health

How to get fit: Try the world's most addictive sport.

The snow
Ohhhh look at that pretty mountain.

 

By NATALIA HAWK

Every year, from about June until October, I’m a bit of a write-off.

I love my job. I love the degree I’m doing at uni. I love my family, my friends and my partner.

But when the weather turns colder, all I can think about is snow. The fresh air and bitter chill that whips across your face when you step onto the ski field. The sound of the liftie’s shovels as they scrape snow off the chairlift landing. The first click into your skis, the first whoosh of a snowboard as it passes you on the hill. The powder runs, the mountain views, the taste of a cider when you sit down at the end of the day…

I am dangerously addicted to it all. Every last spare cent is spent on ski holidays, and warmer destinations are overlooked for the chillier parts of the southern hemisphere. I spend far too much time researching the benefits of different types of skis and keeping an eye on how many centimetres of snow have fallen on different mountains, regardless of whether I’m actually heading there or not.

I know the trail maps of Whistler. Both peaks. I’ve never even been to Whistler.

But the ski bug is a specially contagious kind, and when it bites you, it hangs on hard.

I’ve been skiing for the great majority of my life, and yet I’m still quite crap at it. I blame an extremely traumatic event for my setbacks; at the tender age of seven, I got lost while night-skiing in Canada with my parents. When we got home, they thought that hanging up a map of the ski field beside my bed would be a good idea. You know, to help get rid of the nightmares.

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Hint: it didn’t get rid of the nightmares. At all. But my mind was weak, and the skiing bug soon took hold again.

I know that school holidays have been and gone, and a lot of you might have already learned the below things the hard way. But maybe you haven’t been this season yet. Maybe you’re too late for this season but you’d like to check it out next year, maybe. Maybe you’ve vaguely always contemplated it but never committed to the idea.

I’ve decided to hijack this week’s fitness post to take you through the 5 things I think you should know about skiing, regardless of where you’re at:

Nat at the snow
Nat at the snow

1. Skiing is a sport…

Unless you plan to sit in the bar all day, drinking schnapps and wearing apres-ski boots… you will be skiing/snowboarding all day.

And this requires an amount of effort you may have underestimated. Even if you’re not shredding it down the black runs, simply falling over and getting back up again can be pretty damn tiring.

If you don’t want to be in a great deal of pain by the end of your holiday, and if you want to minimise your risk of injury – start training long before you’re set to get up on the mountain. You want cardio, you want strength workouts, and you want something like body balance or pilates. Do millions of squats and wall sits. MILLIONS.

Also, if you have Skins, consider wearing them instead of thermals under your ski gear – they’ll do much the same job but you won’t be so sore when you’re trying to roll out of bed the next morning.

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2. … it’s a really expensive sport.

This is approximately how much money you will need for a ski holiday: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

You’ll need transport. You’ll need accommodation either on-snow or in the town closest to the ski field. You’ll need lift passes for each day you’re on-mountain (average lift pass price in Aus is around $100/day) and lessons if you’re a first-timer. You’ll need ski gear – jackets, pants, boots, poles, helmets – buying it all can set you back thousands, renting isn’t particularly cheap either.

You’ll probably want to buy gloves, beanies, ski socks and goggles which is another couple hundred per person. And then there’s all the extra little costs you might not consider: chains for the car, national park passes, lunch up on the mountain (take out a mortgage, maybe), the stuffed abominable snowmen you have to buy for the kids to shut them up when they’re crying about how cold they are…

If you’re still determined to head to the snow – there are some amazing deals available if you get in early enough. And consider heading outside of Australia. Believe it or not, a 10-day snow trip to somewhere like Queenstown or Japan can end up being more cost-effective than a few weeks spent in Australian snow.

If all else fails, I hear Fiji is cheap. And warmer.

Oh heeeeeeey New Zealand.
Oh heeeeeeey New Zealand.

3. Layers, lockers and helmets are the keys to happiness

Layers because if it’s a sunny day, it’ll be damn hot when you’re coming down the ski slope but still cold when you’re going up the chairlift.

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Lockers because it’s somewhere to put your layers when you eventually get far too hot. Also, if you get a locker, you can bring a packed lunch and eat that instead of taking out a mortgage to buy a $10 serve of hot chips.

Helmets because even if you are the best skier in the world, someone else may very well come along and take you out. Also, trees really hurt when you accidentally run into them.

4. The day is over when your gloves get wet

Ski gloves have the power to make or break your day. And if you’re going to spend a decent amount of money on anything, make it a really good pair of ski gloves. Because when your gloves get wet… give up and go home. It’s almost impossible to have fun with wet gloves on, and many of my snow days have been cut early because I just can’t cope with the imminent frostbite on my fingers.

After a long glove-hunting process, I have ended up with an almost foolproof combination of leather-lined (leather is where it’s at!) ski mittens with a separate Kathmandu thermal inner lining glove. You can thank me later.

5. If you want to get the most out of your day – start early, finish early

Get up to the mountain early and be in line ready for the lifts to open. Get lunch at 11am and have the cafeteria to yourself. Then bail out an hour or so early to escape the rush that comes with all the chairlifts closing. It’ll make your day that little bit easier – especially if you have kids.

Anna Segal
Anna Segal

Plus some bonus tips from Anna Segal, the professional skier I interviewed for Sport on Saturdays yesterday:

– Don’t wear jeans

– Make sure you don’t wear cotton – wicking layers are better for the snow for when you begin to sweat. Think the kind of material you wear for a work-out at the gym.

– Wear sunscreen!

Are you a skier/snowboarder? What tips do you have for getting through a ski holiday?

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