The Grand Finale

And just like that, we’re done! How we managed to get basically only 1 day of REAL spring skiing conditions, is beyond me! But hopefully you all will have the chance to enjoy a little more once it warms up.

Saturday, while I was in North Carolina enjoying the 70 degree weather and having my brains explode with grad school overload, the Sharp Knives finally made it into Slidebrook with Craig and Ryan’s group! Luckily enough, Craig was the Sharp Knives’ sub coach- so it sounds like he led them into some exciting woods all over the mountain. When I returned, he raved about the group and how excellent of skiers they are- but that they could keep working on their cardio and endurance in the woods. Awesome job girls, and keep pushing yourselves! I’m so glad it worked out perfect and they got in to Slidebrook.

Sunday, we did a few mid-mountain woods runs, and met at the Nastar course to do the Fun Race with family members. The timing for the course wasn’t working, so it really was just that- a fun race! A handful of the girls raced their parents, with good results (minus Erin hitting a gate too hard, and the Knives’ trusty coach catching an edge and sliding down Nastar as well– but I didn’t tell you that)!

Picking a line down Poop Chute off Castlerock

Right before the BBQ and picnic (Kayden we hope your thumb heals quickly, sending good vibes your way!, and we certainly missed the rest of you who couldn’t make it to the party), we ventured up to Castlerock with Mitch’s group and did Poop Chute, which was fabulous. Good snow, good lines, and good people, enjoying our last Blazer run together! It was also nice to check off yet another woods route on the trail map that we hadn’t done yet this year. Just goes to show, you can ski hard all season and there are STILL lines to be found!

For some reason the BBQ and Blazer party turned into a face painting session
I swear I’m not responsible for this- I was off the clock by 1pm!

It was an epic season, not only in terms of snow and COOOLLDDD, but the fun and learning with the Knives. We had a great time together and I will miss them and Sugarbush a lot. If anyone will be up this weekend, keep an eye out (I’ll be my own green jacket) because I’ll be getting my one last weekend of skiing in before heading off to Washington and then Alaska for the summer, and would love to see you.  Thanks to everyone for a great season full of GirlPowDer!!!!!!

How Time Flies!

How is Blazers almost over?! Seems like just a few weeks ago that we took our first turns together and began highlighting the first trails for completion on our trail map. I apologize for the lame blog post, but I just realized that we were so ski/fun focused this weekend that we didn’t capture any of it with photos (that’s the way it should be- right?)! This weekend the Sharp Knives did a few laps down the Nastar course ( I think one each day? but my memory is escaping me….). The snow on Saturday was a bit sketchy after a major thaw and refreeze, so our initial plan was to stick to the trails.  Kayden informed us of the awesome Maple Syrup Challenge, so naturally the first two runs were spent carefully searching the trails off Bravo for Maple Syrup containers to bring down to Guest Services in exchange for a prize. The challenge: to go slow down the sides of the trails in search of treasure, while still skiing WELL!!! I didn’t want to see any pizza wedges- only short, quick turns. It was not difficult to tell that several other Blazer groups were engaged in the same task. It didn’t end up being our lucky day, but another group ended up finding one RIGHT where we had been skiing later that day down a mountain biking trail- we were just too far into cruising at that point that we forgot to keep looking!

While sticking to the trails was our initial plan, this is the Knives we’re talking about, so of course the initial plan of avoiding the woods didn’t last long-we couldn’t keep ourselves out. We dipped in to Ekka (Ecca?- I’ve never looked at that sign and literally didn’t know those woods had a name until a few weeks ago…) woods on our way down from Bravo, where it definitely was a little less than powdery.  After that learning experience, we did actually stick to the trails for the rest of the day. Even with the weird snow, we skied Mall, which was just music to my ears (I remember now what real East Coast skiing sounds like)!  Definitely a good work out. The Knives also conquered a few other runs off of Valley House (Lixie’s/Snowball) on Saturday. Lesson of the day: Skiing in variable conditions!

Sunday we were pleasantly surprised with some fresh snow and amazing conditions up higher on the mountain. We explored a few new woods, got some fresh tracks, and went up to Castlerock (there wasn’t a SINGLE other person in line!). The girls were entranced in some game of ski tag, which wasn’t really the goal for the day, but I noticed it got them REALLY cranking up the pace! At first I was reluctant with the changing conditions (we were warned at our Blazer meeting to pull it back for the day), but after we discussed not skiing sloppily, being safe, AND pushing it, all was good. I wasn’t going to rain on the parade of our last full day together!  The limit was drawn at tag in the woods, which they were receptive to.  We skied down Moonshine a couple of times, and went into Sap Line woods. Another great day with the Knives!

Our much-loved highlighted trail map. There's a lot of yellow on there, and even more between the trails that you can't really see! We did every trail on Lincoln Peak, and the majority of the woods with the exception of a few of the Castlerock and Heaven's Gate woods (but even those we got a good taste of!)
Our much-loved highlighted trail map. There’s a lot of yellow on there, and even more between the trails that you can’t really see! We did every trail on Lincoln Peak, and the majority of the woods!

Unfortunately we have not hit all of the trails on Mount Ellen, but with the temps we encountered this year, we have a good excuse. I’m sad we weren’t able to make it work with Craig or Dave to take us in Slidebrook, but I encourage the girls to go in with family if you all are up in the next few weeks. It sounds like some of them have done it before, and for those who haven’t, they’re all certainly capable of it.

Can’t wait to see whoever can make it next Sunday for the family fun race and BBQ/Blazer party!

9 Knives and a Cleaver

We had all 9 knives on Saturday! Go team! 🙂  The Sharp Knives covered a lot last weekend, let’s see what I can remember.  The days seems to blend together now, so here’s a weekend summary: After our Mountain Dew race the other weekend, we were inspired to keep working on our times on the Nastar course, especially Kara- who was preparing for the 2nd Annual Bobroff Olympics on Sunday. We also did our typical woods warmup in Domino Woods, always a good time on the mountain biking trails through there. The Knives practiced picking their own lines vs having a partner lead them through Stein’s Woods- there are mixed reviews on leading vs. following- but I am trying to get all of the girls to the point where they feel comfortable picking their own line even through more technical woods trails.  I also let the girls in on a little Sugarbush secret (not really a secret, but a less-visited, mild woods adventure)- Pushover woods. After the amount of fresh powder we’ve gotten this season, Pushover Woods has been getting replenished almost weekly, with no tracks going through it. Definitely one to learn how to punch those little sticks out of your way in, but if you’re looking for an untracked powder stash that isn’t steep, that’s the place to be. Given the warm-up this week (didn’t it feel like summer?), and then the freeze, conditions in there may be getting a little less than savory now, however.

The whole 9 Knives team and their silly faces

To make our one-ski skiing a little more challenging for some of the ladies who have mastered it (we’ve been skiing on one ski the whole way down Pushover and Slowpoke now), we took a different approach to practice balance and carving on the inside ski. I took videos of the girls working on carving down Snowball, and while they have improved tremendously in terms of becoming more dynamic skiers while trying this, we are still working on not skidding the middle of the turn- especially getting that inside ski to carve and not skid (a really challenging skill to learn, so keep up the good work!) So, we took it over to Gatehouse and did a drill involving lifting one ski and up and crossing it over the tip of the other ski, in addition to a one-ski drill- just removing the extra ski entirely.

Last weekend the team also crushed a run down Middle Earth- big, somewhat unforgiving moguls. I was super impressed-I would’ve been hard-pressed to beat the girls down it! At times it is difficult to recognize the gradual progress these girls have made, since I see them every weekend, but that trail was certainly a wow moment. They’ve come a long way! More from Sunday- most of the girls skied the morning, and right after lunch I lured Kayden, Erin, and Lucy A into a little drill involving softballs that were cut in half and painted by Mark Woolley, for our use. The goal is to be on the balls of your feet, and after some practice, keep one’s balance and move back and forth, as if carving on skis, without relying on poles to keep one’s balance. I managed to snap a few photos of their first tries:

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Later that afternoon, Kayden and I skied Gatehouse, including Deeper Sleeper and her favorite- one ski skiing! I’m worried that some of the girls are beginning to enjoy skiing on one ski more than they enjoy two…….. hopefully the application of that skill is soon illustrated in their carving skills!

Ski Like a Girl

After the recent snow refill that we gladly welcomed, as well as the “warmer” temps (also very welcome) the Sharp Knives really went for it this weekend. Anytime 15 degrees starts to feel like summer, you know the kind of winter these girls have trooped through. Kayden, Kara, Erin, Brookie, Marley, Lucy and I immediately started Saturday off by sending it on Lift Line, which had softened up and was about as good as Lift Line gets. Erin (AIRin) found whatever air she could off the rock jumps, and seeing as the rest of the crew also loved shredding down Lift Line, and I wanted an opportunity to get some sweet photos of the rest of the Knives, we made a point to do Lift Line a second time. However we didn’t really end up having enough time for the photo opps. We decided that since Morning Star was basically the only other trail we had not yet done as a group on Lincoln Peak (we don’t know why?!), not including short cuts like paradise extension, we would head over to Morning Star, and for the most part completed our trail map on Lincoln Peak!

Erin about to send it down the Liftline headwall. Look at that form!

Of course, we had to check out Domino Woods, (why wouldn’t we, with freshies to be found??) and in preparation for the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge on Sunday, we did a few runs on the Nastar course.  We also practiced a carving drill with Zeba’s group on Hotshot, before letting it rip on our last run down Sleeper. On Sunday we cranked down a little extra on our boot buckles, and were some of the first racers in line for the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. Stoke levels were high, we discussed a few last minute race tips, and the girls all performed great! I’m not surprised, the speedsters they are. The race was really fun, especially getting there before the course got icy (and it was a bit straighter than the typical Nastar, which made it even faster), and I think we’re all looking forward to getting back on the Nastar course next weekend to see if we can race ourselves and cut down on our times even more. The Sharp Knives insisted on heading over to Sleeper after all of the race hype for some freestyle fun on the jumps between the trees. They’ve certainly become more comfortable in the air. Marley executed a few beautiful spread eagles too add to the spice of the weekend. I drilled the girls on dynamic, carving turns that afternoon, and even took some video of them so that they could watch themselves ski and I could have them for reference. Brookie and Kayden braved the snowboarding clinic and are going to report back to us on what they learned– and for extra Blazer credit– explain how what they learned can also apply to skiing!!!! (Bonus points for that one, but there are several good answers!)

Marley mid-air, nailing her impressive spread eagle

All in all, a fun-packed, spring-esque weekend at the Bush! Between the racing, freestyle, bumps, woods, and improving our skills in each area, we absolutely achieved what it means to “ski like a girl”!

You Know We’re All About that Pace

We decided to go for it again this weekend and head over to Mount Ellen to cross some more trails off our map. Because Slidebrook Chair does not open until 10, Brooke, Lucy A, Erin, Kara and I took advantage of Pushover not having Schoolhouse bears (micro bears, mini bears, sugar bears) all over it to do some schooling of our own. We practice some more carving, which felt only so wonderful on a nicely groomed, no-ice-whatsoever trail. The girls voted me off the chairlift while loading on to Slidebrook, so I had a lovely solo ride over to ponder the meaning of life (answer: shredding the pow), look for signs of wildlife (did I tell you about the time I was chased down Slidebrook by a moose a few weeks ago?), and take deep gulps of the wind that was shooting across the ridges.  We skied Exterminator, which was surprisingly well covered rather than wind blown, Brambles Woods, Semi Tough Woods, and Walt’s Woods, and got to watch GMVS take some practice race laps on Inverness while going up the lift.

Fortunately, we were able to find a spot (still don’t know how, with the number of people getting onto that bus!) on the bus to get back to Lincoln Peak because Slidebrook shut down (it would’ve been quite the lift ride had they kept it open… the cold and wind may have done us in!).

Waiting for the bus back to Lincoln Peak
Waiting for the bus back to Lincoln Peak..making it a good time!

Sunday, we were able to change up our pace quite a bit, because it was FINALLY a “warm” day! Amazing how much skiing we can get done when we’re not worried about the tips of our noses falling off and our toes being permanently frozen to our ski socks 😀

The girls adventuring on Heaven’s Gate

Kayden, Erin, Kara and I picked our way down Spillsville (another one checked off the list!), did the Nastar course a few times, and partnered up with Myles’ group after lunch to get into some of the upper level woods. First we went into the Gallery and then helped ourselves to plentiful portions of powder in Jester Woods. The ladies went for it off a jump in the woods leading down onto Ripcord. The Sharp Knives are continuing to work on not dropping their poles, so we did a little pole work, as well as practiced more extending & absorbing our turns (what I like to now call “Pop & Drop It). The girls got a lesson on picking first tracks in the powder, and I was able to capture a few good shots of them coming down our secret passage in Deeper Sleeper.

Kayden getting first tracks in our secret stash.
Kara stirrin’ up the fluff!
Erin shreddin it

Did Cupid turn on the air conditioning?

We’ve dealt with some serious cold this year (at the expense of an UNREAL year for snow), but hadn’t experienced the cold that even makes the snowmen cold until this past weekend!  Marley, Kayden, Erin, Brooke, Lucy Abdow and I took a run with some real dynamic skiing on Snowball, and made sure to show the trees some love in Deeper Sleeper and Race Course Woods (after all, it was Valentine’s Day)! Later in the day, Kayden, Lucy and I partnered with another group and practiced an upper/lower body separation drill in which we encase ourselves in a rectangle by connected our poles around the hips, and try not to let the poles dip or face anywhere but across the hill. Definitely a fun but difficult one, and a great one if you want to look like a fool skiing down the hill!

The girls showing off their smooches with some of their Valentine's Day treats (cinnamon lips!)
The girls showing off their smooches with some of their Valentine’s Day treats (cinnamon lips!)

I have to take a minute and let Riley know that I brought MINI EGGS (yes, the ones that Coach Jason brings) for Valentine’s Day! Maybe I’ll just have to bring them again sometime 😉

Erin, Lucy, and Marley really took one for the team and braved the cold on Sunday. We were instructed that blazers under the age of 13 couldn’t go up the upper mountain lifts, so that we could make sure we were never far from a warm shelter to get out of the cold and crazy winds. Despite the many necessary hot cocoa breaks we took, we actually were quite productive off of Gatehouse. We did make it up Bravo once but decided the net gain of fun wasn’t enough to pay the cost of the wind. Even in Gangster’s Grotto, where we thought we would be hidden from the wind, it was howling right up through the trees! We spiced up Gatehouse terrain a bit by finding some new lines in the trees off of Sleeper and Pushover, practicing our pole timing, crossing Out to Lunch off on our trail map (Marley let us ski her back to her condo midday) working on carving- which was a huuuuuge success…lots of good changes this weekend! It was actually a perfect (but cold) weekend to practice carving, since hardly anyone was on the trails on Sunday, and the snow was in great condition to trust our edges to hold. Lucy even admitted that “carving is REALLY fun!” It only gets more fun from here, girl! If anyone is on the border about doing a race clinic, I would recommend it! Going even a little in depth with race technique can tremendously change and improve our skiing.

Hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day! Wish I had some more pictures from this weekend but it was in no way a photo-op weekend- not a single smidgen of skin could be exposed to take hands out of mittens, and I’m pretty sure all iPhones were dead from the cold all weekend anyway.

Pow Depth Assessments- Deep Enough to Get Stuck In!

Ohhhh man. Let’s see if I can remember everything from this unbelievable weekend. Everything is blurring together in one adrenaline filled, powder loving, tree-skiing, adventurous two days! Looking to get into the good stuff while it was fresh, we ventured to Paradise Woods- since they’re open enough to get some good lines going and steep enough to get through that knee-deep snow!  Ryan’s group of boys accompanied us, but the Sharp Knives led the way down in front and kept those crazy boys in check. The snow really was unreal, and we now know yet another good reason for learning hop-turns….. POWDAAHHHH!!!!

paradise woods!
A wonderful splash of color!

The white fluffy stuff really got into the girls’ heads; after skiing through Race Course woods and down to Cat’s Meow they decided that burying themselves in it would be a true way to savor it. After the outdoor break in our winter wonderland playground, we practiced hop turns down snowball, which tired the girls out pretty quickly- though I am determined to buff up those leg muscles! Getting the girls to consider the more technical side of skiing during these pow days has been challenging, but I admitted to them that I would be hot on their tracks the rest of the season to observe their skiing and make sure they work on individual skills. While we are having plenty of fun, learning the technical aspect of skiing is important to keep that level of fun amped up as we take on more difficult terrain, and to make sure we are all able to stay safe no matter what we do.  Some of the girls have been very responsive to drills and improving their technique… and some have really excelled in the more…well, social aspect of Blazers… names- but they know who they are!! 😉  Looking ahead, it’s in all of our best interests to find a good balance.IMG_2836IMG_2833

Sunday many people left early because of the storm, but we still managed a few typical Sharp Knive adventures before lunchtime. We dropped into Lew’s Line right from Downspout, where several of the girls performed some “snow depth checks”, we’ll call them….I think for some it was up to the waist! A really neat area to explore that few drop into that high up. We continued down the mountain biking trails on Domino- another favorite for this group I think. After lunch, Erin took one for the team so we could ski with a second coach (Ryan’s group) in Bear Claw, even though she already knew how crazy those guys are! She crushed it, which was to be expected…. girl power! We stopped for some hot chocolate in the lodge, shared stories with her family, and went back out for another few runs and worked on transitioning from railroad tracks on flat terrain to a full carve on the steeper stuff. The next step for all of us is going to be making sure that silly inside ski isn’t skidding! (And… continuing to enjoy the ridiculous epicness that Mother Nature has afforded us this winter!)

We’re getting awfully close to being done with every trail on Lincoln Peak- there is a lot of yellow on our highlighted trail map! This weekend we finally conquered Organgrinder from top to bottom, which was as good as it gets, especially down the sides. I think we still have Lift Line, Morning Star (which I can’t believe we haven’t done yet!), and the goofy ones like Out to Lunch and Village Run left…. and lots of Mt. Ellen.

Can’t Believe It’s February Already!

It sounds like despite the bone-chilling cold, Kayden, Kara, Alexa, and Erin had a good time with my friend Zeba, who filled in for me on Saturday! Zeba, as an ex-racer (whose last name just happens to be Race), gave the girls a few tips on the Nastar course in between the warm-up breaks!

In Egan’s woods

On Sunday, Brooke, Kayden, Kara and I grouped up with a girl around the same age from another group and her instructor, since she was the only one in the group. We thoroughly enjoyed the Orchard once again (seems to be the sweet spot this year!), and took Reverse Traverse down to Egan’s Woods, where Kayden found some fresh powder on the side of the trail, and the girls continued practicing how to pick a line through the trees (or bumps). All left early, and we let the football players do the work for the rest of the day/evening. Yay Pats!

Kayden getting the most of the freshies!

Not sure where those of you down in Mass are putting the snow- but feel free to truck it up here for next weekend!  We got another 6-7 inches in the valley from and expect a few more inches from the next storm later this week. I got into some sweet powder in the woods at Mad River with another instructor, so there is plenty up here, just have to find it (which is getting to be less of a challenge the further we get into this season, thanks to Mother Nature)!  Next weekend is the Castlerock Challenge, for those interested!  Apologies for the short post, it was a short weekend!


Saturday we had Kayden, Kara, Riley, Marley, Lucy A and I. We skied a variety of trails including Rumble, Egan’s Woods, and a one-ski run down Pushover. The girls are getting a lot better at one-ski, which in the long term really helps with pressuring our uphill ski when we’re carving. The trainers have often said it’s a great drill to do to work on edge pressure, so we have certainly done our share to work on it- and it’s fun! This was our first time skiing on one ski all the way down Pushover- quite an accomplishment! Here’s a video of our progress (I personally love the ending, hence the title of this post):   (I couldn’t upload video to the blog so it’s linked to youtube.)

The ladies for some reason also whipped up some sort of Geico commercial while on the chairlift- so I was required to record it for them.

On Sunday, Brookie, Kara, Riley, Marley, Lucy and I did a warm up run and then headed straight to Castlerock to once again ski Rumble, where we had a situation, which the girls handled really well. All are okay now and that is the important thing. Several of the girls left early but Kara and I finished the day off in Racer’s Edge by attempting 180s on the jump on Cat’s Meow with another Blazer coach who leads the freestyle training for ski instructors. The 180 is a work in progress!  At some point a few of us went down the Nastar course, but I can’t remember which day that even was!

Hope everyone has been dancing in the snow of Blizzard 2015 Juno- We just received a few light fluffy inches from it up here but had only hoped to get what the Bostonians got! I think there may be a little more coming on Friday, but I’m not ready to jinx it.  Also hope nobody has run into the Yeti yet…sounds like he’s out there….


Woods and Mt. Ellen!!!

This weekend was a change of pace for all! With the wonderful fresh white fluffies and my woods safety training for Blazer coaches out of the way, we committed Saturday to be a woods day- something we had all long awaited since the beginning of the season! We cruised down several mountain biking trails (where we saw a sweet halo rainbow around the sun, which I learned is called a Sun Dog), made our way down Gangster’s Grotto, and took a couple of runs through the Emerald Forest & the Orchard off skiers right of Birch Run. The first time through the 2nd door to the Emerald Forest, we had an adventure following Blazer Coach Mitch and his crew of older Adventure Blazers along with Brighton’s younger Mini Blazer Team Pineapple- so the second time around we picked a better line and got in many more turns! We managed our way over the icy headwall of Domino- (even I took a slide down on the ice there!), and found some good moguls beneath it.

Sun Dog/ 22 degree halo we spotted before dropping into mountain biking trails off Lower Domino/Heaven’s Gate Traverse
Nothing like a little trek through the woods 🙂

Sunday we also totally switched things up and bussed over to Mt. Ellen in the morning, missed the crowds on the slopes, and focused on several drills- majority of which were carving and upper/lower body separation. We crossed off several trails on our list- Hammerhead, Encore, Which Way, Northstar, Straight Shot, and a few others – a good start for our trail checklist for Mt. Ellen! I took video of each of the girls skiing, so we can watch them and see our progress. The girls begged to get pulled up Tommy’s Toy, where they took the short run to practice skiing on one ski, skiing backwards, and just plain goofing around- a nice break from drill time!  We took Slidebrook back over to Lincoln Peak (where the wind hit with full force), skied through Deeper Sleeper, and knocked out the essential gelato break in Gatehouse Lodge before one last run through the Mountain Biking trails off of snowball.

We accomplished a lot this weekend, and I think it left everyone (at least me!) nicely exhausted and fulfilled by the powder!

Photo op after recording video of all the girls skiing! I told them all to ski their best, so naturally they all decided to turn their hockey stops at the end into sliding on their butts just to impress me (It looks like we’re in the middle of the trail- but I swear we weren’t!!!)

A place to share the stories, photos, and lessons of the weekly ski adventures of Sugarbush Adventures Blazers Group 22!