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Make Every Month Learn to Ski Better Month

Learn to Ski Better With Camps and Clinics


Make Every Month Learn to Ski Better Month

Bumps For Boomers

Copyright Mike Doyle
January is national Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and throughout the month more than 300 resorts in the U.S. offer learning programs that are all part of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.

Many of the resorts also bundle intermediate and advanced group lessons and adult ski clinics under their Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month specials and run them throughout the rest of season. This is a great time to search out one of the lessons or clinics that target a particular aspect of the more technically advanced side of skiing.

Mogul Camps and Clinics

Moguls are always a challenge to advancing skiers and learning to ski them better, and in control, will open up a lot of the mountain that many other skiers just ski by, look down and go elsewhere. Taking a mogul camp or clinic will build the confidence you need to pick a line you are comfortable with and head down.

You will find mogul camps, clinics or lessons at resorts across the country. You don't need a lot of vertical to make a mogul field and once you get comfortable in how to match your speed to your comfort level you can take that skill to any resort. So rest assured that a mogul lesson or camp similar to the one that I attended at Killington can definitely prepare you for whatever you find at, say Squaw Valley or Heavenly - two big resorts with popular and steep mogul runs.

Mogul Camps vary in their focus mainly in the intensity factor you want to take on - for example, there are camps for mogulers with competition in mind and there are camps that cover a more relaxed line through the bumps, but all are geared to make you confident in the way you want to ski the bumps.

A serious misconception about learning to ski moguls is that you have to be young, with thighs and knees of steel to have fun skiing moguls and that is absolutely not true. Two popular mogul skiing clinics operating out of Aspen and affiliated with the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass have well deserved reputations for teaching bump skiing to baby boomers but you don't need to show your Medicare card to join the classes.

Clendenin Bump School - Under the direction of World Freestyle Champion and Ski Hall of Famer, John Clendenin, the Clendenin Bump School is the longest lasting bump specialty program in the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen. While the majority of Clendenin Ski Method clients continue to be baby boomers, the Clendenin Ski Method attracts skiers of all ages and abilities.

Bumps for Boomers - Founded by Joe Nevin, an Aspen ski instructor, Joe and his excellent crew of boomer instructors concentrate on making intermediate, groomed-run baby boomer skiers into competent and confident mogul skiers. A few years ago I experienced one of the Bumps for Boomers three day mogul clinics and came away eager to take on that part of the mountain that "80% of skiers don't ski."

Steep and Deep Clinics

Steep and Deep is generally a catch-all phrase for camps and clinics that cover skiing terrain where technical skills are necessary to not only enjoy the experience, but in some cases to survive the experience. Obviously, you'll find these programs in settings where inbound and out-of-bounds skiing can be in very steep locations.

These camps and clinics are such that your expert skiing ability is taken for granted. Learning any new ski techniques in these clinics is often secondary to the special attention given to learning to deal with potential natural hazards such as avalanches, tree holes, cliffs, as well as the survival skills relative to staying safe in sudden weather changes.

Jackson Hole Backcountry Camp - Here you will learn skills and get tips that will help you explore the great variety of terrain and snow conditions for which Jackson Hole is famous. Expert coaches provide tips on finding the best line, how to read a slope, steep skiing etiquette, and terrain selection.

Squaw Valley's Squallywood Big Mountain Camp - Robb Gaffney, professional freeskier and author of the book Squallywood, and a handpicked crew of guides help advanced and expert skiers and riders get the most out of Squaw's legendary terrain.

You can find Steep and Deep camps and clinics at resorts with less intimidating terrain and you can learn basic skills there. However, to really get your heart pounding you need to be in the steeps only the big mountain resort can offer.

Race and Freestyle Camps

Of all the advanced learning clinics and camps those devoted to teaching ski racing, and to a slightly lesser degree teaching freestyle skiing, are the most prevalent. Competition and youth go hand in hand and camps across the country are devoted to teaching racing and freestyle skills to eager kids and young adults.

There are too many race and freestyle camps to mention, but if you are serious about a race or freestyle clinic you can find one at a resort within an easy drive from wherever you live. Truth be told you never know what little ski area will produce the next Lindsay Vonn or Bode Miller.

Camps for adults in this genre of ski instruction are also widespread, albeit ski racing camps much more than freestyle skiing. This may sound out of the nature of Jackson Hole but their annual, early December adult race camps are legendary, with many participants returning year after year.

The Jackson Hole Boot Camps (Formerly the Ski and Race Camp) which I shadowed a few years ago made me realize how serious Master Class Racing can be.

Women's Ski Clinics

Gender specific, women only, and women-only instructing clinics have grown more and more popular in recent years. These women's clinics are run across the country and you should be able to find one at a resort near where you live. The instruction covers on the snow learning and even combines apres-ski events and/or activities in a women-only environment.

Sugarbush's Women's Ski Discovery Camps offers a 2.5 day instructional vacation hosted by Lisa Densmore, former US Ski Team member and Masters racing champion with equipment talks, ski demos, video analysis, stretch sessions, group meals and apres-ski parties.

Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah, Holly Flanders 3-Day Workshop offers women's ski workshops hosted by Olympic skier and World Cup Champion Holly Flanders. The three-day sessions welcome intermediate to advanced skiers who want to become better skiers with the support of expert coaches and friendly peers.

There are also men-only clinics, though they are not as much in the public eye. Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah offers two men only clinics clinics for men. These are conducted by Deer Valley's top male ski instructors, in which guys can improve their skills and expand the types of terrain they can ski, while learning with men of similar abilities.
Men On Thursdays - All day for five consecutive Thursdays.
Men's Weekend - All day for Friday through Sunday.

Ski with Pros

A trend among mostly larger resorts is to offer camps and clinics featuring, or under the direction of professional skiers. Besides teaching on-the-snow techniques for better skiing these professionals, having had a successful career in racing, freestyle or extreme skiing can offer insights into the physical training, and the psychological and emotional preparations necessary to achieve success in competition.

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah hosts the Mahre Training Center. These three and five-day sessions, conducted in part by Olympic medal winners Phil and Steve Mahre, provide skiing fundamentals to all ability zones.

Vermont's Killington Resort offers the Speciality Experience. Which provides the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the world, including adventure skier Dan Egan, top snowboarders Ian Compton and Yale Cousino and Olympic gold medalist and world champion mogul skier, Donna Weinbrecht.

Another popular program is Ski to Live founded by former U.S. Ski Team member and extreme skier, Kristen Ulmer. Skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers of intermediate to professional ability levels, men and women, ages 12 and up, who want to experience who they are as athletes, and as human beings, will find Ski to Live a powerful, super fun weekend event.

Find What You Want to Learn

When it comes to skiing, you really can never stop learning to get better. Proof of this is evident among world class skiers - every country's world class ski racers has team coaches and most of the racers have individual coaches.

While most of us aren't world class skiers all of us really want to ski a little - or a lot - better. When we get better, we feel better, so seek out and take that ski lesson, camp or clinic in whatever aspect of skiing that will make you a better and happier skier.

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