When I met up with my future Women’s Discovery Camp program buddies at Sugarbush, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was told I would learn to ski without fear at this two-day ski clinic. That appealed to me since I consider myself an advanced beginner with lots of weekend fear. My children are no longer in ski school which means every weekend these phenomenal little skiers are on the slopes with me. While I enjoy the time with them, I don’t enjoy the small arguments on the chairlift about which trail we’re going to ski next. I vote green, they vote blue or the dreaded black. If I could come out of this ski clinic being able to comfortably keep up with them—then that’s the best I could hope for.
Women’s Ski Clinic at Sugarbush
We were introduced to our ski clinic instructor, Lisa Densmore. Google her and you will see she comes with a laundry list of awe-inspiring accomplishments including a being member of the US Ski Team, 61 national masters titles, published author and an Emmy-winning television host and producer.
What impressed me the most was her passion for skiing. It showed as she started the morning indoor lesson about how to buy skis. She talked about shape, flex, east coast skis vs. west coast powder skis. Soon my head was spinning. How long should my skis be? What I heard was when in doubt go shorter. What about “Rockers”? Lisa explained these pre-flexed, pre-bent skis are soft up front so you can get into the turns. They are the latest trend in ski design that you have to try to see if you like. Lucky for us the guys from Ski Haus brought tons of skis for us to demo. I didn’t go for the Rockers, but I did try the sweet little Elans.
Progress at Your Own Pace
My intermediate group spent the morning with veteran Sugarbush Ski School instructor, M.A. Raymond. My time with Lisa wouldn’t come until day two. We started off on an easy trail bringing it back to the basics. We fine tuned our turns and threw in the pole touch, not plant as M.A. said, all the while remembering to breathe. She would remind us “not to fight the mountain, we should feel the energy of the mountain.”
After a quick lunch and the opportunity to swap our demo skis for another pair if we wanted to, it was back out on the trails. This time our group was with another top Sugarbush Ski Instructor Pate Weston. She wanted to take us on a little bit more adventurous terrain — Murphy’s Glades, Sleeper Chutes, a little bit of Eden Woods (yep!) and Lower Domino. I balked at first since Lower Domino hadn’t been groomed in a few days. Guess what? I liked it!
Apres-ski was hosted by Ski Haus in the Castlerock Pub with another great motivational talk by Lisa. She has no shortage of outdoor adventure stories to share, including a hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. By the time dinner rolled around we girls had clearly bonded and our own courageous stories started coming out. I learned about the Ragbrai bike ride from a fellow camper, a ride that changed her life. Until then she had never biked farther than 30 miles and this race was 500 miles across the state of Iowa in 7 days. She has been back 5 times. It was clear to me we had a bunch of outdoor adventure spirits among us.
Practice Makes Perfect
As day two began we were all smiles, despite being a little sore. Lisa’s breakfast talk was about racing because we were headed to the NASTAR course. Honestly, while she was throwing out all sorts of racing terminology, I was just thinking about making it through the gates and to the bottom in one piece. However, it did cross my mind that it would be great to look like an Olympic racer. I was relieved though when she said it was going to be more of an exercise than about technique. Well wouldn’t you know it, I surprised myself again. Not only did I make it down in one piece, I went back and did it three times.
A much need respite came at lunchtime. I was looking forward to it because it was an opportunity to see our new ski skills during the video review. I was torn between feeling like I would potentially be humiliated or liberated. The other women in the group cheered words of encouragement while we watched each other on screen. This along with Lisa’s running commentary provided useful feedback for the afternoon session. I needed it because just when I thought
I needed it because just when I thought negotiating the glades and woods was my biggest accomplishment, my time with Lisa had come. She took our group on Lower Organgrinder (a black diamond steep groomer) and Stein’s Run (a double black diamond – oh yes she did!). Without her guidance and teaching, there is no way, I ever would have gone on either of those trails. I will forever carry with me her words “just make little hockey turns” and “now you can ski any trail, anywhere, at any mountain on the east coast.” Thank you, Lisa!
As we wrapped up our time back at the lodge with another mini-apres ski party with complete with lots of swag, I realized that this camp pushed me to ‘discover’ things about myself, about this mountain, about my skiing ability, and about my limits. I felt empowered. As we said good-bye, shared hugs and phone numbers, made plans to ski together in the upcoming weeks and there was plenty of talk of getting the group back together for the another Women’s Discovery Camp.
Photo Credits: Sandy Macys & Mary Simmons for Sugarbush Resort
Disclosure: While I was invited to Sugarbush’s Women’s Ski Discovery Camp and they paid for most of my expenses, my review reflects the honest opinions of my experience without outside influence.