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It is typical to take a hiatus from skiing however much you are in love with the sport. Some people take longer breaks. As long as 10 or 20 years, only to make a comeback in their late forties or fifties. This is not out of the ordinary. Phil Mahre, the renowned skier in America’s history made a come back to skiing at the age of 50 in 2007 after around 30 years, so yes it happens and it is possible to be the star and enjoy skiing as much as you used to during your early years.
There are issues to deal with though. Your body structure (mostly your weight and muscles), your outdated skiing equipment, your now rusty skill, and more. Yet with all these, if you held skiing close to your heart, there is no stopping for any reason whatsoever. Let’s take a look at how to make a successful comeback to skiing after taking some time, long or short, off.
Here are some crucial issues that you will have to deal with:
Quite frankly, skiing equipment and gear have evolved and fast. Riding on the same equipment you had then, takes you back in time obviously but puts you at a great disadvantage. Question is, do you even have them all? For instance goggles and helmets were unheard of back then. Today, they are as crucial as your safety out in the snow.
Skis and poles
Well, skis may not have changed much but some tuning and waxing will set them up for an epic performance. On the other hand, if you don’t have them for some reason, try renting first before you decide to make a purchase. This will help you try out different ski brands to settle on the best when eventually you decide to get yourself a pair.
Bindings go with weight and it’s a cinch you have added some since you last skied. It is advisable to have them checked if they can still support you comfortably without risking your safety. Secondly, you need to find out if they are still in a good working condition or too old to guarantee your safety out in the snow.
Try them on if you still have them and make sure that they still fit as comfortably as they used to. Otherwise, you may need to rent or purchase a new pair. Good news is that the size of your feet doesn’t change much after a certain age, therefore, you are most likely able to use them if they are not worn out.
If you are into downhill skiing, check out the list of best downhill ski boots we have compiled.
You may or may have not had a helmet. Point is, your safety is more important so if you do not have one look around for a good-fitting, warm, and comfortable helmet. This shouldn’t be a big challenge but make sure you get one with most if not all the features that are important to you. These include design, vents, brim, compatibility with goggles, material and other important extras.
The most important feature to consider is compatibility with your helmet. After this consider the field of view, lenses (because they vary), style, and other features that matter to you. Here is our list of best ski goggles.
Consider pants, jackets, and the pair of socks that will give you maximum comfort without compromising warmth. Rule of thumb is, the lighter the better for you. This is because you can always opt for base layers in extreme conditions. Also remember that much as you need to keep warm, staying dry, well ventilated and insulated is important. When considering base layers, avoid cotton material by all means because it has poor breathability and waterproof properties. Instead, go for wool or synthetic fabric. In addition, get thinner socks, if possible two pairs. They wick moisture away and not as cold as you may have imagined.
Some refresher training
Even for those that consider themselves experts, some time away from skiing is bound to get one’s skills rusty. The good thing about skiing is that you hardly ever forget the skill. Consider getting some training to remind yourself of the basics before hitting the snow.
Get a certified instructor to help you brush up on your skiing skills. If you had one before you took a break, it’s time to consider paying them a visit to discuss how to help you get back on the mountains. After all, you need just 1-2 weeks to sharpen your rusty skills. Whether its piste or off-piste riding or powder riding, you need the input of a qualified instructor to get you back on safely and surely. You will even benefit from some new tips and tricks that you were not aware of before.
Your personal effort also plays an important role in building your skill, muscle, and confidence. Rather than joining the veterans who have been at it all these while and feeling out of place, try the simple water skiing, wind sprints or dryland training in general. The idea here is to start slow and pick up later after mastering the art (once again!).
The benefit of time
You may have been a pro back then, gliding off the surface the whole day without your body feeling the impact. Truth is, times have changed and your body too. Your weight is perhaps more than what it was and your muscles respond differently to such high-energy sports on expert terrain.
Take it slow
You could start by going half a day on low-level skiing the first few days then warm up gradually. A gradual beginning helps you to stay safe and to know the limits that you will be working with as you continue.
Secondly, don’t wait for the season to hit its climax and everyone is out on the ground to go skiing. You’ll get discouraged too soon when you notice others gliding past you effortlessly. First, it will prove a little difficult to remaster your skill during this time. Secondly, conditions like thick fog will make the environment too unfriendly for you to learn in. Starting slowly also means going skiing during the low season in friendly snow and weather conditions.
Choice of destination
If you are one of those who has taken long breaks, you’ll realize that skiing resorts have also changed. Back then, it was as simple as heading to the counter, paying up, and hitting the snow alone or in a pack. Today there is everything different. Discounts are available from online ticket sites that you can take advantage of to ease the burden on your wallet. Planning and advanced booking are more important than they were before and there is a price implication to these.
Secondly, you want a destination that will accommodate your ‘beginner’ level. Look out for blue and red ski runs for starters then you can work on getting back to your original level. Thereafter, you can consider venturing into steeper and more challenging slopes for longer periods. Also, consider smaller ski resorts as opposed to the larger more popular ones. Reason being that larger resorts tend to be crowded hence slowing down your learning.
Tips and tricks
- Starting slowly on a low level cannot be overemphasized. There is a safety angle to this valuable tip. In addition, it gives you the time to learn faster, build confidence, and overcome your initial hesitation.
- Start by mastering how to skid with your skis, balancing your body on the outside ski, turning, as well as relaxing throughout.
- Flex your ankles with light stretches and boot exercises for about 10 minutes before venturing out. This will help activate your ankle joints and build their strength in readiness for the activity ahead.
- While you are bound to concentrate so much on grasping skills and this is perfectly okay, try having some fun while at it. Look around you, marvel at the beautiful scenery, interact and share experiences with others on the ground. After all, skiing is meant to be a fun-filled activity.
- While on the mountains, start by warming up with a few easy runs on your skis, then do some aerobics with your skis off. This helps strengthen your leg, arm, hip, and knee muscles.
- Make sure that you are always hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids. It is important to note that in higher altitudes the human body dehydrates faster because the air becomes drier at this level.
- It’s good to have some energy bars and drinks stored away in your backpack because while on the slopes you will need to replenish your energy from time to time before you settle down to a serious meal.
- Master your limits and work with them. Typically, pistes tend to be icy at the start of the season and slushy towards the end. Knowing your ability helps you to plan a workable program around these conditions so that you don’t ski to irreparable exhaustion or expose yourself to the risk of injury. Never push yourself beyond your fatigue levels.
- Spare some little energy to do some stretches when you are done for the day to keep your muscles in check. A 20-40 minutes stretch is enough to keep you feeling relaxed and energized.
- Finally, reward yourself after every little achievement. This is the best way to motivate yourself as you go from level to level in skiing. It doesn’t have to be something big. A small party with your close friends, a dinner treat, or a visit to the spa just does it especially since you will be having some spare time.
Ready to take it to the next level?
By now you have probably regained you skill and are back to where you were before you took a break from skiing. Is it time to take your skiing to the next level? There is always a point at which you feel ready to take on a higher challenge.
Below are indications that you should consider taking your skiing to the next level:
- You have met all the skiing goals you set and going over them seems pretty much normal to you.
- You can now take more time on the slopes without your body giving in fast to fatigue.
- You are constantly trying out something new you have seen others do.
- You concentrate less on perfecting your former skills and more on higher challenges.
- You feel confident and excited about trying a new trail.
- You have mastered speed control and learned how to stop consistently.
Skiing is exhilarating, there is no doubt about that. However, it is normal to take a break and get back at it. If you have taken a long time off skiing, it may not be easy resuming but your passion for the sport beats all logic. Take your time, prepare well, go in it to have some fun and learn as much as you can and soon enough, you will have perfected your former skills and even gone beyond.