Health December 5, 2011

Body and Soul

Staying safe, healthy and comfortably dressed from head to toe all ski season long.




































Healthy and Safe
Avoiding Injury/Mountain Prep [p. 2]
What's the Rub? [pg.3]

Head to Toe
Boot Fitting 101 [p. 4]
Save your Noggin [p. 5]

Sweet Skivvies and Sick Mountain Gear
First Lite Undergarmets [p. 6]
Deep Roots [p. 7]


Tips and tricks for staying healthy all season

For some people, preparing for winter means sporting the coolest new garb and gear. But for others, it’s about making sure they’re ready to conquer the mountain so that it doesn’t conquer them. While the former may get you catcalls when cavorting under the chair, the latter will save your bacon from injuries that can take months to overcome.


An Ounce of Prevention

Dr. Stephen Wasilewski, an orthopedic surgeon who has practiced in Ketchumfor more than 20 years, believes that being physically fit is central to avoiding injury. “The number one thing is to get in shape before the season starts—actually, that’s number one, number two and number three.”

Exercising year-round is an important component in preventing injury, especially as we age. “I’m going to ski myself into shape is a bogus statement,” explained Wasilewski. “Once you’re into your 40s and 50s, you simply cannot do what you did when you were 18.”

A complete exercise program involves more than just lower extremity strength. Erin Finnegan, a physical therapist at Sun Valley Sports Rehab Clinic at Thunder Spring, assesses patients from head-to-toe to determine imbalances and weaknesses. “Perfecting your mechanics is key. Optimal strength, joint range of motion, intrinsic movement—how strong is your mid-back or your rotator cuff? A lot of what we do for patients is to educate them. So many injuries have their source in core inflexibility and can spread to other areas of the body,” said Finnegan.

Let’s Get Physical

Yoga and Pilates are popular for a reason. They provide flexibility and strength where it matters most—your core. Gloria Gunter, MPT, MMed and a partner in Physical Therapy Plus of Idaho stresses both. “You need the balance of strength and flexibility. If all you are is strong and not flexible, you’re at an increased risk for injury, ”she explained.

Fortunately, there are dozens of classes designed for strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. The YMCA offers spinning, circuit training, core power yoga and ski conditioning, among others. Zenergy at Thunder Spring has a weighty schedule of classes that do the trick as well—Pilates and gentle yoga for instance. Yvette Hubbard, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, is Clinics and Programs Manager at Zenergy and believes that varying your routine is paramount. “Not only do you get bored with the same workout over time, your body gets bored and needs change. You need muscle confusion,” said Hubbard. -Jody Orr



Once you’re in peak shape, here are some pointers to get you safely down the hill:


Get Tuned: Take your equipment in for a checkup.  Malfunctioning equipment makes you as vulnerable as a set of atrophied quadriceps. Binding settings need to match ability, so set wisely and avoid a torn ligament. 

Eat Breakfast: Low blood sugar results in a weak body, poor reflexes and increased chance for injury.

Wear a Helmet: Research tells us that helmets can save lives.  Less than half of U.S. boarders and skiers wear helmets despite the fact that their advent accounts for a 43% decrease in head, face and neck injuries.

Don’t Be a Hero: Ski or board terrain that is comparable to your ability, not your ego.

Learn How to Fall: More people break their wrists and thumbs snowboarding by sticking out arms, or injure a knee trying to stand up mid-fall while skiing.

 For Skiers: Fall uphill if possible. The ground is closer and there’s less tendency to slide. Absorb the fall with your hip and shoulder to protect knees and arms.

For Snowboarders: Keep your arms close to your body. When falling forward, bend your knees, and let your chest absorb the fall. Should you fall backwards, bend your knees, tuck your chin (so you don’t bump your head) and land on your rear end.  It hurts less than breaking a bone.

Quit While You’re Ahead: The majority of injuries occur after 3pm.  Don’t let your buddies goad you into “taking just one more run.” You’ll regret it. -Jody Orr


Chicken Soup for the Muscles

Bodywork is like chicken soup for the muscles. It’s soothing, calming, and just what the doctor ordered. Massage treats illness by boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure and helping the body flush out toxins. There are dozens of massage therapists in the Valley who provide countless treatments and just as many different techniques. The following range of therapies are all well-suited for sports massage and all offer the same outcome—making you feel better.


Ashiatsu: Translating from Japanese literally as foot (ashi) pressure (atsu), ashiatsu gives new meaning to foot massage. Feet are used in place of hands (bars hang from the ceiling to balance the therapist), to work deeper tissue, glide over muscles and move fascia. Great for deap pain.

Swedish Massage: Created at the turn of the last century by Henry Peter Ling in Sweden, this technique was developed to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones. Swedish massage uses kneading, circular friction and tapping techniques, along with long, flowing strokes, always rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart.

Shiatsu: Shiatsu translates as finger pressure and uses thumbs, palms, elbows, forearms and sometimes knees and feet to apply pressure at specific points related to the central and autonomic nervous systems.

Muscle Cupping: While relatively new to this country, the technique of muscle cupping is centuries old and draws upon traditional Chinese medicine. It works well as a soft tissue detox by using cups to suction skin away from the bone as a way to re-distribute soft tissue fluids and release toxins.

And remember that a good massage therapist will employ a variety of techniques, often combining one or two or more of the above with other methods based on each client’s specific needs. So be sure to discuss any special concerns or injuries with your practitioner prior to your treatment. -Jody Orr

Making ski boots your friend, not your foe

Brent Hansen (second from left) and the Ski Tek team. Courtesy Sue Hansen

Brent Hansen of Ski Tek’s Hansen Orthotics Lab in Ketchum is a Boot Fitting Master. He’s been fitting ski boots for 30 years and his impressive résumé includes not only serving as a technician on the World Cup Tour but fitting countless locals, from weekend warriors to the Valley’s finest pros—signed posters from legendary skiers like Reggie Crist, Dick Dorworth and Langely McNeal line his shop.


Brent uses old school techniques on new school boots, incorporating things like taking a mold of your foot in beeswax and sand (to get that perfect cast), and using intuition liners and the newest, state-of-the-art boots from companies like Atomic, Head, Nordica and Dalbello. If getting a perfect fit in your ski boots seems like a daunting task, fear not, Hansen has a few tips before you head out to any boot-fitting shop. “Be patient,” he says, “the boot-fitting process can be tedious, but the more custom a fit is, the more fun skiing will be.”

1. A good pair of boots should last 5 to 10 years. To help extend the life of your boots after your original liners wear out you can put in an aftermarket liner. This will get you another two to three years out of your boots.

2. Shells often wear out on the toe and heel— but don’t throw them away just yet! “Most bottoms can be replaced with original or custom plates or lifters, giving your boots new life,” Hansen says.

3. Buckle up—all the way! “When you are fitting a new boot, buckle them up like you would while skiing so that your heel moves back into the heel pocket,” he says. “Otherwise the right size boot will always feel too small.” And always make sure that your boot-fitter puts your naked foot in the shell. It is important that the shell looks like your foot.

4. There is nothing wrong with a little stiffness. If your boots aren’t firm enough to hold your lower legs in place and make the skis work, you start cheating and taxing your quads. Brent says he sees too many people with loose boots who end up destroying their quads after only a few runs. Don’t make the same mistake.

5. Outfit your foot—get the right sock! Bad socks can ruin the feel of a good fit, so make sure you wear the proper sock for trying on new boots and when skiing. Brent recommends wool alpaca compression socks that are tight and thin for both comfort and function.

6. There is definitely a difference between men’s and women’s feet. Women have smaller heels and wider forefeet. So girls, while you shouldn’t be afraid to try those women-specific boots, make sure they fit you correctly. Brent often sees women with boots too soft for mighty Baldy! -Katie Matteson

This season's top helmets


Every passing ski season, helmets become more and more prevalent in the ski industry and not just because the obvious safety benefits cannot be denied. It’s because companies like Smith and Poc are making cooler and cooler-looking helmets and companies like Skullcandy are making sweet helmet and audio accessories. Wearing helmets to ski or board isn’t just becoming a smart way to save your noggin, it’s becoming a cool fashion statement.


















Sturtevants Mountain Outfitters’ expert Olin Glenne explained the healthy trend of wearing helmets, “Everyone in my family wears one every time we ski. It has become easier to pick out the people in a crowd that aren’t wearing a helmet these days. We even see people with several helmets to match their different outfits.”

“The properties of a helmet are basic physics,” explained Lindsey Johnson, Helmet product manager at Smith Optics. “The presence of one on your head increases the amount of time your head takes to decelerate during impact. This means less impact on your head during a crash.”

So whether you are looking for a helmet for the fashion statement, the safety benefits or both, we asked the experts about which helmets we should be wearing this season. -Katie Matteson


First Lite undergarments are durable, lightweight and soft

Courtesy First Lite

Women all over the country are thanking local boys Scott Robinson, Kenton Carruth and Brick Blackburn for founding First Lite Merino wool hunting clothes. The same natural composition of Merino wool that makes it so great for skiers and boarders on the mountain also makes it perfect for hunters. It’s warm and cool, water-repellent, durable, anti-static, a UV protector and, perhaps best of all, it’s odor resistant.

The lack of odor is just a pleasant by-product of First Lite’s vision. The backbone of their endeavor is the combination of camouflage patterns with the most versatile fabric available, sewn in patterns that meet hunters’ needs. There are several elements, both physical and chemical, that make Merino wool naturally resistant to odors. Finally, men are coming home from hunting trips smelling a little sweeter!
First Lite focuses on using Merino wool because it offers hunters several specific advantages that are important to their sport:

• There’s no shine, since unlike synthetics, wool completely absorbs light. Combine this with a camo pattern and hunters can slip completely into the background, making them less visible to their prey.

• There’s no sound, as wool is virtually noise free. It doesn’t whip, crackle or shear.

• There’s no smell, and every hunter knows how important it is to minimize odor.

• It’s lightweight and soft. Merino wool fibers are some of the finest found in nature, producing fabrics that are durable, lightweight and soft enough to wear next to the skin.

Hunting requires all day comfort. First Lite feels wool is the answer. It performs well in every condition, keeping hunters warm in the mornings, cool as the day heats up and, amazingly, completely odor-free day after day, hunt after hunt. Robinson and Carruth also found that there were many situations where they wanted their Merino layer on the outside but were limited to black as a color choice. Enter camouflage.

“Prey can hear you twice, see you once, "
but if they smell you they’re gone.”
–Kenton Carruth

First Lite spent countless hours perfecting a process to print on Merino wool that doesn’t degrade its natural benefits. First Lite now offers three of the top camo patterns in the country: ASAT Camo, Mossy Oak’s Break-Up Infinity and Realtree Advantage Max-1. They can be found at major retailers like Cabela’s and High Mountain Outfitters, but the only place to get them locally is High Desert Sports on River Street in Hailey.

“We found that we could use these products for bow hunting in September, rifle hunting in October, and hunting for upland game birds and waterfowl in November and December,” says Carruth.

Now thanks to the ideas and research technology of a few local hunters, a national industry that is typically slow to adapt to new technology is feeling (and smelling) the difference. -Nancy Glick


First Ascent and the Sun Valley Connection

Lexi DuPont—a local face and a gear tester for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent. Courtesy Eddie Bauer First Ascent (Didier Gault)


First Ascent is all over the ski industry. The wares of the technical outdoor clothing company—an offshoot of Eddie Bauer—can be seen in skiing magazines, at competitions and on some of the world’s finest outdoor athletes. We chatted with Damien Huang, senior vice president of outerwear, active wear and gear at Eddie Bauer, about the company and its Sun Valley connection.


SVM: What is the inspiration behind First Ascent?


DH: While the First Ascent line is new, the concept behind it is not. Eddie Bauer was testing all his gear when he started in 1920. So when CEO Neil Fiske came on board his goal was to bring the company back to its rich outdoor and mountaineering roots. With Idahoan and Sun Valley local Peter Whittaker, they put together a plan for a line of authentic and practical expedition-quality outerwear and gear that would be designed and built by a group of elite mountain guides.

SVM: How important was it to get real athletes and guides involved?


DH: There would be no First Ascent without the guides and athletes. They are the ones that design and test the outerwear and gear all over the world. This helps us create a line that is both authentic and practical, whether you’re climbing Mt. Everest or just skiing on the weekend.

SVM: Your athletes and guides, like Peter Whittaker, Melissa Arnot, Ed Viesturs, Reggie and Zach Crist, Erik Leidecker, Wyatt Caldwell, Lexi DuPont and Lynsey Dyer, are all from Sun Valley. Is this a coincidence?


DH: American mountain and ski guiding has deep roots in Sun Valley. Averell Harriman recruited prodigal ski guides to help teach guests the skills required to climb and ski the surrounding mountains. These guides brought more than mountain savvy—they translated a romantic lifestyle that forever changed the way Americans thought of mountain culture. Sun Valley, undoubtedly, continues to be home to some incredible guides and athletes who are the best in their sport. Their experience makes them indispensable assets to the teams and the brand. It’s then no accident that so many First Ascent guides hail from Sun Valley—one of the first guide meccas. -Katie Matteson


This article appears in the Winter 2014 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.