Extreme SkiingWe’ve all gasped at pictures of skiers leaping off cliffs, plunging down snowy bluffs, hurtling between rocks from one patch of snow to another, or skiing a gradient so steep it’s impossible for any human to survive. But they’re doing it.

Who? The extreme skiers.

Of course, we seldom see personally those skiers ignoring all the laws of gravity to ski the unbelievable,

because these fearless, death-defying gladiators of the snows who challenge the meanest, steepest, most dangerous grades on any mountain are away “off piste,” far beyond the trails, glades, and bowls where intelligent skiers enjoy the challenge of the slopes without being idiotic enough to toy with suicide. Yet there are
skiers whose blood rushes at the merest hint they might somehow, somewhere, someday leap off those same cliffs and scream in delirious joy racing down those same drops.

If perchance - and it is conceivable - you’re one of the feverish few who wishes to learn the techniques and skills of skiing beyond reality, you can. It’s done through a group of relatively new Ski Schools for the Gloriously Mad.

Among the most prominent is The Extreme Team. It holds advanced clinics every winter at a few ski resorts, eastern and western, including Bolton Valley/Sugarbush; Grand Targhee, Wyoming (the winter home of The Extreme Team); Lake Louise, Alberta; Crested Butte; Squaw Valley; and Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia.

The seven instructors of The Extreme Team clinic in the mid - 1990s are some of the most dynamic skiers in the world. There are two sets of brothers. You may have seen one pair, Jon and Dan Egan, in Warren Miller’s ski movie Extreme Winter. In the opening sequence, filmed at Grand Targhee, the two are beginning a steep run when suddenly a 3-ton cornice breaks under their feet. Only by leaping and turning in midair do the brothers save their lives and produce a gut - clutching moment in a ski movie. The two make their winter home at Grand Targhee.

The other brothers are Rob and Eric DesLauriers. Both spent years making extreme skiing movies and competing as extreme skiers before largely taking the leadership in creating The Extreme Team.

Two women leap into the air, hurtling down to the snowy slopes. Want to join them? Or let them instruct you in how it’s done? They are Kristen Ulmer, who says the way to ski extreme is to be aggressive, and Kristen Lignell, whose favorite concept is smoothness.

Dean Decas, who spent years teaching high-speed bump, or mogul, skiing techniques and six years as an extreme instructor, is the seventh Extreme Team member.

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