How to Become a Better Skier

As John Snow would say, “winter is coming.” Yes this may be an exaggeration, but with October coming to an end, ski season is upon us. For those of us looking to take their skiing to the next level, take a look at these seven helpful tips in how to improve your skiing. In this article, I highlight a variety of guidelines and strategies of how you can improve your ski game every time you hit the slopes. 

1. Buy the Correct Gear

First and foremost, understand that this is an outdoor sport. Many people either underestimate or overestimate the amount of layers they need to wear. When you are out on mountain, you want to feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure you are wearing a variety of layers. Do not make the mistake of overdoing this. Wearing too many bulky layers can oftentimes compromise your mobility.

As for equipment, this tip is tailored more for the advanced skiers out there. Start off by backwards planning which mountain you are looking to ski. Whether you are focused on skiing freestyle runs, skiing in the backcountry, or hitting kickers in the park, it is crucial you know the terrain. Having knowledge of that type of style and setting will help you with your decision in which ski equipment you want to get. If you want to learn more about ski gear, check out the link here

2. Know the Basics, Practice the Fundamentals

Unless you took an introduction class on skiing that goes over the turns, stops, and jumps, you will never be able to ski better than what you are now. Practicing these rudimentary ski skills will allow you to manipulate your game for the better. To do this, start off by pushing yourself little by little.  For example, if you have a tendency to make wide long terns, push yourself to make shorter quick turns instead. 

3. Get Fit and Increase your Strength

Skiing is an incredibly strenuous sport. While at times it can be done for leisure, the setting and muscle strength you need to perform is incredibly high. Skiing requires that you have strong legs, abs, and chest. It is therefore imperative for you to keep a good level of fitness. The main areas to work on in the gym are increasing your overall core strength, flexibility, agility, and most importantly your leg strength. 

4. Push Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Like any thing in life, if you want to master something, you need to test yourself beyond the boundaries every so often to develop your skills, confidence, and strength. One way to become a stronger skier is to follow and watch skiers who are more advanced than you. Learn from them. Ask them questions. And if possible, try and see if you can ride the slopes with them. Remember, as good as you are, you always want to adapt your style. Good skiers are able to perform at a variety of conditions and terrains. 

5. Take a Lesson

No matter how much skiing and training you have done, you can always learn something new and improve your skills. Remember, even professional skiers have coaches and trainers by their side to help them improve their game. Take a look into short private lessons or a 10 or 12-week course. You will be shocked at how much you can improve. 

6. Be realistic with your Goal

It is fantastic that you want to improve your skiing, but at the end of the day you want to be realistic of your abilities. Keep in mind how long it took you to master just going up and down the hill. Be tangible and choose goals that you can achieve. In addition, make sure they are challenging enough to push you as a skier.  

7. Be Confident and Push Yourself

When learning or improving a skill, people often find the task to be difficult and, at times, frustrating. Try not to let this bring you down. There is a strong learning curve, but it does not mean it is impossible. Do not underestimate your ability to learn. Focus on the positive aspects of your skiing and learn from the negatives. Use those negatives as opportunities for growth. And of course practice!

The Importance of Perseverance

Another story of resilience:

In March of 2007, Jeff Parelli suffered a car accident, in which a person pulled out in front of him. The injuries Parelli sustained resulted in a traumatic brain injury and complete paralysis of his left side.  For the first month, it was a struggle for Parelli to even dress himself, let alone to consider getting out of bed and skiing or hiking.  However, as soon as his daughter mentioned Parelli’s faithful pastime, it was the first time in a month that he sounded like his old self—able to remember facts and the identity of those who surrounded him far better than he had been able to up until that point.

Despite the myriad of injuries Parelli’s accident brought on, according to an Ski Magazine he had only two goals in mind in regards to his recovery; he wanted to ski and to hike at least one more time.  Over the course of seven years and including a combination of cognitive and physical therapy, Parelli was finally able to achieve his goal.  A wheelchair is needed daily for Parelli to maintain movement due to the complete paralysis on the left side.  However, he also has a full KAFO, which stands for a knee-ankle-foot orthesis; the full leg brace allows him to walk, hike and ski.

Jeff Parelli photo

Jeff Parelli, back on the trail.

His first trip through the snow was on an excursion to Mt. Snow in southern Vermont.  By this time, he had only had his KAFO for five months.  After the first run, he made some adaptations to the KAFO to keep the cold weather from causing it to lock; the device doing so would force Parelli to bail out, a very dangerous prospect for a skier with TBI that cannot suffer another head injury.  Parelli uses electrical tape, rubber jar grips and other various materials to help the cables bound to the hitches to the knee to keep the KAFO from locking in place.  Through these implementations, Parelli is able to ski at least twice a year for approximately three to four hours at a time.  Although he is forced to rest after each run, he is still able to engage in his favorite pastime, which, to Parelli, makes the whole expedition worth it.

 

June Skiing

For better or for worse, it seems that spring in the Northeast is finally here to stay. This winter was, no doubt, a long one. At first it may have started out like any other winter- the days getting ever so slightly shorter, the night seemingly inching back every single hour. And then before we knew it, it was night by five o’clock, and our commutes home were done in the cover of darkness. And as it got darker, the temperatures accordingly dropped, and as those temperatures tumbled that frigid change became as easily detectable in meters of mercury as surely as the sun dipped below the horizon even before we had a chance to leave the office. But then the temperatures kept falling, below what we expected. It just didn’t stop. And so we got a parade of weathermen and weather women telling us that the plunging temperatures and frosty conditions were the result of an old and forgotten phenomenon called “the polar vortex”. And while no one really bothered to explain it while abandoning the technical vocabulary and jargon of meteorologists, we all knew this icy menace was holding us in it’s cold grip for a bit longer than we would expect. And December was rough, and January, and February too. But by the time March came around, lots of breathed a collective sigh of relief, and expected a bit of a change from the wintry chill. But when the third month of the year provided no relief, we invested all our hopes in April. Sure, we got some great days, but on the whole it was a bit cooler than many of us would hope. But May is finally here, and the Sun King has come along with it, and happiness reigns supreme once more.

But it’s too often something’s absence that makes us realize how much we miss it’s presence. Remember a few months ago, when I wrote a post on the ways that a later winter meant beefed up skiing opportunities for the spring? Well Christian Science Monitor seems to have one upped me, as they have recently written about Colorado’s Araphoe Basin’s recent snowfalls (as much as 17 inches in the past few days). While many ski resorts have since closed, the Basin is wide open, and June skiing will be going strong. So it may be time to hit the road again! This time for skiing a little farther out west, in Colorado.

US Alpine Skiing National Team

Not even two months removed from the Sochi Winter games, its finally time to talk once more about the US National Team. And why wouldn’t we want to pounce at this opportunity to talk about a fantastic team; after all, the Olympics were all the way back in February and we have to wait another (almost full) four years before we can see some powdery action on an international stage that large, in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But for the time being, let us turn our collective American attention to the U.S. Alpine Skiing Team nominations, as reported by NBC OlympicTalk Naturally, some of the athletes named are heroes from the winter games in Russia, like Ted Ligety, who struck Olympic Gold at the giant slalom. The last two years has seen Ligety ranked third and fourth, but this time,  he has an overall title in his sights.  Others, like Lindsey Vonn, are coming off of injuries and ready to prove themselves during the World Cup season. Specifically, Vonn had surgery back in January, and is aiming to be back just before the seasons officially starts.

19-year old Mikaela Shriffin is also coming off international, including Olympic, successes- Shriffin took home gold from Sochi, and the World Cup title in Slalom. Like many other athletes, she’s setting the bar high for herself, and hopes to catapult her previous accomplishments and achieve new ones, like winning the giant slalom on the world cup stage. Julia Mancuso has been nominated too. Manusco won bronze back in Sochi, for the super combined, but did not finish higher than 15th place in any World Cup level events. Another notable nominee is Bode Miller, who hold the distinction of being the oldest skier to win an olympic medal (bronze, in Sochi).

Several notable skiers, such as Resi Stiegler, did not earn a nomination. For Stiegler, it was health issues that proved an immovable hurdle to competition. Others earned B-team spots. However, the final roster will be announced later, in the autumn.

Find the Men’s and Women’s A-Team nominees below:

Men’s A Team

David Chodounksy

Travis Ganong

Jared Goldberg

Tim Jitloff

Ted Ligety

Bode Miller

Andrew Weibrecht

Women’s A Team

Stacey Cook

Julia Mancuso

Alice McKennis

Mikaela Shiffrin

Leanne Smith

Lindsey Vonn

On Reflections of What Matters Most

Last month, I shared some really sweet deals on spring skiing. But let’s just say you can’t get out to your favorite slope today, or tomorrow, or the next, or this spring season at all, for that matter. Now nothing comes close to the real thing, but sometimes a well written entry on the joys of skiing can really bring that happiness home. Just think of the good things.

To that end, I want to invite you to check out this amazing guest post by author Marcus Brotherton. Originally posted on the blog The Art of Manliness, Brotherton’s post- An Ode to Spring Skiing– is full of poetic lyricism, and is a great example of the importance of self reflection. We learn that Brotherton loves to ski, but that was not always the case. He first learned of skiing when he was a young boy, from a cousin living in the United States (Brotherton is  Canadian by birth). His love for skiing started small, but grew as he surrounded himself with friends who loved the sport. By the time he was fourteen, he was invested in skiing, even buying gear that closely resembled boyhood’s unanimous hero, the MI6 agent 007- James Bond.

By the late 1980’s Brotherton had discovered spring skiing, and embraced it fully. He describes his experience as participating in an entirely new sport, where the elements are with, instead of against, you. His anecdote comes to a close with an acknowledgement of his newfound powdery passion of mountainous proportions, the forsakenness of sunscreen, and the discovery of a new facet of his personality. He concludes with a conversation between him and a high school classmate: A girl makes a remark inquiring about his obviously sunburnt body, and he cooly shrugs off all derision while embracing his physical appearance. It was, after all, the result of him doing what he loved. That cool confidence turned the tables in his favor, and the girl left the conversation impressed.

Now, we are all unique, but I think we can take something away from this Ode to Spring Skiing. It may be a good idea to think about whatever it is you’re passionate about- skiing, or otherwise- and reflect on how it changed or shaped you, or otherwise assisted in your personal growth. Then share that story with others, spreading inspiration and appreciation.

Till next time.