Never learned the Funky Chicken | VailDaily.com
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Never learned the Funky Chicken

Compiled by Allen R. Smith

One of the most exciting experiences as a professional ski instructor is the opportunity to teach young people with physical disabilities how to ski. Faced with the loss of one faculty, they seem to compensate for it with enhanced acuity in others.One sunny afternoon, I was preparing to teach a large group of deaf students. To make it easier for them to follow my directions, we agreed that I would stand below them and use my hands to direct them what to do.If I spread my arms apart they were to widen their skis into a wedge. If I brought my arms together, they were to bring their skis together, parallel.About halfway through the class, we were practicing “wedge-together-parallel” movements. In this exercise, the students were supposed to spread the tails of their skis apart into a wedge and then bring them back together parallel, based on my hand directions.After several cycles of opening and closing their skis, I spread my hands indicating that they were to wedge their skis. Suddenly, one of the boys spread his tips!Imagining him going into a spread-eagle face plant, I frantically clasped my hands together while repeatedly spreading my elbows. To make sure that he could see me, I began marching back and forth, flapping my wings.A lady watching the commotion from afar remarked to one of her friends, “You know, Gladys. I’ve taken a lot of lessons from that instructor, but she never taught me the Funky Chicken!”- Joy Lucas, Edmonds, Wash.The $10 ski techniqueAs usual, the members of my intermediate ski class were doing what seems to come naturally to most people: looking down at their ski tips as if that would encourage them to turn.But one woman had developed this bad habit into an art form. I was constantly having to remind her to look ahead to see where she was going.When I stopped midway down a run, I realized that she was still far up the hill, while the rest of the class was with me. We waited for her to catch up and when she did, I reminded the others that she was a good example of how looking down can impede one’s forward progress.At that, she showed the class the $10 bill she found. I joined my class the rest of the day, skiing while looking down at the snow.- Rod Tatsuno, Sun Valley, IdahoVail, Colorado


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