by Paul Maraschiello

Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Stowe, and Killington invoke images of skiing passed evergreen trees, down snow white slopes and cavorting in the lodge at the end of the day. Nobody wants to be too tired at the end of a day of skiing to participate in the ritual "happy hours". There is nothing wrong with optimizing your abilities so you can maximize your experience on and off the slope. Here are a few tips you can use to prepare for the coming ski season.


One of the best things you can do to get in shape for the ski season is to run. I like to jog on my lunch hour and eat a light lunch of yogurt and trail mix or a salad (sure beats scarffing down a Big Mac, shake and fries). When ski season is about to start, I like to run with my ski poles. I set-up my normal turning rhythm by making a pole-plant and turning as I run. I pretend I am running through gates, plant my pole, and change direction slightly.

I find that if I run for an hour every other day, when ski season starts, I'm in shape for the slopes. I also do a few sit-ups and push-ups. I even work out with weights, doing a few bench presses and curls.

Some of you may be into in-line skating. This is another really good form of exercise to prepare yourself for the slope. Skating uses many of the same muscles that you use in skiing. Remember to bring your ski poles with you when you skate, and use them to initiate your turns.

If you are into skateboarding, this is an excellent way to develop skills that are easily transferred to a snowboard.

Another fun thing you can use to get in shape for the ski season in a trampoline. Some friends of mine who are pro freestyle skiers work out on a trampoline and it is just the kind of workout you need if you are a "mogul masher" who likes to play in the bumps. As you practice on the trampoline, bring your knees up as high as you can on every jump, this will strengthen the muscles you use in skiing the moguls.

To strengthen the muscles used in mogul skiing, practice jumping from side to side over a pillow. Place a pillow on the ground and jump over it with both feet together going from side to side. Do this as fast as you can for as long as you can and you will get in shape for a little "hot dog" skiing.


The first thing a real skier does after he or she leaves the slopes is to head for the best "happy hour" on the mountain, here you eat your fill of the free food and wash it down with your favorite brew. My years at Killington have taught me that the best chicken wings in the world are served FREE at Casey's Caboose on the Killington access road. I should know, I originally come from Buffalo, we INVENTED chicken wings.

To get in shape for this very important part of the sport, I suggest you cruse the "happy hour" joints around your home town and sample the cuisine. Find a bar that serves chicken wings to prepare yourself for the "expert" (HOT) wings at Casey's. The tacos, meat balls, and 6 foot long sandwiches and other "happy hour" fare at other local haunts will prepare you adequately for the free buffets at the mountain. At Killington you can find free chicken wings at Casey's Caboose, Mother Shapero's and Charity's (the Wobbly has a taco bar). The best "happy hour" deal on the Killington access road is the free peel-and-eat shrimp at Garlics.

You can practice your pick-up lines at a local "happy hour" at the same time. At a ski area, the best opening line is "Did you ski today?" You can modify this to "Did you go to class today?" if you are still in college or other small talk you can use as an ice-breaker.

One of the most important things to locate at a ski area is a place to stay. I met a very attractive woman at "happy hour" one Saturday afternoon at Killington. After spending an enchanting evening with her and giving her free ski lessons the next day, I told her that she was the "most geographically desirable woman I've ever met." She had a house at Killington and if I didn't "get lucky," I was willing to sleep on her couch.

You can practice your ability to score free turf at the local bars in the city with the line "Gee my designated driver isn't here, is it OK if I crash at your place tonight, beautiful?" If she doesn't slap you, and her 6'8" boy friend doesn't trash you, you can use this line to practice for the slopes. A free place to stay can greatly enhance the affordability of the sport.


The next thing you will need for the slopes is some really cool ski equipment. If you're just learning, rent your equipment. By the time you learn to parallel ski, you will have outgrown that equipment and will need better stuff. Unless you have $600 to $1,000 to blow on new equipment, I suggest you attend the Ski Swaps that will occur at every ski shop in the fall. You can save hundreds of dollars by purchasing used equipment that has only been skied on a few times.

Another place to look is at used sporting goods stores. Not only did a meet a beautiful lady that weekend at Killington, I also purchased a pair of $800 skis and bindings for $150! They were owned by the Atomic Ski Rep and were only skied 20 days. I found them at replay Sports in Rutland. Keep your eyes open, there will be good deals like that available between now and the beginning of ski season at ski swaps in your area. Early in the season there are also some great deals on last year's skis and demo skis at ski shops.

If you are planning to start skiing this year or haven't skied for a long time, I suggest you take lessons. Ski areas have good ski schools and many have an excellent package available for beginners that includes lessons, equipment, and a lift ticket for a real bargain price. These packages usually cost less that a lift ticket and equipment alone and are a really good deal. You will have a lot more fun if you take a couple of lessons. It really helps if you are in shape and know how to turn, and stop!