Wedel Weeks – ‘An intense five days’ |

Wedel Weeks – ‘An intense five days’

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyVail Mountain Ski Instructor Richard Wulz heads up the Vista Bahn chairlift with two members of the Wedel Weeks program.

VAIL – Gene Luciano of Naples, Fla., said he tends to cut his day a little short when he’s skiing on his own.”I’ll stop at 12:30, 1,” he said.But he knew that was not going to happen at Wedel Weeks. Pepi Gramshammer’s weeklong program pushes skiers with five days of daylong instruction with some of Vail’s best ski school teachers. Luciano was receiving instruction Tuesday morning in a group of three from instructor Malin Johnsdotter, named a top-100 ski instructor in the country by SKI magazine. When she’s not teaching at Wedel Weeks, she spends the rest of the season giving private lessons.But Johnsdotter, who is originally from Sweden and has taught at Vail since 1986, clears her schedule for Pepi’s program.Chesley White, a lawyer from Bermuda, was attending his third Wedel Weeks.”The instruction is great,” he said. “You have an intense five days.”And the package is reasonable financially, he said. The package includes lodging at the Gasthof Gramshammer or the Lodge at Vail, lessons, lift tickets and some meals.

The instructors focus on short-radius turns, long-radius turns, bumps and backcountry skiing during the five days, said Dieter Frank, the head instructor. And don’t forget racing. The participants have a chance to go head-to-head on the NASTAR course to vie for medals.There are also two formal dinners during the week – one on Monday at Pepi’s, and the other on Friday at the Sonnenalp Hotel.Prices range from $1,775 for a double room at the Gasthof Gramshammer to $2,695 for a single at the Lodge at Vail.Gary Miller of Rossville, Ind., was attending his fourth Wedel Weeks in the last five years. His goal for the week was to get the best out of his new skis – which, he said, he got a deal on at Pepi’s shop.”I’d like to be able to use these new skis to carve,” he said.’Everything happens here’Gramshammer, a former member of the Austrian ski team and a former professional racer, has run the Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer on Bridge Street in Vail Village since 1964. He was recruited to race for Vail during its first season. He’s been putting on Wedel Weeks for 20 years.Gramshammer got the idea from an old friend who ran a similar program in Europe.

“I said, ‘Why couldn’t I do this in America?'”While Gramshammer wants to get out with the group on the mountain, knee replacement surgery that he had last spring – and a subsequent heart attack – will prevent him from going along this year.Gramshammer said the social part of the week is big – the group stays together for meals and parties.”Skiing is part of it,” he said. “You have to have friends, too. … Here, we have breakfast together, lunch together, dinner together.”And sometimes it goes beyond friendship – at least one couple of Wedel Weeks participants met and then married, he said.”Everything happens here,” he said.Ski tipsThe first session of the year usually is a bit smaller – there are 20 participants, with four instructors.

On Tuesday, Johnsdotter had a group of three with her. They began with a warmup run down Cappuccino. Johnsdotter told her students to focus on balance as they took easy turns down the slope.A second run took them down Northstar in Northwoods Bowl. Johnsdotter talked about making easy, guided turns – not forcing your feet into the turns.”Don’t just twist your feet,” she said.She wanted the students to lean downhill as they started their turns.”Suddenly skiing is effortless,” she said.White wished it was that easy.”It’s the trepidation of going headfirst down the hill,” he said.On the next run, they headed for Snag Park in Northwoods, where quite a bit of powder had accumulated over the small bumps.Luciano, who operates a tour boat business in Florida, traversed a bit as he headed through the moguls field. Johnsdotter told him he’s “shopping around too much.”

She gave individual tips to each of her students, stopping periodically before cruising the second half of the run down to the lift. Johnsdotter wasn’t sure where they were going next – maybe the Back Bowls before they hit Two Elk for lunch.They met at the top of the lift to decide where they were going – just like a group of friends out for a day of social skiing.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or, ColoradoRemaining sessions of Wedel WeeksSunday, Jan. 8-Saturday, Jan. 14Sunday Jan. 15-Saturday, Jan. 21

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