Settling in, all good but..is it really January?!

Although the calendar clearly says 6 January, thanks to a stupid south westerly wind, right now it feels more of a super early spring than a winter for sure

Welcome to Chalet Paula, my lovely winter home

It’s been raining all day today and the forecasts seem to be similar for the next couple of days. It’s been almost 2 weeks now since the last snowfall and we are starting to be a bit desperate for some new snow, I always am anyway

The last few days I settled into the portion of the chalet I will call home for the next few months, I caught up with some local friends and obviously spent some time cruising around the resorts, mainly Samoens and Les Carroz. The snow on the slopes is okay, a bit hard but not too bad considering there has not been snow for almost 2 weeks. I have been using my new board, the Jones Flagship 158 and I am super happy about it. In 20 years of snowboarding it’s the best board I have ever had, hands down. Only somebody like Jeremy Jones could have produced a tool like that. If you wish to find out more about the man who has been my main source of inspiration for the past few years, this is his website:

http://www.jonessnowboards.com/

So, although I don’t really have much to report so far I am sure I will have more at the end of the next week. I am off to La Grave on Sunday and will ride there with a great crew for the whole week. So, if mother nature will be kind to us and the conditions are right, it should be an awesome week. La Grave is not a typical ski resort, it’s a very special place. I will tell you more next week. In the meantime, these two short videos will give you a taste of the place:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSsEi_cXJ60

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZxAp5lM_bI&feature=related

This has got nothing to do with mountains and snow, or perhaps in a way it does actually. I already know that my friend Nina will be very happy about this. I recently adopted a polar bear via the WWF and thought somebody else could be interested in adopting an animal, not necessarily a bear. That was a natural choice for me. You will be spoiled for choice: panda, tiger, dolphin, elephant, rino, turtle, penguin..chimpanzee. this is the link:

http://support.wwf.org.uk/?page=shop&cid=2

Over the past few weeks I received a few emails from people who seem very keen on trying snowboarding. Some are good skiers, some others are simply snowball fighters.. well, it doesn’t matter what skills you have. Regardless the fact you can already ski or you have never been on a ski slope before, if I were you I would seriously consider incorporating a few weeks of snowboarding-specific sports training. The more prepared you are for the physical demands of riding, the more successful you will be on day one and the more fun you will have. I would be very happy to help you making your first turns! Or perhaps your second if you already have some skills

I am horrified when I am on the slopes and I see the average boarder cruising down a slope – wrong posture, generally not in control and travelling too fast for his/her skills, simply not elegant o watch. Being a good snowboarder requires what the vast majority of the people don’t have – the right physical conditioning. Traveling downhill on a variety of terrain with a sideways, unnatural stance on a board requires core strength, leg strength, balance, flexibility, and even some cardiovascular conditioning

I have always believed (and then I was proved right when I joined my first BASI instructor course years ago) that the foundation of a good rider is a strong core. Without strong abdominal and back muscles, the primary movements required to carve down the hill have nowhere to power from. Why do you think I have been swimming for the past 20 years?! Ok, water is my favorite element.. but I also did it because swimming gives you a very good general core strength without stressing around with different exercises in the gym – I cannot stand gyms. so keep it simple, go swimming

A good strengthening program for the core will include exercises such as abdominal crunches, back extensions, medicine ball oblique twists, and planks/bridges. So if you are looking for a good place to start from, my advice is that core training is definitely the best option

Once a movement is initiated by the core it is generally taken over by the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and ankles. A good rider will have strong legs to sustain the long and diverse ride. Great exercises for a beginner to develop their legs are squats, wall sits, calf and toe raises, and dead lifts for the hamstrings. Keep in mind that whichever leg is the back leg will often be unstrapping to get you from point A to point B if the surface is flat. This leg needs to be conditioned for what can often be a decent amount of pushing.

It would be impossible not to mention balance training for a sport like snowboarding, where the body biomechanics play such an obvious role. When you are on a snowboard most of your time is spent alternating from the toe to the heel edge of the board. If you have the chance try to use equipment such as balance boards, wobble boards, half domes and foam rollers, and balance air discs to simulate the constantly changing balancing environment. Using the wobble board or half foam roller, take a stance that matches your snowboarding stance and rock the board back and forth by shifting your pressure from your toes to your heels while keeping your torso in the center. This is a great way to mimic the movement performed while snowboarding

As with most sports, flexibility is a critical part of riding. Poor flexibility in the legs, hips, and lower back can negatively impact your ability to ride and also increase your chance of injury. After performing all of the strength training exercises, end your workout session with ten minutes of stretching that includes the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and lower back

Although snowboarding is primarily an anaerobic activity, you will soon realize how much aerobic conditioning is required, especially in the learning stages. If you do not want to be exhausted after only one hour on your first day, I suggest you do some cardiovascular training with your conditioning program. Two of the best options are the bicycle or jump rope. Both will also help strengthening muscles in the legs

I am going to be here the entire season so if you plan your visit for March or April you still have plenty of time to work on your fitness and make sure to get the most out of your time with me out here because I am sure that’s the objective, having fun!

See you on the mountains

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