The Ski Season is finally here! Although I am not ready for the cold, I am totally ready to get out on the slopes and start to get my touch, feel and speed back. Early season can be full of tough conditions and limited slope time, so it pays to have a plan of action to get up to speed as fast as possible. December plays a unique role in the season. Here are a five tips to make it count!
1. Make Sure your Equipment is Ready
Take the time to make sure ALL of your equipment is ready to rock. I always focused on my skis, boots and jacket, but then scrambled during the first couple weekends to dial in everything else.
Make sure your lenses are clean and clear as you NEED to see perfectly when ripping. Spend the time to clean your lenses or spend the money to buy new ones. Make sure you have a lens for sun and a lens for flat light. You can have the best technique, but if you can’t see, you can’t ski.
Gloves/mitts and a neckwarmer/buff are critical to keeping you warm, comfy and loose on the hill. If you’re cold, you will ski tight. Get a couple sets as they will return home wet and nasty each day. Make sure you dry them out every night, but having a second set to go saves time and effort.
Layers are key. I recommend three layers underneath your jacket to ensure your core remains warm. The first layer should be a short or long sleeve techy shirt that fits tight. The second layer is a turtleneck with a zipper collar to allow for over-heating. The last layer is a thin insulator or sweatshirt to retain heat. This is the key layer to shed when it’s warm or to strip down to if you want to decrease the drag in training.
2. Start Slow to go Fast
You don’t need to be the fastest in December! You need to be skiing your best in February and March. So take it slow and dial back the competitiveness early on. The first 2-3 weeks of skiing should be focused on practicing the basics and correcting problems. If you can, get on the lift before training starts and make 2-3 slow runs making big turns across the hill, feeling your edge bite in the snow and making sure your upper body is relaxed, pointing down the hill and forward. By the end of these runs you should feel completely balanced and ready to work on your skills with technical drills. Drills like one-ski, no poles, or Schlopys are actually tougher to perform at a slower speed. The rule here- slow the pace to learn to race!
3. Practice your Routines
December is the perfect time to practice all of your routines for the season. Things like;
- Dynamic Warm-up in the Lodge
- First Run plan
- Start Routines
- Reflection time at the end of the drill/course
These routines can be practiced and perfected when there is no pressure. Then, when January hits and and the races come around, you are ready to perform. During race season, your focus should be on skiing your best, not dealing with forgotten equipment, tight muscles, or distractions at the start. Learn your routines and what works for you personally each morning and pre-run to get you in the best possible mindset when attacking the course. These will be your “Go-Tos” when things ramp up and get tense later on.
4. Set Your Goals
Setting goals is critical to success on the hill and have many benefits. They keep you pointed in the right direction, help you stay focused on what is important, and allow you to record your progress. However, my favorite benefit from goal setting is the motivation it brings to every training and race situation. Whenever I was tired, or things got hard, I would remind myself of my big goals. Then, getting back out on the hill or getting psyched for another run of Super-G, or doing another set of burpees was EASY.
Whether you’re using the ELITEAM Ski Racing Journal or talking with your coach about your goals, write them down and keep them close. That way, when things get tough, you have a great motivational tool at your finger tips. December is a perfect time to plan out the smaller process goals to get you to your dream goal. You can identify what you need to work on this month so you can rock the race course in January!
5. Practice Gratitude
How lucky are we all to be able to ski, train and race each Winter. Taking 5-10 minutes at the end of your day to think about what you are grateful for can change any tough day into a great day! You may have had a rough day in the gates, but I bet you can find something that went right too. Focusing on the positives will make you feel good about your day. Don’t ever forget that just being out on the hill and being able to rip turns on beautifully groomed trails with your friends is a WIN!