Don't have much ski experience? You can still enjoy that upcoming snow vacation or weekend getaway with a little preparation. Getting ready for the season is something winter sports participants of all levels should consider ... but skiing tips for newbies are especially important.
Here are some areas of focus before taking that first trip to the slopes.
Get in Shape: Avoid trying to ski or ride yourself into shape. Even if you've remained inactive for a while, it's not too late to begin a training regimen.
Cardiovascular exercise is a must, so don't neglect it; get that heart rate pumping regularly. Running will definitely help and so will other good conditioning exercises like treadmill or elliptical work.
Cycling, either outdoors or on a stationary bike, is a great way to train as well. A 15-minute run or 30 minutes on the bike or treadmill three times a week will make a noticeable difference for any level snow enthusiast.
Stretch: Flexibility is an area that's frequently overlooked. Any athlete, young or old, can benefit from a regular stretching program. Stretching is a great weapon to battle both soreness and injury, especially annoying minor ones. For skiers and riders, stretching can also be the best protection in the event of a fall.
Back, ankles, hamstrings and groin are all areas that should be loose, so begin a stretching program now and also do it right before slipping into skis or a board for the day.
Check Your Equipment: Examine skis or snowboard and determine if they are tuned and ready. Make sure boots and bindings are in good shape as well. If purchasing new clothes, look for fabric that's water and wind resistant, and avoid cotton. Examine goggles and other accessories that are vital for a day in the snow where weather conditions are subject to radical changes.
Plan Your Trip Wisely: Many resorts offer great lodging and skiing/riding deals early in the season to encourage participation. Check out the websites of your favorite resorts for discounted day rates. And speaking of deals, the time to buy a season pass at a cheap price has passed. However, if planning multiple trips to the slopes this season, a pass is still a good idea.
Safety: A measure of caution is always the way to go. Take it slow, particularly on early morning runs. Establishing good technique is the prime concern, not speed. And don't keep going when the legs are getting weary. Understand when enough is enough. This becomes a major concern late in the day when fatigue sets in and injuries are more likely to occur.
Know and obey the seven safety rules (Responsibility Code) of the slopes:
- Always stay in control
- People ahead of you have the right of way
- Stop in a safe place for you and others
- Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield
- Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment
- Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails
- Know how to use lifts safely
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San Francisco Skiing Examiner Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer, editor and veteran of 22 years in the newspaper business.