Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ski day 14: A little hard
work never killed anyone

Hard work on the slopes is much better than hard work at the office, don't you think?

In a move that will probably astound responsible and compassionate parents everywhere, Husband and I deposited a sick Sophie at her grandmother's and took off Monday for a single-day assault on Kirkwood. We set the alarm for 5:00 a.m., confirmed that the Carson Spur was open, and were off. The Sierras had received a pretty good dump of snow, so we had that California combination of good snow and blue skis.

I find Kirkwood sort of annoying because I often feel like I spend the most of the day on a chair lift. There's not many high speed detachables, with many lifts being fairly slow and often short. Why else would so many people be taking off their skis and hiking to get to the good stuff?

They reminded me of this picture of prospective miners heading over the Chilkoot Pass during the Alaskan gold rush.

Anywhoo, what stood out on this trip is that I listened to advice from one of my favorite bloggers, KatieGirlBlue over at The Wasatch Report, who encouraged me on a previous trip to ski hard. And so I did, damnit. I've been sort of down on my skiing lately. Here's the problem: It was scheduled to be a big breakthrough year for me. Husband gifted me with a three-day all-women's ski clinic at Squaw for Christmas, and this was supposed to solve all my ski problems (terrain, bumps, crud). But the whole thing received a few setbacks, in addition to my general age. I had pneumonia right before Christmas, leaving me hacking and spitting down even the groomers. We had no snow and very hard-packed conditions for my class, which means we stuck mostly to the groomers. And then I had my big motor scooter crasheroo, which messed up my knee. I could still ski but stuck to groomers to avoid twisting it and causing further injury. You see common denominator here: GROOMERS. I am Queen of the Groomers, which is not what I want to be. I want to improve and be able to ski on snow as it falls from the sky, not as a machine prepares it for me.

So I skied hard. Husband and I took an intermediate groomer off Solitude for the first run and then headed over to Cornice Express where I totally hacked my way in the most embarrassing mess down an advanced ungroomed run. I was clearly having a head problem, so Husband cut me loose and went over to take a few runs down The Wall. I went back to Solitude, did a groomer off that and decided that was just not what I wanted to be doing. For once I had no kids to keep track of and no friends to either wait for or keep up with, so I decided this would be a work day, reasoning that I have had enough fun already and could have more later. So I went back up Cornice and did the run that gave me trouble again. And again. And again. And it got a little easier every time. And the work started being fun.

I didn't ski that run all day because some friends showed up and Husband came back to fetch me to ski with them, but I did it a lot more than I really wanted to. And later in the day I skied mostly ungroomed runs too, even when there was a groomer available. I'm not saying I'm good at this stuff, but it's a step in the right direction.

Something else that was a little different is that Husband and I went up just the two of us instead of with an entourage requiring elaborately planned carpools and accommodation arrangements. We were both a little down: he with his work situation and me after being cooped up with a sick child and rainy weather for three days. The day provided the space and attitude adjustment we both needed and was a nice reminder that we're more than just house partners and parents of the same great kid. We're best friends and ski buddies.


Anonymous said...

Lovely! Sounds like a much needed break.

Red Flashlight said...

Your knees will thank you if you take a pre-ski weightlifting class. Or you can skip the class and do about two months of leg-press, squats, and lunges before ski season starts. Having muscle mass in your legs will protect your injured knee and you will break away from the groomers with ease! Bonus: you can eat whatever you want when you're burning it off in the gym. :)

KatieGirlBlue said...

I second the call for squats. Seriously, the more squats you do, the stronger the muscles around your knees are, and the longer and harder you can ski/run/climb/polka pain-free. I try to keep my routine varied: no squats on long run days, but I do work them into track workouts. Just make sure your weight is in your heels (to the point that your toes come off the floor). That way you're protecting your knees.

So glad you had a good ski day! Groomers rule. Seriously, unless I'm in the backcountry, I stick to the groomed slopes. I think carving is more fun than wallowing.

Jen Yu said...

I like the pow - it hurts less when I biff and the nice silky under foot is like... amazing. But groomers are fun too for precisely what KGB said: carving. funnnnnn.

Good on ya for sticking to the hard runs. I know this will sound insane, but I actually have fewer pains in my joints from tele than I did from alpine. And I think I'm much stronger muscle-wise too. Ever thought of trying tele? If you do - take a class, I swear it will be much easier that way. Most of the dudes you see who tele are doing it wrong anyway - which might be why it looks so hard, cause they're morons ;)

Glad the little one is better. Bummer that the big one is down for the count :( Fingers crossed that you don't get sick!