A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

PSIA Carving Clinic at Okemo

January 17, 2017
Emilie Phillips

I wanted to broaden my Telemark skills, so we took a racing and carving class — a most un-backcountry like exercise. (Editor’s note this trip was last winter.)

Keith Rodney explaining angulation

Our class had the slopes to ourselves. Okemo was deserted mid-week, right after Martin Luther King day. The first day, trails had a hard icy surface just like on a race course. Our instructor, Keith Rodney, focused on carving to go fast. Keith assigned us some bizarre exercises. Several runs in, I started to understand how the exercises fit together. Some showed mistakes to avoid, but most drilled into details that, if applied in the right context, made a perfect turn. By the end of the day, I was skiing fast with confidence.

Emilie making fresh tracks

Tuesday night it snowed fluffy powder, and kept snowing Wednesday faster than the groomers could destroy it. So the second day, Keith focused on using carving to turn in deep snow when rotary motions are too hard. I did learn something relevant for the back country. The other participants were all front country skiers who were quite flummoxed by the powder and uneven resistance going in and out of tracks. Keith continued tweaking our technique until everyone was skiing well.

Things I remember learning

  • Smoothly transitioning edges is critical to achieving a high angle
  • On icy surfaces when going fast, a good edge doesn’t act as a railroad track, instead use it more as a controlled side slip while carving around a turn.
  • In heavy snow, the skis will easily follow a carved turn. There’s no need to fight the snow with a skidded turn. I used this in breakable crust at Cardigan.
Isaac playing on a steep side hill

Isaac came along and took kids ski classes. There were so few kids that he ended up in a lesson by himself. Isaac was disappointed, but the instructor was really impressed with his skills and took him all over the mountain.

Photos from Tuesday

Photos from Wednesday