Hello, my fellow skiers, we are only a couple weeks out from making our first turns of the season! I don’t know about you, but after attending the BSEF ski swap the stoke levels are quite high! Whether you were there or not, this time of year can be extremely exciting. The anticipation of making those first few turns can almost be overwhelming. With all the “new season stoke” coursing through the veins, you must consider curbing your enthusiasm by focusing on properly preparing. I believe I might have one of the better programs available to make sure you don’t make any missteps and direct your energy in the right activities.
For those of you that have been reading this column over the years, some of these tricks of the trade will simply be good reminders. I do however have a few new activities, that will be helpful and fresh. I do recommend finding time to do these with some consistency and sticking with it even after a few weeks on the hill.
For starters, my favorite pastime; get your boots on for an hour or so every night or a few times a week. That might sound a bit excessive but trust me on this one. After a long summer of lollygagging in comfortable kicks, you really need to acclimate the vascular system in your feet, chins and calves. Start with the lightest setting and then after 3 or 5 days start to crank them down like peak season. If you’re doing this right, 10-15 mins buckled should be a challenge. If you need to go 15 mins buckled and 15 unbuckled, that’s totally cool. You will find that your feet and calves will start to get used to the pressures again.
I don’t want to get into boot fitting much at this time, but if you’re investing in some new boots there are a few pointers I must mention. The simple fitting science here is they should be much tighter than you think. Like an 8 out of 10 at least. If a boot fitter is telling you that these should be comfortable, they are leading you astray. True story. If your rocking new boots, they should feel unreasonably tight for about 25 days of skiing. This is how boots can last 4+ seasons. If you’re not reaching down to unbuckle them as your sliding towards the lift line, they are way to lose. Whether you have stock liners or upgraded Zipfits / Intuition, these products pack out a ton after all the centrifugal forces, pressures, and moisture. If they are a smidge under unbearable, you are right in the sweet spot. Call me nuts, but his is how you get them to last longer and most importantly perform much better.
Now on to a low impact move that always provide some great muscle memory reawakening. This next move requires a door frame and a little imagination. Start by standing near one side of the doorway with your foot touching the doorframe. Then lean over and place your hip and shoulder against the other side. This may seem like quite a stretch. While your hip might be pressed again the door frame, the back of your shoulder is more of what is pressing against the doorframe. You can wiggle around a little and the pressure point on your hip might be slightly behind the hip. If you need to narrow your stance that’s fine. I like to move my inside foot a little bit to experiment with sensations. Essentially this drill gets you familiar with the angulation and how the upper body stacks during the turn.
The last items that I want to cover this session are more fitness related. For starters, we all know that cardio and core stability are super important. So, here is your wakeup call for turning the volume up and making some improvements. If your summer didn’t involve much of this kind of training, I suggest starting small and making a conscious effort to increase every week. A good starting place would be to do 25-50 crunches a day. You can break it up into a morning and evening session. With regards to core stability, I really like to do more simple plank exercises. This can be holding on your forearms or the full plank on your hands. 20-30 second holds are a great place to start. You can slowly increase every other session or week add 10-20 seconds.
The last activity that I find to be super helpful is double and single legs hops and jumps of all kinds. Since skiing features so much of this motion and balance, I personally get huge benefits from slowly increasing the duration and intensity of this kind of training. I tend to start super mellow for a couple weeks before enhancing. My starting point is with a simple row of stairs. The staircase that I’ve been using lately has 4 or 6 steps. I start with double leg hops up and down. I started a few weeks ago with 5 up and 5 down. Each jump and landing I try to make super smooth, focusing on a soft landing where I’m using my knees to absorb the impact. This may sound like an easy level, but I can feel it the next day. Once you’re comfortable, move into jumping higher on two legs. Still focusing on equal takeoffs and smooth landings. The final level is to bring in one legged jump. Jumping down the stairs on one leg is most definitely the most challenging level of this exercise. Be sure to go slowly and allow your knees to acclimate to this activity. If you’re thinking that stairs are not challenging enough for you, then find longer staircases. You will eventually find the burn and a place where the quality of your jumps and landings will being to show signs of fatigue. I hope these morsels help you get a little more prepared and ready to carve up some early season snow! Golfingty@gmail.com