Why Women Should Lift Weights

If you’re not lifting weights because you’re afraid you’re going to end up looking like this……..

Muscle-man

…..forget it. You have nothing to worry about. Most women don’t have the level of testosterone that’s needed to support a bulky physique. And any woman who does is probably supplementing with hormones.

Nonetheless, a lot of women don’t lift weights because they’re afraid they’re going to bulk up. Well, it’s time to set all that aside. Lifting weights is good for you. And here are a number of reasons why:

It’ll help you burn fat: One of the biggest benefits of  weight training is the effect it has on your body’s ability to burn fat during and after exercise. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. So, basically, muscles speed up your metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss.

You’ll improve bone health: Strength training is an excellent way to combat loss of bone mass, thereby decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. This is particularly important for postmenopausal women, whose bodies no longer secrete estrogen. When you perform a curl, for example, your muscles tug on your arm’s bones. The cells within those bones react by creating new bone cells  The result: your bones become stronger and more dense. Another great benefit: strengthening your muscles can also help improve balance and keep you as strong as possible which lowers the chance of a fall-related fracture.

You’ll decrease joint pain: Stronger muscles are better able to hold your joints in position, improving joint performance and decreasing pain. For example, research shows that weak thigh muscles can increase the risk of knee osteoarthritis. Even small increases in muscle strength can reduce that risk.

You’ll look better: Which would you rather have: a body that jiggles or one that’s tight and sculpted? Weight training can help you get the latter, creating curves and definition right where you want it. It can also help fight the effects of gravity, making you much less likely to have arm jiggle in your upper arms.

You’ll be mentally stronger: Weight lifting is empowering. When you challenge yourself, your confidence grows. And that can help you tackle stuff you never before thought possible.

women-lifting-weights

You’ll improve your heart health:  In an Appalachin State University study, people who performed 45 minutes of moderate-intensity resistance exercise lowered their blood pressure by up to 20% — a benefit equal to or surpassing that of taking anti-hyperintensive drugs. These effects persisted for about 30 minutes after the end of a training session and continued for as long as 24 hours in people who trained regularly — 30 to 45 minutes a few times a week.

You’ll have better control over your blood sugar: This is especially important if you have diabetes or risk factors. A study published on the Nature Medicine website in April, 2013, reported that weight training encourages the growth of white muscle, which helps lower blood glucose because it uses glucose for energy.

You’ll have more strength for skiing: (It always comes back to this, doesn’t it?) Skiing requires more than gravity to get you down the hill. You need lots of strength in your hips, glutes, and thighs to perform to your optimal level. And while you can get some of that through exercise like running or biking, weight training can help build the muscle strength you need and better protect you from the acute and overuse injuries that are too common in this sport. So when you’re getting ready for ski season, be sure to make weight training part of your fitness routine.

 



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Sashaying Through Summer.

It’s July 20, and you know what that means: if you figure on ski season starting November 15 — and I hope it does — that means we have 118 days left. That’s 3 months and 26 days. Or 2,832 hours. Or 169,920 minutes.

This is much better than it looked on April 13, my last day of the season. At that point, I had 216 days to go. Hey, I’m nearly halfway there! So things are looking up.

All the same, it isn’t easy for us ski addicts to make it through the long ski drought. So I thought I’d help with an on-line fashion show of sorts.

Introducing, for your viewing pleasure, TheSkiDiva Collection!

Okay, so I couldn’t afford to have Gisele Bundchen or one of those other grossly overpaid super-skinny supermodels  sashaying down the runway for us (did you know Gisele earned over $42 million in 2013? Holy crap, that’d buy a lot of skis). Instead, I can only rely on the headless torsos below — and your imagination. Picture yourself in one of these fabulous T-shirts:

Spirits

SkiLikeAGirl

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 6.03.24 PM

Don’t you look great?  Of course you do!

Or imagine grilling in this great apron:

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 6.36.50 PM

Or wearing this cap:

cap

And to complete your ensemble, our fabulous Ski Diva necklace and earrings, available in a variety of stones:

necklace

Earrings

And while you’re  got up in your new SkiDiva gear, how about a fun summer read? Might I suggest DOUBLE BLACK, a Ski Diva mystery that’d be great to read on the beach or along the pool. DOUBLE BLACK follows the adventures of Stacy Curtis, a young woman who moves to a small Vermont ski town to live the life of a ski bum, and stumbles into all sorts of exciting adventures:

Double Black

So where can you get all this stuff? Click on the photos above, and you’ll end up right where you can place your order. How convenient is that?

Happy summer. We can get through this.



Read full story · Comments { 2 }

Sexual Abuse Has No Place in Skiing

stop-sexual-abuse

Or in any other sport, for that matter.

Here’s why this is this week’s blog topic: Not long ago, I learned (via Unofficial Networks) that Bertrand Charest, a former Alpine Canada’s women’s development team coach, is facing 57 charges related to allegations of sexual misconduct:

[Charest] has been in custody since his arrest March 10 on accusations of sexual
assault and breach of trust involving 11 girls and young women under his tutelage between 1991 and 1998. The girls were between 12 and 19 years old at the time.

Radio-Canada has reported the mother of one teen tried to report Charest to
police in 1998, but she said she was counseled by Alpine Canada not to do anything.

The woman, whose daughter is not one of the complainants in the current
criminal case, said the organization told her it would deal with the matter and
advised her to not jeopardize the girl’s skiing career.

This is appalling for so many reasons: First, of course, that it happened at all, and not just once, but again and again and again. But for a mother to be discouraged from reporting the abuse to the authorities; and for the organization to tell her that reporting it could jeopardize her daughter’s race career; and for the mother to buy this sort of twisted logic and keep her mouth shut; well, consider my mind blown.

Okay, even if we don’t assume that Charest is guilty — after all, he’s only been charged, and like it or not, we have to be fair — there’s no doubt that sexual misconduct is something that occurs not only in skiing, but in all kinds of sports. There’s a definite power relationship between coaches and athletes, and there’ll always be some creep who’s going to take advantage of that dynamic.

So is there anything we can do to keep stuff like this from happening? Or do we just throw up our hands and walk away?

Sadly, there’s probably no way to eliminate sexual abuse entirely. But there are things that can make it a little less likely to happen.

First, we need to change the culture (I’m looking at you, Alpine Canada). Any organization in which reporting abuse is discouraged, in which you’re told to keep quiet instead of going to the authorities, is in dire need of a sea change. Instead, it needs to be replaced with a culture that has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct. All reports of abuse must be taken seriously, and all victims treated with the utmost respect and yes, given the encouragement and support they need to speak out. Also, organizations must have policies in place, both for dealing with abuse and for preventing it from occurring.  And everyone responsible — not just coaches, but volunteers, staff, and even other athletes — must be held accountable for misconduct.

But some of the change has to come on our end, too. We have to learn not only how to recognize the signs of abuse, but to give our children the confidence, and the permission, to say ‘no’ in no uncertain terms. Children who are assertive, who know appropriate behavior and know that no one has the right to touch them or to to have a sexual relationship with them, are much more likely to defend themselves. What’s more, we have to teach our kids that it’s okay to report anything unusual to a parent or another trusted adult, no matter who’s involved.

Here’s an interesting statistic: 90% of child targets are abused by someone they know and trust. Scary, isn’t it? So how do you know if abuse is occurring? Experts say that if the answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” there may be a problem. I found this on Momsteam.com, a website for sports parents, and thought I’d post it here:

  • Does your child’s coach make her feel like she needs him in order to succeed?
  • Does your child’s coach spend time with you in an attempt to win your trust or try to be a surrogate parent?
  • Does your child’s coach act differently with her when in front of others?
  • Does your child’s coach try to control her (even off the field)?
  • Does your child’s coach try to separate her from her teammates or other sources of support, like you or her friends?
  • Does your child’s coach spend a lot more time with her than with other athletes?
  • Does your child’s coach try to be alone with her?
  • Does your child’s coach give her gifts?
  • Does your child’s coach tell her not to talk about personal encounters the two of them have had?

Another great resource: Safe4Athletes.com. Safe4Athletes was founded by Katherine Starr, an elite swimmer who endured sexual abuse during her career without the benefit of any resources to fall back on. There’s lots of great info there, including what every athlete should know about sexual abuse, where to go for help, and more.



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

How much risk can you handle: On sharks and skiing.

SharkGrowing up on the Jersey Shore, I was totally freaked out by the movie Jaws. So I did what any self-respecting coward would do: I didn’t see it until I moved away. I loved swimming in the ocean, and I was afraid the Great White in the movie would scare me enough to keep me out of the water.

I know, it’s a movie, with very little science to back it up. But still, fear is very rarely rational.

This summer the people in North Carolina are going through their own version of Jaws. They’ve had  eight shark attacks since June 11. And as frightening as this sounds, it’s still very, very rare. According to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, our chances of being attacked by a shark are just one in 11.5 million. You’re more likely to be killed by a dog or a snake, or even in a car collision with a deer. You’re also 30 times more likely to be killed by lightning and three times more likely to drown.

All this made me think about risk, and how much we’re prepared to take on to do something we love.

Yes, there are accidents in sports. And yes, it is possible to lose your life — which is also something you risk every time you get in your car. The best you can do is make sure to take the proper safety precautions. For skiing, that means wearing a helmet, keeping your bindings and equipment adjusted properly and in good working order, being aware of your surroundings, skiing in control, and skiing in terrain appropriate to your ability.

I recently came upon a chart that compares fatality rates in a number of sports, and I thought it was interesting enough to post it here (it’s from Bandolier, an evidence-based journal on health care from the UK). Granted, some of the data is old, but still, worth looking at.

Sports risk

Skiing is pretty far down on the list.

From the same source, here’s another chart that compares fatalities in a number of sports with everyday activities.

Risk

 

Again, skiing is waaaaay down there.

Eye opening, isn’t it?

The bottom line is this: you can live your life wrapped in cotton and never do anything at all, or you can get out there, have fun, and do what you can to keep yourself safe.

Oh, and if you’re worried about sharks, here’s some recommended reading from the NY Times: Should swimmers worry about sharks?

 



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Celebrating the Fourth, Ski-Town Style

Fireworks over Vail Mountain

Fireworks over Vail Mountain

The biggest weekend of the summer is almost here, and I know what you’re thinking: I’d like to celebrate the Fourth of July in my favorite ski town, but I’m not sure what’s going on there. Can you help, Ski Diva?

Absolutely! Here’s a sampling of the festivities in some of our favorite ski towns across the country:

Okemo, Vermont:
Celebrate freedom and the holiday weekend with the best party of the summer. Okemo’s Jackson Gore Courtyard will be transformed into an all-American backyard barbecue with live music, games, a hot-dog-eating contest, frosty-cold beverages and fresh-from-the-grill burgers, hot dogs plus lots more. New activities this year include an inflatable water slide, a 65-foot inflatable challenge course and a combo bouncy house/slide.

Killington, Vermont:
The Killington Fire Department hosts the 4th of July party and fundraiser, featuring a parade, BBQ, pool party, fireworks and more at the River Road recreation fields. Start with a book sale at 9:00 AM followed by the parade at 10:00 AM. Enjoy the Fireman’s Barbeque cooked by the Fire Department and other volunteers.  There’ll be games and entertainment during the afternoon, and a fireworks show starting at 9:30 PM.

Stowe, Vermont:
Enjoy a multi-dimensional day-long extravaganza of food, music, entertainers, fireworks and more! Starting with the Moscow parade and ending with Stowe’s incredible annual fireworks display, this is a great day to spend in Stowe.

Lake Placid, New York:
The ever popular I Love BBQ and Music Festival will run this year from July 2 – 5. Come out and watch some of the best BBQ competitors in the country, taste their creations and listen to some awesome live music at this popular annual event. On July 4th there’ll be a parade and the blockbuster “Set the Night to Music” fireworks extravaganza!

Vail, Colorado:
A true summer celebration featuring exceptional entertainment including Vail’s celebrated 4th of July parade and fireworks. The parade will begin at Golden Peak at 10:00 a.m. on July 4 and will wind its way through the villages, ending in Lionshead. This year’s parade theme is Celebrate the USA! Great Moments in American History.

Aspen, Colorado:
Approximately 20,000 local residents and visitors come together to honor the nation’s birthday in true American style. Festivities include a parade, US. Airforce jet flyby, concerts, a kid’s bicycle rodeo, and spectacular fireworks over Aspen Mountain.

Breckenridge, Colorado:
Celebrate Independence Day with lively entertainment, free activities and dynamic family fun. Breck’s Independence Day celebration kicks off with a 10K trail run and continues throughout the day with the Firecracker 50 bike race leading the vibrant Fourth of July Parade on historic Main Street, July Arts Festival, live music, kids’ activities, concerts and so much more. End the night with the National Repertory Orchestra performing a patriotic concert at the Riverwalk Center followed by fireworks at 9:45pm.

Steamboat, Colorado:
Come celebrate the Fourth of July at the annual Jumpin’ & Jammin’ Competition and Community Party following the downtown Fourth of July parade on Saturday; head to Howelsen Hill to watch members of the US Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping National Teams as well as Gelunde jumpers on alpine skis soar off the HS75 meter jump!

Lake Tahoe, California:
The July 4th fireworks extravaganza is one of the most popular Independence Day celebrations in the West with 100,000 plus onlookers. The fireworks are launched from offshore barges and can be seen from all corners of town. South Shore offers convenient access to viewing areas via public transportation, paved bike trails, and nearby park and walk venues.

Sun Valley, Idaho:
The festivities begin with a parade at 10AM, and continue with a bike race, a kids’ carnival on the Main Street, a rodeo, and of course, fireworks at dusk.

Park City, Utah:
More than 70 floats make their way down historic Main Street for Park City’s famous 4th of July parade. Afternoon festivities include a beer garden, a free concert and plenty of tasty food vendors to get your fill. When dusk ascends on Park City, the sky is set ablaze with colorful fireworks.

Big Sky, Montana
Here you’ll find lots of community booths, children’s activities, lots of food, beverages, and live music capped by a firework finale.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming:
The day-long celebration includes a pancake breakfast, a 10K run, a parade, music, and fireworks.

 

Have fun, be safe, and remember, don’t drink and drive!

 

 



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Thanks, Dad.

A few weeks ago I posted a Mother’s Day tribute to all the ski moms out there. Which is only fitting, since TheSkiDiva is geared toward women skiers.

But since Father’s Day was this past Sunday, I thought it was only appropriate to give the Dads their due.

My Dad, in particular.

See, my Dad is the one who introduced me to skiing way back when I was 13. This was pretty amazing, since no one in my family had ever skied or even expressed any interest in skiing (it was an Olympic year, which might explain the sudden attraction). I grew up on the Jersey Shore, which is flat, flat, flat, and where the closest thing to skiing is surfing. Which isn’t really close at all.

But for my 13th birthday, my Dad took us all up to a small resort in the Catskills (that’s in New York state), where there was a small hill served by a rope tow.

It was dreadful.

Rope tows are evil torture devices invented primarily, I think, to encourage people to get off the beginner slope as quickly as possible. The rope absolutely shreds your gloves. And if you don’t keep your feet in the exact track of the skier ahead of you, you’re going to go down, baby. Even worse, if you’re like me and fall without letting go of the rope, you end up getting dragged a good distance before it occurs to you to drop the rope, idiot, and roll away so no one skis into you and there’s a nasty pile-up with you on the bottom, crying.

Suffice it to say I fell in both directions: up and down. I hated it. The only thing that kept going was sibling rivalry. My sister was better than I was, and damn it, I couldn’t allow that to continue. I learned the basics, and by the end of the weekend had (sort of) perfected a wobbly snowplow that got me down an incline not much steeper than a parking lot.

And yet I stuck it out.

Even after that weekend, I continued to ski with my Dad. We’d head to north Jersey (Great Gorge, Vernon Valley, Snow Bowl), New York State (Bellayre), even into Vermont (Mount Snow, Killington, Haystack, Hogback). And ever so gradually, my skiing improved until I was better than my sister — who, by the way, eventually gave up skiing and moved to Florida, where she complains it’s freezing if the thermometer dips below 60. Wimp.

My clearest memory of skiing with my Dad is the way he used to sing when we went up on the lift — corny songs at TOP VOLUME so that everyone, I thought, alllllllllllllll over the mountain could hear, laugh, and point. When you’re a teenager, this is devastatingly embarrassing.

My Dad doesn’t ski anymore. Like my sister, he lives in Florida, and while he’s in excellent health (knock on wood), he’s 92 and his knees aren’t what they used to be. This doesn’t stop him from swimming half a mile three or four times a week. The man is an absolute machine.

Still, what I wouldn’t give to ride up the lift with him and have him sing to me — even at TOP VOLUME — one more time.

So thanks Dad, for everything. You’re the best.

My Dad at Mount Snow, 1971

 



Read full story · Comments { 4 }

Separating Sunscreen Facts From Fiction.

When I was a kid growing up, I used to slather on baby oil and sit on the beach and roast. The idea, of course, was to achieve the “perfect tan.” But what I usually ended up with was the perfect burn, instead.

Yeah, I was a moron.

Now, of course, we know better. Sun exposure can cause all sorts of damage to your skin, not to mention contribute to skin cancer. And yes, it can cause premature wrinkles, and who wants that?

So when I saw this on CNN about common sunscreen “myths,” I knew I had to post it here.

sunscreen-cancer-ftrMyth No. 1: Sunscreen is all you need to stay safe.

Reality: “Sunscreen is only one part of the sun-protection picture,” explains Francesca Fusco, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “Just slathering it on and doing nothing else isn’t going to cut it because, even with sunscreen, there’s still up to a 50 percent risk that you’ll burn.”

You also need to seek shade between 10 AM and 4 PM, when sunlight is strongest; cover up with clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses; do regular skin self-exams; and get a professional skin evaluation annually.

Myth No. 2: SPF measures levels of protection against both UVB and UVA rays.

Reality: The SPF (sun protection factor) measures only the level of protection against UVB rays. But several of the 16 active ingredients approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in sunscreens also block or absorb UVA rays, says Warwick L. Morison, MD, professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins Medical School and chairman of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Photobiology Committee.

Ingredients include: avobenzone (Parsol 1789), octocrylene, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, as well as the recently approved Mexoryl SX. Make sure one of these is in your sunscreen, or look for products labeled “broad spectrum,” which means they protect against UVB and UVA rays.

Myth No. 3: Some sunscreens can protect all day.

Reality: “Regardless of the SPF or what the label says, sunscreens must be reapplied every two hours,” Fusco says. “The active ingredients in most products begin to break down when exposed to the sun.” Only physical blockers such as zinc oxide stay potent after two hours, but not all sunscreens are made with these ingredients.

Myth No. 4: Some sunscreens are waterproof.

Reality: The FDA does not recognize the term “waterproof,” so don’t count on sunscreen to last through hours of swimming. The agency does recognize “water/sweat/perspiration resistant” (which means a product offers SPF protection after 40 minutes of exposure to water) and “very water/sweat/perspiration resistant” (which means it still protects after 80 minutes). To be safe, reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating.

Myth No. 5: A sunscreen can provide “total sunblock.”

Reality: “No sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV rays,” Fusco says. An SPF 15 protects against 93 percent of UV rays, SPF 30 protects against 97 percent, and SPF 50 wards off 98 percent. You should slather two tablespoons on your body a half-hour before going outside, so the sunscreen has time to absorb into your skin.

All this is well and good. But there are an awful lot of sunscreens out there. Which one should you use?

Consumer Reports recently tested sunscreens from both large and small manufacturers. All had to have an SPF claim of at least 30, be broad spectrum (protect against both UVA and UVB rays), and be water-resistant. They considered cost, too.

Here are 7 they recommend:

  • Banana Boat’s Ultra Defense Max Skin Protect SPF 110 spray, at $1.75 an ounce.
  • BullFrog Water Armor Sport InstaCool SPF 50+ spray, at $1.67 an ounce. This was one of the two screens that lived up to its SPF claim.
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, at $1.38 an ounce.
  • Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF 70+ lotion, at $2.75 an ounce.
  • Target’s Up & Up Spray Sport SPF 50 spray, at $0.80 an ounce.
  • Walgreens’ Well Sport SPF 50 spray, at $1.58 an ounce
  • Walmart’s Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, at $0.56 an ounce.

And here are 13 they don’t:

  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sport SPF 45, at $2.75 an ounce.
  • Banana Boat Kids SPF 50, at $1.25 an ounce.
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance CoolZone SPF 30 spray, at $1.42 an ounce.
  • Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30, at $4 an ounce.
  • California Baby Super Sensitive SPF 30+, at $6.90 an ounce.
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin SPF 50, at $1.67 an ounce. This sunscreen lived up to its SPF claim, but only earned a “fair” rating for UVA protection.
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance SPF 30 spray, at $1.67 an ounce.
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple SPF 50, at $1.31 an ounce.
  • CVS Sheer Mist SPF 30 spray, at $1.80 an ounce.
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 30 spray, at $1.90 an ounce.
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50, at $0.63 an ounce.
  • Target’s Up & Up Kids SPF 50, at $0.64 an ounce.
  • Walgreens’ Well Baby SPF 50, at $0.80 an ounce.

Consumer Reports recommends applying all sunscreens at least 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. And they say to use spray sunscreens carefully. The FDA is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens, but until the results are known, they recommend not using them on children, and not spraying them directly on your face. Instead, spray them on your hands then apply. Sprays are flammable, so let them dry before going near an open flame.

Whew. And you thought sunscreen was easy. But the bottom line is this: no sunscreen will work if you don’t use it. So apply frequently, be careful of the sun, and be safe out there.



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

My Year of Going Without.

woman-sitting-with-shopping-bags

Before I get started, let me make one thing clear: this is not for everyone. What’s more, I certainly wouldn’t want you to abstain from buying anything from the many companies that advertise on the TheSkiDiva.com. Please, if you want or need something, by all means, click on our advertisers’ ads and buy lots of stuff. It helps support the site.

What I want to talk about here is pretty much the antithesis of the Gear Addiction and Jacket Slut threads we’ve had on forum. Because now that the year is half over, I thought I’d come clean: I made a resolution to not buy anything for myself in 2015.

Why? Well, two reasons: First, I just wanted to see whether or not I could do it. I have a friend who went 12 months without drinking any alcohol, and this seemed like an interesting twist on that. And second, I already have a ton of stuff. And not just ski stuff. I have a closet full of shirts/sweaters/pants/shoes/you name it. My decision is more a reaction to consumerism and a move toward simplification (you have to read this article about the incredible amount of crap we actually own). I mean, do we really need five or six ski jackets? Or that fleece we see on the internet? Probably not. We could definitely all make do with less.

People have asked if this includes things like cable and hair cuts and things like that. No. It’s a not-buy-anything-that-I-don’t-think-is-a-necessity challenge. I’m not trying to do without everything and live like a monk in a cell. I’m just trying to reduce the amount of stuff I accumulate, at least for a year. What does it include? Clothing, shoes, sports equipment (including ski gear, except for ski boots for which I made an exception going in), and any discretionary spending for stuff (like books, jewelry, etc). Not included? Food, eating out, hair appointments, toiletries, gym membership, cable and/or internet, phone, and of course, my season lift pass.

My biggest challenge has been books. I love to read, but our local library isn’t the best, so in the past I’ve had to buy whatever I was interested in. As a solution, I’ve been using the library in my daughter’s town. Even though it’s 4 hours away, they let you take out books for four weeks, so I’m pretty safe since I usually see her once a month. And I can download ebooks online.

Reaction has been funny. My mother is aghast — though I’m not exactly sure why; maybe she thinks I’m depriving myself for no reason  — and other people have said it’s a good idea but they could never do it themselves. To be honest, I think they’d be surprised by how easy it actually is.

Have I been tempted? A bit, but I’m really not a huge shopper, and living where there are few stores and no shopping malls makes it pretty easy not to buy things. The hardest part so far has been avoiding all the end-of-the-season sales in the ski shops and on line.

I’ve had great trepidation about making this public. Manufacturers of ski gear and apparel, whom I strongly support, thrive on selling people the latest and the greatest. There’s a new technology for skis? You gotta have it. Warmer, lighter weight jackets? Oh, baby, I’m all for it.  It’s just that right now, I’m good. So I’m taking some time off.

One more thing: By doing this, I’m not passing judgement on anyone’s decisions to buy whatever they like. This is just something I’m doing for me, because I’m in a place now that makes it possible, both emotionally and materially. Once the year is up, there’s no telling what I’ll do. :smile:

So here we are: six months down, six more to go. Will I make it? Stay tuned. But I’m pretty sure I will.

 



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Keeping in Shape for Skiing: Y Not Yoga?

A few weeks ago I attended a class at Sun Yoga, a yoga studio owned by a friend of mine in Tampa, Florida.

For me, this was out of the ordinary. Sure, I’m an active person, and though I stretch a bit after my workout (when I remember to), yoga just isn’t part of my regular routine.

Maybe I should re-think that. Because the class I went to was pretty great. My friend, Debra Fullerton, is an amazing instructor (if you’re in the Tampa area, I strongly recommend giving her a try), and really, it was a terrific workout. And though I thought I was in pretty good shape, some of the muscles I used in the class begged to differ and complained to me about it the following day.

Karen Dalury Killington Yoga

Karen Dalury
Killington Yoga

What does this have to do with skiing? Everything. Because after I returned home to Vermont, I got in touch with Karen Dalury at Killington Yoga. An instructor at Killington Ski Resort, Karen has a yoga studio that’s just a few miles from the mountain. And while she sees yoga as a great way to stay fit in a general sense, she especially advocates it as a way to condition your body for the ski season to come.

I recently spoke to her about how she sees yoga fitting into a ski conditioning program.

Q: So tell me about yourself, Karen. How long have you been teaching?
A: I’ve been teaching yoga since about 1990 and practicing it a lot longer than that. Initially I got into yoga because of the spiritual aspect; I found it looked at things in an interesting way. But what kept me with it is its physical benefits. I’m an active person and I’d like to remain that way. I’ve had a lot of back issues over the years, and yoga helps keep me going. I ski every day in the winter; I’m an instructor at Killington and I work for PSIA. I’m a telemark professional, though I teach alpine as well. So I do yoga year round.

Q: So why is yoga good for skiing?
A: Skiing is a physically demanding sport. We’re asking a lot of ourselves out there. I see that a lot, even with my co-instructors who want to attain higher levels of achievement or certification. What’s holding them back? Their bodies. They can’t physically do what they need to do. For example, when you ski, you need to create angles with your knees, your hips and your spine, and you need to maintain dynamic balance. They can’t do that. Their hips are too tight, or they don’t have the range of motion they need to get to the next level. Yoga is key. It’s not just stretching; it’s a very dynamic practice. What many people don’t realize is that being fit for skiing isn’t just about being strong. In the past I’ve said to myself ‘this is the winter I’m going to get my legs and core super strong,’ and all I’ve ended up doing is injuring myself, and that sets me back. So literally, all I do now for fitness is yoga. Oh, and I stand up paddle board, too.

What’s so great about yoga is that it takes your body through complete range of motion and builds strength at the same time in a wide range of angles or positions. For instance, the hips are meant to be able to flex, extend, and rotate, and move out this way and that way. But once you get to be about thirty, you lose some of that if you don’t work on it. And just being flexible alone isn’t enough. You need to have stability, too, so you don’t injure yourself. What yoga does is build suppleness and stability at the same time so you’re balanced. I can do things on the mountain that many of my cohorts can’t because I have more range of motion for someone my age.

Q: Does yoga benefit skiers in any other way?
A: Absolutely. Yoga helps you achieve better focus and stay present. When I ski, I’m consciously, consistently practicing breath control and focus. When you’re in a mogul field, for example, you need to look ahead so you know what’s coming. But you also need to stay in the present and not think too much. If you’re skiing fast, you better be in the moment and you better be focused. And if you’re in a fearful situation, yoga can help with that, too. You can literally change the way you feel and your body’s chemical reaction by changing the way you breathe. A few cleansing breaths and focusing on the moment can be a big help. Yoga is like a super power, but it has to be practiced and developed. When you’re standing at the top of that gnarly run isn’t the time to start. That’s where you want to call on the skills that yoga helps develop. You have to work on them before you get there. And you can build those skills during the off season.

Q: So how should yoga fit into a ski conditioning program?
A: Yoga is not a quick fix. Starting it now would be beneficial. After all, good things take time. I find that in the winter when I’m skiing each day, my yoga practice is just maintenance. The summer is when I can really improve and get to the next level. It’s not about putting your feet behind your head, it’s about reclaiming your freedom in your body.

Q: What type of yoga do you do?
A: I don’t teach just one kind of yoga. I teach many different styles, though right now I’m predominately into the alignment based styles. I teach a slow style which is mellow and patient and I’m finding it’s more the sort of yoga I need. It lets the joints unravel, rather than actively stretch. There’s something for everyone. You just have to find the yoga style that works for you.

Karen strikes a pose.

Karen strikes a yoga pose.

 



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Memorial Day, Ski Style

10th Mountain Division, WWII, Camp Hale, CO

10th Mountain Division,
WWII, Camp Hale, CO

Most people celebrate Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. Swimming, boating, picnics, you get the picture. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But let’s not lose sight of the holiday’s original intent: to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for our country. Those like the men of the Tenth Mountain Division, who served in combat for only four months during World War II, yet who suffered the highest casualty rate of any US division in the Mediterranean.

Started as an experiment to train soldiers to fight in the most difficult, mountainous terrain in Europe, the Tenth trained at Camp Hale, Colorado, 17 miles north of Leadville. The camp, which lay at 9,300 feet, had four trails and the longest T-Bar in the country. Troops were taught to ski, snowshoe, and climb with packs and rifles as well as survive in the most brutal winter conditions. They lived in the mountains for weeks at a time, working in altitudes up to 13,500 feet, in five to six feet of snow and in temperatures that dropped to 20 degrees below zero at night.

All this well before the advent of today’s technical fabrics.

After training for two years, the Tenth participated in a series of actions that played a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. The Division breached the supposedly impregnable Gothic Line in the Apennines and secured the Po River Valley. By the time the Germans surrendered in May 1945, 992 ski troopers had lost their lives and 4,000 were wounded.

After the war, veterans of the Tenth became the backbone of the postwar American ski boom. Monty Atwater, for example, went to Alta, Utah, where he established the first explosive avalanche control system. Friedl Pfeifer designed Aspen Mountain, started Aspen’s ski school, and ran the first racing circuit. And Pete Seibert became a member of the 1948 Olympic team and founded Vail.

The sacrifices and contributions of the men of the Tenth can not be denied. So this Memorial Day week, while you’re swimming and picnicing and welcoming in the summer season, take a minute to salute the Tenth, along with the many other veterans of our Armed Forces. Remember, they fought for you.

* This post originaly appeared in May, 2010. But some things are worth re-running. :)



Read full story · Comments { 0 }