Resorts will start opening in just a few weeks. But will your first day back on snow be a short and painful waste of a good lift ticket? Or will it be an experience of joy and fun, a bluebird day without a twinge of pain or annoyance.
If you want to guarantee that your first day back is wonderful in every way, here are five tips that can help you make a marvelous memory—if you begin working on them right away.
1. If you’re a skier, start wearing your boots NOW.
You probably still have ‘beach feet’ from wearing warm weather footwear—sandals and flip flops—during summer and fall. Your feet have expanded into these loose shoes. If you cram your floppy feet into tight ski boots for the first time this season only when you get to the resort, you’ll be in agony before you hit the lift line. You’ll have a ‘one-run-and-done’ day.
Don’t do that to yourself. Bring those now-dusty boots out of the darkness. Put them on for 20 minutes, then take them off. The following day, wear the unbuckled boots for one hour. Your goal is to get your feet accustomed to the squishing of the boots again.
Once you can comfortably walk around and wear the boots for an hour, buckle them on the loosest buckle, and see how your feet react to the additional tightness. Gradually, your feet will readjust to the boots, and the plastic will adjust once again to your feet. Wear the boots two or three times a week for at least 20 minutes each time, gradually tightening the buckles to the position where you normally fasten them. You won’t have to put up with uncomfortable boots on your first day back.
2. Think about last season’s annoyances.
You won’t have to be reminded on the lift of last year’s problems if you get them fixed beforehand. If a jacket zipper was hard to zip up, take it to a tailor or seamstress and get it repaired. Or go to a thrift shop and get a cheap, new-to-you jacket. The same goes zips on pants or your winter backpack. Spend a few bucks now and avoid being annoyed every time you hit the snow. Get rid of the beanie that always flies off when you’re going downhill fast, or the gloves with the cold spot in one of the fingers.
3. Get your skis or board tuned and waxed.
Your gear has been sitting around getting dusty for many months. The bases need to be cleaned and re-waxed. If you rode the snow all last year without getting a tune up, you need one now. A good gear tech will start by grinding off the ground-in grit and resins of spring skiing, sharpen and smooth the edges, and do the right wax job for the early season. Your gear will run so much better, you’ll be amazed at the improvement.
4. Get in shape, quick.
Okay, so you skipped your workouts over the summer. Not to worry! You can still escape the burning thighs and gasping for breath that plauges the out-of-shape snowrider. Three weeks of hard work will do the trick.
Get on your bike and ride it hard for half an hour. Intersperse this effort with five 20-second sprints. This is where you want to be gasping for breath, not when you’re at altitude, paying good money to ride down the mountain. Build your aerobic capacity and thigh power by pedaling a bike as hard as you can every other day.
5. Hydrate yourself the day before.
Your blood vessels dialate at altitude, so you get dehydrated quickly. In addition, you don’t feel as thirsty in winter as you do on a hot summer day. Drink a quart of extra water the day before your excursion to a resort. Drink extra water in the morning, and more when you arrive at the resort. Being dehydrated can drain your energy at altitude by 50 per cent. Alcohol and coffee may taste good, but they don’t count as hydration. Think about it, and you’ll understand why.