tent outdoors is any safer than being indoors), it started getting noisier and noisier. I was really worried about the background noise for my presentation! But luckily, the organizer had agreed to make it phone-only (no video) to accommodate me being on vacation, so I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like. Good thing – I ended up putting my ski jacket over my head, making a little tent for myself, and during the presentation in the dark under my jacket!

I am sure I looked like a complete idiot, but a bunch of people pinged me that I did a great job on the presentation, so hopefully no one was the wiser 🙂

After that successful day, I had hoped to go back home and have time to read and relax, but instead I got kind of mired in catching up on email and a million other little things. I was disappointed my night hadn’t been either more relaxing or more productive (I never feel all that productive when I’m just getting lots of little things done). But overall, it was still such a great day and I’m really proud of myself for passing the exam.

Although I had passed the certification, my ski time wasn’t over yet – I was scheduled to teach on Saturday and Sunday. Since teaching is actually not all that physically strenuous, I started the day with a nice little stack of Peloton classes: a 10 minute core, a Flash 15 cardio / weights class, a 5 minute glutes & legs toning, and a 20 minute power yoga. Not a bad mix for under an hour! From there, I had to rush to get to the mountain on time, but I ended up making it with time to spare.

I was teaching level 1s, aka “never evers” – a group of people who have never ever been skiing before. Level 1 is always a tricky class for a group, because inevitably some people pick it up faster than others. With group classes, though, we always teach to the lowest level, so that no one is left behind. I had navigated this kind of a “split” in ability before, and I was happy to be on terrain I knew well, since I was able to have different pairs in the group do different things – first in one area, and then split across two. I was proud of myself for managing the split so well, so that everyone was able to get value out of the lesson! As our supervisors remind us in dealing with a split, “you are pros.” Today, I felt like one!

That said, I was about ready to head home. I had gotten a calf cramp at lunch that was now starting to really bug me, and none of my level 1s were continuing to an afternoon lesson, so I ended up getting cut and able to head back to my mountain house. I was still on the schedule to teach Sunday, so I couldn’t go back to Superior, but my supervisor said he would take a look at the schedule and see if I was truly needed or not. And as soon as I got out of the shower, my supervisor emailed me to take the day off!

It was 3:30 at this point – so right when the lift were closing down, and when traffic back to Denver would be the absolute worst. But I ended up throwing all my stuff into the car in ten minutes flat, and jumping in the car with my hair still wet from the shower 😂 I knew I was leaving at the worst possible time, but I really wanted to get home even if it took a while!

Luckily, the traffic pleasantly surprised me and was completely non-existent the whole way! I couldn’t believe it. I made it home in record time, and even after a stop at the grocery store, was walking in by 6pm. My mom and Sadie were so happy I was home! I was happy to curl up on the couch with both of them and enjoy an alfredo shrimp pasta dinner, while mom and I watched two episodes of Smash on NBC.

TJ’s limone alfredo sauce is really yummy, and made this dinner super easy.

Have I mentioned Smash in a blog post before? It’s a drama from 2012 about the staging of a new Broadway musical, starring Megan Hilty (love!) and Katharine McPhee (hate!). (Okay, fine, I don’t actually hate Katharine McPhee, but her character is really obnoxiously naive and entitled.) I watched every episode of it when it originally aired, but my mom and I have started watching it together, and I honestly don’t remember almost any of the plot, so it’s still enjoyable! If you like theater, you will love this show, and you can stream it free from NBC.com. The cast is outstanding, the choreography is fantastic, and the music is phenomenal – I’ve been listening to it on repeat on Spotify for weeks now!

Anyway – the next morning, I continued that Broadway theme with a 20 min Black History Month Broadway ride, 10 min core, 20 min Year of Yes ride, 15 min chest & back strength, and 20 min yoga reset. I really wanted to run, but I had woken up in the night due to continued soreness in my calf from yesterday’s cramp, so thought I should baby it with low-impact stuff rather than running. And the biking and yoga really seemed to help! I also tried out Peloton’s stack feature for the first time, and really liked it – especially with such a long stack of classes. I can’t see myself using it all that often, as I usually would rather pick my stack classes individually, but it was nice this morning.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I made cherry almond pancakes for Mom and I for breakfast… though unfortunately, I overdid them and they were a bit burned. Oops! It’s the thought that counts?? 💕

After my workout, though, as seems to be the case with many of my weekends lately, the rest of the day got kind of lazy. I didn’t get done the reading that I wanted, or the blog catch up (which is why you are reading this so late). Pretty much the only errand I got done was heading up to Avery Brewing to pick up the six-pack of beer that I had won from virtual run club. So… that was good news at least?

For Valentine’s Day dinner, I made a lentil bolognese sauce, which turned out pretty awesome in the Instapot. And then, for a bit of fun, I shared a few strands of spaghetti with Sadie, a la a funny Instagram video I had seen of someone doing the same for a COVID Valentine’s Day 😂 Sadie was perplexed by this but loved the spaghetti!

And once she had a taste for it… she wanted more!

Finally, after that bit of fun, Mom and I enjoyed our pasta for real while watching two more episodes of Smash before bed. I was just so happy to be back with my two girls for the holiday!


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