It is pretty cool seeing Whistler mapped by Google Street View. The runs looks quite difference in street view than when I am skiing on it. I guess when I am skiing, I was too focus on not falling down. I didn’t take a good look at the scenery on both side of the run.
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.
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.
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.
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.