New year, new ski season. But few things, if any, can really get you into shape to ride for the winter. Cycling, running, fitness classes, and everything else under the sun that raises your heart’s BPM simply don't cut it. Most tips for preparing to snowboard are often physical fitness tips that focus on only one aspect of the snowboarding experience, while I’ve found that testing the mind, body and spirit are all musts. Yet after 20 years of snowboarding, making it a professional career, and having an obsession with wellness, I've found that there is simply nothing that fully prepares for the first day of riding except actually riding!
Nonetheless, I'm bringing you seven ways to get ready to ride this ski season that have never led me wrong:
1. Update your gear. Bring the 'ole winter wardrobe out of the closet and see what needs tuning, or in many cases, winter gear that needs replacing. Odds are that there’s something in need of some TLC, but more than anything, this will make winter all the more real — it's a great place to start getting excited for the winter season.
2. Bookmark NorthstarCalifornia.com. I personally like to bookmark the web cams and snow report pages. If you don't live in the mountains, it’s hard to imagine what the conditions are actually like up in Lake Tahoe. Yet having access to up-to-date web cams and snow reports eases the anxiety of questions like, "Did it snow?” and “What runs are open?”. A quick check every morning or evening is a daily dose of stoke for the upcoming day trip or weekend getaway.
3. Plan for which type of riding you want to do. The main categories of snowboarding are freeriding and freestyle, which breaks down to groomed trails, terrain parks, and powder. While the perfect day may be a cocktail of all three, often the conditions and your snowboard gear will gravitate towards one or two of the three. When you update your gear and plan your Northstar visit, consider which discipline you want to indulge in and how the time of season, snow conditions, and your equipment enables you to do that.
4. Go to a local snowboard movie premiere. Literally, there is no excitement more high-octane than getting swept up in the marvel of snowboard cinematography. From exotic mountain ranges to top-notch riding, viewing a snowboard movie with a crowd of snowboarders is not unlike awaiting your favorite band at your favorite concert hall. With beer (or any beverage) in hand, who’s who in the crowd, and arousing snow-centered conversations galore, events like a snowboard movie premiere (or film festival) are not to be missed in anticipation of your snowboarding season.
5. Get in snowboard shape. This article would be incomplete without reference to a strong workout program. As stated above, readying the mind, body, and spirit are all musts to be fully outfitted for a terrific season. As such, there are many great drills, exercises, and group classes you can take. If you live in the high country, then many local gyms provide classes geared for winter activities. Nonetheless, I recommend a number of different exercises, such as dumbbells for core strength and balance, Olympic squats for lower body power, and a hardcore cardio routine to expand the lungs for that 8400’ summit! As a footnote, don’t be afraid of yoga for flexibility and to prevent injury.
6. Convince your friends to purchase season passes. What is the only way to make riding better than it already is? Do it with someone else. Having a friend to progress, après-ski, and later, spin tall tales with is mandatory for the season of a lifetime — and mandatory in keeping you accountable to logging as many vertical feet as possible!
7. Take at least one day trip during early season. I’ve addressed all I can to prepare you for the season, except actually starting the season. They say the hardest thing to do is begin, but not with snowboarding. Get a day trip in as soon as possible, as it will provide the momentum you’ll need to not stop until the snow does!
Photos by Nick Visconti & Paul Heran