Roger Marolt: Get ready. It’s here!
I wish there was a way to get in shape for skiing.
Many promise that they have the secret formula for doing this, but none can deliver. Trust me on this. I have devoted approximately the past 50 Octobers and Novembers to getting prepared for skiing so that I wouldn’t be sore after opening day. The closest I’ve come was a couple of years ago in the severe drought when all that was open was Fanny Hill. I didn’t go up but suffered mental aches nonetheless.
I’m pretty sure the first time I experienced muscle soreness after opening day skiing was when I was about 9-years-old. I couldn’t walk right the next morning. It hurt every time I moved. I had no idea why. It only went downhill from there in the years to come, if you will. Bigger muscles mean more pain when called upon to do things they haven’t done in six or seven months.
I really have tried everything to be able to experience a pleasant second day of skiing. I’ve tried running and bicycling. I’ve tried lifting weights, both powerlifting with big, heavy weights and doing enough repetitions with light weights to where I was testing my ability to count accurately. I’ve tried yoga. I’ve tried stretching. I’ve tried holding a tuck position crouched on the wobbly top half of a rubber ball. In the ’70s we thought disco dancing might be the key and I tried that, too.
I suppose this muscle soreness is inevitable no matter how fit you are by other measures when you haven’t participated in a certain activity for a long time. I’m sure tennis can wreak havoc on your body if you take it up again after a half year off and, come to think of it, that first round of golf after an entire winter of only skiing doesn’t feel very good the next day either. That’s the case with the way I swing my clubs. Sometimes I actually grunt.
Of course, most of you already know about this inevitable post-opening day inflammation. I mention it here as a reminder just in case you are about to begin or have already started an intense training program to get ready for skiing. Forget it. Save the effort for the slope. Sure, it’s going to be painful for the first couple of weeks, but by about middle of March you will probably not remember a thing about it. I mean, we all keep coming back season after season. How bad can it be? Unfortunately, we are about to find out.
Another troubling thing I remember about opening day of ski season when I was very young is the awful feeling that I had forgotten how to do it. With experience I have gleaned that what intensifies this common feeling is that, over the summer, you come to imagine that you were much better at the end of the last season than you actually were. It’s like being afraid you lost something you never had.
Unfortunately, this feeling is gone with me. I would say that the worry of lost skiing competency completely faded when I was about 30-years-old. Not coincidentally, that was about the time I finally admitted that skiing ability is almost completely subjective. After achieving reasonable competency, there is no way to measure whether you are any good at it. Go ahead, give me some stats to prove you are an expert. I’ll wait.
Moving on now, this realization made me not care anymore about how I looked coming down Ridge of Bell. Not caring made me understand that skiing, especially because it is so subjectively judged, was not like dart throwing, which requires continual practice to maintain skills. The long and short of it is that, even if your ability slips a little over the summer, nobody will notice or care for that matter. Relax; it’s just skiing.
One negative side effect of this lack of ski anxiety is that there is one less reason to nervously anticipate the coming of ski season. Not worrying about how I will ski this year, as usual, has led to another degree of indifference as to when the season begins. My skiing stoke currently feels fairly well regulated.
Another thing you should do before skiing is something you have little direct control over, so while it is hard to encourage, it is nonetheless very important. I’m talking about ski dreams. If you don’t have at least one before ski season, you are certainly starting at a serious disadvantage when the real lifts begin to run. It’s hard to explain, but basically if you dream about yourself skiing some steep, gnarly bumps covered in deep powder through the trees, flying off cliffs and landing everything spectacularly, it is proven that this will actually help you when you actually encounter those same situations on the slopes.
Lastly, go find your gloves. Surely someone in your household borrowed them over the summer to do some yard work and didn’t put them back. Start in the garage by the shovels and rakes. Good luck! The time has come.
Roger Marolt would also like to remind everyone that 99.8% of serious ski injuries occur on the last run of the day. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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