Former pro skier dances into second week |

Former pro skier dances into second week

CJ Mueller
special to the daily

OK! Down to business. We all got together individually with Mandy Moore on Tuesday. Moore flew in for four days between her professional commitments in California and Toronto. She came to teach us our individual dances for the big event. She is the choreographer, and she’s an amazing bundle of energy, not to mention a great teacher.

I was amazed how much I learned in 90 minutes. Also helping were Hunter Hamilton from Los Angeles, who has the relaxed look of a yogi, and breezed through the routine like I ski down a green run, and Stephanie Bruner, who will be my local coach and instructor for the next five weeks. I think Bruner will be easy to work with. She is a little laid back but expecting nothing less than perfection from me. She seems like a great teacher, and she talked in terms that were easy for me to understand, including relating some of the moves to skiing.

At the end of my 90 minute lesson, it was hard to stay sharp. I was tired! I had been working up on Peak 8, on my feet for 10 hours before the lesson. But I brightened up immediately when I entered the Summit School of Dance in Frisco and had a nice chat with Melanie Frey, the owner, who let us use her studio for rehearsals.

When I got there, I learned for the first time what music I would be dancing to for the competition. I’m going to keep it a secret, but it couldn’t be more perfect! During the lesson, I was pretty serious on the outside, but inside I was laughing the whole time about how Moore picked such a perfect song for me. I am looking forward to that nostalgic smell of Brylcreem in October and already getting into character.

Learning a dance routine is similar to learning a downhill ski race course. The song I am dancing to is about the same length as a good downhill race, about a minute and a half. Moore divided the routine into seven sections. We started at a slower tempo and built up speed. Both Bruner and Moore were strong partners, and I could watch Hamilton do my parts to get a better visual image of how the dance will look when it all comes together. I still don’t like looking at myself in the huge mirrors that line one wall of the studio. However, years of ski racing have developed strong mental visualization and imagery techniques that work well for me. Unfortunately, years of skiing have also taken a toll on the hips and knees, so I don’t have the same energy and power as in days gone by, but it will be a fun goal to try to get it all together for the performance on Oct. 3.

The local “celebrity dancers” are no longer getting together for group sessions, which is too bad. That stretching routine before we started was a bonus. And it was nice to spend some time dancing and laughing (and getting dizzy) with such a fun group of dynamic community leaders. Thanks again to Kelly Monahon from Alpine Dance Academy.

At the end of the week, I met Bruner again at the Summit School of Dance for some one on one training. We worked on about 20 seconds of the dance for a full hour! The footwork got better, I started involving my upper body more, and I actually looked in the mirror a few times to help get a feel for it. I felt like I improved a lot working with her. She was very patient with my mistakes. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I have a long way to go, and only a month to get there! I am looking forward to the big competition at Dancing with the Mountain Stars at Keystone Oct. 3 and hope to see you there!

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