Wednesday, 27 June 2012
It started, with a lot of university educated journalists scare-mongering and preaching about the lack of snow. Take this piece of 'ground-breaking' journalism form the Metro;
''Skiing holidays at risk as warm spell leaves slopes snow-free''
Hundreds of thousands of skiers could see their holidays ruined as a record-breaking warm spell leaves slopes across Europe snow-free.
That was December the 4th. Then, to our joy, and relief, on December the 5th, the snow Gods descended upon the Alps in style, puking metres of white, pristine, fluffy gold. A jubilant middle finger was raised and people have enjoyed what can only be described as an epic season.
Having been lucky enough to ride Chamonix in February, injuries resulted in me not being able to go as hard as I wanted to. Despite the NHS's best efforts, I wasn't fit enough, and wheezed and coughed like a fat man on the tube.
So I bought a bike, vowed to get fit, and cycled a 5 mile journey that takes me 50 minutes on TFL in 18 minutes. Result. My legs felt fitter, I felt fitter and signed up to a 50 mile bike race. Prat. That's another story.
So, last Sunday, the usual shit house journey to Gatwick from West London was completed in record time, and I was on board Monarch Airlines finest Airbus heading to Ischgl, land of Euro Partei, Durndl girls and, fingers crossed, powder.
A short flights and transfer cued 22 of the ski industries finest sellers and crooks, to reek Euro havoc in an Austrian guesthouse for 7 days. Wilkommen am Ischgl read the sign, as we passed Pascha and snow covered trees. 22 twitchy people sat on the coach, gagging to get out.
The resort is epic. It's clean, has noise police to shut you up when leaving Kuhstall and has the best lift system I have had the pleasure of using. Using lifts that could be used in furnishing a Bentley is a sweet pleasure in ski resorts, unlike in Meribel, where most lift are equipped with plastic seats and travel at the speed of a 11 month old child.
Conditions for April were great. White out days were cleverly combined with hangovers and bluebird days were welcomed with open arms. When it wasn’t so sunny, it was technically a white-out and Baltic winds made it quite miserable when coupled with a hangover from the gates of Flugel Hell. One run down and fuck it. Early lunch time. However, the bluebird days were phenomenal.
Freshies in April? Are you kidding me Ischgl?
10 am in the Idalp was like waking up on Christmas morning. Not a single cloud, a fully functioning lift service (and body) and no one to be seen. Just the right amount of early thumping Euro beats to set us off and we were greeted by steep, shin deep runs covered in a fresh layer of mountain ambrosia. Epic in size, the number of lift served off piste runs was huge, and despite spectacular dismounts by a social media mogul on the first run and a rag doll down a rock face, we were stoked with our efforts, and 3 more days of this followed.
Photos are following, which include some standard scenery shots for the parents, some nice powder footage to impress the friends and way too much banterlash cam. Having pissed off enough people in bars and clubs in Ischgl, reciting the Schatzi song until staff cried in Solden, and throwing down some downright illegal dance moves, I for one can't wait to spread these pictures to the masses. Maybe the uptheirownarseresorts in France could learn a thing or too. Point put forward, the Austrians love drunk Brits and playing stop, drop and roll in the street. And I love the Austrians.
Ischgl kicks ass. At least from a deteriorating snowboarders point of view. My legs were shot and I ached everywhere, but nothing that a couple of Nurofens and some medicinal Pale ale won't help. But whatever, I am honoured to have ridden this resort, drunk its' well priced beer and danced in its' sausage infested clubs until 4am.
So after a week of epic pow in Ischgl with some great people, being back in london sucks.
Hakuna matata, at least i don’t have to wait long until i fly to New Zealand for a few years. May catch the last of the snow there – somewhere i’ve never been but always wanted to go.
In the immortal words of perhaps the most famous Austrian - ''I'll be back''.
Monday, 25 June 2012
Ever since the high profile death of actress Natasha Richardson while she was skiing, mountain companies are shitting themselves over the prospect of having multimillion dollar/Euro lawsuits on their hands. Now days, you can’t wear sun cream in schools due to health and safety, so why can you throw yourself down steep hills, on as little as a plank (or two) of wood and plastic, manufactured to make you go as fast or as high as possible?
It seems baffling that with all the health and safety laws applied to motor racing, rugby and cycling to name a few, the fastest non motorised sports recreation in the world has no rules regarding safety gear. To cycle through London at rush hour without a helmet is complete idiocy, so why would you ski without a helmet on? Slopes at peak times unfortunately do get busy so why not make them compulsory....
In Italy, children under the age of 14 are required by law to wear a helmet, so why has this not been spread across the whole region for all ages?
Skiing holidays are becoming more and more popular, with people more readily prepared to split their hard earned cash and holiday allowance. So why put the one or 2 weeks a year they have in jeopardy, by risking themselves? Like car accidents, crashes do happen, and more than often, it is not your fault, but the yuppie prat behind you wearing jeans with his legs glued together on his way to his mountain hut for a latte.
For the sake of £50, a good quality (and stylish) helmet can be bought from most places.
Other safety aspects are making their way into the sport – wrist supports and back supports are becoming common in the parks and about bloody time too.
This equipment doesn’t come that cheap, but at what price do you put your safety? For a stingy £50, your chalet holiday is a little safer, and OK, you would spend a little more time in the chalet hot tub with an injury, to your wrist or back, but a feeding tube from a fat nurse in the Charing Cross hospital is a lot less attractive.
Admittedly, I only started wearing a helmet in the past few years, and having been away 3 times last year in those conditions, I’m pretty glad I did. Now if the yuppie prick in jeans on 3 metre skis would just slow down and find a fur trim helmet we would be fine.
Accidents happen, so ride safe.
|Anterior dislocation of MY shoulder.|
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Monday, 18 June 2012
Heygate is an abandoned estate in South East London. Currently being demolished to make way for a new development. Once home to some 800 people, the estate had a real community feel to it. Regeneration projects are taking place, but it is due to come down soon.
I took a trip down there today, and the real eerie feeling is definitely there.
I took a trip down there today, and the real eerie feeling is definitely there.
Saturday, 16 June 2012
Friday, 15 June 2012
Keep it up La Plagne.
A technological innovation has taken place in La Plagne. A reort map that lets you understand the myriad of villages simple and clearly.
|Screen Shot of New La Plagne interactive resort map.|
Get Ski Fit:
Have you ever had it? You know? That burn in your thighs and that cramp in your calves? Well most snowboarders have, and believe me, it isn’t that pleasant. We look forward to our snowboard holiday all year, and at the end of the first day, all we want to do is put our feet up, gorge on cake and coffee and crawl into bed, knowing that the pain will be worse in the morning.
Don’t be put off though, it is all worth it in the end, but I am going to try and help you prevent this pain, and at least make it that your legs aren’t quivering on the second chair lift of the first day.
The main thing to do is plan ahead and give yourself a realistic goal. Don’t turn up at a gym and tell the trainer you want legs of steel a week before you, prepare yourself as early as possible, the more exercise you get in before you go, the better chance you will have of finding it easier when you get on the hill.
If you are doing it alone, then again, give yourself time, start in the summer even.
You should try and cover all the key, complementary areas of fitness:-
Endurance – This enables you to board for longer periods of time without breaks.
Strength – so you tire less easily and can maintain the correct technique.
Balance –This is to enhance your technique and ensure a good riding style.
If you want to get your moneys’ worth out of that expensive lift pass, you'll need plenty of cardio endurance. Most of us hit the slopes and plan on snowboarding all day, from first lift to last orders, even if it's been months or years since you have last snowboarded. By afternoon, you're so tired that you lose focus and this is often when injuries and accidents happen.
To prepare your heart and body for long-term snowboarding, your cardio program should include 3 to 5 days each week of your favourite activity with the best activities for snowboarding include running, step machines, step aerobics, elliptical trainers and cycling. Try to have a variety of workouts lasting from 20 to 45 minutes. As you get closer to your trip, you can also add time to one of your workouts so that you have one long workout each week. If the gym isn’t your thing, activities such as surfing, walking and roller-blading will increase cardio fitness and also work vital leg muscles as well.
All these do not need to be done in one chunk. If you struggle for time, try a 15 minute walk in the morning and one in the evening. Cycle to work or get off one stop earlier on the train or bus. As long as you are doing something, it will help.
What makes snowboarding such a great exercise is that is uses all of your major muscle groups. However, some muscles are used more than others. You will more than likely feel it in the legs, but the core muscles (those that hold you in place around your stomach, back and hip) will also get a big workout. The leg exercises are the ones you want to concentrate on when it comes to your strength workouts.
Quadriceps - Probably the most used muscle in snowboarding are the muscles of the quads. This group of 4 muscles hold you in position as you board and they also provide protection for your knees. Great exercises for the quads include lunges and squats. These are easily done in the gym or at home.
Hamstrings and Glutes - When snowboarding downhill, you typically hold your body in either a seated position or a forward lean - This requires great strength from your hamstrings and glutes as they help stabilize your body and the lower back. The Gluteus Maximus is the bodies’ largest muscle and plays an important role in heel side turns. Weak glute muscle can lead to knee problems and weaknesses in the ankle, so dynamic lunges, and squats will work this muscle. Work your hamstrings and glutes with deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts and bridging. The joy of these exercises is they can also be done at home too!
Inner and Outer Thighs - Your inner thighs work like crazy when you squat, especially if ride with a duck stance. Your outer thighs keep your body stable and help you steer. Exercises such as inner thigh squeezes, wide leg squats and side leg lifts can hit these muscles.
Calves – On a toe edge, you are effectively controlled by the stability of your calf muscles (specifically the soleus which is located just behind the main calf muscle) These are the muscles that burn when you are riding cat tracks on toe side, so calf raises are the main form of strengthening here. Alongside these, any leg exercise will help balance the calves.
Obviously balance is needed for snowboarding, but whether you have it or you don’t, it can be improved with certain exercises, when practiced regularly. Core conditioning is a very important part of fitness these days, with kettlebells, Swiss balls, BOSU’s and ‘blades’ being just as easy to use at home.
The core muscles will help you balance, and by conditioning these, you will not only improve your balance, but tone your stomach and help your posture. The core muscle make up the base of your body, so regular exercising of these muscles will be beneficial in everyday life as well.
Pilates is a fantastic way to train these, and a good self working DVD or a course of classes will suffice. Needless to say, exercises such as ab crunches, static planks, back raises, side planks, and work on a Swiss ball or BOSU ball will greatly help. These exercises are not to be taken lightly, and require good form, and regular practise.
|BOSU Balls increase core strength effectively|
So there you have it, an idiot’s guide to saving your legs from the aches and pains. Obviously, a good hot tub and sauna will help!
Firstly, allow me to introduce myself.
I'm Mike. I love to snowboard and I love to exercise.
In joining every other person who blogs, I shall be documenting my likes and dislikes in the snowboarding and exercise world, ranting, raving and posting.