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Get in shape now for upcoming ski season

It’s probably a little too early to start pondering where to find the best deals on turkeys, whether to take the over or under in the Miami-Dallas game and what ailment you’re going to come up with this year to miss work on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

After all, Turkey Day is still more than eight weeks away.

But it may be time to start thinking about getting in shape for something else associated with Thanksgiving in Southern Nevada — the start of the ski season at the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort.

"It sneaks up on you," says Gabrielle Barel, a trainer and the manager of the ski school at the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort. "The temperature drops quickly in September, so mid-September to early October is the perfect time to get going."

Barel says about 3,000 to 4,000 people show up at the resort each year to learn how to ski. "Locals and tourists," she notes. "We have a huge tourist base."

She says a problem common with locals is dealing with the elevation change. The resort is at 8,500 feet — 6,000 feet or so higher than what Las Vegas residents are accustomed to.

"In some ways that presents a great challenge," Barel says. "It can be a big hurdle to overcome."

Local skiers and snowboarders concur.

"You have to get into a little better shape for when you get to the altitude," says Ben Ward, an avid snowboarder and former snowboard instructor. "The elevation does take a lot out of you."

Michael Barrett, president of the Las Vegas Ski & Sports Club, says a trip to Lee Canyon for a day on the snow may not be all that hard on the heart and lungs.

But staying at Brian Head in Southern Utah, for instance, can be a challenge. It’s about 200 miles from Las Vegas, but the ski resort there is at an elevation of about 10,000 feet and the ski runs approach 12,000 feet (think Mount Charleston peak).

"A day trip to Mount Charleston is fairly easy," Barrett says. "Staying at Brian Head is another issue because you’re also sleeping at elevation."

Dealing with the elevation change will be easier with some semblance of fitness.

Barrett says one of the goals of his organization is to keep members active throughout the year. Group hikes, golf outings and bicycle rides help members stay in shape for when skis hit the snow.

Barel suggests hiking on Mount Charleston as a way to get in shape and get used to the higher altitude. She also recommends jumping rope because "it’s good for all-around conditioning, and it’s cheap — and it’s great cardio and is good for eye-hand coordination."

Ward says mountain biking helps him avoid what he labels "wobbly legs" that can be prevalent on the slopes.

Karen Bernard, trip director for the Las Vegas Ski & Sports Club, says she doesn’t worry about working out to get ready for the snowboarding season because she’s in her 30s and stays active by golfing and playing racquetball.

"But we do have a lot of members in their 50s, 60s or 70s," she says. "And I know they’re going to the gym to work out."

Barrett says stretching can be an overlooked aspect of getting ready for the ski season.

"Stretching is probably the most important thing," he says. "If you have flexibility, when you do fall, you’re less likely to be injured."

So build that cardio. Add some strength. Increase your flexibility.

Do all that and there’s still a chance you’re going to walk away from your first day on the slope at least a little bit sore.

"Your legs are definitely going to be sore," Bernard says. "Your calves will get a good workout in snowboarding."

Ward says skiing and snowboarding will affect different muscles and that skiing may be harder on the knees and other joints.

But with either activity, "you’ll be feeling it the first few days."

Bernard has a solution for the soreness, thanks to things that are fairly common at resorts — hot tubs, be they of the outdoor or indoor variety.

"Definitely all of us enjoy a hot tub after a day of skiing and snowboarding," she says.

It’s not too hot out to be thinking of that, is it?

Contact Paul Doyle at pdoyle@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0305.


Getting your body in shape for the slopes might be in vain if you can’t figure out what in the world other people on the slopes are talking about. Here are terms to get you gliding downhill at the same pace as the rest of the gang:

Acro: Acrobatic skiing, linking jumps, flips and spins.

Air (as in catching air): Jumping off the snow.

Alpine skiing: The resort-based, sit and ride up, stand and slide down paradigm.

Apres ski: The night life of a ski area, preferred by some to slope-side activities.

Avie: Avalanche.

BAFL: Acronym for Big Air, Flat Landing, which may result in compression fractures of the vertebrae.

Big air: Leaving the ground for at least a couple of seconds of hang-time.

Boilerplate (Bulletproof): Hard, dense, unedgeable ice, often created by a midwinter thaw or rain.

Bomb hole: Impression in the snow produced by landing big air.

Bombing (Booming, Schuss-booming): Recklessly going straight downhill at high speed. The record for speed skiing is 150 mph.

Bonk: To bounce off an object. (Caution: this word also is Brit-speak for "shag").

Bono: Skiing full-speed into a tree.

Bowl: Steep, wide run, usually higher on both sides.

Bumps (Moguls): A series of small hills and troughs made by skiers repeatedly turning in the same place.

Bunny (Snow Bunny): Novice female skier, usually more interested in posing than in skiing.

Butt-dragger: Beginning snowboarder.

Carving: Turning with the dug-in edge of a ski or snowboard, producing a crisp, clean arc without significant skidding or side-slipping.

Champagne powder: Very dry snow that is so light that it can’t be made into a snowball.

Chowder: Chopped-up powder.

Clamps: Bindings.

Cliff: Any drop of more than three feet.

CM: Acronym for Center of Mass, awareness of which is necessary for balance.

Corduroy: Shallow, closely spaced parallel grooves in the snow made by grooming machines.

Corn: A type of spring snow that forms into small, light pellets.

Crud: Wet, heavy, clumpy, cut-up, mashed-potatolike snow, in which turning is difficult.

Cruising: Making big turns at high speed.

Crust: Frozen surface covering loose snow.

Disco sticks: Short slalom and twin-tip skis, capable of very short radius turns.

Ego snow: Machine-groomed packed powder that holds an edge without much skill or effort.

Fatty (Fat ski): A very wide ski designed for powder conditions.

Freshies: Fresh, untracked snow.

Gaper: A skier or snowboarder dressed in outrageous gear, either on purpose or because they are clueless.

Glades: Skiable terrain among the trees.

Gnar: Short for gnarly, meaning tough terrain or conditions.

Hardpack: Firm, almost icy snow.

Hit: Takeoff point of a terrain feature, from which one can catch air.

Huck: To ski off a cliff or roll, catching big air.

Hurl carcass: To huck in a really major way. The record is 226 vertical feet.

Jibbing: Sliding down anything that isn’t snow, such as a railing or sitting snowboarder.

Kicker: A big hit.

Liftie (Lift Op): Ski lift operator.

Manky: The nasty odor of polyester underwear after a strenuous day on the slopes.

NASTAR: Acronym for NAtional STAndards Race, a group of small-scale standardized race courses at resorts across the country.

Off-Piste: Ungroomed portion of the ski area.

Out of bounds: Unpatrolled regions outside the designated ski area.

Pack: To slam hard.

Pinhead: Dedicated telemark skier.

Piste: Packed snow.

Planker (Two-planker): A skier.

Poaching: Skiing out of bounds.

Pow (Pow-Pow, Powder): Light, dry, fluffy snow.

PSIA: Acronym for Professional Ski Instructors of America.

Quiver: One’s collection of skis, each pair specialized for a different purpose.

Rag doll: Someone who tumbles downhill while limp and presumably unconscious.

Run: Designated ski slope or trail.

Shovel: Upturned portion of a ski’s tip.

Shredder: An accomplished, carving snowboarder.

Ski bum: Someone who has discovered the best alternative to working.

Snow scum: Skiers or snowboarders who ignore the Responsibility Code.

Snow toys: Devices used for gliding on snow by those who are unable to ski.

Spring conditions: When snow freezes at night and thaws during the day.

Sticks (Planks): Skis; sticks also are what beginning children call their ski poles.

Sweet spot: The balance point on a ski that produces optimum turning; the bigger the sweet spot, the more forgiving the ski and the lower its performance in demanding situations.

Telemarking: Skiing alpine runs on free-heel skis, making turns by kneeling on one ski.

Trail: Marked ski run.

Traverse: Skiing across the fall line, without turning.

White room: Deep, dry powder.

Yard sale: Losing articles of gear and clothing while tumbling downhill.

SOURCE: Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort

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