Monday, March 1, 2010

3-1-10: A Lovely Weekend at Jay Peak

I got back late last night from Jay Peak after a weekend of skiing. It's about a 5 hour drive from southern Connecticut, about 15 miles from the Canadian border. Jay Peak is known for its trees, which was the popular destination for many skiers, including even the likes of myself.

I had a great weekend. As I have at Okemo and Sunday River on the previous weekend trips this season, I took a lesson on Saturday morning. Jay Peak is not really known for its ski school, but I thought they did a pretty decent job. I had a bit of interesting luck, as I was the only "low intermediate" skier in the whole group. There were several "high intermediate" skiers and above, but only a couple beginner skiers. So, I opted to go with the beginner group, which turned out to be a decent decision in the end, all things considered.

The instructor, Jack, took us on the beginner slope to start. The other two skiers in the group, both women there with family, were very nice, and not too bad as far as skiing went. One of them simply hadn't skied in a few years, and the other had been taking lessons for a week straight and was going fine. Jack showed us a couple drills to do, my favorite being one where, while making the turn, leaned down and touched out outside (downhill) foot. This helped to force us to put out weight forward in the turn, which is my biggest problem. My goal was to learn to begin edging better and perform carved turns.

Jack got a bit adventurous and took us up to Ullr's Dream, a very nice blue run at the top. Ullr's was one of the trails I'd been looking at on the map for a couple weeks, and it didn't let me down. The only tricky part was one bumpy part, which I and the group managed to survive quite well with minimal fuss. Jack had us doing the touch drill, which really helped me cut through the several inches of rather thick snow. He also gave us a nice tip: if you feel like you're losing your balance, stand up a bit, then throw yourself forward. That really helped, and I liked how he said "You want to keep that weight forward to control the tip of the ski. That's what you want to turn with." So simple! And yet, so hard to learn. We ended on Kokomo, which is a nice blue tree run where you can really have some fun. Good lesson.

The rest of the weekend was spent in the various blue tree runs, my favorite of which were: Full Moon, Bushwacker, and Kokomo. Half Moon got an honorable mention, as well. My only really troublesome spot, which brought me nothing but frustration, was Northway. I took the Bonavanture Quad up and decided to try out a few runs over on "State Side". Northway was not marked as the "Easiest Way Down," for good reason. It was BUMPY. Nothing but moguls. I struggled mightily, and wasted a good 10 minutes trying to get my ski on after a spill. The snow had caked onto the bottom of my boot (which also caused me to briefly panic before my lesson because I thought I had broken my binding) and I could barely get it back on. After finally getting down, I took a quick break to rest my weary legs before hitting the shorter blue runs before calling it a day.

Yesterday was a better day. I spent the morning again in the blue gladed runs, as well as a trip up to the top to pay a visit to Ullr again. This time: fewer bumps. Great stuff. The lady and I spent the afternoon together working on some edging and bumps. Again, back to Ullr's. This time, the bumps had returned. She taught me how to do kick turns, and after a few rough bumps, I got the hang of it. I even did a few correctly! Much to both of our surprise. She also had me doing some pole plants, which I found to help me keep my weight more forward. Alas, I made two bad pole plants, which sent me flying both times, and resulted in one of my poles being bent at the bottom. But it was still quite fun. By 3:15, I was done, and just in time for the beginning of the men's ice hockey gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada. What timing! I ended up watching the first period before we left. Great weekend of skiing, with fabulous conditions. I very much enjoyed Jay Peak.

By the way, we stayed at the Jay Village Inn. I picked it out myself. Very nice little spot for those on a slight budget. They're very nice people, and it's only a few miles from the mountain. The rooms are small, but they have a hot tub, sauna, and great restaurant with pool tables. The country store is also right across the street. I strongly recommend it.

Time for me to start studying. I'm taking the day off to study for a Feedback and Control Systems exam.

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