Saturday, October 12, 2002
Just drive past Howelsen Hill and you will see the sure signs that ski season is just around the corner.
Everywhere you look there are young athletes playing soccer, jumping on trampolines and jogging along the core trail. For them, jumping on a bike is almost as important as picking out the right wax for a pair of skis.
These skiers know the snow is still several weeks away, but all you have to do is ask and they will tell you this is the time of year when races are won and lost.
The long hours of preparation will help these skiers gain an edge that will help them trim seconds between the gates, soar farther off the jumps and hold a tighter line in the moguls.
Most good skiers know dryland training is an important key to posting top results and avoiding injury.
For years I have watched young freestyle skiers being punished by coaches like Park Smalley and Bobby Aldighieri. But despite the hours of hard work, day after day, the top skiers would always return to Howelsen wanting more.
To the outsider, dryland looks a lot like military boot camp a place where skiers are drilled into shape by hard-driving coaches with very little compassion.
Smiles are rarely seen in the most intense training sessions but it's hard to flash those pearly whites when you are searching for your next breath of air. It's a fact that the months leading up to getting on the snow are some of the hardest for young skiers.
But most of those young skiers understand it is a necessary evil if they want to be competitive during ski season.
I've met all kinds of ski coaches in the past, but most of the successful ones have all proven that a few hundred sit-ups, twice as many push-ups and dozens of hours of preparation will pay off on those cool afternoons in January, February and March.
Most of these coaches were working with athletes who dreamed of making the Olympics. However, recreation skiers should also take note.
Getting into shape now can be the difference between enjoying afternoons on the slopes or spending days recovering at home or worse in the hospital.
So if you've already started dreaming of floating through the white fluffy stuff this winter, then surely the time to start preparing is now.