Autumn 2000   


Getting in Shape

Part One:
Getting your bod in shape to ski

1. It's too late to start worrying about getting in shape for skiing a month before the season starts. Your only real chance to be fit when the snow flies is a lifestyle that keeps you in shape. That means regular exercise all spring, all summer, all fall, not a crash program starting October 15th.

2. Strength (especially leg strength ) and endurance (aerobic or cardio-vascular fitness ) are both important for skiing. But you're more likely to stick to a regular exercise program if the activity itself is fun and has a point other than just keeping you fit. You'll be less likely to drop out of hiking, mountain climbing, bike riding or soccer, than you will an exercise class or workouts in a gym.

3. Agility, rhythm and grace are actually far more important for skiing than strength and endurance. You can develop your kinesthetic awareness--your feel for rhythmic, balanced motion in space--through sports like ice skating and roller skating (possible almost anywhere) and skating develops the critical skill of foot-to-foot balance which transfer 100% to skiing. Other equally good activities to enhance this neglected aspect of pre-season conditioning are surfing, dancing (modern, jazz or folk ), trampoline or gymnastics, and the Chinese exercise pattern of Tai Chi which fouces on slow rhythmic balanced movement.

Part Two:
Getting your equipment in shape to ski:

4. Don't worry about tuning-up your best skis, they should still be okay if you kept them in good shape all last season (although it's always good to have your bindings checked). The skis you should be working on are your old, trashed-out rock skis - with a little effort you can put half-destroyed boards in adequate shape to get you through the lean snow weeks at the start of the season. Most areas of the country don't experience really good ski conditions till after Christmas, so why risk your best skis?

5. Place some extra foam padding between your shins and the tongues of your boots, during the first few days of the ski season. This will keep you from develping raw spots while your skin adjusts to the constant flexing pressures of skiing--it actually toughens up rapidly. If you forget this, and wind up with sore spots after your first day out, remember to pad around (not on top of) the sore spot for the next few days.

Part Three:
Getting your mind in shape to ski:

6. See as many ski films as possible. I mean it. A lot of sports gurus talk about mental rehearsal, and they're right. It really affects performance. But you need great mental Images to rehearse - and most of us don't have perfect "internal video systems" which can store clear Images of great runs during 6 long months of summertime distraction. Good ski films refresh those memories and give your subconscious something to work with.

7. Don't just daydream about skiing, dream about it at night. I know most of us can't order up dreams on command, but still. . . . I have the suspicion that the time I spend dreaming about the coming season is very important. And besides, since my sleeping mind doesn't understand the laws of physics or the limits of gravity, my dream runs are really great.

    Autumn 2000  
photo above:
fresh snow at Elk Camp, Snowmass, Colorado
photo © Lito Tejada-Flores
All contents of this web site
© Lito Tejada-Flore unless otherwise credited.