Friday, January 23, 2009

You're sleighing me!

Hi-ho from Tahoe again. I'm back!!!! After a weekend in Chicago, conventioning with the Cubs, I'm back for the long haul at Heavenly. The weather is the story this week. It's been raining at 6,000 feet, the base of the mountain. About halfway up, though, it's turning to snow--big ole fat snow, the kind we need desperately. It's supposed to be like this all weekend, which will be great since our last "zeke" was at Christmastime.
Ziggy and I got back to clinicing on the mountain, in week 3 of our training to become certified at Level 1 by the PSIA (pro ski instructors of America). That was yesterday. Our trainer is called "Weavin' Steven" and is widely considered the best skiier on the mountain. They say the tips of his skis dip in and out of moguls like two porpoises cresting the sea. He's a pretty funny guy, too, with some great stories. Last week, after a few shots last week at what Ziggy and I are calling "the bear bar" (the bar at our work site that has a giant stuffed brown bear standing in the middle of it), Weavin' sat in his car, trying to sober up by drinking a gallon of milk and eating all the groceries he had bought earlier in the day.
Zig and I did our first clinic to become certified to coach in the assisted program, meaning we can take people who are paralyzed, unable to walk or have other physical or cognitive handicaps. That meant riding in a sit ski that looks a lot like a sled. I had a turn at guiding the ski down a run by holding tethers on each side of the seat. Then it was my turn to climb inside and be the "dummy in a bucket." 
Funny, because right before that, I was on a lift with the guy whose turn was before me. He'd done this before and commented how the scaryest thing about it was getting off the lift. Your stapped onto this thing, which has a shock absorber right under the seat. The lifty and I hoisted him onto the seat, so he's raised up about a foot. Joe was the guy's name, and he said he felt like he was going to carwheel forward. When I helped him off the lift, I could see exactly what he meant. Well, I guided him down and it was at that point that the coach asked who wanted to go next. I think Ziggy took a step backward because there I was, climbing aboard two seconds later. And the first task I had was to ride the lift--ugh!
 Miraculously, I did not flip over or even fall getting off. (Ziggy still owes me a beer for that!) He shot a photo of me (above) on my first run. I did two or three and only feel over once! All in all, it was pretty cool. The coach says the reward when you see the look on the faces of people after doing this is unbelievable. We've got two more weeks of training and then we'll be certified in the assisted program.
My weekend in Chicago was worthwhile in terms of getting the ball rolling to promote my book. I've got good leads to sell copies at HoHoKam Park during spring training (I'll be there the final week of camp), and both in and outside of Wrigley Field. My publisher, Triumph Books, printed up some bookmarks and I passed them out to fans who stopped by the Vine Line booth. I also personally was able to pass along copies to guys like Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Lou Piniella, and Randy Hundley. Mr. Cub, Ryno and Lou all took pictures with my little neice, Lucy, too. The photo of her and Piniella was classic--Lou and "Lu". The support I'm getting from my old employer has been great and will be a key to spreading the word once my book is out.
So that's about it. My buddy Tony is coming out today and will be here for the weekend. We call him "Yogi" but he'll have to come up with a ski buddy nickname this weekend. Team Snark is adding to its staff!

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