We've barely made it to the first headwall of the Outhouse on Mary Jane before we're stopped by an adoring fan.
"Hey, are you, like, Bob?"
Yes, he is.
I'm skiing bumps with Bob Barnes, a legend at Winter Park's Mary Jane, and generally seen as one of the world's penultimate bump experts.
"Yeah, somewhere along the line somebody came up with the nickname 'Guru'," says Bob, "it just kind of stuck."
Bob and I are making laps on Mary Jane, the darker, slightly sinister side of Winter Park Resort. In addition to being a sought-after messiah of moguls, Bob runs the Ski & Ride School at Winter Park. The school is revered for pioneering a number of techniques, not the least of which involves the rounded mounds of snow that have made Mary Jane a household name: moguls.
I've skied Mary Jane before, but not top-to-bottom, seldom at full throttle, and never hanging on for dear life, just trying to keep up.
Between zipper-line mogul runs, Bob fills me in on the new "Quick Tips" lessons available at Winter Park. The general idea behind quick tips is to provide a fast, easy training format that skiers who may not thing they need a lesson will embrace. If you sign up for a quick tip, you don't get an instructor, you get a coach. You don't get a lesson, you get a clinic. And you don't get much time to rest.
You meet your coach at the base of Mary Jane, and from there it's up to you. Where do you want to ski? What would you like to work on? How many laps can you squeeze in to an hour? I discover quickly that the answer to the last question is open to interpretation. Not only does a private "Quick Tips" lesson give you a stellar coach, but you get to cut lift lines. That is worth the price of admission in and of itself.
I make three runs with Bob, and each run he makes a small subtle suggestion to me. Each small suggestion has big impact on my skiing, and I'm proud to say that while nowhere near the prowess of the average Winter Park instructor, I'm ready to rip zipper lines at Mary Jane.
Quick Tips lessons are available for groups, and you can add time to your lesson in one-hour increments (plan on adding at least an hour, they're that good). The Winter Park Ski & Ride School practices the outcome-based model. What that means for you is each lesson is tailored to your desires. You want to spend your whole lesson practicing Daffys? Go for it. But don't expect Bob to be your coach.
-John Trousdale, Mountain Correspondent, Colorado Ski Country USA