No More Ski

Ski season is officially over. Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail had closed this weekend. I am feeling nostalgic already. Skiing has been so much fun, especially spending time with my boys, but it is time to put our gears away. What will keep me active in the spring and summer?

I want to get back to figure skating. My skills are getting rusty. I am still stuck on salchow and toe loop jumps. I need to nail these jumps to move forward. I don’t have too much confidence and passion like I used to; therefore, I don’t know how further I can go. Then again, I am not competing with anyone but myself.

I am still rollerblading at skateparks. I am not advancing much. I am still working on my pumps and riding the half pipe. I have gained confidence in my drops. I fell once yesterday from dropping down a high curved ramp. I felt fine until I went to sleep. My right shoulder was in pain. My body shows its age. I am starting to feel as if aggressive skating isn’t for old men like me. My kids no longer have any passion or interest in rollerblading; therefore, I feel lonely skating on my own. I still do it. I don’t want to give up yet.

Besides these sports, I should be focusing more on housework. Over the years, we have accumulated much more stuff than we need. The more I push off, the more overwhelming I get. I need to spend more time getting rid of things we don’t need. Tidying up the house has been a challenge with four kids. They leave toys everywhere.

As much as I despise home maintenance, I have to do as much as I can on my own. Not that I can’t afford to hire handymen, but I just can’t justify paying for everything around the house that needed fixing. Truth be told, maintaining our house is one of my sources of stress. Then again, what can I do? I am just going to face whatever hits us.

Last Weekend of Skiing Season

On Saturday, we had a surprise snowstorm with the temperature dropping to the teens. We were to cancel our trip, but I took Đạo and Xuân with me to Liberty in the afternoon. The conditions were a bit icy, but still decent for skiing. We skied mostly on mogul terrains. The blue moguls were fun and manageable. The double-black moguls were tough, but I loved the challenge. I hadn’t conquered them yet, but I was more comfortable with them. I understand why many skiers don’t like moguls, but I am starting to appreciate them.

On Sunday, I took my kids and my brother-in-law took their kids to Roundtop. The conditions were great and the lifts weren’t too crowded. The younger kids skied in blues with one of my brother-in-laws and I led the older kids on the double blacks. In the afternoon, Roundtop held a Pond Skim competition. Participants dressed in customs and skied or snowboarded over a pond of cold water. After watching the first few folks dropping into the pond and only one of them made it, I headed over to the double black slopes to do a few runs down Gunbarrel, the steepest slopes out of the three resorts: Roundtop, Liberty, and Whitetail.

I shared a lift with an older woman and we had a short exchange. She shared with me her personal story about her late husband who used to work at Roundtop as a mechanic. She lost her husband over pancreatic cancer. She also revealed that she was wearing his jacket. I was touched. She was such a sweet woman.

After three runs on my own, I met up with my three boys (Đạo, Đán, Xuân) and their cousins (Hân, Khôi) and they all wanted to do Gunbarrel. My three boys and Khôi made it all the way down. Hân plowed down just a quarter of the slope and freaked out. He didn’t want to go all the way down, but he couldn’t go back up. His only option was to slide down on his behind. The second time, Khôi plunged into a tree. Thank goodness he didn’t fall on rocks. After that we went home.

This weekend was probably our last ski trip for the season. The resorts will stay open until next Sunday. Looking at the forecast, the weather will be warm next week. I am not so sure if we can take our last trip next Sunday.

Here’s a clip of me taking my time down the Gunbarrel.

Learn to Ski on My Own

This winter, I skied from green to double-black-diamond slopes without taking any group or private lessons. I learned everything from watching YouTube.

Unlike figure skating, skiing has no standardized curriculum, or I could not find one; therefore, I had to do the research on my own. Now that I had done it, I wanted to share my experience. If you want to learn to ski on your own and want to take your journey to the next level, you may find the instructional videos helpful.

If you had taken skiing lessons and were taught how to plow (pizza), you need to unlearn it. You need to move from plow to parallel. Janus Hecht’s “Two Keys to Parallel Skiing” has unlocked my parallel skiing. It took me a few days to make the adjustments. Once it was clicked, I hardly went want to plowing.

Once you can parallel, the next step is to learn the hockey stop. Again, Janus Hecht is the man to watch. Hockey stop is not only an essential skill, but it is so much fun to do, especially the hop to stop technique, which Hecht also covered in the video.

Once you’ve mastered the hockey stop, you can make the transition to short turns. I find the step-by-step video from miromiro for short turns to be helpful. In addition to short turns, the instructor (I can’t find his name) shows the jump-turn technique. I love jump turns and use them all the time to ski down the double-black-diamond slopes. In this video, “How to Ski Steeps,” Warren Smith shows how step turns and jump turns can help you navigate the steep slopes. It is incredible to watch.

Skiing moguls appears to be intimidating at first, but it is so much fun maneuvering around those bumps. Like anything in skiing, you want to go with the flow rather than against it. In this video, Darren Turner shows how to ski moguls with ease. I find his instructions to be approachable. I learned “How to Jump on Skis” and basic carving technique from watching him. I am in the process of learning advanced carving from this video. I can’t find the name of the instructor, but her technique looks amazing.

I hope these tips will help open up your skiing journey like they had done for me. Happy skiing.

Skate and Ski

I returned to the ice skating rink today for the first time in more than two weeks. My chops had regressed. I could barely do the salchow jump and couldn’t do the toe loop jump at all. It is quite a challenge to learn alone. I don’t have my kids to motivate me anymore. They no longer wanted to do figure skating. I don’t want to give up yet. I am going to keep trying. Maybe I should take some private lessons to help me accomplish these jumps.

I also returned to the skatepark to rollerblade when the weather permitted. I am working on my pumps. Dropping in has been scary as hell, but that’s only half of the battle. Pumping out is less intimidating, but harder to do. I spent months already, but I am starting to get it. My sons are no longer interested in rollerblading so I have to go solo. I made a video of my progression from last year to now.

They still love skiing and snowboarding; therefore, we have made tremendous progress together. Đạo, Đán, Xuân and I can do black and double-black slopes. Unfortunately, the season seems to be over already. I put together a video of our 2021-2022 skiing season. We’ll definitely go with the season pass again next year.

Skiing and skating have provided me with two benefits. I haven’t had a gout attack and I have been drinking on a regular basis—a glass of wine and a bottle of hard coffee a day. I also lost my beer belly.

My YouTube Channel

On Monday, I figured out how easy it is to combine video clips together using iMovie. All I had to do was selecting the videos I wanted to combine. As a result of this exciting discovery, I put together a few longer video clips:

I am starting to use YouTube more. If you want to see new video, subscribe to my channel.

Mount Snow

We arrived at Mount Snow around 10 am and the lines for the lifts were already long. My sons and I took the express lift to the top of the mountains. We started off the green trail so Vương could come along. Then Đạo, Đán, and Xuân went ahead without us. I had Vương on the harness and I skied behind him to keep his speed under control. Skiing with a toddler was harder than I had expected. It took us at least half an hour to complete the green trail, which was long.

By the time we made it back to the main entrance, it was already noon time. After lunch, I hit the black slopes with Đạo, Đán, and Xuân. Once we made it past the main lifts, the lifts to black and blue slopes had no line. The conditions were great. The terrains were somewhat steep. We made several runs. Time went by fast when you were having fun. It was almost 4 pm and we had to go.

The kids and I liked both Okemo and Mount Snow. The former was smoother than the latter. Both of these resorts definitely were worthwhile for the eight hours of driving. We’ll definitely come back next year if we have the opportunity.

The Okemo Experience

As the weather in Virginia and Pennsylvania gets warmer, I feel a yearning for snow. I don’t want the skiing season to be over yet. When my wife suggested that we should head to Vermont because it snowed, I took her up on it. Since the boys had off school on Friday, we could make a short getaway. She booked a small house on Wednesday and we hit the road on Thursday. The drive took eight hours.

Friday morning, we headed to Okemo. The weather was beautiful and the conditions were fabulous. I took Vương on the magic carpet on the bunny slope then the “magic seat” for the green. He enjoyed the runs and wanted to do the green again. This time the operator didn’t let us take the lift. Vương required the lift ticket even though he was free. I had to go to the frontdesk to get one for him. By that time, he no longer wanted to ski anymore.

I joined Đạo, Đán, and Xuân on the expert slopes. The trails at Okemo were wide and long. The black slopes connected to blue slopes; therefore, we could ski for a long time before reaching the lift again. I loved the long runs. They were great exercises.

Xuân had caught up with us. He switched to parallel and felt comfortable on the black slopes. It was nice to be able to ski together with my boys. Okemo had so many trails that we had to follow Đạo. He led us to where we wanted to go. I told him I wanted to check out the double black diamonds. He pulled out the maps and showed us the way.

We had a great time and we definitely will return to Okemo in the future. Tomorrow we’ll check out Mount Snow.

Celebration of Failure

We had another fantastic skiing weekend: Roundtop on Saturday and Whitetail on Sunday. I was surprised how well Roundtop kept their slopes powdery despite the warm weather. In contrast, Whitetail was very slushy. Nevertheless, we had great runs at both resorts.

As the season is winding down—March 20 is predicted to be the last day—the resorts have become less busy. I didn’t see long rental lines like before. The lift lines moved fast, especially the lifts for the expert terrains. In retrospect, Đạo, Đán, Xuân, and I made tremendous progress this season because of our Epic passes. We are incredibly grateful to our lovely lady who bought us the passes. She is such a caring mother. Of course, she had to buy me the pass as well so I could take the kids. I think I held up my end of the bargain.

We started out at the green slopes at the beginning of the season and now we can take on the double-black slopes. I did not take any skiing lessons this season because they always sold out. Everything I learned, I learned from watching YouTube videos. Then I would share what I learned with Đạo and Xuân. Đán is on his own because he does snowboarding. With Đạo, I just gave him some tips and he figured them out on his own. I helped him make the transition from plow to parallel. When we sat together on the lift, I pointed out to him the difference between the two from watching other skiers. It didn’t take him very long to break his plow habit.

Xuân is such a fast learner. He picked up hockey stops simply from watching me practice. He also picked up side-slipping from a ski patrol when he got stuck on the blue slope. With these two skills, he could maneuver his way around the double-black slopes. When we skied together, I just needed to remind him to parallel his skis. Because he had mastered his hockey stops, he had a much easier time making the transition to short turns. He wanted to learn hop turns, which I used quite a bit on steep slopes to control my speed and to feel the adrenaline rush of hopping down the slopes.

I don’t consider myself an expert, but I jumped to the gun like I am deaf (điếc không sợ súng). I know nothing; therefore, I doubt nothing. What I love about skiing is the celebration of failure as part of growth. I fell countless times, but I found the skiing community to be very supportive. Advanced skiers always helped out novice skiers. My skis popped off plenty of times and other skiers always stopped to help pick up my skis for me. Even Đạo and Đán had picked that up; therefore, they helped out when others fell and dropped their skis. On Saturday, Đạo, Đán, Xuân, and I attempted the Gunbarrel, which is the steepest slope at Roundtop. Đạo and Đán went down first. Xuân made it halfway, but he was intimidated by the moguls. I was still on top, but I was not sure if I could stop at his spot. As I was attempting to, someone else offered to help. He got to Xuân and carried him down the steep slope. Xuân enjoyed it. I made myself down to Xuân and all of us continued to the lifts.

Because I have done ice skating as well as aggressive rollerblading, skiing seems more like a natural extension of those two sports. Falling on snow is nothing compared to falling on ice and concrete. Falling off the concrete bowls will guarantee to scrape your skins.

I am a bit sad to see the skiing season is ending, but I am definitely looking forward to next year.

Liberty Weekend

Spent Saturday and Sunday at Liberty Mountain Resort from morning to late noon (around 4 hours each day). Had wonderful times skiing with the kids.

The weather is getting warmer and warmer. The season will end in a couple of weeks. We just have to ski as much as we can before the resorts closed up.

Skiing is a great sport. If you haven’t try it, give it a shot next season. It isn’t that hard, yet tons of fun and excellent exercise. I only started two years ago and skipped last year. This year I started off at the green slopes then moved to blue slopes, then black slopes, then double black slopes.

I have to credit my sons, especially Đạo, for encouraging me to take on the double black slopes. Once I watched him skiing down, I knew I could make it. Đạo and I were around the same level, but he had surpassed me. He can ski over moguls with ease. I navigate my way around them instead of flowing with them. He started off the season doing pizza, but I encouraged him to switch to parallel. It opened up a whole new world for him once he made the switch.

Đán is incredibly good with snowboarding. We took a two-hour lesson together. The instructor told us to stay at the bunny slope to practice, but he went on the green slope. He fell quite a bit at first, but eventually got it. I, on the other hand, gave up and switched back to skiing. My thumb is still sore a bit from the fall on the magic carpet on snowboard.

Once I switched back to skiing, I started to learn techniques on my own. I began with switching from pizza to parallel, then short turns, then hockey stops, then jump hockey stops, then hop turns. These techniques allow me to ski with confidence on any terrain. I am still working on my carvings. I have been enjoying skiing the double slopes so much that I haven’t spent the time learning carvings at the green slopes.

Xuân is doing quite well with skiing. He can do the blues, blacks, and even double blacks. He still relied on the pizza technique a lot. I am trying to teach him to ski parallel. Once he can make the switch, he will be a much better skier. He can already do the hockey stop. He just need to switch his mind.

Vương hadn’t taken any lessons. I just connected his skis with a Wedgie Edgie and strap him on a harness. He just skied straight down the slopes with me slowing him down or helping him to turn. He doesn’t know how to stop or to turn. He doesn’t do the pizza either, which is good. I hope to give him lessons next year.

My wife is also starting out this year. She didn’t have the time to practice because Vương kept clinging to her. He only did a couple of runs with me before asking for his mom. I hope next year he will be less attached to her so she can learn more.

We had a fantastic season. We used the crap out of our Epic passes. With the passes and our skis, we skipped the lift ticket and rental lines, which were always incredibly long. On weekends, people had to stand two hours in line just to get their rental. By the time we left around 1pm or 2 pm, the line snaked out all the way to the drop off area. I am glad we didn’t have to stand in that line.

Skiing on Midweek

Yesterday I took off work to drive to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see my uncle for the last time. Since the viewing didn’t take place until 6 pm, I had plenty of time to myself. After dropping Đạo off at school at 8 am, I headed straight to Roundtop first. It was a warm day, but the terrains were well groomed. Since it was a Wednesday, there was hardly anyone. I shared the lifts with two men separately, one was semi-retiring and one was fully retired. The latter told me that he skied two hours a day and three days a week. Obviously he only skied on the weekdays to avoid the crowd. He made me want to retire myself.

I did six runs down the Gunbarrel, which was the double black diamond that kept falling on Sunday. Because it was well groomed, I did not fall at all. Then I did three runs over the moguls. I navigated my way around the high and steep ones, but I made it down without my skis popping off. As much as I enjoyed my quiet moment alone, I missed my kids. I wish they were there with me. Needless to say, I love skiing. As people are looking forward to warmer weather, I want cold weather and snow to continue for as long as possible.

At noon I took a lunch break and headed back to the slopes. Before 2 pm, I went into the cafeteria to attend a work meeting. I was going to skip it, but I decided to join since it was my boss’s last meeting. She’s retiring as well. After the meeting ended, I headed to Landisville to drop off a bag of durian coffee for an old friend from high school. I hadn’t met in a long time. I met her at her barbershop. We chatted a bit in between her appointments. It seemed like she was doing well.

After visiting my friend, I went to my sister’s house to drop off my stuff and headed over to the funeral home to see my uncle. He looked beautiful and rested. I met many family members and helped set up the tables with fruits and flowers for tomorrow’s service. After the viewing, I took my sisters, nephew, and his wife to hibachi grill. It was nice catching up with my little family again.