~ By Stanley Blackmur
With summer now a distant memory, the cool days and crisp nights of Autumn have our minds set to prepare for the long winter months ahead. I know that what gets me through the long New England winter, other than daydreaming about living on a tropical island for five months, is getting out on the slopes. Whether you are a skier or a boarder or prefer the Nordic route, it is time to get out of your state of semi-hibernation and hit the slopes, the half pipe and the cross country trails. Before you go, make sure that your body and equipment are ready, because nothing is more of a letdown or deterrent than not being properly prepared for the elements. Many things in our lives require extensive preparation to make sure that we achieve the results that we are seeking. The gourmet meal for your dinner party (unless you hire a local catering company and try and take the credit), a business presentation to land a new client, or research for a great vacation all require good preparation and practice. Skiing, boarding and cross-country skiing are no exception.
First and foremost is an equipment check up. If you are anything like me the skis, boots, helmets, gloves, and gear were stowed in their bags and sent off to the great dark depths of the attic or the basement sometime back in March. Many of us may have been pushing the envelope of trying to get one more season out of those boots or skis or the kids have grown 3 inches and 2 shoe sizes over the summer.
Make your upcoming ski season less stressful and more enjoyable by properly preparing now! The first task should be location of your gear. Is everything together? Do you have two gloves (that match), two boots, two skis and two poles? Get everyone and everybody together now to see if your equipment is safe and fits properly. Many significant injuries occur because of unsafe or improperly fitting equipment.
Check your inventory and sizing, bring your skis or board in for a tune up and a binding safety check. A binding check is extremely important as people’s weight, size and abilities change over time therefore usually necessitating a bindings’ adjustment. The basic boot check is next; do they fit? Are all mechanical pieces in working order? Improper boot fitting results in significant fatigue as well as blisters. Nothing can ruin a good day on the slopes more than tight boots and the resulting cold feet! Since it is early in the season, your Country Ski & Sport Inc. has a special on tune ups and safety checks as well as some great discounts on skis, boots, bindings and boards.
It’s also important to check for sizing on your helmets, jacket, pants, gloves and goggles. Some of your outdoor wear may be a “fashion faux pas” or a little snug or just plain worn out. The other aspect of proper preparation for the skiing and boarding season is getting your body in shape for using those muscles and muscle groups that have been on hiatus for the last few months. Many of us unfortunately only get away skiing for a week’s vacation trip or several weekend and day trips. With the expense of staying slope side you don’t want to get injured because of a lack of “preventive maintenance.” According to several sources, most injuries occur within the first couple of days of a vacation and most frequently at the end of the day when you hear, “Let’s do one last run.” Listen to your body and if you’re feeling too much “burn and wobble” it’s time to enjoy some après ski activities.
For an actual exercise regime, you can always count on the tried and true walking lunges, wall squats, calf raises, pushups, sit ups, trunk rotations, quad stretches, and leg lifts. Additional exercises specific to skiing or boarding can be found online. If you have the benefit of a personal trainer, he or she can tailor a program to meet your needs. Like all new exercise programs start out slow and easy or you are going to be too sore and discouraged to continue. Again consult a trainer and remember that slow and steady wins the race.
If you decide that new equipment is a necessity and not a luxury, your next decision is whether to buy or rent. We have all experienced the nightmare of the slope side rental department. The assembly line approach, long lines, and the costs make renting ahead of time the way to go. Renting from Country Ski & Sport Inc. gives you more time on the slopes, better quality equipment, and more money in your pocket. You go to the mountain to ski, not stand in line. Another downside to renting at the mountain is that everyone is provided with essentially the same equipment causing a real nightmare when you go to the rack after a lunch or snack break and are unable to tell which set of skis are really yours or to find at the end of the day or vacation when it’s return time (yet another line and waiting) that you have the wrong set of equipment. Locally, Country Ski & Sport Inc. in Quincy, Hanson (on the Hanover Town line) and Westwood offer full service rentals of skis, boards, and snowshoes. This offers skiers who don’t own their equipment or who want to test some of newer equipment before buying an opportunity to do so. Renting locally like at Country Ski & Sport Inc. gives you a variety of equipment to choose from. One terrific program that Country Ski & Sport Offers is the “Junior Leasing Program.” Children grow so quickly that they could need new equipment each season, which can be very expensive especially if you are outfitting more than one child. At Country Ski & Sport, you can lease a full package of skis/bindings, boots, and poles for $109.00/season for “gently used” equipment and $159.00 to $199.00 for new equipment. Also go to their website countryski.com and learn about their lease benefit program where you get a $20.00 per season credit to purchase equipment when your child grows out of the program. The New equipment even comes with a free Adult lift ticket to Bretton Woods with no blackout dates. Another great service offered at Country Ski & Sport is discounted ski tickets to such mountains as Bretton Woods, Waterville Valley and Cranmore.
So as the leaves start their turn from green to a pallet of bright colors and that first bite of cold air crosses your path, THINK SNOW! Have a terrific season and give the knowledgeable staff at Country Ski & Sport in Quincy, Hanson (on Hanover Town line) and Westwood a call before you hit the slopes. Or simply go to countryski.com.