Skiers tire themselves out by trying to pack too much skiing into their weekends. (A survey by U.S. instructors revealed that, on the average, American skiers—largely students, housewives and office workers—run a total of 15 miles on downhill trails per day!) Then they tire themselves by going on steep trails where they fall, get up, and use four times the energy they would on a safe, successful run on a trail their own speed. Finally, they ignore the rules of preparation and of conserving energy.
As a result their reflexes are slowed, their sense of balance dulled and their chances of injury doubled. This does not mean, however, that the average weekender cannot spend a full day on the slope. Quite the contrary. Below I have outlined the nine best ways to save energy so that any intermediate can make 15 downhill miles per day.
ONE: Take on a regular set of exercises such as those in my article (SI, Nov. 25, 1957) or the Bonnie Prudden series. Then keep doing exercises right through the season.
TWO: Fuel up for the day by eating a good breakfast. This means juice, eggs or meat, toast and milk, at a minimum. Hot cereal, too, if you have room.
THREE: Warm up before your first run. A half dozen toe touches, side bends and knee bends, plus three minutes of climbing uphill on your skis will limber your muscles and stimulate your circulation so that you are loose and confident for the first run.
FOUR: Take ski lessons. Keep taking lessons until you can ski the beginner slopes well. Then take some more until you can ski the intermediate slopes well. Until you are a good intermediate, you need classes to teach you the proper place and pace for your ability. No good instructor overtires his class.
FIVE: Skiing out of class, use judgment in picking trails. If you don't, you lose your confidence and with it your technique. So save your main workouts for slopes that give you no trouble. This way you can concentrate on style. When you feel confident, take on a slightly harder slope, still trying for style. Finally, go back-to the easy slope for your last runs. And remember, everyone should expect to take a few falls during the day. However, if you fall often during each run, take a lesson. You can learn much more in a class than you can digging your way out of the woods bordering the expert trails.
SIX: Once a morning and once an afternoon, stop, take off your skis, and sit down to a warm drink—bouillon, coffee or tea with plenty of sugar, or hot chocolate. I favor tea laced with honey or sugar; and I find the next run after a tea break is twice as much fun as two runs on tired legs would have been.
SEVEN: Make lunch a project. Take a full hour but don't overeat. A big load of bread or French fries can get very heavy about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Instead, concentrate on hot, bland, nongreasy, high-energy foods like bouillon, broth, chicken or other tender meat, raisins, dates, oranges, ice cream; and drink some Coke, tea, milk or hot chocolate. For an added lift, eat a candy bar. Leave your flask at home: liquor leaves you tired and cold. After your meal, take a rest, seated or lying down, for 15 minutes. A one-hour lunch break can add two hours to the time you ski well during the day.
EIGHT: When you think you have just enough strength left for one more run, don't take that run. More people are hurt on the last-gasp run than on any other.