Forever? Yep! This is actually a post on how I beat mortality............
Na Jk, but this post will help all you oxygen-consuming mortals (like myself) to healthily ski for a looonngg time.
From smashing my teeth through my bottom lip, to knocking myself out and waking up in a different state, to 7 screws and a plate on my collarbone, to surgery on my foot. I’ve learned a thing or two about staying healthy and skiing hard.
As bad as these injuries sound, they have propelled me to take my health more seriously and to focus my habits around how to live until I am 120.
The first part about learning how to ski forever is to understand the 8 main parts.
Skiing healthily can be broken down into the following categories:
Drinking And Skiing
Don’t Party That Hard
Pick Which Days To Send
How To Fall
Well, you’re here to learn how to ski forever, so I know you don’t have much time. I won’t keep you waiting!
Our bodies can only take so much, and giving your body the most protection is a crucial first step.
The good news is that helmets are now considered cool by the culture of most sports. This is awesome. It wasn’t too long ago that athletes of all sports never bothered to wear a helmet.
Hell, even today some sports like skateboarding have cultures that inspire people not to wear a helmet.
What it all boils down to: I would be dead if I didn’t been wearing my helmet every day I go skiing.
I knocked myself out and woke up in a different state. I woke up inside of Renown hospital in Reno NV, and this was the 3rd medical facility I had been brought to that day.
If we are being honest, I don’t remember anything other than waking up in Renown, this story is pieced together from what my friends have told me.
Earlier in the day on 4/17/2017 I was skiing at Northstar, although I have no recollection.
Like any bluebird spring day in April, I was feeling good……..
A little too good.
While hitting a cannon rail I tried a front 630 out. (for all you non-skier uncultured swine, that is a lot of spinning)
I under-rotated and did a perfect 540. I caught my edges and was whipped straight to my head, cracking my helmet and blacking out instantly.
Thank god my group of friends were right there to stop me from sliding down the mountain and to call ski patrol.
After making it to the bottom of the mountain in the ski patrol wagon (above pic), they realized I couldn’t remember anything and needed to be brought to the Incline Village hospital. Here my condition worsened.
But it wasn’t until I passed out unconscious and starting vomiting in the Incline Village hospital that I was brought to the nearest trauma center, Renown in Reno NV.
I was insanely fortunate and recovered completely after spending a few hours in Renown, and have been fine ever since.
Fun fact: the only other time I have ever been to Renown, was when I was 4 years old and was life-flighted there because I had a traumatic brain injury. (This head injury was worse than the skiing one because I didn’t have a helmet on.)
The only reason I am alive today is that I was wearing a helmet!
As I was saying, a helmet is a great start but there is a lot more that can be done to protect our bodies.
What most people don’t know, is that concussions can be caused by impacting the bottom of your jaw.
A mouthguard is your best bet to prevent this. Not only that, but coming from the guy who has broken 5 different teeth, and some of those teeth up to 4 times……..
Mouthguards are one of the most underrated pieces of safety equipment.
I’ll spare you another long story, but I hit my face on a rail and broke my 2 front teeth through my bottom lip. 25 stitches and 2 fake teeth later…
I now wear a mouthguard every time I go skiing. It has saved me numerous concussions and broken teeth.
Save yourself from life long back pain. You’re gonna fall if you enjoy skiing hard.
A back protector is a must if you plan to hit jumps. The safest way to fall is to take the impact as controlled as possible to your hip, shoulder, or back (more on this later).
Although back protectors are known to be a little bulky. To compensate for this I always wear my back protector so I feel the same every day, regardless if I am skiing small early-season jibs or massive jumps in the springtime.
I love my butt. So much in fact, that I wear butt pads, they save me from all of the small but consistent crashes that happen while skiing. Especially hitting rails. All too frequently I find my friends and I taking mini crashes and falling on our hips or tail bones.
Butt pads will prevent all of the irritating bruises you receive from every miniature fall you make when skiing.
One thing I get asked about frequently is about wearing a full-face helmet.
Yes, full-face helmets are safe and reduce injury, but they can actually decrease your skiing ability from lack of movement and eyesight.
And if your head cannot move as far, nor as fast in all directions…..
Then you are more likely to hit something you could have avoided. Making full-face helmets more dangerous than regular helmets.
If yo mama’s advice about wearing a helmet isn’t enough, take it from me! Helmets are cool, they do save lives, and they are a necessary piece of equipment.
If not for yourself, wear a helmet for your family so you can come home alive for the next holidays.
Think about it this way, if we break skiing down into its simplest form, it is really just a few fundamental physical movements.
So get this, while skiing how often do you do a movement that is comparable to a 1 rep max back squat? Hopefully never! But maybe once a season. Now, while skiing how often do you do movements that are comparable to lunges and squats at light to medium weight? ALL the time! You could easily do 50 in a single run.
Movements of skiing:
And of course, all of these movements should be done in all directions (eg. forward, backward, lateral, straight up and down)
To become better at skiing, work the physical fundamentals over and over again.
For each exercise, it is very important to break it up even further. For squats, do them as air squats, jumping squats, front squats, back squats, squat cleans, one-legged squats. Do a variety of high reps low weight, low reps high weight, and everything in between.
What it all boils down to: do exercise movements that are most comparable to what you actually do while skiing.
Nick from Ski PT wrote a great article about the nitty-gritty of training for skiing.
A 1 rep max back squat might look cool, but will likely just abuse your ligaments and make them more likely to tear. Not Good!
Speaking of tight muscles.
You have to stretch. This is what holds back most people.
Yes it is irritating to stretch each and every day. Yes it is painful. Yes it is time-consuming. YES it is beneficial!
Honestly a nice warmup stretch for 5-10 mins before you ski, and a deep stretch focused on your skiing muscles for 10 mins will get you super far!!
My two favorite torture devices stretching tools are a spiked roller and a rubber workout band.
I’ll spare you the pictures of me stretching in every which way possible. But here are the two best stretching guides I know of:
Making a habit out of yoga is also a great way to stay flexible.
You are what you eat.
And unfortunately for us all, most of the time the good tasting food is terrible for our bodies.
But the food your mother always forced you to eat as a kid? Yep, that’s the good stuff that will allow you to continue to ski hard for the rest of your life.
You’ll want to find what sort of food works the best for your body.
That said: It’s probably not the most trending diet right now.
In fact, the most important part of what you eat is that it is something that you can eat consistently.
Kale smoothies with 18 servings of supplements? If you’re a human, you’ll hate that so much that it influences you to go to McDonald’s just to dip some french fries in your ice cream.
But eating non processed foods with a cheat meal once or twice a week? Now that’s more like it.
Not only is your diet going to be healthy 90% of the time, but you will be able to consistently stick to it. Making a large impact in the long run.
If you are serious about your diet, NerdFitness has a great food guide.
We all know the shredders who love crackin open a beer and smokin a bowl every few lift rides. Before you know it, they are a 6-pack deep and become confident, relaxed, and start sending it.
At first, it looks beneficial! Being more confident and relaxed? Who wouldn’t want that?!
Well, the truth of the matter is that there is not a fine line between a little buzz and putting yourself and others at serious risk.
Obviously, recreational substances of any kind don’t help you live to be 120 years old, but I won’t dive into that here.
What I will dive into is how much longer and better you will ski if you stay sober while skiing.
In the short run, each and every day you drink you will have to stop skiing earlier because you will fatigue sooner and become exhausted.
In the long run, you won’t be able to ski like yourself without alcohol. Or you might become an alcoholic. 🥴😬
Alright, now that you plan to ski without drinking (I hope), the next part is partying after skiing.
All ski towns have their fair share of parties.
Everyone and their grandma loves a nice cold beer after a long day of hard skiing.
Being an extrovert myself, I love partying! -- as in socializing, making new friends, and playing games. But I realized that I am so much better of a skier when I don’t drink a ton the night before (go figure!).
So the move is to be one of the more sober people at the party, so you can ski hard the next day, or better yet be highly productive at work.
But there’s a line between hanging out with the boys (or girls) and partying a harmful amount.
When you start to slow down at work or on the mtn, you are long past the point of how often you should party.
Anyway, this one is a tricky one because we all have different perspectives and desires in life. But I recommend limiting your drinking before skiing the next day.
Not every day is going to be the most successful and outrageous time on the mountain. In fact, somedays could be pretty awful.
And if you find yourself skiing in terrible conditions outside, make sure to take it easy!
Whether it is flat light, raining, or just not enough snow, there is no reason to learn how to do a gnarly new trick.
So instead of sending that double backflip off the knuckle because the jump is closed, why not try something a little more chill, like a nosebutta 3?
Face it, if you want to push yourself to become the best you can at anything, you are going to fall. Now, these falls can be either fatal or minor.
But here’s the catch, the first part about how to fall is to focus on not falling altogether. Think about minimizing your risk while still pushing yourself.
So the next time you feel like jumping off a 40ft cliff onto a sheet of ice, DON’T.
But waiting for a deep powder day and jumping off that same cliff? Now that has significantly less risk.
Now the truth of the matter is that all of the preparation and actions taken to minimize risks are still not enough to never get hurt.
What will further help you not to get hurt is the process of how smoothly you can fall. Being able to absorb an impact and roll out of it will save you time and time again.
In a nutshell, it is best to keep your limps in, and land on your side, back, hip, or front in a way that allows you to roll in a controlled manner.
If you’re looking for an in-depth tutorial on falling, New To Ski has the best crashing guide around. (complete with hilarious crashing videos!)
If you love the exhilarating and liberating feeling of skiing as much as I do, you’ve probably considered some of the things I mentioned above.
Anyway, I sure hope you can ski until you’re 120! It’s no easy task, but definitely a great goal to strive for. Soon enough I'll be looking like this!