Tag Archives: ski

CSIA level 2 ski instructor

I just passed my CSIA level 2 ski instructor training, which means I no longer limited to teach bunny hills, I can now teach on blue runs. I have my level 1 certification for 4 years but never teach any lessons. This year I decided to give level 2 a try and see how much my skiing had improved over the past few winters.

I took the level 2 course at Grouse Mountain. Although I am living in Vancouver for almost 10 years, it’s the first time I ski on Grouse. The weather is better than I hoped. There is not much snow base, there are brown patches on the ski runs and only three runs are usable, but at least I don’t have to ski in the rain. We even got 9cm of new snow on the second last day of the class.

The course is 3 nights and 3 days. I never ski 6 consecutive days in a row and it really tax my endurance. Most of the classmates work for Grouse ski school, except a girl work in Cypress. A high school girl and I are the only two students who do not teach skiing. The course covers teaching from linking wedge turns to doing full parallel turns. We spent most of the time on parallel turns since it is harder. The exam has two components, skiing demonstration and teaching. In the ski demonstration part, I am required to demo perfect parallels turn. In the teaching part, I have to assess my student and pin point what’s wrong with their skiing and give them drills to improve their basic techniques.

Somehow I actually pass the teaching part without much problem since it’s just good observation and then apply skiing theory. I was struggling in the ski demonstration. I was clearly below standard on the first day of the course. My balance is leaning too much up hill, my turning timing is off, I did not steer enough at the end of the time and I did not have much leg extension. For the whole week, I focused on improving my basic ski skill to bring it up to the standard. Luckily, this is the ski instructor training and I have lots of opportunities acting as student for my classmates. Since they are also working hard to pass the course, I got very good attention and helpful feedback. I think including the sessions from the instructor and the classmates, I have done the parallel turn lesson at least 15 times. I was so happy when the instructor told us everyone pass the course on the last day. The pain and sour of my knees and my back finally pays off.

Before I take the course, I always blame my old ski for my bad skiing. Now I know I have a lot to work on and I am far from the limit of my old ski, rather I am only limited by my poor skiing techniques. I always struggle on bumps because I don’t have a strong foundation. Skiing the same three runs on Grouse doing endless drills is not as fun as cruising down on Whistler, but it forces me return to the basics and work on my foundation. The instructor training is probably the best ski lesson I ever have in terms of skill improvement. Dollar for dollar, I earn more ski skill in this training than any drop-in lessons in Whistler. I even get tax credit for the course tuition since it is classified as job training!

Beginning of the ski season

The skiing season is pretty short this year due to the Olympic. The Sea to Sky Highway is closed during the games for normal traffic and hotels in Whistler will be ridiculously expensive. That means I have to use up most of all my ski passes before the Olympic in February.

Today is my second skiing day in season. I feel much better than my skiing first day before Christmas. Last time I sign up for lesson and I am so out of shape that the instructor bump me down from level 6 to level 5. I am getting a bit better today, plus we have really great snow, a very powder day. Skiing on powder snow is very different from skiing on groomed runs. If you don’t go fast enough, your ski will sink. I got trapped twice today in knee deep snow, digging myself out is pretty exhausting. You also have to lean a bit more backward on powder snow, or your ski tip will catch the snow and make you fall.

A few years ago, when I took my instructor class, I was told I lean too much backward. Since then I consciously try to lean more forward. This time, the instructor told me I am leaning too much forward, looks like I over correct my stands. It is important to keep your balance even between your ankle and arch. Leaning backward speed you up and makes you lose control. Leaning forward put too much pressure on the ski tip and make it hard to turn.

When I go to Whistler, I always have the noodle bowl and a cup of coke for lunch. Somehow the portion of the noodle bowl seems getting smaller and smaller every year. The cafeteria server only gives you half a bowl of noodle and fill it up with the empty space soup. That portion is definitely not enough to feed a hungry guy had exercised the whole morning. The portion is so small this year that I finally decided I am not going to get rip off the Whistler. I fix the problem myself and get even with them. I simply ordered two bowls and merge the noodles before checking out at the cashier. Now I get a full bowl of noodle, as shown in the advertisement, instead a pathetic half empty noodle bowl.

Whistler in trouble

This year, February is very warm and dry. Whistler is missing at least 1 meter of snow fall compare to February of last year. The snow condition of last few weeks is so bad that even a hardcore skier like me don’t want to go skiing. Finally, the weather is getting better and we got a 80cm of new snow this week, so we have to go skiing this weekend. The Sea-to-Sky highway is busier than usual this morning. The pit-stop, McDonald’s wash room, in Squamish has long line up. I bet many skiers are hungry for ski over the past few weeks just like me. When we arrived at the Creek side, I never seen the parking lot this full. I have to park at P3 instead my usual spot at P1 right next to the elevator.

The line to take the gondola up the mountain is quite long, we waited almost 20 minutes. I thought the mountain must be very busy today and estimated I could make only 6 runs, 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. To my surprise, when we are up in the mountain, the runs are empty and there is no line up on chair lift. The parking lot and the Creek side gondola is the only bottle neck. We end up ski 11 runs in a day. Fresh snow, sunny day, empty runs, what a perfect day for ski.

Judging form the lack of crowds on the mountain, Whistler’s business is pretty bad this year. It must suffer a lot from the financial melt down and lost most of the lucrative US skiers. Creek side is a smaller base compare to the Whistler Village. It’s free underground parking is a little secret of local folks who go to Whistler for day trip. The line up at the Creek side gondola are people like us, budget skiers who won’t spend anything other lift ticket and lunch on the mountain. For those who has the stocks of Intrawest, Whistler’s holding company, should look at this sign and sell the stock as soon as possible. I think Intrawest will have a huge loss this year.

Oh! Did I also mention they just open a brand new peak 2 peak gondola connection Whistler and Blackcomb? The gondola is a technical marvel, the longest suspension cable car in the world, but it’s a huge marketing flop. It suppose to cost $10 a ride for stand alone sight seeing ticket. I ride the gondola 3 times since it opened and I never have to line up. I don’t think they can ever recoup the investment of the gondola. It’s just another white elephant for the 2010 Winter Olympic.

First ski of the season

I had my first ski of the season today. I have been itching to go skiing in the Christmas holidays, but the weather condition is pretty bad for the past two weeks. The weather forecast for this weekend looked good, it said it would be +5 degree rain. I seize the chance and went to Whistler with my friends. The weather was pretty good in the morning, we have some fresh powder snow over the week. The snow base is not enough, there are still rocks and tree tops on some runs, so we have to stay in groomed runs. It’s not too bad for the first ski, since I haven’t ski for almost a year. The lack of train makes my legs get tired easily and I need to recall the muscle memory. We should take it easy today.

However the weather turns bad after lunch. Its windy and getting cold. It is so cold that we rather ski further down the mountain to take the gondola up instead of taking the lift chair. We only had 3 runs in the afternoon and decided to call it a day. The traffic coming back is very bad. We left on 3:30p and took us 3 hours to arrive Vancouver. It was already snowing in the city. Many cars got stuck in snow and blocked the traffic. The rear-wheel drive cars are very annoying. The driver don’t realize their car can’t go up slopes in snow. Yet they still try their way up and blocking off everyone behind. I finally arrive home at 9p.m. safely. If I know it’s going to snow this afternoon, I would probably stay home instead of go skiing.

Mogul skiing

Today I am trying to learn a new way of skiing mogul.  Long time ago, my ski instructor told me that are two ways skiing the mogul runs.   The first skill is easier, you go on top of the bumps, use the bump to slow down than make a turn by going around bump.  The second skill is more advance, you have to run on the troughs without slowing down.

I have been skiing using the first skill for quite some time, it is slower and more tiring, since the knee has to constantly absolute the shocks from the bump.  It does look like a pro, but I can come down on mogul runs in one piece.  My friend just took a week long skiing lesson, so she teach me her newly learned technique.  Instead of going around the bump, use the side of the bump to slow down.  It is not curving or edging, but leaning on to the curve, extend the leg and use the pressure to slow down.  Instead of making big traverse cut across the bumps, ski down the moguls fellowing the fall line.  I am able to make a few turns using this new technique.  I found my movement is much smoother and I really ski like a pro.  However after a few turns, I will either turn too much and fall into through, or I will turn not enough and fly over the bump.  I am exploring how to control the pressure so that I can link up the turns.

I found my skill has improved quite a bit after practicing on moguls for the whole day.  If you can conquer mogul runs, you can conquer any other run.  Whenever I see HK TV programs talk about skiing, they always say skiing is an high speed exciting sport.  Obviously, the script writers do not a thing about skiing.  Skiing is not about high speed, it is all about staying in control.  The satisfaction of skiing is not from zoom down the mountain as fast as possible.  The satisfaction is from conquering all kinds of terrains with a good down hill rhythm.  In the matter of fact, each slope has its own rhythm.  Skiing too fast or too slow won’t look good, you just have to find the right balance.

Skiing basics

This is my toastmaster speech on humorously speaking.  The objective of this speech is to open the speech with a humorous story.

People from Scotland are notorious for their meanness and I met one of them in ski school at Whistler.  I heard he said to the ski instructor, “I want to learn to ski, I want to ski with one leg only.”  The instructor asked him, “Yes sir, I can teach you how to ski on one leg, but may I ask why?”  The Scottish answered, “Because I will only need one ski.  It will be cheaper to buy one ski than two!”

Mr. Chair, dear fellow Toastmaster, summer has gone, the day is getting shorter and shorter.  Yes, winter is coming soon.  It is time for us to take out our ski gears from the closet and get ready for the skiing season.  May I ask how many of you ski?  Please raise your hand.  You may have been skiing for many years, you can race down the mountain like a bullet.  Maybe you are new to the sport, looking forward to graduate from the bunny hill.  Today, I am going to review some basic skiing techniques.  There are 3 core techniques in skiing, balancing, pivoting, and edging.  Let’s start with balancing.

If you cannot balance, you will fall.  Stance and balance is most fundamental skill in skiing.  What is a good balance?  The technical definition of having a good balance in skiing jargon is the center of mass over the bass of support.  Well, the jargon doesn’t make much sense even to a room full of engineers.  To make it easier, you just have to know my friend Bob.  Bob can really help you ski.  Who is bob?  Bob’s name is short for Butt over Boots.  When you start a turn, you must be like Bob.  When you are skiing, may Bob be with you.

What is the natural enemy to skiers?  It is the trees!  How to avoid hitting a tree, you have to learn how to turn when you see a tree ahead of you.  All turnings are initiate by pivoting your ski.  Many beginners make a common mistake when they try to initiate a turn.  Instead of pivoting their ski, they rotate their body to direction they want to go.  Don’t do it.  Rotating your body will not initiate a turn, it will only make your ski go faster.  Pivoting is pointing the tip of your ski to the direction you want to go, the key is to turn your legs independent of your body.

How many ski instructors need to change a light bulb?  Six.  One to screw in the light bulb and five to say “nice turn”.  Edging is a more advance turning technique that gives you a nice turn.  Instead of pivoting your ski, you have to angulate your ankle and lean on one edge of your ski.  Because of the curve shape of the ski, exerting pressure on one edge of the ski will turn the ski.  The shape of the turn is depending on your speed, the pressure you put the edge, and the degree you lean against the slope.  The only way to make a perfect turn is practice, practice and more practice on your edging.

Now let’s review the three core skills of skiing.  They are stance and balance, pivoting and edging.  If you can master this three basic skills, you will be skiing like a pro.  Wish you all have a great skiing season.


Today is a rough day for me. First I went to Whistler with Chris early in the morning and the condition is not very good. The mountain is very foggy with low visibility, the snow at the top is ok but down in the middle is all slushy, even worse it’s raining close to the bottom of the Red Chair. I had a good time with Chris despise of the poor condition, as I havn’t ski with him for past two years. Moreover, it’s great to have someone you can talk to. Then I had my deutsch stunde in the evening. Ich still spreiche kein flussig deutsch. Sigh…

When I was skiing today, somehow I realized how much time I had wasted in downloading and watching BTs, checking out toys websites, reading meaningless articles in chatboard. With rough calcuation, I estimated I had wasted on average 10-15 hours a week, with the time I wasted in janurary and febuary, I could have get my thesis half completed. Thus I had came up with a 200 hours workplan for my thesis. My goal is to spent 200 hours working in my thesis over the next 2 months. The workplan will be divided into 3 hours sessions and I will force myself to concentrate by staying offline and not answering any phone calls. In each session I have to write at least half a page that contribute towards my thesis or at least some code fragments for my simulation. The workplan officially start tomorrow with 2 sessions, followed 3 sessions on friday and saturday each. In a normal week, I will have 1 session on sunday, monday and tuesday each, and 2 sessions on saturday (except go to ski). My goal is to keep up with my workplan and stay away from the temptation of those time wasting activities. I have been praying to the Holy Spirit for the gift of strength and stewardmanship to complete this single most important task in my life for the time being.


Today I had my second run with my new ski. It’s great! I feel much better this time than last time, I guess my boots is settling in and my muscles is more used to the ski motions. It’s a bit unusal that today only four of us went to Whistler, and all of us are pretty good skiiers! Without being drag down by the slower boarders and girls, we are able to conquer both Black Comb and Whistler mountain in one day. It’s a great accompishment for myself. The only drawback is the snow condition is not perfect, there are some icy runs in the middle of the mountain. Very satisfying and tired today, gota sleep now.