Counting down the days |

Counting down the days

Old Town Hot Springs' ski fitness class helps locals prepare for season on the slopes

— Nearly two-dozen aspiring skiers and snowboarders crowded into a wide park near Steamboat Springs High School on Thursday afternoon. Like so many eager to hit the slopes, they were thrilled with the fresh blanket of snow that had fallen upon the city Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

They didn’t attack the powder with the reckless abandon of expert skiers tearing down the Valley View ski run. Instead, they bounded through it with the enthusiasm of a child.

The days of attacking Mount Werner are near, and the group kept its focus Thursday on preparing for the assault, working with a ski fitness class put on by the Old Town Hot Springs.

Personal fitness trainer Chris Voyvodic leads two twice-weekly classes through workouts around Steamboat.

Thursday, his pupils stretched in a long line across a snow-covered soccer field. It was cold, and the sun was cloaked behind thick clouds for much of the 90-minute workout. That did little to appeal to Voyvodic’s sympathies.

He worked the group hard and left many of the lunch-hour warriors panting heavily and searching desperately for the comfort of a deep breath.

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The group focused on improving general fitness and agility, advancing up and down the soccer field. Sometimes it did so at a dead sprint, other times with giant leaps and, every so often, sliding while facing sideways, ever ready to switch directions and reverse course with one sharp command from Voyvodic.

The monotonous pattern carved deep troughs in the snow and more than once left exhausted and beaten participants waiting at one end while everyone else continued on.

“We’re just getting them ready so when the mountain opens, they’re ready to go,” Voyvodic said. “We want them to be ready to ski on the mountain, if that’s what they choose to do. Some don’t even have ski passes, though. They ski the back country, and they want to be ready, too.”

More than 60 people are participating this fall, split into two classes. The entire group was split between those that have made Voyvodic’s annual eight-week program a ritual and those stepping up for the first time.

“I’m masochistic,” Henry Laughlin said, explaining his decision to join the class for the first time. “I’m the oldest, 54 years. And I feel it, too, after that.”

Amy Beck participated with a large group of her SmartWool co-workers.

“We’re just getting in shape for the season,” she said. “It’s a great motivator to help get you going and get you outside during the day.”

It was tough, but none quit, and the pace didn’t slow. The sun finally appeared late in the workout for the first time since the season’s most significant snow had fallen, and, almost as if on cue, the frosted slopes of Mount Werner came into view.

“It’s really hard,” six-year class veteran Carrie Requist said. “It hurts like hell now, but it makes the first time down the mountain really great.”