Life on the Edge: The Importance of Nutrition for the Athlete


One of the first things I learned about being a ski instructor was the similarity with struggling actors and artists.  It's a neat title, but usually without much of a paycheck, especially in the beginning.  Those stories about 2 hour lunches at private on-mountain clubs and picnics packed by personal chefs are true, but not usually experienced by the new instructor.  I was lucky enough to be fast-tracked by more practiced instructors on the nuances of eating like a professional instructor style.

First of all, it is critical to locate the utensil/condiment section of the on mountain cafeteria.  Although many resorts have now moved the Saltine cracker packages to within the confines of the paying customer section, it is still fairly easy to scam some by mumbling something about needing them for a student.  At least 5 small packages are ideal.  From there, scoring some of the free jelly packages, or even the syrup portions gives you breakfast and/or dessert.  A really good day includes some of those marshmallows near the hot chocolate.  Don't forget to get one of the free water cups and fill it with hot water.  Back at your table, add 4 to 5 ketchup packages to the water, and hot soup is yours!  And at home, keep in mind that you can add literally anything to a 10 cent pack of Ramen noodles to keep things interesting.

Now, for special events.  When I first started teaching, my base location had a small bar above the ticket office and public cafeteria (our locker room was below the ticket office, which will tell you something about hierarchy).  After the guests had left for swankier après locations, the Cantina was the place to be to maintain a proper instructor's diet.  A pitcher of beer was relatively cheap, and the clincher was that the place had a free popcorn machine.  And free table top bottles of Cholula, a Mexican hot sauce.  There you have it...pretty much all important food groups INCLUDING vegetables!  By the time The Simpsons came on the bar's TV, the average instructor was so bloated by the beer, popcorn, hot sauce combo that he/she could take the free bus home feeling pretty satiated.

But for truly special nights we had nachos.  I mean really, really good ones!  But they weren't cheap (read: free).  This event was saved for the rare day that an instructor got a tip and was gullible enough to let the rest of us know about it.  The trick was not only good placement at the long community table (closer to the kitchen than the paying host), but also well sharpened elbows.  The position was on the edge of the seat, elbows poking out high and wide to block the opponents.  The most impressive nacho night I remember involved the quick reflexes of an instructor that waited with an empty chip for a co-worker about to eat a fully loaded nacho chip.  In one smooth arc, the naked chip swooped down on the loaded chip and was scraped clean.  The entire contents of the nacho was in the vultures gullet in less than a second.  It was beautiful.  In fact, in true instructor style, we overanalyzed the movement complete with a prescription for improvement.  Yep, camaraderie was the key in the lean times!