4 Ski TIps for the Weekend Warrior
You did it. You, yeah you. Did it! You got the time off. You booked the place with “The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go” stenciled in the hallway. You bought the tickets online even after it bounced you off three times and double-charged your card. You got the pants zipped (almost) all the way up. And that turtleneck, I mean, it smells like old lady, but, it’s a turtleneck, it’s supposed to smell like old lady, right? And, those Smash Mouth-inspired Black Flys ain’t gonna to bring themselves back into fashion. #amirite?
So what if you’re a walking winter(ish) tribute to your Boy/Girl Band prime? A hodge lodge of late-nineties/whatever this infinite end times century is called. You’re doing it. You’re popping the hatchback. Charging up the crossover. And sprinting up that hill to buy waaaay too many groceries for three days of shredding glory*.
*...Just stay away from the boxes and rails, they’re twice as fast and half as forgiving as you remember.
Four tips on how to make your once-a-season ski and ride dreams come a reality:
1) Leave the devices behind.
Your iWatch, your smart phone, your ear buds. ...that GoPro with eleven hours of footie of you asking, “Is it on? Is it working?” Refrain. Resist. Leave it. That’s right, don’t. ...Wait? Whhhhhhhat? What’s that you say? How am I gonna jam to my favorite joints, take some sick pix, and record my laps on Strata? You won’t. Do it for one day. Leave all the gadgets that track your life and keep you on a digital leash behind. Know this: Our species was meant to be outdoors. Our hearts were meant to beat a little faster. Our breath was designed to be taken away. We were NEVER supposed to be monitored, data farmed, and scrutinized (or scrutinize) into oblivion. Leave last year’s tech on a pile on top of the dresser, it’ll be there when you get back. Feel what it feels like to do this IRL. (Sure, slip your phone in one of the forgotten pockets of those sweet strawberry orange cargo ski pants you picked up at Zumiez in 1997, and put it on mute to check your messages at lunch.) But that’s it. Love it. Live it. Be free.
2) Repeat to yourself: “I am not that good anymore.”
Maybe you’re in great shape. Maybe that Pilates body is bangin in those stretchies. Maybe you just got done training for a half so you can slap that coveted 13.1 sticker on your back window. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But the thing is, dear, sweet desk jockey, you haven’t done THIS in awhile. The biggest mistake the Weekend Skier makes is ...thinking they’re nineteen again, on the slopes (or even in the bar—more on that in a second) but in what other situation do you walk into something cold after ten years and put on the maximum weight and go to town? It’s a game of inches folks, and not just on the waistline. Ski and ride slow, and with caution. Take a lesson. Demo some new gear. Enjoy the melt and know that being out there, not being aggro, is the reward.
3) Listen to your body more than your heart.
This is the culminatoin of points one and two. When you’re loaded up with devices and full of your own hubris, it’s hard to hear the story your elbows, knees, quads, hammies and glutes are actually telling you. A quick story if you don’t mind: A few years back, I was hosting some friends from the Southeast up in Tahoe and they wanted to “go hard” for two or three days straight. I tried to point them to the groomers and stick to making good turns. I rewarded caution over cowabunga with enough good food and drink to lull them into that easy-does-it stupor. But the last day, they were determined to charge. It was past three, near the “one last run” witching hour. I made it down the hill to a natural stopping point and turned to see one of ‘em sprawled out, leg bent back at a nearly impossible angle, tears of anguish streaking on his cheeks. A trip to the ER, eighteen months, two knee surgeries, and PT later, the skiing cliche of pressing too much and living to regret became as real as his out-of-pocket. Not saying I told you so here, but his single text after all this had passed was, “I was tired, hangry, and just bummed we were leaving, so I pressed it. Lesson learned.”
I know. I know. I know. I know. You’ve heard this a million effing times. From you mom, your coworkers, your spouse, even your kids spitting it right back at you. You carry water like a Sherpa does a billionaire’s heavy pack: everywhere and without pause. Meeting to meeting, to school and soccer pickup, upstairs to your bedside table. Water water everywhere and never enough to drink. Then why is it, as SOON as people get up to altitude, they lose the requisite number of braincells required to remind them to KEEP DRINKING WATER??? Can’t emphasize this enough: Whatever you drink down on dry land, double it. 1) Because you’re up in thin air and your body is being wrung out as you speak (check your boogers if you don’t believe me. Gross, I know, but it’s true.) and 2) If you’re like ...well, most everyone, you’re going to hit the apres a little harder than usual. You’re on vacation! You’re in the mountains! You’re device-free! Roll up to any instructor or patroller and they’ll tell you, problem number one is a three-way tie: dehydration, cramping ...and bad breath. The three are all symptoms of no water. Oh, also water water does not = an energy drink). H2O and gum, repeat. (<-- Get a nice script tattoo of that on your wrist if you want something memorable.)
So there it is, four steps to a happier, healthier, gnarlier you. Now if you can only figure out how to get this button unstuck-- there!