Sean Beckwith: Don’t shortsight your ski season
August 28, 2018
I realize there's still another season between now and when the lifts start spinning but I'm already fantasizing about tight trees, powder anxiety, apres skiing, bluebird days, no turn Tuesdays and all the other enjoyable aspects of snowboarding. The thing, though, is preparation is necessary.
Ski conditioning, gear inventory and snowboard playlists all need to be done before late November but some of that work should be started soon. The longer you wait to begin banking songs on a playlist, the more you'll end up with the same mundane choices you've heard countless times. Putting off analyzing your gear can lead to frantic searches for gloves, delayed days waiting for snowboard repairs and a late reminder that your boots were held together by duck tape for a large part of last season. The conditioning part is self-explanatory; get those legs in shape now or awkwardly groan while standing up and sitting down the first few weeks on the slopes.
Like most Aspen and Snowmass residents, the last hurrah of the 2017-18 season was punctuated with closing-day parties. That means, at least for me, your gear may be in a state of discarded shambles. Snow-pants stained with bubbly, missing mittens and other random occurrences should be remedied now as opposed to when your buddy is waiting in the car outside ready to go catch that inaugural powder day of the year.
Knowing the status of your stuff also helps you decide what can last another season and what life-threateningly shoddy gear needs to be replaced. Do you have a collection of Michael Jackson gloves (aka a lone glove without its counterpart)? Are your Carl's Pharmacy ear buds in working order or do they short out?
It's also not a bad thought to prioritize a list of needs so, when you're at the ski swap, you're not wondering around like a hungry stoner at the grocery grabbing grub at random.
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"Damn, I came here for a frozen pizza and walked out with a pack of hot dogs, Oreos, milk, a fish sandwich and no buns."
You probably can't get your gear repaired at ski shops right now, although that friend who has all the tools to self-tune and fix core shots most likely won't turn down free beer and better company.
This is not for the people who've passed me on Smuggler the past couple of weeks. This is for those of you with the hubris to think you could substitute snowboarding with summer activities instead of an actual workout. The deadline to start getting in passable ski shape is, like, a few weeks away but if you're that kind of procrastinator — like myself — just start now. You don't need to be on the TB12 diet or know what the hell plyometrics are, but some cardio will eliminate free-throw lining those catwalks (hands on knees while heel-edging long, flat stretches).
Another tip to take into consideration: if you plan to hike the Highlands Bowl, it's probably wise to, you know, hike before pissing off the fitness freaks stuck behind you on the single-file jaunt to the prayer flags. There is, unsurprisingly, a strict code of conduct that will evoke heavy sighs and requests to pass if you're holding up the line.
Music is extremely subjective, however, the way you create a playlist for the mountain is less so. The tricky part of the playlist is making sure your music will consistently stream. Free radio on Pandora, iTunes and Spotify will inevitably buffer, probably when you want music the most. Make sure your songs are downloaded to ensure silence-free snowboarding. I use Spotify and, if you're interested in old school hip-hop with a sprinkle of bangers from other genres, my playlists are public — Der Steez, Der Steez Vol 2 and Der Steez Vol. 3. (Der because pow gets all the three-letter love in that word.)
Try to listen to excessive amounts of new music when creating a track list; it adds nuance, change of pace and, most importantly, keeps you from killing your favorite classics. My rule is no song can appear twice on any winter mix. If you're trying to reach 100 days, that's a lot of the same music over and over. Keep a backup album or five saved to add variety to your ride. I also have a Christmas playlist saved for holiday shredding.
When selecting your prime tunes, lean toward music that makes you move. Smooth jazz, Sam Smith, the Lumineers and other yawn-inducing music won't keep you car-seat dancing on the chair and, worst case, may put you to sleep, risking potential injury and death. Imagine explaining that to the guy at the pearly gates.
"I died because I fell asleep on the lift listening to Spyro Gyra and plunged to my death."
"Oh really? Well it's off to hell you go. Say hi to Kenny G for me."
The season will be upon us soon, so take this advice from an expelled Boy Scout: Be prepared. From boots to goggles to bloody mary mix to Bluetooth headphones to prepped hammys, you'll have more fun faster with a full compliment of supplies for ski season.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email at email@example.com.
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