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How to Keep the Ski Season Going When Lifts Stop Spinning

Five ideas to keep skiers occupied when they can’t be on the slopes.

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COVID-19 may have brought an early end to many skiers’ seasons, but there are ways to keep skiing alive and well even after the resorts have closed. After all, skiers are an imaginative bunch who manage to survive months out of the year without skis strapped to their feet. Need some inspiration? Here are five ways diehard skiers can keep living and breathing skiing even after the resorts close.

Tune your skis.

Wax being scraped off skis to shave off excess.
If you’re not planning to ski anytime soon, skip the scraping—the wax will absorb into your skis’ bases over time. Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If you’re ever bored, go wax your skis. There’s literally no such thing as too much wax—especially if your skis aren’t getting much use these days.

“When skis are stored in a garage where temperature fluctuates regularly, their bases will dry out,” says Leif Sunde, experienced ski technician and owner of Denver Sports Lab. “So, if your skis aren’t going to see much action for a while, apply a thick layer of wax to keep your skis’ bases protected and hydrated. That wax will actually absorb into your ski over time.”

Once you’ve applied a thick layer of wax, use a plastic scraper to remove wax from the skis’ edges. This ensures you’re not inadvertently trapping any moisture that could rust your edges over time. Idle time is a good time to do more thorough maintenance on your skis’ edges as well. Check for rust patches, nicks, and burrs—chances are you’ll find something you can smooth out and give you an excuse to self-isolate in the garage with some beer and tunes.

Practice avy search and rescue.

Leah Evans coaches a Girls Do Ski participant on how to use a beacon for avalanche rescue.
Leah Evans coaches one of her Girls Do Ski camp participants on how to use a beacon for avalanche search and rescue. Courtesy of Mattias Fredriksson

With resorts closed but our biological clocks telling us that it’s still ski season, many skiers will be tempted to head into the backcountry to earn their turns. Springtime is prime time to ski the backcountry because the days are longer and the snowpack begins to heal and stabilize after mid-winter storms. Though avalanche danger tends to be lower in the spring, safety in the backcountry is never a given, so those headed into terrain where avalanche risk isn’t mitigated by professionals should be well-versed in avalanche safety.

So, use this downtime to brush up on avy search and rescue protocols at home. All you need is your beacon and a partner who also has a beacon. If there’s still snow on the ground, practice burying one beacon and work with your partner to locate it. If there’s no snow around, hide the beacon somewhere in the backyard. Go through the motions of a signal, course, and fine search, and make sure each person gets a chance to work through each phase of the beacon search.

Looking for more avy rescue drill ideas and information? Backcountry Access’ learning page is a useful resource for tutorial videos and step-by-step handouts. Be sure to also familiarize yourself with your state’s avalanche center website to learn how to read avalanche forecasts and observations for your local area.

Binge-watch ski movies.

Warren Miller's Here There and Everywhere
Old and new WME ski flicks are available for streaming on Amazon Prime. 

There’s no time like the present to hunker down and binge on ski porn. If you’ve got an Amazon Prime subscription, numerous Warren Miller Entertainment titles are available at your fingertips for free streaming, including oldies like “Born to Ski,” “Steep and Deep,” and “Ski Time,” as well as more modern flicks like “Here, There & Everywhere,” “Like There’s No Tomorrow,” and “Dynasty” to name just a few.

You can also stream Matchstick Productions’, Teton Gravity Research’s, and Level 1 Productions’ annual ski films via Apple TV, Vimeo on Demand, and Google Play. And in these crazy times, if you’re in need of some comic relief related to skiing, we recommend “Hot Dog” (also included in Amazon Prime Video), “G.N.A.R The Movie,” and last but certainly not least, “Aspen Extreme.” You’re welcome.

Work on ski fitness at home.

Ashley Battersby Yoga
Former U.S. Ski Team athlete turned yoga instructor Ashley Battersby recommends yoga to keep muscles primed for skiing. Photo credit: Isapela Freeman

Gyms and public recreation spaces may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect your ski fitness routine. Take a page out of trainer Connie Sciolino’s book and use this time to maintain your base level of fitness with her full-body workout that can be performed at home, or try these resistance band exercises for skiers, no huge space or gym equipment required. You may also get a few ideas from following pro skiers’ Instagram accounts—athletes like Lindsey Vonn and Johnny Collinson regularly post exercise ideas and inspiration.

Now’s also a good time to focus on ski season recovery and treat the sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments that have been talking to you. Try some of Ashley Battersby’s yoga moves to loosen tight muscles or treat your aches and pains with DIY physical therapy hacks.

Sort through your gear closet.

Charlie MacArthur packs his layers for an Alpine Tour.
Take stock of the condition of your ski gear to determine what needs maintenance before you hit the slopes again. Photo Courtesy of Bailey LaRue

With some time on your hands and ski shops clearing house, it’s the perfect time to take stock of which pieces of gear are still in good shape, which need maintenance, and which may need to be replaced for next season.

Check the condition of your outerwear and look for holes that may need to be patched or zippers that need to be fixed; if you noticed your ski jacket or pants getting soggy and not shedding moisture this season, reapply waterproofing by using a spray-on DWR treatment. Assess the condition of your ski boots and skis to determine wear and tear that may need attention before you hit the slopes again—things like worn toe and heel pieces on your ski boots, packed-out liners, or core shots in your skis. Also consider the condition of your helmet—if you took multiple hard knocks this season, it’s time to replace your lid. 

Amidst these crazy times, it helps to stay busy. After all, skiers are not wired to remain still.