I am standing on the edge of a low-angle groomer, my butt stuck out way behind me, pole-less hands far in front. I carve a slow left-hand turn and, at the apex, push up onto the balls of my feet.
“OK!” Keely Kelleher yells from below. “Now jump!”
I do an awkward bunny hop and land off balance. I feel like a goon. And a terrible skier. But that’s kind of the point.
I’m at Keely’s Camp for Women, in Portillo, Chile, and Kelleher, a former U.S. Ski Team’er who has appeared in Warren Miller movies, is running us through drills. I’m a pretty good skier, but when I try to follow Kelleher’s directions, which change the way I use my body, I feel awkward and out of my element.
“WTF? I thought I was good at this,” runs through my head more than once.
But by the end of the week, I am following Kelleher and the other women in the camp down steep chutes, feeling fast and nimble as I glide through new snow. I think about the things we talked about, like releasing my edges and pushing my hips forward, but mainly I think about how fun it’s been.
My time at ski camp made me a stronger skier, and it made me have more fun. Here’s why.
You’re probably ignoring things
I didn’t even know I should be thinking about my hips. Having someone outside of your brain tell you what to think about — especially someone who has spent decades thinking about their skiing — can draw attention to micro adjustments that can make a big difference.
You can always get better
I’m sure you are very rad. Like, maybe even the raddest. But you can always improve on things.
Maybe it’s just teaching yourself to relax, or to make sure that your right and left turns are even, but there’s always something. Getting better, and feeling like a master, is fun.
Learning is fun
Know what’s awesome? Figuring new stuff out. It takes that uncomfortable off-balance point to know what you’re doing wrong, but it’s awfully satisfying to work through that.
You can push yourself
Are you inherently lazy? Maybe a little scaredy-cat? Hey, samesies.
Sometimes all it takes to push yourself into something new and challenging is someone standing next to you saying, “I’ve seen what you can do and I know you can do this.” Know who’s really good at that? Coaches.
Camp is community
At the end of the day, we’d drink wine or have a dance party and rehash our day. And that’s a big part of why I ski: the people.
Camp brings together a likeminded group of folks, and there’s nothing better than that. Except maybe ripping just a little bit harder.