Getting Ready for Ski Season

One thing I have learned living in Park City is that you are ALWAYS getting ready for ski season. At the Fourth of July parade and celebration on Main Street, I bought my new ski jacket and in August, a Smart Wool sweater to wear under it.  In September, I picked up a set of ski pants so clothing-wise; I am well on my way.

Fitness wise, I am not so sure but am working on it. Try this:

1. Hitting tennis balls –  It’s winter but Park City Municipal Athletic Recreation Center known as “the Marc” has a “bubble” with several indoor tennis courts to keep you warm and dry. Once a week I hit tennis balls with a friend. Tennis is not only good for cardio and eye hand coordination but for ski conditioning due to the side to side movements you make when approaching the ball.

2. Rowing – The Concept 2 rowing machine is my best friend. I used to row crew with the Master’s so when on the indoor rower, I just close my eyes and imagine being on the water in the shell with 7 other women rowing in unison.    Rowing is also easy on the knees and also great for both upper and lower body strength — love it!

3. Circuit training – I read a blog on the best fitness apps and found my new best friend –Nike Training Club App. I am sure there are some other great apps out there but I am totally obsessed with Nike Training Club.

First of all, there are a hundred different workout choices –get lean, toned, strong, or “focused.” Each one has a variety of workouts by level.  You don’t need extensive equipment — just some weights and a medicine ball. I love how it just walks you through a workout – plank rows for one minute followed by Russian twists for one minute then mountain climbers, etc.  Frankly, its easy to follow since you don’t have to think about it – just choose a workout, decide on music from the iPad and get started.

I never thought I would care about this (or admit it in public) but they also award badges by level. Today at the end of my workout, a message popped up. “Congratulations, you have reached a new level.  You are a contender.”

Me?  A contender?  “Hey Honey, guess what? Remember when I told you I could  have been a contender? Well, turns out I was right! Nike says I am.”  It is silly, but actually it’s kind of fun.

4. Tracking my exercise and food intake. I use the My Fitness Pal app to track food and daily exercise.  Before I reach into the Chex Mix bag, I think about having to write in later that I just ate an extra 300 calories: this certainly helps me grab an apple instead.   I log everything I eat and drink as well as my workouts to help me stay on track.

My son, Rick, and his girlfriend are members too so we have this little healthy support community.  An added benefit of having my family online is avoiding public humiliation — a strong motivator that certainly works for me!

How are you getting ready for ski season?

Early Ski Season Routine

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!


Ski Prep- Top 6

In our house, fall isn’t really one season, but two: “Almost Ski Season” and “Ski Season.” We spend the Almost Ski Season getting our ski bags sorted out, and generally getting our heads in the game. Here, the top six ways my family and I prepare for the ski season:

1. Just a bit more summer….

I know, I know, it’s like skier blasphemy—we spend half the year fantasizing about recreating that perfect run from the previous ski season, so why in the name of Hidden Treasure would I need more summer? Well, there is something about summer that just reinforces my longing for winter. I’ve had my fill of warm weather, and I’m ready to stash my flip-flops, and slide into my sheepskin boots. Or my cute high-heeled boots. Or the fun magenta lace-ups. When you live in snow country, your boot wardrobe is diverse.  Also, historically, when we travel to a warm climate in autumn, the snow gods hear us and dump snow. So…we spent the kids’ fall break soaking up the sunshine in Florida, giving our flip flops one last big outing, and then—Boom! We came home to a solid October 26 storm. You’re welcome.

2. The October Storm 

This year’s flake-fest happened exactly one day later than last year’s. Both served as opportunities to dig out the winter gear, figure out what fits, needs replacing, We pulled out jackets, pants, helmets, and boots. We determined everyone needed new jackets, Mom and Dad needed new pants, too, and the boys had plenty of pants to keep them warm on the hill and the school playground during the week. (This is key—the kids here actually wear their bib pants at school all day, to save the hassle of suiting up repeatedly for snow play.)

3. Comic Relief
The Saturday after the big storm coincided with the Saturday before Halloween—and Seth had a birthday party to attend where my friend Belinda revealed her heretofore hidden (to me) face-painting skills. We went straight from there to shop for soft goods—and brought our own entertainment committee. Seth walked into Jans and Cole Sport announcing,

“I am a ZOMMMMMBIE!” and kept us giggling through what is otherwise an extremely tedious process (shopping with kids, that is.) Jackets accomplished, except for mom, but I snuck my new duds into the gear shopping day. What? What’s that?….

4. A second day of shopping.

There’s no way to get all the gear in one day when you have kids—shopping-averse kids, at that. So, we set out to make the rounds to upsize their equipment. Lance is in an annual rental program at Utah Ski and Golf, for which we paid an up-front fee before his first season, and all we have to do is show up in the fall with the previous year’s gear, and he gets fitted into his new size at no additional charge. 

While we were there, we bought him a new orange helmet to match his new blue and orange coat, plus ski gloves for Seth.  Next stop: Surefoot, where. Seth is enrolled in a trade-up program, so that each time he outgrows a pair of boots, we trade in and get half of what we paid for them back in credit toward the new pair. Then we headed to Jans to enroll him into the ski program—which works similarly: you purchase the gear at full price, then receive 40 percent back toward the purchase of a new pair when the first pair is outgrown, and so on. And you know you’ve done your job indoctrinating the kids into the “play inside in your gear” habit when you find your son skiing around Jans.

5. Candy. Lots and lots of Halloween Candy.  If you know me at all, you know I never ski without bribes—I mean rewards.  In our house, we know that Halloween Candy isn’t going to get gobbled up in the first week of November. I like that the holiday falls conveniently close to the start of ski season, because those mini Milky Ways and Twizzlers tuck nicely into the pockets of my jacket and pants. Don’t forget to hit me up for a sweet treat when you see me on the hill!

6. Brunch at Deer Valley Grocery Café. Duh. I mean, if you’re planning to ski for lunch a few times a week, you might as well get in practice. I ignored the siren call of the French Toast (I know, I know) and ordered oatmeal with tons of fresh and dried fruit. It can’t hurt to at least start pre-season training in “healthy” mode, right?

Taking the Stairs

One of our favorite family traditions involves climbing a flight of stairs. Not just any flight of stairs, mind you, but the stairs that lead to the Season Pass office just above the Lift Tickets windows at Snow Park.

Nobody—and I mean nobody is in a bad mood in the season pass office before the resort opens. The very fact of being here in November means we will be ready to ski the second the lifts are running on December 8. (Trust me, a couple of years ago, I delayed picking up my pass until opening weekend—and I had to work very hard to fight the case of the grumpies that came over me as I realized my ski day would be slightly truncated because I had to wait in a line to get my pass.).

This year, as always, we were greeted by friendly Deer Valley employees. Sue and Debbie made sure the entire family had perfect photos on our passes (and made appropriate oohing-and-ahhing noises over the cuteness of my kids’ grins. And, as a bonus, we got to share the tradition with some dear friends, who have made the leap from part-time residents to full-time Parkites. There may or may not have been some grumpy moments leading up to this one—and those moments may or may not have involved any of the five children in our two families. (Our kids don’t typically run around in full ski gear,  but we went ski clothes shopping before picking up our passes. In case the photo below had you confused. And probably contributed to their moods). But any minor mood issues were fast resolved by the cold hard plastic in our hands, signifying the imminent season.

Outside, the kids played with the snow, we took a few pictures, and reveled in the fun of the moment. Then, when my pal Jack and I could not help resist its siren call a moment longer, we turned to the trail map, to try to pre-select our first runs of the season. (And, by the way, I’m not telling…you’ll just have to find us out there…).

What’s your favorite pre-season tradition?

Skiing is Around the Corner!

September is a perfect month for conditioning the body and the mind in preparation to a brand-new ski season. I won’t discuss today a physical training program but will instead focus on the many goals I have begin to set, back in April, when I reluctantly said goodbye to a record-breaking snow year and some incredible skiing.

Hard to believe it, but five month ago, I was already planning, plotting and anticipating what my next ski season would be like. I must say that 2010/2011 provided me with more creative ways to ski from point A to point B. True, that past winter became one of the most interesting one for me, since I moved to Utah, 26 years ago. To break-up with routine in my skiing, I decided to launch an all-out exploration of Deer Valley Resort, including its most obscure nooks and crannies, deliberately venturing out of the beaten path, whether it would be smooth corduroy-groomed runs, bumps or even wide-open deep-powder slopes. I began looking for the gnarly side of the terrain, regularly sampling Daly Chutes, Triangle Trees and Centennial Trees.

What motivated that urge for exploration was my new toy, a helmet-mounted video cam that documented almost each one of my turns and each tree that stood in my way. Most of that experimentation was done solo and just seeing two gloved hands holding poles plus a pair of ski tip upfront made for a rather boring movie to watch. So next year, I plan to add real people to my films. From friends to family, to visitors to Deer Valley, dedicated Ski Patrol members all the way to Ski School staff.

All of them will help give texture and depth to my action movies and make sharing that experience in motion much more interesting. You’ll be able to get a front row seat to what happens on skis, with great people, fantastic snow, exciting speed and wonderful scenery! I’m already plotting my scenes, planning the shots and anticipating a triple dose of fun; first when I shoot the movie, while I edit it and finally the day the finished video is shared with all of you!

So this coming season expect to get close and personal with all Daly Chutes, discover more of “Triangle Trees”, get to know Ontario Bowl inside-out, inventory the trees of Sunset Glade, explore new paths into Centennial Trees and expand your knowledge of Lady Morgan Bowl with its secret trails and surprising exits; I’ll do my very best to documenting and memorializing each special clump of trees that hides the key to a smooth and uninterrupted meandering through the forest…

Now that I have shared my plan with you, we obviously need to worry about getting in shape, but most importantly it’s time to begin planning the entire experience. Depending on where you live, this could involve making some lodging reservations, checking-out the ski school program for the season, and purchasing ski passes and day tickets while space is still available and any special offers are still open for the taking!