December 9, 2009: Tough Day at the Office

Beaver Creek, Colorado – I took yesterday off to give my body a chance to recuperate from a long day of traveling. It turned out to be a good decision as visibility on the mountain was poor due to dumping snow and high gusty winds.

I was quite excited when I got up this morning and was able to see the runs from the condo.  The weather report called for cold temperatures with a slight chance of snow, but the sky was relatively clear. A sunny day on the Colorado slopes after several inches of fresh snow was more than I could ask for! But once I stepped outside, I had a profound change of heart. The temperature was 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Zero degrees! I cannot even fathom such a temperature; over in Europe it rarely fell below thirty. The last time I was in temps this cold was last December in Banff, Canada, when one of the races got canceled due to minus forty degree temps and severe threat of frostbite. While that was way colder than today, zero is still pretty darn cold. But I needed to work on technique in freeriding so I braved the environment.

As I was freezing going up the lift with scarcely any feeling left in my feet, I thought, ‘Today is going to be a tough day at work.’ But then I thought of all the days I spent countless hours in front of a computer monitor while consuming all three meals at my desk, and decided that the cold wasn’t so bad. At first. It was minus ten at the top of the mountain so I stayed mid-mountain where the temperature was a balmy minus three. With wind chill, temps could reach 30 below. Every exposed part of my body was covered; however my breath would moisten my face warmer which would then freeze immediately like a sheet of ice over my face. That, combined with the frozen blocks at the end of my legs, necessitated a break in the lodge to defrost after every two runs. I’m not so sure if warming up my feet only to get them frozen again and again is a necessarily good thing.

But the snow was perfect! The super cold air held up the snow really well, and since it was so cold there weren’t many fools out there. The ones that were headed for the 6 or so inches of fresh powder, leaving the groomed runs nice and well, groomed. From the looks of things you couldn’t tell that it was cold; the sun was shining through interspersed clouds, the air was crisp and clear, and the snow glistened as it would have on a warm spring day. But the absence of birds and people, for that matter, told a different story. With the lift stopping so frequently in blustery winds, that story became rather miserable.

On the runs I focused on getting higher edge angle, especially on my heelside edge. I found that if I put my left hand down towards the snow, it helped me to get the board up on edge higher. Before I would just reach for the edge with my right hand to keep my upper body in a balanced position over the board, but that just made me lean against the snow edge thereby decreasing my edge angle. But if I thought about driving the left hand down simultaneously, then I was letting myself get closer to the snow and hence higher edge angle. Another thing I discovered was that on my heelside I can’t just drop my left hand and hip because while that will put the board up on edge, I can’t really drive through with my legs since there isn’t much to push against. So when I initiate my heelside turn I have to push on the left side of my front boot and then move my legs through the turn. That also keeps me in a forward position and not in the backseat. I still need to work out the technique, but I could definitely feel when I was doing it correctly.

So despite the cold temperatures and overall discomfort, it was a really productive day. I ended up taking a lot of runs (as well as a lot of breaks) and was out on the mountain for over three hours, one of the longer freeriding days I’ve had. From the emotional torment of the past few days to the physical anguish of the cold, that’s my job.


0 Responses to “December 9, 2009: Tough Day at the Office”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: