Skiing with Olympic Gold Medalist Diann Roffe at Liberty 22
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

Diann Roffe, left, and eager students. Author Connie Lawn is second from left.
“Free Snow to a Good Home.”

That was the sign that greeted us as my husband and I drove to Liberty Mountain Resort early on Sunday morning, February the 23rd. The sign was outside the Emmitsburg Veterinary Office. The amount of snow did not disappoint. Despite rain in the morning and warmer temperatures, Liberty has a good solid base, as do all the areas around. We tried most of the runs, and had excellent experiences on all of them. It should last for awhile!

The day did not start out with great promise. There was fog, rain, and wind gusts of nearly 70 miles per hour. But, I always urge skiers and snowboarders to try to disregard the conditions around the Washington metro area - it will be far different in the mountains. That could be better or worse. But, a magnificent rainbow appeared over Thurmont and followed us towards Liberty. We knew that was a good omen!

We met Diann at 10, and had two intense hours of skiing with her. She had already taken runs in the rain with another skier. Diann Roffe gives a series of lessons at Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail. Snow Time, parent company of the three resorts, was clever to hire her. Diann tells us she is the only gold medal ski winner to instruct East of the Mississippi. The others are out West. Diann has won two gold medals and two silvers, and is still a guest coach with the U.S. Ski Team.

Passionate skiers are willing to spend the $75 for a three-hour intense session with her. She conducts high performance weekend clinics, and evening race clinics.

There is a special excitement to skiing with her. Her instruction is helpful, friendly, and we benefit from her skill and success. My husband and I are average recreational skiers, and probably will never rise to any higher levels, especially at our ages. But we made great progress from her tips about balance, moguls, correct posture, pole position, and so forth. Amazingly, Diann remembered our faults from the previous year, and built on our stronger skills this year. And she did so without notes!

After working hard with Diann for two hours, another treat awaited us at the bottom of the mountain. Liberty was in the midst of its “Mascot Day” - a series of silly events to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. There were huge stuffed animals running around - Terrapins, Ravens, and so forth. Rock climbing, a silly slalom, a tubing race, and lots of other events entertained adults and children who were not satisfied with pure skiing. You know, we are all entitled to go a bit crazy as the ski season winds down. But, they might have to stretch it - this season could last until April!

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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Reader Comments

Kevin
February 25, 2003
Having Diann in our area willing to give us "blue cruisers" (not to mention racers) lessons is a great opportunity for the DC skier. I've taken several of her lessons myself and enjoyed them all, learned a lot, and just had a great time watching someone ski really really well. And if you take a lesson from her you too can readily answer the following question, "What do you do when the slope quickly drops away from you as you are skiing down a run?"
Thanks Diann!!!
snowcone
February 26, 2003
I was under the impression that Diann Roffe only gave clinics. I would certainly be interested if she also gave private lessons.
Kevin
February 26, 2003
I only took her clinics, sorry if I gave a different impression, and I really do not know if she gives private lessons. I did the clinics at Whitetail and they typically had 10 people or less. Even though it's a group, she's very hands on and individualized. The clinics last about 3 hrs or so, where she analyzes each skier, then gives individual advice on technique, and intersperses that with specific lessons to re-enforce the concepts (as a group), followed by "free ski" runs for fun. As she says, "She always watching..." Well, I enjoyed it, and I thought it helped me a great deal. Finally, just watching her ski is worth something as well.
JohnL
February 26, 2003
For those who have taken one of her clinics, did Diann have you do any specific ski drills?

Does she have her own top list of keys to successful skiing? (I.e., always keep your hands forward, etc.)
JohnL
February 26, 2003
"What do you do when the slope quickly drops away from you as you are skiing down a run?"

Is that drops forward or to the side of the hill?
Kevin
February 26, 2003
It varied, and depended somewhat on what problems she saw. For the simpler issues, hands not forward, skis too close or too far, etc..., she just told the person what they were doing wrong, repeatedly if necessary. Then based on the ski level in general, there were other drills to emphasize certain aspects of what she was trying to get across. For example there were drills to encourage proper stance and weight distribution over the skis. There were drills for pole planting, double pole planting, and back and forth double pole planting (don't even ask!) Interspersed were discussions about body movement, knee roll, edging carving, and just technique in general. That probably all sounds rather intensive but it is spread out over three hours, and I took four of the clinics, so I'm sorta mooshing them all together.
The answer to the question is that you always maintain your tangent to the slope. So if you are skiing down a run, and it suddenly drops off, you have to maintain your stance and not sit back in the skis. We did some drills to reinforce this by going off the edges of jumps at Whitetail. In a "normal" run you'd only have slight changes in slope but the same holds true, just less pronounced. The big drop-offs really drive the point home that you can tip forward and follow the slope and maintain control, while your instinct is to sit back or up -- in which case the skis wont do much of anything if try to turn them...
Connie Lawn
February 27, 2003
Thank you for your messages and Kevin - thanks for your summary!
Dian can be reached through her e mail at droffe@msn.com.
Her scheduled lessons are running out this year. But, since the snow is still so excellent, you might be able to work out some extra time with her. At this time, she plans to return to SnowTime areas next season. Happy skiing! Yours, Connie
Johnfmh
February 27, 2003
It would be nice if Washingtonian Magazine or the Post did a profile on Diann Roffe. I constantly read stories about famous athletes living in the area, but skiing is nearly always ignored.

Here we have Diann, one of the most inspirational US Ski Team women of all time, living right in our back yard, and yet I have never seen an article about her in any local media outlet except DCSki. The story of her gold medal is beyond incredible, and well worth retelling in other media outlets. Connie, maybe you can use your influence to give Diann the publicity she deserves.

Diann, if you don't want the publicity, I apologize for this post. :)
JohnL
February 27, 2003
Even though she gives clinics in the DC area, I don't think Diann Roffe lives in the DC area. (May be wrong about this.) I remember watching one of her gold-medal winning performances; as I recall she was the first one down the course and no other racer matched her time.
JohnL
February 27, 2003
Taking a ski clinic taught by a world-class skier such as Diann Roffe can be an amazing experience. Many of the clinics are very interactive; you get individual tips from the very best and get to ski with the very best. As Kevin mentioned, just skiing with a world class skier as they let them rip is awe inspiring.

From personal experience, I recommend the clinics taught by the XTeam (www.skiclinics.com). The core group is John and Dan Egan, Rob and Eric DesLauriers and Dean Decas. (Kristen Ulmer and Allen Riley have also served as guest instructors in the clinics I attended.) They all were in Warren Miller flicks in the late 80's / early 90's before branching off into their own films. As one of them said, "As soon as we started making our own films, Warren stopped calling."

The XTeam clinic can be pricy, but you get a lot for your money. You ski all day (9-4) with one of the instructors in a group of 6 skiers. The instruction is first rate, and despite the "gonzo" image of many free-ski pros, the instruction is very technical. Once per day you are filmed and your group spends an hour each night reviewing the days films. (Often in slow-mo.)

You don't have to be a super-expert to take the clinics (I'm certainly not); just a solid intermediate or higher. You'll get separated into the appropriate group on the first day.
johnfmh
February 27, 2003
John:

There's been quite a bit of "Sturm und Drang" in her career, which makes for a good story. When she won the Gold in Lillehammer in 1994, it had been 9 years since her last win. In fact, she barely qualified that year for the Olympic team.

There's an interesting profile of her here in Ski magazine:

http://www.skimag.com/skimag/racerex/article/0,12795,325805,00.html

Unfortunately, the profile does not say whether she's local to this area or not. Anyway, living here for at least 5 months out of the year qualifies as local as far as I am concerned. :)
johnfmh
February 27, 2003
John:

There's been quite a bit of "Sturm und Drang" in her career, which makes for a good story. When she won the Gold in Lillehammer in 1994, it had been 9 years since her last win. In fact, she barely qualified that year for the Olympic team.

There's an interesting profile of her here in Ski magazine:

http://www.skimag.com/skimag/racerex/article/0,12795,325805,00.html

Unfortunately, the profile does not say whether she's local to this area or not. Anyway, living here for at least 5 months out of the year qualifies as local as far as I am concerned. :)
Johnfmh
February 27, 2003
There's been quite a bit of "Sturm und Drang" in her career, which makes for a good story. When she won the Gold in Lillehammer in 1994, it had been 9 years since her last win. In fact, she barely qualified that year for the Olympic team.

There's an interesting profile of her here in Ski magazine:

http://www.skimag.com/skimag/racerex/article/0,12795,325805,00.html

Unfortunately, the profile does not say whether she's local to this area or not. Anyway, living here for at least 5 months out of the year qualifies as local as far as I am concerned. :)
Johnfmh
February 27, 2003
I was having problems getting that message to post. I hit the "post comments" button too many times. Sorry.
Kevin
February 27, 2003
I don't know how much Diann wants her personal life publicized but she lives relatively close to Whitetail/Liberty/Roundtop. She was in Baltimore last year but moved. Close enough to call her "DC" in my opinion as those locatons are where we all ski alot, and are "DC area" ski resorts. I know that she also teaches some at Windham, but we'll overlook that minor detail! ;-)
Kevin
February 27, 2003
Also -- great idea about the profile in Washingtonian/Post. But HOW 'BOUT DCSKI!!! Last clinic I casually mentioned DCski and suggested that something should be done to put her here in article form. What we need is a) her co-operation, and b) someone to do the job!!!
Let's all email her and tell we want her on DCSKI!!! Wait, that might annoy her. How 'bout this, if anyone runs into her or takes another clinic, suggest it!
???
johnfmh
February 27, 2003
Kevin

How about you or Connie Lawn? :)

Both of you have taken her clinics and know her. :) :)
JohnL
February 27, 2003
How 'bout Scott springs for a clinic? ;) :) I'll gladly interview her.
Kevin
February 27, 2003
Honestly I don't know her on a personal level and I just took her clinics a couple of times. I'm not against giving it a shot but maybe there's some more qualified folks out there, or know her personally (Connie?) that would like to do it???
There's a remote chance I will see her later next week briefly, if so I'll mention we want her on DCski!!!
Crush
February 28, 2003
Hey Diann is a gr8t coach! I have heard from some other folks that have taken her clinics that she really focuses on what you need to get better, and not "ballroom skiing". I know that Jo-Ellen Burford formerly with the Columbia Race Team (now with Zardoz Renegades) got a lot from her clinic.

Also, if you have the $$$ try the Rowmark Masters Racing Camp in July at Mt. Hood, OR . Head coach Olle Larsson is the best , and often DH silver medalist Hillery Lindh is a coach too, as well as Bill Skinner, USSA Park City coach. goto http://www.rowmark.org
Connie Lawn
February 28, 2003
Thank you for all your great messages. I am certain it would be neat to hear more from Diann, if Scott wants. But, she is very busy. We don't want to take away from her skiing! Yours, Connie
Kevin
February 28, 2003
I'd say she tries to teach a kind of dynamic, powerful skiing, that allows the skier to react to the mountain, not be abused by it... Gotta be good for the racer, and as a non-racer, I liked it too.

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