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1998-2002, Tom Kronthaler and Skiers Accommodations of Utah

. Summer at Les 2 Alpes

This ski tip is of a different nature; you might instead call it a ski trip tip.

Europe offers a unique summer vacation opportunity with both the advantages of summer sun and winter glacial snow. Gerard Huve', who instructs at Snowbird during the winter, runs a summer ski improvement and race camp at Les 2 Alpes in France, a beautiful resort situated approximately two hours from Grenoble. Les 2 Alpes is considered one of the best summer ski locations in Europe with 10,000 acres of sun and snow. Twelve lifts operate during the summer providing a vertical of at least 2350 feet, usually 3220 feet, until the end of July. The slopes of the glacier provide steep as well as easy terrain, ideal for free skiing and training.

The village at Les 2 Alpes is about the size of Park City. In 1998, one of the legs of the Tour De France bicycle race went from Grenoble to Les 2 Alpes, a grueling, continuous uphill climb.

There are many things to do near Les 2 Alpes and the village is a popular summer retreat for people from all over Europe. Skiing is only a small part of what they offer in the summer. There is endless hiking, mountain biking, 40 tennis courts, 10 swimming pools, golf courses, horseback riding, archery, windsurfing, ice skating and many other daily activities.

The weather is perfect for a well-rounded vacation. At 7 a.m. you take two 25-passenger high-speed gondolas five miles to the glacier's base where lifts go in every direction. The lifts range from an underground vernicular to doubles, triples, high-speed quads and countless T bars. The terrain ranges from open intermediate to steep bowls for training full-length downhill. They also have one of the most extensive snowboard parks that I have ever seen.

The snow starts out very hard, but because there are so many exposures you can get corn snow starting fairly early and going through most of the day. From 7 a.m. until 11 or noon you will see some of the best skiers in the world. World Cup teams from all over the world train at Les 2 Alpes and at any given time you may see 50 courses set. This is the place for images and movement patterns from children to world cuppers.

You can really get a good idea of what it takes to make a ski work from riding up the lift with a World Cup racer to watching a 10-year-old making unbelievable turns.

Between noon and 2 p.m. you return to the village for some great European food and drink. The temperature is usually in the high seventies and perfect for an afternoon in the mountain sun. Put your shorts or swim trunks on and your off to the summer part of your vacation.

The price of the camp is approximately $750 per week. It includes lodging, breakfast and dinner, lift tickets coaching, use of swimming pool and ice skating rink afternoon activities (whitewater rafting costs extra). The camp dates are around June 28 through August 1. Planning ahead ensures you'll have the time to summer ski in Europe and perhaps see some of the best skiers in the world. For information contact:

Tom           

Gerard Huve
Les 2 Alpes Ski Camp
4429 Que Street N. W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
                                 Tel 202 338-0079.

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Get your equipment ready for your trip!

This is the time to get your equipment out and get it ready for your ski vacation.

Skis
If you have older, straight skis (older than 3-4 years), or skis longer than shoulder to head height, it may be time to look at the new skis at your local specialty shop.

Skis up to date? Then make sure you look at the bases, edges, and have the bindings inspected before your trip. Ideally, you put your skis away cleaned, tuned and waxed after last season. 

Signs that your skis need a trip to your local specialty shop:

Rusty edges
Dry bases that look whitish and "furry"
Dirty bindings

Here are some things you may want your specialty ski shop to do:

Have your shop sharpen skis with a 1 degree bottom bevel on the edges and a 1 degree side bevel for beginner to intermediate skiers. Ask for a 1 degree bottom bevel and a 2 degree side bevel for upper intermediate to advanced skiers--especially if you ski lots of hard snow and ice. Don't "dull" the tips and tails of the skis. A good ski tuner may use a machine to start a tune and put a mild base structure on the bottoms, but a good tune job requires a hand finish.

A good tune job will leave the skis with a very slight texture on a smooth shiny base. The edges should feel clean and smooth when you run your finger lightly along the edge. The edges should be sharp enough to shave some nail off your fingernail.

The real test comes when you ski. Well-tuned skis should ski easily and be predictable. They shouldn't "grab" but should hold well on firm snow.

Boots
Boots are your most important investment in skiing. If you ski more than a week a year you should buy a pair of boots at your local specialty shop. Buy from people who are experienced and deal with people who ski frequently. Not all shops and sales people are created equal. 

How to know if you need new boots:

Your boots are older than five years 
Your current boots are rear entry
Your feet hurt (you may just need custom boot fitting)
Your boots feel very soft, both forward and sideways
Your feet are too loose (probably the most common problem)

Boots that are too loose are possibly the most common boot fitting problem. Ski shops with poorly trained boot fitters or bad business ethics too often rent and sell skiers boots that are too big. Boots that are super comfortable when you put them on in the shop the first time are probably too big. Boot liners pack out the more you wear them and boots that feel snug in the shop may become very loose with time. Good boot fitters can make amazing adjustments to boots that are the correct size, but it is very difficult to pad boots that are too large.

You should wear a boot for 30-60 minutes to get the boot to form to your foot. After purchase, it's not a bad idea to wear your boots around the house for a few hours to see if they continue to feel snug. (Don't walk on abrasive surfaces to keep the boots new if you decide to return them.)

How to tell if your boot fitter is knowledgeable:

Your boot fitter talks to you about your skill level and where and what slopes you ski.
Your boot fitter measures your foot.
Your boot fitter "shell" fits you. The boot fitter should pull the liner out of the boot, have you 
stand in the shell without the liner and measure the space between your heel and the shell.
The fitter should also buckle up the shell and look at how the shaft of the leg aligns to the cuff 
of the boot (still without the liner). The fitter should also check to see how the liner fits on your 
foot outside the shell.
With the liner back in the boot the boot should feel very, very snug.
The boot fitter should encourage you to wear the boot around the shop for at least 30 minutes.
The boot fitter should check your alignment with: 1) wands, 2) some form of computer device, or 
3) a plumb line from your knee to your toe.
Your boot fitter should ask if you have or want custom foot beds.

Poles
Turn your poles upside down with your hand under the pole basket. Your forearm should be level, or just slightly higher than level, to the floor. Generally, slightly shorter poles are better than poles that are too long

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Equipment Facts

New equipment can make the difference between a great ski vacation and one that leaves you wishing you had gone to Disneyland.

Skis

Western ski vacations can deliver a variety of weather and snow conditions. Skis that work great in the West are the new mild-shaped skis with a wide base under the foot. Companies call them all-mountain skis, wide bodies, and extra wide bodies. These skis work great on hard pack, chopped powder and powder snow. If the powder gets deep, the best skis are the fat boys--extra wide bodies.

Inexperienced deep and soft-snow skiers should do themselves a favor and rent a pair of the new wider skis and go out and enjoy the powder. The new skis will make a powder skier out of you.

Foggy Goggles

A common problem, especially when you're working hard and getting too warm, is fogged goggles. Here's how you avoid the foggy-goggle problem.

Never put your goggles up on top of a wet hat. Evaporating moisture from your hat will condense on the goggle lens and fog the goggles. Either leave your goggles over your eyes--even when riding a tram or gondola--or put your goggles inside your jacket.

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Simple Skiing, 1

Skiing is simple if you allow it to be. Here are some simple tips to improve your skiing and deal with different terrain and conditions

Skiing is movement

We must move to ski well. Most skiers have problems because they don't move or they move int he wrong direction. Three things contribute to a lack of movement: 1) terrain, 2) imitating a position you think you should be in, 3) moving in the wrong direction, which ends up in a position.

A simple rule of thumb is you should always move in the direction you want to go and keep moving in that direction until you get there. In short turns you want to move down the fall line. In long turns you want to move to the left then to the right. 

Everything moves in the direction you want to go, starting with your eyes, head, upper torso and legs. This is not a rotational move around an axis, but a directional move in the direction you want to go.

Get moving in the right direction

1. Look, move
Focus your eyes to where you want to end up--short turns down the fall line, long turns down and across. Move the body, hips, torso, and head in the direction you are looking. Next, do the same thing except yell out "Look, Move" as you ski. Listen to yourself and do it! At slower speeds and shallower terrain, movement will be more passive. As speed and slope angle increase, movements will become more aggressive--you may almost feel like you're diving down the hill.

2. Perpendicularity
Another way to think about "look, move" is the need to get the body perpendicular to the slope we are skiing. When we make a turn, the body moves in the direction of the turn to release the skis and create edge angle. At the finish of the turn the body tends to be back and inside relative to the skis and the slope. IN order to release the skis and stay in balance, the body has to move perpendicular to the slope angle. 

One of the big problems in skiing, especially as we get into steeper terrain, is that we end up in the "back seat." Apply the law of perpendicularity and you'll never get stuck sitting back.

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Simple Skiing, 2

Skiing is Natural

We practice skiing every day. To a lot of people, skiing feels unnatural because we are moving on a slippery surface. Actually, the moves we make every day are very similar to the moves we make in skiing.

When walking, pressure goes from one foot to the other. When we want to turn to the left we focus on releasing and turning our left foot to the left and pressure and balance moves to the right foot. The same thing happens in skiing. We call this inside leg movement.

Practice inside leg movement to improve your skiing

On skis, plant your poles about six inches from your ski tips. Pick up your left ski and turn it left until it hits your pole. Feel the muscles in your left leg that it takes to turn your ski against the pole. Notice that your body stands still and does not rotate.

Skiing down a mild slope in a narrow wedge, yell out "left leg, left." The left leg will get light and move left while the right leg gets heavy and follows (turns left). Do the same thing with your right leg. Notice that when you turn your inside leg your wedge goes away!

Stemming problems

Intermediate (and even more advanced skiers) tend to stem every turn because of fear, the steepness of slopes, and a need to push off the old ski to start a turn. 

Forget about weight transfer, the need for a platform, and fear and yell out "right foot, right." The right foot will get light to start a right turn and the left foot will tend to follow. You will start into the turn with one simple thought and not worry about weight transfer, turning and edging.

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