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West Yellowstone Report: Great Skiing, Dining Hell

Mon, Nov  29, 2004 - By Mike Muha

Alas, Internet access for all the hotels in West Yellowstone was intermittent at best and finally gave out altogether early Friday morning. Worse, no one could get hold of the Internet provider to fix the problem. So if you’ve been wondering why there haven’t been more updates, now you know.

Life in a small Montana town in the middle of nowhere…

Thanksgiving’s waxing nightmare turned into Friday’s perfect day of skiing. Mid-20’s, sunny, no wind – it was hard not to jump and holler! We were feeling great during the morning classic session. Noah, a 17 year old from Steamboat Springs,  kept picking up the pace, racing the downhills, racing the uphills – and of course I had to hang with him. We even got our instructor, Bill, doing it a bit, such a joy it was to stride in these conditions!

By lunch time, I was pretty well cooked. I got a short nap in, but was not feeling very peppy for the afternoon’s skate session. The instructor (Bill again) did not need to tell me to go slower – I made sure to take it very easy. As the afternoon progressed, I did loosen up and have some fun. Slow fun.

Ryan, Greg, and I joined a group of 10 other skiers for dinner at an upscale brew pub that evening. You need extreme patience to dine in West Yellowstone during the Ski Festival: even though we had reservations, we had to sit at three different tables. One table had their food in an hour. Our table was served 30 minutes later. The third table was served 30 minutes after our table!

It was worse at the Holiday Inn: at 7:00 pm, people waiting to get into the restaurant were told there was a two hour wait, but there was only enough food for the next 30 minutes!

All the restaurants were understaffed for the Festival. The bar manager at the Holiday Inn said she’d been trying to hire but there was nobody to hire.

Life in a small Montana town in the middle of nowhere…

Our long wait at the brew pub made us miss the evening lecture by Torbjorn Karlsen. I was pretty dead anyways, and it was to bed by 9:00, just as soon as the James Bond movie ended on TV.

Saturday morning was a skate session, focusing half on V2, half on V1. Main focus for me: getting down lower by bending more at the knees/ankles - having a more active lower body. For an instructor, we had Ken, the PSIA examiner for the region. He had us skiing V1 with 1 pole up a nice hill to work on timing.

After lunch and a nap, I had the opportunity to skate with Patrick Weaver and two other skiers for the afternoon session but decided I needed to just get out and ski.. I waxed up the classics and went on an easy two hour and fifteen-minute ski. I would have stayed out longer but it was starting to get dark. No one to listen to, no stop and go, just easy kick and glide. A joy!

Dinner, a scotch or two with Aaron Tarnow, Greg Worrel, and Ryan Robinson to celebrate the end of camp, then to the movies to watch Andrew Newell's "American Skier" DVD with great footage of World Cup, U23 (under-23), and NCAA racing plus lots of stunt skiing, all to heavy metal (?) music. (Newell's web site: By the way, Andy (US Ski Team) won the SuperTour Sprints here on Saturday…

We discovered on Sunday that we didn’t need to leave to the airport until 10:00. Time enough for one last ski! As we walked out the door, John Aalberg joined us. It ended up being an impromptu private lesson for me: we skied for about 20 minutes, and then John started talking about areas to work on to make me a faster skier:

  • Have more active legs. The crunch in V2 is both abs and legs. Crunch down to preload the legs, then push off.
  • Practice this frequently. Better to have two 1-hour sessions in a day than on 2-hour session if you can’t do it the whole session. To keep from going under, practice the crunch down, but push off gently.
  • Feet apart! I’m still bringing my feet together instead of keeping them far enough apart the I land on an inside edge on the uphills.

Ryan was watching and listening, and said when I started doing what John told me to do, I looked much smoother and just took off!

I guess I know what technique to work on while rollerskiing for the rest of 2004. Thanks John!