Monday, February 21, 2005

Sugar Bowl

We had a ski weekend! Finally. Last year we only had one day on the mountain; how pathetic. I was worried i may not be able to get up there at all this year because of the status of my vehicle, but $700 later, the Pathfinder was ready to go. The drive from here to Sugar Bowl took only 3 1/2 hours. Not too shabby for a President's Day weekend.

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is my favorite Tahoe ski resort. It's considered a mini-Squaw Valley because though it's not quite as big as Squaw, it has some extremely challeging terrain, tight chutes, steep, open bowls, great tree skiing and the most snow of any resort in Tahoe.

Oh how I miss the gentle crunch of the sweet snow. The smell of stale mustiess and sweat which permeates my ski bag fills my nostrils with the funk of one year past. Oh how I relish the damp delight of my frigid boots, the excruciating pain as I buckle each agonizing buckle.

The first ride up a ski lift this year... It's an almost religious event. Floating a hundred feet off the ground, you have immaculate views of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains, peaceful valleys and glistening lakes. You can hear a gentle hum of the cables whizzing through the pulleys above. Below, you can hear the soft crunch as snowboarders and skiers slide downhill. As you approach the top of the lift, signs remind you to, "Prepare to Unload," and "Keep Ski Tips Up." Suddenly you are atop a mountain.
The groomed runs were excellent. Not a bit of ice. Just soft packed powder. Off trail skiing was good, but a bit chopped up, so I stayed on the groomed for the most part, with a few short excursions into the trees. Not bad for President's day weekend though. Suprisingly the lift lines were very short, so by lunch... my quad-muscles were toast. Needless to say, I have not been cross-training to keep my legs in queue with my snowbound ambitions. After lunch we headed up to the Disney Express Chair, which despite it's "kiddie" sounding name, accesses the most difficult runs on the mountain. Besides the life-threatening cliffs and chutes it offers it also offers some great challenging double-blacks which I needed to partake in. I had my best run there connecting several turns in the deep powder. I blasted to the bottom with perma-grin setting in. Unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my legs which were proceeding to cramp up at this point. We called it a day at around 3:30.

That night, the storm dropped 2 feet of thick powder on my beloved mountain.

We headed up the lift under a downpour of the white stuff. After the first run I knew... this day would end early. My legs threatened to fail me several times. I protested and forced them to hold out to the bottom of the hill. As lunch approached my lactic-acid engourged legs were pleading to go home. ... I resisted the temptation and we pounded out a few more runs before my legs quit on me. Then we headed to the lodge to pound back something on tap.

I performed crustily. Had I been in better shape I would have no excuse to leave early. I would have had the strength to destroy the knee-deep powder in the trees. It was pathetic that I could only manage to link 4-5 turns before my lungs and legs would beg for mercy. Utter patheticism.

Before the next ski trip I should to do the following exercises: Wall sits, squats and lunges, box jumps and stair climbs. Some backpacking will suffice for off-season training.

Note to self: Never go skiing on a powder day without getting the legs in shape.

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