Out of shape

Most skiers I know are not in very good shape for their first day or so on skis. Like me, I guess, as I was too busy with the shows to do exercise in November and December enabling me to go out and ski and film all day the first day without my legs getting so sore I could hardly walk the next day, much less enjoy skiing.

One year in Sun Valley, I was having a painful second day when I was trying to keep up with a doctor friend of mine. When I told him, “My thighs are so sore I can hardly ski today. It’s just not any fun.”

“Warren, go to the drug store and buy some Rolaids,” he said. “They will take the lactic acid out of your muscle fibers and you can ski pain free and enjoy the rest of your holiday.”

The doctor always knows best, so I bought some Rolaids before I did my show in the Opera House that evening. My legs were so sore I could barely climb the stairs onto the stage to get my tape recorder set and be ready to start the show. Part way through the first reel there was a pause in my narration and I had time to chew six Rolaids and not miss a word of the live narration. During the intermission, I had forgotten about my sore legs because all of the pain had gone away. Many years later, I still don’t know what there is in Rolaids that works it magic with your painful muscles, but I’ve have been telling my friends about it for years and I still make sure I have plenty of them in our house in Montana for the friends who visit to ski when they are out of shape.

Painful muscle aches can ruin anyone’s ski vacation, so put Rolaids in your suitcase just in case you might not be in the good shape you think you are.

The day after I took them for the first time, I was running my camera and hauling around my heavy rucksack full of extra stuff as though I had been working out for a couple of months.

While on the subject of that first trip of the year, it pays to remember that the last time you went skiing, it was probably in the late spring and those skis of yours will have spring wax on them. Rather than trying to remove that spring wax, I suggest that you take your skis to the local ski shop and have them professionally sharpen your edges and wax your skis for that below-zero day of the Christmas ski trip you will be taking the family on.

I will be thinking of you because it looks like I will be stuck behind the computer for a couple of more months putting the final edit on my autobiography. This is a project I have spent the last four years working on with my wife Laure doing all of the typing and helping me with the editing.

“Is it a lot of work?” my friends ask. In all honesty, I can’t remember going to work since I started filming my first feature length ski movie in 1950. Skiing was different then with less than 15 chairlifts in America to select from and none of them costing more than $4 a day for a ticket to the top and a one-week ticket cost a wallet busting $20. There were only two chairlifts in Colorado and three in California. I thought that everybody skied because all of my friends skied and some surfed or did both.

As November eased into December and the days grew shorter and colder, on a lot of kitchen tables are full of road maps being analyzed and as much money as possible is being stashed away for that ski vacation somewhere.

When Everett Kircher brought a chairlift to the highest mountain in Michigan in 1948, a lot of people quit making the 24-hour nonstop drive from Detroit to Aspen.

I have never really understood why people live so far away from the Rockies. Or, as I have been preaching for years: Any job you have in the city, that same job is being done in a ski resort somewhere. So, why don’t you move to Montana where there are 16 ski resorts and only a million people in the entire state, which is the fourth or fifth largest state in America. I moved there 15 years ago so I could spend my December to April months skiing every day. If you have a problem packing for that one-week ski vacation to Mount Perfect somewhere, think about all of the stuff that you would need for a four- or five-month ski vacation, pack it up and get going.

In late November and early December, we just start loading up a large box trailer and when there is no more room to put stuff into it, it’s time to hitch it to the back of the SUV for the leisurely 856-mile drive to The Yellowstone Club in Montana. Of all of the skiers in the world, I am one of the luckiest. I got to ski in powder snow in Austria when there was only one chairlift in the entire country and to the best of my knowledge before the first chairlift was even built in Switzerland.

Warren Miller is history’s most prolific and enduring ski filmmaker. Visit warrenmiller.net or visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/warrenmiller.