As athletes, we’re surrounded by so much stimulation. Different training plans, techniques, ski brands–they’re thrown at us with the validating factor being that they worked for someone else. Especially at this time of year, it’s easy to look towards the impeding season and notice how great things look on everyone else. I, like any athlete, have spent part of my career trying on approaches that, for whatever reason, just didn’t fit.
Then I went shopping.
Exercise, especially in the quantity that we consume, should give you the superstar fashion model I-can-wear-anything kind of body. One would think.
Last week, we went shopping for dresses (fundraiser season!) and I am finding that my body, though strong, and beautiful, yada yada yada, likes to do its own thing. All I wanted was a navy dress, so, knowing that I ranged anywhere from a 6 to a 12 in dress sizes, I pulled every single shape and spin of every single navy dress in the store (which I shall not name but has a lot of letters that may or may not stand for anything).
First dress, a great strappy blue thing with all kinds of angles and slits in the top, fits upper body quite well. But (no pun intended), as I try to pull it down over my bottom, ROAD BLOCK. I twist and turn (gracefully, duh) in the mirror to see what tag or strap or zipper is caught somewhere and realize that nothing is caught on anything…other than the dress on my ass. With this one, my bum appears to be my limiting factor. Split jumps will do that to you. Although not to the extent of our Alpine brethren, this seems to be a common skier problem. Next dress.
For the second dress, I pull up from the bottom, realizing that if it doesn’t make it over my gluteus, it doesn’t make the cut. So far so good as I pull on the sleeves and begin to zip up–ROAD BLOCK. At my rib cage. More specifically, where my lats begin. This is a new problem, because until a year ago, I didn’t even know that I had those muscles. They are the result of more uphill double poling that I’ve ever done in my life and have effectively induced the illusion that I have sprouted wings. This form fitting number will not fly so, Next!
The next dress is a glorified tall Tee, made for a box, I cannot go wrong. It’s supposed to ebb and flow, it’s against its nature to cling to anything, especially not the body parts with which I am or am not endowed. I manage to get it on my frame, zipping up the back all the way and peering over my shoulder at the artwork that is a brilliantly intricate cross stitch design. Then I turn around. Somehow, the glassy, silky fabric has navigated itself across my chest and into my armpits, creating a harsh, shelf-like catastrophe in what is supposed to be a lady’s softest feature. I ask my teammates what was happening, moved up a size and find the same misfit. “Oh,” Sophie says, giggling. “It’s caught on your pecs.” If ever there were a time to make an unimpressed face, this is the time.
I left the store with no dress, but my spirits weren’t dampened. A few days later, I reentered another dress shop, with my mom in tow (because she is, and and always will be, the best pair of eyes I could ever bring shopping). Same story, “Hello, I’m looking for a navy dress,” “Yes, let me rig the entire store for you and your mom’s purse.” Great. I’m in. Let’s go.
First dress: taken down by the quads. Second dress: traps. Third dress: Looked great! But, due to those split jumps, the back tended towards a very different kind of fundraising, of which my mother was not a fan. Next dress!
The final dress had a loose bottom, open bodice, wide straps and open shoulders. It fit me, I didn’t have to fit into it. And it was navy.
Classic skier style, training is never far from my mind. As a twirled and smiled in the mirror, thrilled to have finally found a fit, a little snowball hit me.
Just like anything else–dresses, cars, colleges–training should be something that fits me, not something that I try to squeeze into. Illness, travel, fatigue, energy, body shape, these are the things that are specific to me, not the general plan created for me. As I get farther into this whole skiing gig, I’m starting to get that. I’m starting to realize that what looks great on my teammate might not look great on me, that I can take what I like but look elsewhere for what I need.
No matter how much I’ve trained, how many places I’ve been, skiing won’t be an I-can-wear-anything kind of thing. It will be something with good cuts, weird fits, and eventually the perfect design.
Eventually, you grow into the confidence to find something that fits you perfectly, and even shows off your lats.