The Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Skier will take you on a seven-week spiritual journey as you develop the habits necessary to be best après-skier you can be!
Habit 7: Sharpen The Skis
Ski season has arrived. With each passing weekend, resorts across Utah begin spinning lifts and opening new terrain. While the current season is taking its sweet time getting up to speed, the skiing has actually been pretty good. Temperatures are low enough to keep the snowmaking crews working around the clock. I’ve even managed to get out and enjoy every inch of natural snow provided by Ullr.
Now is the perfect time to get out, make some turns and start fine-tuning your skills for the remainder of the season. We call this Sharpening the Skis
. Much like attempting to fell a tree with a dull saw blade, tackling a ski season with a dull set of skills is a waste of time. Sharpening the Skis
is the process of fine-tuning the preceding six Habits of Effective Skiers, while developing the Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual
skills of a skier.
Two of the first three Habits build the foundation of a skier’s Mental game. Being Pro-Active
reminds us to identify and emulate the skiers we look up to. While Put First Things First
helps us mentally prioritize our lives around skiing through the creation of an inspirational hashtag.
Sharpening the Skis
“Skiing is 90% mental, and the other half is physical” - Brogi Berra
gets us mentally prepared for the rigorous grind of a ski season. With so many moving parts to a ski day, it’s important to take the necessary steps to plan ahead and develop a system to be in the right place at the right time.
Here are a few of my favorite ski bum life hacks that will keep you mentally awake when powder panic sets in.
- Check forecasts and weather models relentlessly. Use the forecast to plan major life events. A true skier should always know the forecast and should have a pretty good idea what to expect for a minimum of two weeks into the future. Take care of life in-between storms. Arrange your work schedule accordingly.
- Read the avalanche forecast every day. It’s the only way to have a true understanding of a snowpack. If you’re only checking on the days you leave the resort, you’ll end up relying on what amounts to formulating a synopsis of a ski movie bases off a single frame.
- Make a checklist before leaving for the hill. I have a little mantra that goes: “Skis, boots, poles, gloves, goggle, helmet, jacket, pants.” I add a second verse on backcountry days: “Beacon, shovel, probe, backpack, skins, and water.” Nothing ruins a powder day faster than showing up the hill and realizing your boots are still at home.
- Speaking of boots, remember to take your them out of the car at the end of the day. Nothing worse than finding frozen boots in your car in the morning and blasting the feet heaters on the drive... well, aside from the whole forgetting-boots-at-home thing.
- Study Instagram relentlessly. Practice mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds anytime life gives you a few extra seconds. Do this to avoid those awkward moments when you start questioning what you’ve been doing with your life.
Habit Two, Begin With the End of the Season in Mind
, is all about the physical preparation necessary to survive a season on the slopes. Skiing and après-skiing are hard on the body. It’s important to get in shape and stay in shape during the season. Train your body to be able to withstand a bell-to-bell powder day, followed by a few pitchers, a couple shots, and a dinner of chicken fingers and fries, then do it all again on five hours of sleep. You should be able to survive on this program for up to a full week.
Do some yoga, buy a foam roller, and stretch wherever and whenever possible. You can’t afford a gym membership, so work with what you have. Here are a few tips
from the locals that literally requires nothing more than a box to do that ski body right. My go-to is the New York Times 7-Minute Workout
, a high-intensity workout you can do anywhere — even a the bar while you drink your Michelob Ultra.
Physical training isn’t limited to the human body. It’s also important to spend some quality intimate time with our gear. With a few days under our belts, we should have a pretty good idea on what we need from our skis and other gear. Now is the time to tune your equipment, checking for loose hardware, and give your skis some loving. Physical inspection and interaction with your ski gear is the only way to truly know your limitations, or lack thereof, on the hill. Next time you find yourself at the top of an exposed line, you’ll appreciate knowing your ski gear is dialed and your intimate connection with your gear will be present for everyone to see.
There are some great online resources for learning to take care of your ski gear. Don’t have time for that? Take your gear to you local ski shop. And don’t be afraid to bring the shop employees a six-pack and ask questions about gear. Who knows? You may end up with a free tune while you hang out.
Habit Four, Think Win-Win
, is all about developing an emotional connection to fellow skiers, while Habit Five, Communication via Après-Ski
is all about developing meaningful relationships in the mountains. Habit Six, Synergy - In Defense of the Shotski
, demonstrates how a collective effort can lead to a greater emotional connection for all.
As we learned in Habits Four, Five, and Six, an emotional connection is a big reason why we ski. We develop bonds, friendships and relationships around our love for skiing and being in the mountains. It’s important to commit to strengthening the bonds throughout the season. Reach out through social media and let other people know you enjoy what they’re doing. Buy someone a beer while après-skiing and listen to their story. Be socially active within the skiing community.A powder day doesn’t end after last chair. It’s not over until you post a banger pow photo and told everyone in the bar how much deeper the snow was where you were skiing.
Habit 7, Sharpening the Skis
, is what helps us develop a Spiritual connection with the mountains. Fine-tuning the previous six Habits and finding our place in the skiing universe. The search for connection with the Spiritual side of life is what causes so many of to base our lives around skiing. We move West, we leave our family, our friends, our comfy lives in order to experience a connection to something Spiritual, to belong to something bigger than our human bodies.
Skiers are a superstitious breed. We believe in karma, snow gods, rituals, and a bunch of other traditions that have been passed down from one generation of skiers to the next. We pray for snow before we pray for world peace. Because if everyone had fresh snow and skied, we would never know war.
Now is the time to dial in your personal Pray-For-Snow Rituals and put them to work. With Utah — and the rest of the west — currently dealing with a stubborn ridge of high pressure, we need to take matters into our own hands and make an offering to Ullr. My friends and I like to make offerings of selfless service to the Ski Utah Yeti. Here’s a few clips from last year’s offerings to the Yeti. By the time we finished dancing around a pair of burning skis, it started snowing and didn’t stop until February.