The Outsider: Find your ski legs before chopping them off | SummitDaily.com

The Outsider: Find your ski legs before chopping them off

SDN sports editor Phil Lindeman.

A funny thing happens every November when I get the strange yet strong urge to simply chop off my legs.

By now, my groin and IT bands are nearly familiar with the unnatural demands of snowboard bindings and I can sleep without contorting into equally unnatural positions. But, it seems like no matter how well I condition over the summer, I just can't avoid early-season tightness.

Is it my wide stance? Maybe, but I've been scooting the binders in an inch each November for years now. Is it my tendency to ride too hard, too soon? Most likely, but I've hardly taken more than three or four runs before heading straight to the Beach this season. Is it a side effect of laziness in October, when I got out for a run only once or twice a week? Absolutely, although I have several runner friends who feel the same way about their IT bands year-round.

The hacksaw solution doesn't sound too bad right about now.

But I enjoy my legs, and once Thanksgiving hits I know my tendons and ligaments will enjoy me back right in time for powder. Christmas snowstorms are when I'm most grateful for summer and off-season conditioning. Since breaking my leg in March 2013, I've followed a mish-mash program of my own design: Three gym sessions, morning mountain bike rides when I can and plenty of trail running with the dog. I was nervous that broken bones would affect my riding forever, no matter how much PT I did, but come time for my first trip to Baldy or the Minturn Mile these days, I've never felt stronger and more agile. Pretty cool how that works.

So, I went searching for a way to bridge the gap between end-of-summer biking and early-season snowboarding. It didn't take long — yoga. I first found yoga when I was working a 12-hour overnight gig at Vail. In the off-season, the nights were long and dull, so to stay awake I browsed through yoga flows on YouTube. I'd practice flows on my own for about an hour most nights and voila — workout complete. It didn't hurt that I was reading articles at the same time about U.S. Olympians (Kelly Clark, Jamie Anderson, Hope Solo, etc.) who swore by yoga.

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I fell away from yoga after leaving that job, but, when my ligaments started screeching a few weeks ago, I gave it another try. It's lazy-man's yoga, just 15 minutes before bed most nights, but it's working. I suggest that everyone — skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, couch potatoes — give it a try, especially if you have issues with joint tightness. (Former halfpipe pro Leslie Glenn is hosting workshops at Peak Yoga Studio in Dillon Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, and Meta Yoga in Breck hosts free yoga for Vail Resorts employees.)

Yoga ain't a miracle cure, but if it's good enough for the most decorated athletes in history, it's good enough for us. And it beats a hacksaw.

U.S. Ski Team

announcement in Copper

Speaking of the most decorated athletes in history, today Copper is hosting the fastest Americans on skis for the official U.S. Alpine Ski Team announcement. The team has been decided for months — that happens long before on-snow work begins — but the event is still an opportunity to meet and mingle with the best of the best.

The day kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with public NASTAR races. At 1:30 p.m., head to Center Village for the official naming ceremony. Everyone who's anyone will be there: Ted Ligety (two Olympic golds), Mikaela Shiffrin (one Olympic gold), Lindsey Vonn (one Olympic gold) and even Julia Mancuso (one Olympic gold), who recently went through hip surgery in Vail and will miss the season (see story on A2). The day wraps up with autographs and après from 3-5 p.m.

Turkey Day and online rec registration

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Where did the time go? If you're a gym rat, keep in mind that local recreation centers have shortened hours for the holiday. The Silverthorne rec is closed all day, and the Breck rec is open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. (pool closes at 2:30 p.m.). Plan ahead.

New at the Silverthorne rec is an online registration system for classes, including group fitness, swim lessons, gymnastics and rec sports. You can even renew a membership online. The system goes live on Dec. 7 at 7 a.m. for all winter and upcoming spring programs. If you have questions and missed the info sessions this week, call the rec at (970) 262-7370 or browse the system at http://www.silverthorne.org.