As excitement builds for Holmlands MSP Films Tour this November, we caught up with our partners at Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports and asked for their expert advice on how to best prepare for the winter ahead....
"Maybe our lack of time on the slopes has given us snow-fever, or maybe we are just ski-obsessed. Either way, we like to think that it’s never too early to start prepping for the next ski season. Being fit and ready for the slopes helps remove the stress of rushing around in the run-up to your holiday, can save you money and reduces the chance of injury - leaving you to focus on looking forward to your time in the mountains!
1. Get Strong
Skiing demands a lot from your body, and however good your technique is, every skier will benefit from dedicated strength and conditioning before the season starts. This is something we know only too well. Year after year we experience first-day thigh burn and curse my lack of training in the off-season. There are plenty of simple and straightforward exercises you can do at home or with mates to get yourself fit.
Our Friends at the Tirol asked two trusted physiotherapists to devise a training regime you can do at home, to prepare for the ski season.
“The Caterpillar: Start in a push-up position – keep the legs straight and bend your body at the waist as you walk the feet to the hands, creating a “v” with the body. Walk your hands back out until you are back in the initial push-up position (remember to keep the legs straight!). Repeat for a total of 8 caterpillars."
Find the full routine and more training information here.
2. Clock Up Some Hours on Real Snow
After all that off-hill training it's good to get some time on real snow, and you'll regain your balance and technique. As it is still summer (despite the weather), there are some great discounts from domes and dry slopes, including unlimited monthly passes. Here is a list of all the artificial and snow slopes in the UK.
3. Stay motivated
It can sometimes be hard to stay motivated while training for something you know is months and months away. That's why we feel it’s important to remind yourself why you love skiing and how much fun it is. These are some of the ways we use to stay motivated for winter:
• Follow your favourite skiers on Instagram and get inspired. Here are ten of our favourite backcountry explorers.
• Watch some ski edits for trick ideas and get pumped for this winter. Here are ten of our favourite ski edits from last year.
• Training routines are repetitive by nature, so they can get boring. Try to mix in some different exercises to keep things fresh. For inspiration have a look at Pam Thorburn (UK Ski-Cross Olympian) and how she uses cross-fit drills in her training.
4. Check Over Your Gear
After your kit has been resting in the loft or at the back of the garage for the summer, it’s important to give it a good once over. There are some simple and easy checks you can carry out at home that will keep you from coming a cropper.
• It's important to check that your ski bindings are in working order and that the release settings are adjusted correctly. After all, your bindings will save you from injury when you fall. Your height, weight, skiing ability, age and boot sole length determine what is your recommended release setting (this is often referred to as the din setting). Kids and young adults can quickly grow in height, and I don't know about you, but I seem to be growing sideways each year. It's important to consider such changes, measure these variable factors and adjust accordingly to ensure an accurate release setting.
Have a look at Dinsetting.com for an easy-to-use release setting calculator. (You should use this website as a guide only - confirm it with a qualified ski technician before hitting the mountain).
• If you have left your skis in a damp atmosphere such as a garage, moisture may have de-laminated the ski. Look at your ski edge to see if it has come away from the body of the ski. Left unfixed, water will seep in when you hit the snow, rot the wood core and ruin the performance of your ski.
Run your hand along the bottom of your ski - if it feels rough, has little hairs on it and looks white, it is probably dry and needs waxing.
• You want your edges to be rust-free and sharp enough to scrape off the back of your nail, yet smooth enough to run along your finger without catching.
• Do some light exercises to get the blood flowing and try on your boots. Lean forward into a skiing position and see how they feel. They will probably feel stiff and uncomfortable but try them on again the next day, and if any pain persists, your feet may have stretched, or the arch of your sole may have changed since you last skied. It could be that a slight boot adjustment or insole replacement will solve the problem and save you from a week of agony.
• Test all your backcountry gear including probes, shovels and transceivers.
• An important but often overlooked check is the health of your helmet. How long have you had it? They are only designed to have a limited lifespan and with every knock, bump or drop they get weaker. In recent years there have been some incredible advances in helmet technology, including MIPS, which has vastly improved the protection you receive.
If you are having problems or are unsure about anything feel free to drop into one our stores and our trained technicians and boot fitters can guide you through things in more detail and perform a host of services for you.
5. Learn How to Wax and Edge Your Skis
These two essential services ensure that from day one your equipment is in full working order and it's going to make it easier for you to turn, you will need to push less on flats, and it extends the life of your ski.
6. Choose a Ski Destination
There is nothing better than looking at the snow forecast and seeing that your resort is getting pummelled with snow to get you excited for your holiday.
When deciding where to go, the easiest choice is to go for a high altitude, snow-sure resort, that contains a glacier - virtually guaranteeing there will be something to ski whatever the conditions. You'll have to pay a bit of a premium to stay in these resorts although you can live further down the mountain and travel up to these resorts, saving yourself some euros.
These are some of the glacier resorts we would recommend:
• Les Deux Alps
Another option is to wait until the season has started and book a trip to a resort that has already received lots of snow. This could be a bit more expensive, but one way to get around that is to book a last-minute deal, with tour operators often offering great packages at discount prices to get them sold. Try to avoid Christmas, New Year and the February half-term, as the increased demand results in higher prices and longer lift lines.
Europe’s Snowiest Resorts (Average snowfall)
1. Warth-Schröcken –Austria (10.5m)
2. Zurs – Austria (10m)
3. Braunwald, Switzerland (9m)
4. Obertauern, Austria (8m)
5. Avoriaz, France (8m)
6. Lech Austria (7m)
7. La Rosière, France (6.4m)
8. Arosa, Switzerland (6.2m)
9. Tignes, France (6.2 m)
10. Val Thorens France (6m)
7. Find a Flight and Book Your Transfers
If you know where and when you want to go, your best plan of action is to book early and save big time. Several airlines offer free or £1 ski carriage charges (such as Jet2 last season) which are usually around the £50 mark for most airlines. Those cheap flights from Luton might not be so cheap by the time you buy the ludicrous £25 train ticket to the airport. Sometimes flying BA or Swiss air is going to be slightly more but worth the extra £30 pound for your time and convenience. Transfers are another expensive part of any ski holiday, but booking pre-season can bring savings as companies want to fill their reservations as soon as possible – and choosing a shared transfer will cut down the cost.
8. Find the Right Insurance
Having seen far too many friends carried down the mountain in the ‘blood wagon’, all thoughts of saving £30 or £40 for a cheaper policy go out of the window. An annual plan could offer the most cost-efficient plan, and you don’t have to think about insurance for a whole year. If you’re feeling inspired after watching the latest ski edits from the southern hemisphere and are planning a backcountry mission this winter, it’s even more important to get a specialist insurance that covers you. We have put together a list of trusted specialist insurers.
9. Brush Up on Your Backcountry Knowledge
Once you’re out there in deep powder, it’s too late to prepare if the worst happens. Early season snowfall and temperatures determine the snow pack and any weaknesses, but what you can control is your exposure to risks. There is always more to learn when it comes to off-piste skiing, with lots of resources available for free on the internet and courses you can take to refresh your working knowledge.
BACKCOUNTRY: WHAT ARE HEURISTIC TRAPS?
HOW TO SURVIVE A TREE WELL
10. Set Yourself Some Goals and Go For Them
Everyone enjoys different aspects of skiing; whether it is learning a new trick, making it down a couloir you have been eyeing up or travelling to new destinations. Whatever it is, make sure that you move the pieces into place to give you the best chance of making it happen this season!"
Sound and insightful knowledge, we'll sure you'll agree. The final bit of preparation is for you to book your tickets to a screening of "Drop Everything" this November! With thanks to Ellis Brigham for their support.