The ABC of looking good on skis

Looking good on skis doesn’t have to mean having beautiful facial features, tanned skin, fit body shapes, cool sunglasses or hip ski clothes; instead, we’ll discover how just being ourselves on skis may lead to showing some “natural beauty” on the slopes and, in the process, greater effectiveness on skis. So please, bear with me and discover how you too can become a stunning skier!

We all have different bodies and with them a trademark way of standing, walking or of course, skiing. There is no right and wrong, it’s just “us,” the way we really are and this personal “look” can and should identify us to our advantage when we’re on the slopes. One way to get into the exercise is to begin by forgetting most of your entire body; that’s right, cut all that superfluous matter below your eyes and a tiny bit above your ankles. Nitpickers might say “of course, by doing this you’d be lowering your center of mass so much that you couldn’t possibility take a spill!” I’d say good observation, but not the essence of what I’m driving at.

The point is that the less you do with your chin, your neck, your arms, your torso, hips and thighs, the better off you’ll do on a pair of skis, so try to forget about that extraneous “stuff,” shorten the communication path between your brain and the sole of your feet to speed up the flow of information where it really counts. Then you might jump in and ask: What about the poles? I’d almost forgot about them; besides giving you support and balance during turns, they’ll just quietly keep company of your arms the rest of the time. The end result is that if anything between your eyes and your ankles is quiet, nothing in your body will look out of place and won’t embarrass you on the mountain. This is step one in looking good.

The next idea is equally as critical while closely linked to the first one; it simply consists of standing as erect as you can whenever you’re on your skis. As many of you already know, the right way of balancing yourself mostly comes from your ankles instead of just your hips and knees. While this may sound logical, it’s always difficult for most skiers to get to the point where ankle-balancing becomes second-nature. This observation, based on my personal experience, is guaranteed to deliver results and contribute to making you look much taller on skis instead of all crunched up. Standing upright is also going to influence which joint actually picks up the job of balancing your body. If you stand up on your skis, as if you wanted to be tall and proud, that task will automatically go to the ankles. Why? Because by standing in a more erect position, you’ll be neutralizing both hips and knees so there won’t be any other means but for your ankles to shifting your weight fore and aft while in motion.

The added benefit of the exercise is that it will promote more elegant and longer radius turns, which in my book is the holy grail of skiing. Like most, this practice is initially easier on gentle slopes. So you’ve got it; just progressively increase the steepness as this particular skill develops. Begin this training soon; you’ll feel mentally taller and more positive about your form and your ankles will start running the whole show! After a while, you’ll discover that it’s easier for you to stay centered and quiet longer on your skis and this will go a long way to making you the envy of all the other skiers who are looking at you from the chair.

This brings us to the frosting on the cake: Effortless skiing! Think and believe that you’re skiing on a cloud, that you’re “caressing” the snow. That’s right, the smoother, more effortless your skiing will become, the more natural skier you’ll be and of course, the more beautiful other folks will naturally find you. Only now should you worry about matching your helmet with the rest of your outfit and trading these aluminum poles for thin, composite ones. And by the way, now that you’re looking so cool on skis, don’t you think it’s time for trading-in that faded, old one-piece suit?

Spring Break!!

Spring break skiing has arrived!  I have been looking back over the winter and can not believe it is March is already coming to an end.  The skiing has continued to be great with the snow from the small storms we have recently received really adding up.  And more storms are in the forecast this week!

 Here are some great spring skiing tips:
Did you know that the sun’s intensity increases with altitude?  Use a strong sun block and hat  to protect your skin.  And, don’t forget your ears and neck!

 Having a bit of trouble getting back in form due to spring skiing conditions?  Try getting out on the hill early and follow the sun around the mountain.  Later, in the afternoon you can practice your lounging technique on McHenry’s Beach at Silver Lake.

 Did you learn to ski powder this season? Take advantage of our wonderful spring conditions.  Soft and variable snow calls for some skiing techniques similar to those used while powder skiing.  Concentrate on a more powerful leg rotation.

Noodle & Boo Promotion:
Deer Valley is partnering with Noodle & Boo and our Fawn ski lessons; which are for children three years old. Since sun care is so important in protecting your tot’s skin against the winter elements, Noodle & Boo is offering a complimentary sample of their Play-Day Sunscreen SPF 30 for children participating in a Fawn Lesson!  Available March 1st through April 11th, lessons can be scheduled by calling 888-754-8477 or 435-645-6648.

Play Day Sunscreen SPF 30 gently moisturizes skin while providing maximum broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.  Lightweight, non-oily and water resistant, this quick drying formula is fortified with aloe and Vitamin E. Dermatologist and pediatrician tested; hypoallergenic.   

About Noodle & Boo:  
“When only the best will do,” Noodle & Boo offers luxurious bath and body products for children with sensitive skin.  Every formula is developed with safe ingredients from natural sources to nourish and protect delicate skin.  Uncompromising quality is a standard for every clinically-tested, hypoallergenic product.  Noodle & Boo’s focus is to help children in need. All children deserve an opportunity to live, hope and fulfill their dreams. A significant portion of Noodle & Boo’s profit is set aside for children’s charities every month. “Together we can make a difference.”  For more information please visit noodleandboo.com.

Daly “Sushi” Chutes

I love skiing as much as I love sushi. When I’m eating sushi, I’m thinking about skiing, and when I’m skiing around Daly Bowl and Chutes, in Empire Canyon, I’m always reminded of the Japanese delicacy. It may be that unique experiences always come in small and precious packages, at any rate this area of Deer Valley evokes a beautiful and delectable sushi platter where all runs are rows of tantalizing pieces. I’m always torn between them, have a very hard time picking one in particular, and to add to the torture, I always try to keep the best one for last; Today, I’ll guide you into a wonderful world of chutes every bit as delectable as the best sushi I’ve ever tasted!

The Daly area is perhaps the most affordable introduction to those who dream to venture to Valdez and ski the Chugach Mountains. With ten chutes on the menu, there is enough challenge and diversity to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. As we should, we’ll begin with Chute #1, easily accessed from a traverse in the trees located midway down Orion. This chute as well as Chute #2 are part of the “Daly Bowl.” As the traverse ends, skiers literally roll into that open area just like “sushi rolls.” Easy to access, the chutes are impressive for newbies, but not that forbidding. I’d say that Chute #1 reminds me of a California roll, not just because it’s geographically the closest to California, but also because of its access and popularity.

A tad more challenging, Chute #2 reminds me of the traditional, thin tuna roll, also known as hosomaki. Chute #3 is more like what I’d call nigiri sushi, the oblong mound of rice topped with salmon in that case. The narrowness of the chute provides the sting of “wasabi.” The bottom of these three chutes is straightforward and easily transitions into the upper portion of Orion. While it belongs to the western part of the “Challenger” section, I’d call Chute #4 the standard sushi piece with tuna or maguro topping. It’s pure, impressive and gets you where you need to go, whether you really like it or not; once the steep portion is passed, the trail gingerly meanders through the trees back to the lower portion of Orion.

The eastern side of “Challenger” includes Chute #5 and Chute #6. Both require a bit of hiking from the flat section towering over the main bowl. They also requires plenty of skill, a generous snow cover (they’re not always open,) and lots of guts. Both definitely fall into the “don’t try this at home” category and if you have second thoughts, make sure to get a guide who knows them well and is willing to take you there. No need for wasabi, spice is built into these intimidating drops! Because of that, I liken both of them to the infamous glogfish or fugu that can cause severe poisoning if not prepared properly. The licensed fugu chef in that case is the certified instructor that will take you there and get you down standing on your two skis.

Whether you decide to jump into #5 and #6 or not, your next move will be over to the “Cataract” area; a scenic spot for taking a break before plunging (yes, there’s a big cornice for that purpose) into Chute #7. This one is impressive and snakes down the face of the mountain like an eel. It’s probably why it reminds me of a piece of unagi. It’s challenging, solid and straightforward (in all of my skiing life, I’ve never met a “chute” that wasn’t…) Next in line, Chute #8 is crowned with another impressive cornice, that reminds me of ikura or salmon eggs, because every time I reach its edge, chunks of snow tumble all the way down to its bottom like a cluster of grapes or eggs. The open bottom section however deliciously redeems the steep upper!

If you’ve made it in one piece down “Cataract,” it’s now time to fall into “Niagra” home of Chutes #9 and #10. Because it’s so long, narrow and treed, Chute #9 reminds me of tako (octopus) and of ika (squid), both snappy and crisp, yet I couldn’t help but reminisce about Yukiguni in Niagara Falls, Ontario, one the best sushi in the southern part of that province. Let’s say that it is the all-encompassing, experience-filled ski couloir! Finally, as my legs are crying for mercy, Chute #10 reminds me of temaki, that large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. That’s right, I found this funnel-shaped chute particularly enticing even though it’s also the farthest away. But it’s within the reach of most skier and frankly, if the Deer Valley chute numbering system was in increasing order of difficulty, this one ought to be #1!

Like sushi and its propensity to vanish from the platter, any skier can get to the bottom of these wonderful Daly Chutes and Bowl thanks to the wonders of gravity. Amazingly, my 183 cm, extra wide “chopsticks,” have help me stay upright during the entire experience, I feel full and totally satisfied, but still can’t tell which line is my favorite. The resulting adrenaline surge is wonderful and if you’re still hesitating about taking the plunge, remember that these descents are not for everyone; if you have the requisite skills, make sure to ski them in the company of someone who knows you well and is extremely at ease on this challenging terrain. Better yet, hire an instructor to feel comfortably safe and fully enjoy the adventure. I’m now ready for a shot of sake!

The deal I made with speed

To cut corners and advance faster, some individuals make pacts with the devil or other dark powers and don’t think much about the consequences. Today, I want to talk about the pact I made with speed demons a long, long time ago, and still enjoy its benefits as of this day. It all started when I was just seven years old; I was a little boy of modest means, raised in an alpine village and my dad, whose primary job was to make cheese, was also able to do almost everything. Among other skills, he was an excellent woodworker and one day made for my older brother and I two pairs of skis out of some pieces of beechwood he had on hand. I remember that he dipped the tips into hot water and subsequently placed the skis on a form that was always there in the back of his workshop.

He screwed on steel edges alongside the base and installed a pair of “bear-trap” bindings to complete the whole package. The unvarnished skis looked a bit pale and we had to wax them with a black and smelly concoction that would allow for what we believed was the best available glide in those days. My first time out on the equipment was for a flat, cross-country type race with my elementary school mates on a warm Sunday of March. I can remember that my glide was just terrible as I felt glued on the track while my better equipped buddies, already on factory-made Rossignol or Dynamic skis equipped with plastic bases, appeared having no problem passing me and pushing ahead.

This “static” feeling didn’t set well with me and I’ll never forget it. From that point forward, I developed a reverence for speed on snow and focused my subsequent outings on going down and going straight. Unbeknown to me, I had sold my skiing soul to the snow speed demons. While this deal helped me most of the time, it also brought me plenty of trouble, especially when I started jumping with my skis. A few hundred yards from the family house, there was a place called the “ski jump” where contests used to be held in years past and before the first tram was built in the area. We had rebuilt what resembled a respectable jump by piling up a big mound of snow and we were flying some 30 to 40 feet with our makeshift equipment. This is in a way how I became acquainted with aeronautics and understood early that in order to fly far, a very good rate of speed was a necessary condition. It’s also at the time that I experienced some of my worst falls and fully felt the pain of the “agony of defeat.”

Over the years, I continued to indulge in speedy trials, learning through twisted ankles and sprained knees my reasonable speed limits. They were also numerous cuts occasioned by sharp edges and low-cut gloves, so it’s fair to say that I paid my dues by discovering the beneficial and nefarious sides of speed. Later, as I became a more proficient skier, I discovered the “skiing paradox”, a profound truth that means that while skiing is often a frightful endeavor that puts us on the defensive and slows us down, a good rate of speed is the antidote, the magical ingredient that makes the work of skiing so much more pleasurable. This of course is easier said than done, but remains a fundamental foundation for becoming a better skier. Do I apply it? You can count on it!

When I can do it safely, I go fast. Not just to make it easier on me, but because I honestly enjoy it and since I’m much older now and my days on skis are beginning to become numbered, I can’t afford to waste time anymore. Remembering myself stuck on the ground at age seven remains a powerful motivator and so far my deal with the “skiing dark forces” has been a pretty rewarding one. Now, if you’re ready to follow into my ski tracks and make a deal with some skiing speed demon, do it on a friendly basis, don’t be too overzealous, don’t become overconfident and always watch out for other skiers!