THE LAB: When they say all conditions and all terrain, they mean it. The North American Ski Training Center isn't affiliated with any one resort, so it’s not limited to a single mountain—or a single continent, for that matter. The roving school explores skiscapes around the globe. But if guided catskiing at Grand Targhee, Wyo., or a tour of La Grave, France, feels slightly out of your comfort zone, work up to it with one or a series of AC/AT clinics. In NASTC’s flagship fundamentals course, the terrain accessible from Northstar’s Comstock lift provides a natural progression from moderate, groomed frontside blues to the unmanicured, mile-long bump and powder runs on The Backside. Plus, Northstar’s new base village accommodates pre- and post-ski fitness and tech talks, as well as optional après imbibing.
THE CURRICULUM: If it were a college course, it might be called The Symbiosis of Gear, Fitness and Technique. A lecture portion—held at each ski day’s end—includes video analysis and tech talks by expert boot fitters and physical trainers. Lab work? Drills, drills and more drills: On snow, groups practice fundamental movement patterns required for off-piste skiing. Instructors evaluate clients individually, diagnose limitations—in equipment and/or physiology—and prescribe remedies. Homework (and, in some cases, rehab) takes the form of dryland workouts structured to improve strength and mobility. Conditions and ski patrol permitting, the week wraps up with an out-of-bounds “final exam” run.
THE INSTRUCTORS: Its diverse menu of clinics notwithstanding, NASTC’s greatest draw is its handpicked roster of trainers. Two-term PSIA Demo Team member and SKI contributor Chris
Fellows and his wife, Jenny, recruit top instructors from around the globe. They include several Demo Team members, ski school directors and certified mountain guides.
THE VIBE: A cadre of regular clients—many of whom take three or more NASTC clinics a season—embraces first-time campers, so a small fraternity quickly takes shape and moves in a pack on and off the hill. Even after a full day of skiing—which starts at 8, includes an on-mountain lunch and concludes around 5:30 or 6—campers often organize group dinners and happy hours. Most clients come solo or in pairs to NASTC’s expert courses and backcountry programs, but resorts like Northstar invite campers to build family ski trips around the AC/AT clinics.
DATES: March 28-30, 2010
PRICE: Rates start at $1,250—which includes lift tickets, instruction, banquet and optional equipment demos. NASTC can also help arrange lodging.
INFO: For a full list of NASTC clinics, dates and rates, visit skinastc.com; 530-582-4772.