Friday, January 2, 2009

Ski Shape

Yesterday, after spending the day skiing hard, I had planned on writing a post about skiing oneself into shape.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep, so I'll try it again tonight.

One of the many benefits of commuting to work by bicycle, is that it keeps me in pretty good shape.  This year was especially good, because I was able to stay on the bike so late into the season, and even though the snow was a little later in coming this year, I am still going into the season in pretty good shape.  The lungs are there, the cardio is there, and the quads are still pretty strong.  But, bike riding is bike riding, and skiing is skiing.  In other words, even though the bike keeps me in shape, those first few days of hard skiing kick my ass.

The skiing yesterday was incredible.  Deep powder that was firm enough to make it easy to control, but soft enough to forgive any mistakes.  In other words, hero snow.  It made us all look like great powder skiers.  In the steep, tight trees, it was sluffing underfoot as we picked out turns, able to only see 4 to 5 turns ahead before the trees closed in and we ducked out looking for that next line.  Later in the season, we will ski like this all day, but in early season you have to pay attention to your legs.  Once they start to really fatigue, you have to get out into the open.  Tight trees are not the place to be when you can no longer pick your turn.

Every summer I teach at a mountain bike clinic.  I love doing it, and I am a much better rider since I have started teaching.  Breaking down riding into individual skills and then practicing those skills is very beneficial.  Yet, when I am asked how to become a better rider, my answer is always the same:  ride your bike.  The same can be said for skiing.  To get into ski shape, you can do all the offseason work that there is, you can clinic, you can even read about skiing, but the only way to become a better skier is to ski.

Oh well.  Tomorrow I'll be back out on the hill.  I'm a little sore tonight, but after a few warm-up runs I'll be fine.  I don't know how long the legs will last,  but each day they'll last a little longer, until I am in prime ski shape.  Of course, by then the snow will be melting, and it will be time to get into riding shape.

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