9 Nov 2008, 8:06pm
Colorado Mountain Living Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride:
Comments Off on Getting Ready for Ski Season: Part One

Getting Ready for Ski Season: Part One

I spotted a glimmer of an orange-y object in my path.  I stooped down to pick it up and discovered that it was a perfectly intact miniature Reese’s cup, the sort distributed at Halloween.  Jackpot!   A golden nugget wouldn’t have made me more happy.  I gobbled it so fast I almost choked on it.  I knew that this little shot of sugar would enable me to forge up the hill—the Galloping Goose ski run to be exact—the trail outside my apartment that I began to hike on a regular basis as soon as the snow melted late last spring.  That little peanut butter treat gave me enough of a burst to make it to the bridge on Sundance, always a stretch since that meant I had to power up to a blue run from a double green.

It was far from noon yet I was thinking about what I’d fix myself for lunch.  I had already had two breakfasts and a tide of tea and coffee since I dragged myself out of bed at 6:45 a.m.  My body felt completely deflated, like a balloon that had been left out days after a party.  Still I knew I would somehow reap benefits from all this fatigue.

Pre-Season Conditioning

Pre-Season Conditioning

“There’s much less of a chance of being hurt during the season if you do ski conditioning class,”  my good buddy and top ski instructor, Dave Brown, informed me.

I felt grateful I had never had an injury in my five years of ski instructing, but I figured I shouldn’t push my luck, especially now that I’m getting older.  So this year I decided to sign up for the five weeks of pre-season conditioning class offered by Telski to their employees at Peak Performance Therapy.  (Yes, most people end up here after suffering an injury on the mountain.)  Plus I really wanted to get into good shape this year.  I was tired of going from 0 to 75 mph in no time since in previous years I’d work some fourteen days in a row at Christmas without having logged many skier days on the mountain leading up to that busy period.


Everyone was good humored the first session.  It was like the first day of school when you see your old friends again and all are hopeful about the upcoming year.  There were about twenty of us at kick off, most instructors from the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School along with someone from Operations, a ski patrolman and one of the office workers (that I haven’t seen since).

My enthusiasm deteriorated as I made my way through the twenty stations set up to morph us into tiptop ski and snowboard shape.  There was the proverbial Vew-Do balance board, something my dad and brothers used to role on in our basement the weeks leading up to ski season.  I had never stepped foot on it before.  But here I tried, grateful that I could reach out and grab filing cabinets with one hand, the doorway with the other so as not to become permanently maimed when it jerked me from side to side.  The Fitter here amused me considerably more, mostly because you were encouraged to use it with ski poles and it was the one piece of equipment in the whole place that most closely replicated the sensation of skiing.  For me, each station seemed to require an inordinate amount of figuring out, coordination, balance and stamina.

Telluride Children's Ski and Snowboard Director Noah Sheedy Coming Off of His Unique Jump/Pirouette Combo---What a Showoff!

Telluride Children’s Ski and Snowboard School Director Noah Sheedy Coming Off of His Unique Jump/Pirouette Combo—What a Show-Off!

“Why do we have to do so much jumping?”  I asked Megan, the physical therapist and our chief drill sergeant.

She offered up some kind of explanation that seemed way beyond my reach, especially since I was huffing and puffing like a raging bull.  And perspiring, my God.

I’m now halfway through the ten-session program and I still have not grown accustomed to the wretched smell that systematically breaks out into the workout room ten minutes into our class.  Part raw chopped onions, part pickled boiled wool socks, I’m amazed by something so rank emanating from such a clean cut crowd, even with all the doors opened wide to the chilly mountain night.  Ski instructors typically don’t smell like this; we work in a cold environment that is so dry in the West that even if a little perspiration is produced, it evaporates into the air just as quickly.  The only other time foul smelling could be associated with us is perhaps in the ski school locker room in the evening when the blowers blast full-tilt to dry out our boots.  And that is only really nose turning after the warmest days of March.

We were required to move through the stations so quickly that it’s not surprising we worked ourselves up into such a lather.  Everyone took a turn on each carefully devised set up which required its own series of maneuvers including sporting nylon booties so you could easily slip and glide on the Reebok slide, doing squats on a balancing board, jumping up at the extension of a squat, jumping back and forth as you worked your way up and down a line of yellow caution tape, jumping over steps, jumping diagonally on a diagram of Xes marked in tape.  As much as I loathe lunges, I came to welcome them after all the jumping.  I faked my routine on some, especially those that required standing on one foot on a Dyna Disk and tossing or turning a ball.  (I’d just push the Dyna Disk away, good balance be damned.)  I felt greatly relieved when I arrived at the StairMaster station and could just pump on that for a short while without having to think about what I was doing.

Telluride's Finest!

Telluride’s Finest!

Our drill sergeant prodded us through two rounds of thirty-second intervals the first time.  Now we’re up to one-minute intervals and I’m told we’ll max out at two-minute intervals by the last class.  The idea of squatting with my back against a wall with a ball firmly squeezed between my thighs for two minutes is particularly daunting.

But I have to confess I cheat.  I’m one of the most honest persons on earth, but here I cheat.  I also whine terribly, another totally uncharacteristic trait for me.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to bake big batches of cookies for the class since they’ve had to listen to so much of my belly aching and moaning and groaning.  This is the hardest part of skiing I’ve ever experienced but I’m counting on it making my thighs and core strong so that I can pick through a challenging field of moguls without having to stop on every fifth turn.

I’m hoping it’s going to transform my back end, too.  They say your buttocks are the biggest muscle in your body.  So I keep looking in the mirror, contorting myself just enough to see if there might be some improvement, if nothing else, as a form of encouragement.  Hard to tell.  I’m grateful that our ski pants are rather bulky.  But there’s always après ski.  One thing’s for sure, you don’t see many super slim ski and snowboard instructors.  Snow sports tend to build mass and, of course, we need the extra padding to enable us to spend so many long hours outside.

Dave Brown Exhibiting Perfect Balance

Dave Brown Exhibiting Perfect Balance

“Fifteen seconds left,” Patty, another physical therapist calls out.  Eyes bulge and faces redden to the strained sound of Bruce Springsteen.  Thank goodness for Madonna, Sting and ELO and the fact that most of us prefer disco to techno.  “Time’s up!” she hollers out, prompting everyone to switch to the next post.

I try to remain focused on what I’m doing, more fearful here that I might break my neck than I ever was on the ski slopes.  But my thoughts drift to what I’d be doing in Paris at this time of the evening if I still lived there.  It would most certainly be time for l’apéritif.  I chuckle to myself knowing that if my French friends could see me in this class they would be both highly surprised and hysterical.  And I wonder what my body would look like if I still lived in France, the land of buttery pastries and meals consistently served with copious amounts of mouth-watering bread, cheese and wine.  I’d probably be thinner, largely due to the societal pressure of remaining slim and seductive.  But I know I wouldn’t be as fit and firm.

“Now why do we jump so much?” I asked Megan yet again in a less-than-cheerful voice.

“Eccentric loading,”  she replied.  I looked at her quizzically.  “Loading the muscles in length phase,” she continued in an attempt to help me to understand.  “It works mostly the quads.  If you can’t eccentrically load, you can’t concentrically explode.”

Me Schussing on the Fitter

Me Schussing on the Fitter

I thought about this—or some version there of—the next time I stomped up the ski hill.  I felt my thighs burn more so than before since now I felt the resistance of the snow beneath me in addition to the build up of lactic acid that had formed after the previous workout.  The trail had been packed by snowmobiles or maybe even a snow cat, but still I trudged along as though barefoot on a soft, sandy beach.  Much had turned around within forty-hours.  Telluride had been transformed from a barren lunar-like landscape to a glorious winter wonderland.   It snowed close to two feet up top.  We had elected a new president that offered the whole world good reason to hope for a better future.  I was shaping up inside and out for what I sensed was going to be a great season in Telluride.  Soon I’d be skiing down the slopes instead of walking on them.  And like all well-prepared ski instructors, I’d be sure to have a piece of chocolate or a snack in my pocket, too.

Peak Performance Therapy, 970-728-1888

Thank you to Megan for the pics!

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