For every skier, each new ski season feels like a new beginning, filled with great anticipation, wonderful expectations, and in many ways, it seems like a “re-birth” of sorts, as it brings us back to our favorite playground. To make that experience even better, I have tried to compile a few tips that we all can use and that will make our return to the slopes that much more pleasant.
I would start with getting our gear ready, beginning with the right ski pass (not the one from last year, please!) the gloves, the balaclava, the helmet and the goggles. Don’t just attempt to gather that equipment minutes before hitting the slopes; do it at least the day before and by all means, do take all your time to do it right!
Can we find all of our gear? Aren’t these gloves looking a bit frayed right by the thumb? Why are these goggles all scratched-up? I’d continue with the ski boots and check that nothing fell inside them, that there’s nothing in the liner that feels crumpled and that the rubber heel isn’t so worn out that we won’t get into the bindings. Oh sure, I’ll get these boots out of the freezing garage now and put them inside the house!
Then there are the skis. Are these the brand-new ones? Are we sure we want to take them that early? If we take the ones we used in April, how do they look? I mean, not the dust on them, but are the edges okay, the bases clean and waxed? Are we sure the poles are matched-up or do we have a 44 inch long paired with a 46 inch?
Now, how are we going to dress? In doubt, always layer-up more warmly than not, don’t forget that most of today’s ski clothes have plenty of zippable air-vents if overheating were to be a problem! Is the roof-rack or the ski-box back on top of the car yet, or are we going to fold part of the rear seat and slide all the equipment in? I’m looking forward to test-driving these new snow tires we just mounted last week…
Before we start the engine, mentally run the check-list: Ski pass or coupons, boots, helmet-glove-goggles, poles, skis, sunscreen, cell-phone and wallet. No, we won’t take the GoPro camera this time… We finally get to the resort parking lot. Found a great spot! Get everything out, walk to the lift. One more time: Is there anything we need that we could have left in the car?
We first click into our bindings and get ready to ride the chairlift, look around, feel the excitement building, no worries, we’ll start slow! We’ll try to register the sensations inside our feet and legs as we slide down the ramp, make a first left turn… That wasn’t bad was it? Everything still works! Then we take it easy, we begin slow and try to just concentrate on the sensations, we’ll get reacquainted with a little bit of speed, appreciate the crispy sound our skis make on this season’s snow…
Now a right turn followed by another to the left; we’re skiing! Little by little our confidence grows, our speed increases, we absorb the little bumps as if we had never quit doing it and the tentative smiles we had earlier on becomes a permanent grin! We forgot nothing, it’s all coming back now, we let those skis carve for us, it feels even better than it did last March!
Naturally, we’re careful, we use the terrain astutely, and we follow the flow and the groups of skiers that evolve at a similar rate of speed. Sometimes we stay in the middle of the run and move with everybody, at other times we stick to the sides that often allow for a different rate of speed, but all along, we constantly watch what’s going on in front, around and behind us. We know that the rest of the skiers are still tentative and searching for their true selves early this season and we take it easy.
Of course, lunch time is not just a simple break today, it’s a genuine restoration. We take a bit longer, we use our time to savor the food and enjoy the warmth inside the lodge, and when it’s time to go out again, we carefully re-adjust all the buckles on each boot, we take the time to clean the goggle lens twice instead of just once, and when everything appears to be ready and that we feel in control, skiing resumes.
No, we won’t do this extra run that we would normally never miss. We’re just careful, we’re totally willing to leave some great turns “on the table” today and end our skiing a tad earlier. No problem; we’ve got the entire ski season!