I simply can’t put into words how excited I am to be back in the Methow for the upcoming winter. Some people anxiously await the first songbird of spring, a harbinger of warmer and longer days, blooming flowers and short sleeves. Me? I do backflips when Mt. Gardner gets its first dusting of snow in October, and obsessively begin waxing my skis well before tracks are cut into the season’s first snowfall on the Valley floor. And I’m not alone – you know who you are!

Following the snow down from the mountains - early-season tracks at Klipchuck Campground off highway 20

Following the snow down from the mountains - early-season tracks at Klipchuck Campground off highway 20

While getting back on skis for the first team each season may feel as familiar as riding a bike, sometimes it’s, well, not. Nordic skiing is a technique-based sport and stepping away from it for 6-8 months each year means those ski-specific muscles and movement patterns go into hibernation. But fear not! There is a cure to the early-season awkwardness, and it comes in two parts:

1.     (Re)develop your Core Strength: For anyone who has ever lamented the lower back pain that comes after the first several classic ski sessions each season, this is for you. Skiing, like other upright open-chain movements, requires a hefty amount of core strength to stabilize your trunk while the extremities dance and play on skis and poles. Without that core strength, your back takes the load and boy, those muscles do not appreciate that additional burden.

Take a gander at the following article I wrote earlier this year for Outdoor Research, and work to incorporate some of the exercises into a routine preceding the winter. Your back will thank you, and ski technique will come quicker and easier than ever before!

Core Strength For Mountain Athletes

2.     Take a Ski Lesson: Unless you’ve been on rollerskis all summer (and even if you have), chances are your muscle memory is a bit fuzzy on how to V2 efficiently. Spending an hour to re-hone your abilities and even learn a few new skills will make the season a winner from start to finish. We all develop quirky movement patterns that can be tweaked and improved with an expert eye; the resulting energy savings can be re-distributed right into that 30km ski you were determined to do on your second day out at Silver Star or West Yellowstone!

This season, we’re offering regular ski lessons from the Mazama Corral for individuals and small groups. You can read more about them on our website, where you can also schedule a lesson in advance to be sure you get your chosen date.

A little bit of preparation, and you’ll be set to make the most of what is sure to be another fantastic winter on the snow! Now go wax your skis – it’s never too early.

Striding out some early-season speedwork at Sovereign Lakes Nordic Center, Silver Star Mountain, B.C. 

Striding out some early-season speedwork at Sovereign Lakes Nordic Center, Silver Star Mountain, B.C. 

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