Whether you were roller skiing all summer, or haven’t touched your skis since March, getting back on snow can be really difficult. Skis are known for being hard to balance on, and this will be obvious every fall or early winter. To make this transition better, here are some steps that will help ease the transition. (These don’t involve gear prep, that’s a whole other can of worms).
1. Dryland Balance
This doesn’t have to be a massive endeavor, but spending some time reacquainting yourself with single-leg balancing will help a lot with your first ski. For myself, I like to find something wobbly (like a bosu ball or slackline) and just get comfortable in a basic athletic position, similar to one you’d ski in. I keep this up for the first few weeks of skiing, until I really feel comfortable. This is a good exercise to continue always, but for the transition to snow, it’s especially important.
2. Go Easy
This may sound obvious, but getting back on snow is so exciting, it’s hard to not just go L2 (or L3) and really feel like you’re cruising. Going L2 isn’t the worst thing in the world, but skiing on snow is hard enough as it is, and if you spent your first few skis back going just 10% too hard, you’ll quickly need to recover a lot more than you’d like. This can be a problem if that fatigue compromises those first intervals or races. Going easy also lets you focus more on the fundamental technical movements that you need to move forward with the finer details of snow technique.
I think the most helpful thing for dialing in technique at the beginning is to see yourself skiing on video. Get a coach or a friend to take a quick video so you can see anything weird you’re doing. Trust me, you might be surprised. Seeing that stuff makes it a lot easier to change it, so take that time to get a quick video or two, and you can make much faster improvements. Another way to make sure you start with good technique is to not make your first skis too long. I know this can be hard, especially if you’re traveling a long way for snow, but it’s possible to take a step back in your technique if you’re too tired. Fatigued muscles are going to struggle a lot to do those good movements, so be patient and ski feeling fresh.
4. First Intervals
Once you have a couple hours under your belt, and you feel solidly comfortable, those first intervals are on the menu! These are huge for making more technical improvements, and getting more comfortable at higher speeds. A good rule of thumb for these is to go shorter and easier than you think you should, because a lot of the benefit of these is still neuromuscular; you’re still teaching yourself how to move well on skis again. I like to do 3-4 times 8-10 minutes of L3, and really focus on smooth skiing with a lot of gliding. Again, the focus is not necessarily a fitness boost, but those muscles will definitely feel it afterwards, even if you’re skiing very controlled. Eventually, we need to race, so those intervals will get harder, but at the beginning, don’t stress the speed too much and make sure you’re moving well.
I hope everyone can get on snow as soon as possible, but if not, don’t worry, your time will come, and you can still prepare with balance exercises and roller skiing if you so dare.
Thanks for reading and enjoy WINTER!!