Sunday, February 19, 2006

Keizo is a God

I was humbled today. For the first time in recent memory, I said "I'm done" and packed it in before my co-skier was finished. Keizo, I apologize... you are a machine! That last run just plain killed me and it was just time for me to stop. I thought my skiing was pretty good, that I could take on most runs I could find out here and bounce back unscathed... I was right, my skiing is pretty good, but Keizo's skiing ROCKS! He's like got the perfect technique running down the hill, skis perfectly parallel, unfazed by such obstacles as piles of wet, cement like snow.... I guess going skiing at least once every weekend helps! Now I know why he's rescheduling from my Saturday class to Matt's Friday class, he's out hitting the slopes, lucky guy!

Had a fantastic day today, the weather was great, the company was fabulous and the mountain wasn't so crowded. I think ALTS can absorb the weekend crowd much better than most other places around here. We headed out from Utsunomiya at 7:30 or so and were skiing by 10:00 which is pretty good. I am now an official card carrying member of the ALTS club or something, which entitles me to a 500 Yen discount every time I go... pretty good deal since I just had to fill out a form on the Net to get it. Then again, that form was completely in Japanese and required 2 Japanese staff member to fill out due to some odd error message in trying to translate my highly un-Japanese name to Japanese characters... but thanks to Kobayashi and Ishikawa sans, it all worked out!

Here is a picture of the gang part way through our first run of the day. On the left is Sayaka-sensei, Keizo in the middle and Mayu on the right. The ladies are decidedly more genki in this picture than they were by the end of the day :-)


This is Bandai-san. It didn't really register last time I skied here that this was the same mountain which I was only able to describe as a "triangular darkness" due to fog and low cloud cover when I came here with Leah last August. Nice and clear in the winter though!


We skied lifts 1 through 4 for the morning before going into a decidedly more expert section of the mountain after lunch where I was for some reason quite uncomfortable. I don't know what the heck is wrong with me, (maybe I've become dependant on Alex's goading???) but I couldn't seem to get into the right frame of mind to take on the more advanced runs properly. I would get freaked out and I even took 2 tumbles coming down some of them!!! What the heck is wrong with me? Granted the conditions were not what I was used to, with the sun and high temperature, we were skiing in pretty wet snow. (Rene: I now understand what you mean by the "pushing wet cement with your legs" comment) That or I let the discomfort of the two ladies in our group affect me or something, I haven't felt this uncomfortable on a run since I discovered that the Canadian run at Camp Fortune (Expert run) had literally NO snow on it after I had already engaged it. Strange, I will make a point of tackling mainly expert runs next trip to get my confidence back up, this had got to change!

This was our choice of runs from the middle section of ALTS, which we had skipped my last trip here. It was a really nice section of the slope, not crowded due to the expert runs, and the snow was somewhat colder due to the lack of direct sunlight.


Here are the ladies challenging their first expert run. They did fine, I hit an accumulation of muck and was sent tumbling for a bit, during which time I remembered my shoulder... which hasn't yet quite fully recovered from my last ALTS trip... lol The run to the right of the moguls across the way was pretty good, Keizo and I hit it a couple of times, narrow and fast as heck.


The ladies hamming it up for the camera, I really need to find an image editor to zoom some of these in.


We eventually migrated back to the left side of the hill where the ladies took their leave and Keizo and I headed back up for what (we thought) was a last hour of skiing. The conditions were fantastic at the end of the day. The sun was hidden by clouds and the slushy snow of the day had turned to fine granular powder which was simply amazing to ski on. Unfortunately, the one run down we took just about killed me. My legs suddenly got quite tired and almost gave out on me once or twice. I made the right choice and called it a day, apologizing to Keizo for my pussing out with more than half an hour of lift time still available.

Great picture taken by Keizo at the end of the day with the mountain in the background.


Unfortunately, the smoking man we asked to be out photographer just isn't as good as I am... but here's the group after a long day.


Great big thank you for Keizo for taking us vehicle-less people out to the slopes today, and of course to Keizo and the ladies for the company, we had a most excellent day, as will be felt when we wake up tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow should be (I hope) an interesting day as it will be my first attempt at cooking with scallops. I'll be making a black olive couscous with scallops in a tomato and basil sauce, should be quite nice. The original recipe calls for a basil puree, made from a full cup of fresh basil which is then dabbed onto each individual scallop... but unfortunately for me, the basil here is sold for about 1.50$ for one measly twig... so I'll incorporate the basil into the main sauce and hope for the best. Wish me luck!

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