By Dan Egan EBS Contributor
The “morning glide” is how I refer to the first run of the day. It’s simply a run to welcome in the day, feel the chill in the air, and gain a sense of the snow under my skis. It’s a chance to say hello to the day and to my body as I glide down the mountainside. I’m not trying to over glorify the scene, just set the stage for the day.
On the first run of the morning, I like to do the following to set up for a day of great skiing.
Never overthink the first run. It’s a judgment-free run and it’s not about performance. Regardless of the conditions—firm, soft, powder, groomed—the goal is to just glide. While gliding, make big, long, sweeping turns and resist the urge to carve and accelerate. Just feel the day, find a rhythm, and breathe in the morning air.
When it comes to your ski boots, leave them a bit loose to start with. Let your foot work its way into the liner. Keeping the boots slightly loose will also enhance the blood flow to your feet, which will keep them warmer and allow them to be more reactive as the day progresses.
The rule of thumb for boots is to buckle them tighter throughout the day, but don’t over tighten them and cut off circulation. Many people crank their boots up tight and then have to unbuckle them between runs. This is counterproductive. If you’re having trouble getting a comfortable fit, see a boot fitter right away.
The main goal on the morning glide is to wake up your senses. Wave your arms, twist your torso, flex your knees deep in the turns, and extend way up in the transitions. This is your morning stretch, a meditative flowing yoga as you slide down the slope.
Often if I feel stiff or sore in my lower back or maybe my hamstrings are tight, I’ll stop and stretch on the side of the hill, concentrating on the specific areas of the body that are asking for attention. I tend to stop a few more times than normal on the opening run of the day, just to remind myself not to rush and to ensure a good, solid warm-up run taking place.
There’s a lot of pressure, especially on the good snow days, to hurry and grab as much of the fresh snow as possible and I fully understand that. It’s the case on any given day when fresh tracks are of a premium.
I select slopes that have the good snow, but are wide open so my turns can flow and I have space to focus on my breathing and movement. It’s on these days when you might be skiing longer distances than normal, trying to keep up with the pack. When this happens focus even more on breathing and lengthening the turn as this conserves energy and allows you to lose the vertical, which will allow you to keep up.
The morning glide for me is my time, my pace, and it creates the dynamic that sets up the entire day. It’s as important to me as the first cup of coffee. Often it feels so good I’ll head right back to the top to do it all over again. And as each run gains momentum throughout the day, I start to rev up performance, increase speed, tighten up the turns, set the edges, and enjoy a full day on the hill.
Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller ski films and countless others. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2016. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world, including Big Sky, where he’ll be teaching Feb. 22-24, March 1-2 and March 8-10, as well as during specialty clinics throughout the season. Visit bigskyresort.com or contact Big Sky Mountain Sports for availability. To find more information on Dan Egan camps and clinics, go to skiclinics.com.