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Pregnancy Skiing, Aspen-Style

In a town like Aspen, Colorado—where the ski season stretches from November to mid-April and most days are scheduled around slope time—packing away your skis for an entire pregnancy just isn’t an option.

“I conceived in February 2013 and skied until the mountain closed in April, when I was two months pregnant,” says Tess Weaver Strokes, an Aspen resident, expert skier and senior writer at Freeskier magazine. “I would have continued longer had the ski season not come to an end. My friend skied until she was 33 weeks pregnant. By then she had to have someone else buckle her boots. She wore large ski pants belted below her bump and her husband’s ski jacket.”

So how do the super-active women of Aspen negotiate, say, a black diamond run in their second trimester? Weaver gives us the lowdown on how to stay on the slopes.

Local Support

Most people in Aspen are supportive of pregnant skiers, but people who don’t live in the mountains often don’t understand. I’m sure any pregnant skier has received disapproving glances or comments from tourists or family or friends who don’t ski. If you’re an advanced or expert skier, you often feel safer skiing than you do walking on an icy sidewalk!

Slope Safety

For advanced skiers, the main concern while skiing pregnant is another skier crashing into them. Minimize this risk by skiing on weekdays or skiing early in the morning or late in the day, when the slopes are emptiest. Pregnant skiers often stick to groomed slopes, or pristine powder, rather than jarring moguls or crud that might jostle the baby or increase the risk of a fall.

Cross-Training Tips

Skiing is ideal, but cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking can fill the gap. Uphill skiing is growing in popularity; skiers attach skins to the base of their skis, which grip the snow and allow them to ascend a slope. It is low-impact, relatively safe and a lot more fun than the gym. Winter hiking is great during pregnancy and postpartum with a bundled-up baby. A lot of the winter hiking trails are used heavily in Aspen, so it’s best to wear Yaktrax or some kind of hiking cleats for stabilization.

Easing In

I delivered on November 9 and skied 17 days later. I felt more fragile than usual, but it was wonderful to get some fresh air and do what I love most. I took it easy for another month and then felt back to normal by the New Year. I practiced yoga throughout the season to strengthen my core and skied uphill and hiked for my cardio workouts.

Natural Selection

I grew up skiing with my family and ski racing in Bend, Oregon. Skiing has always been a major part of my life, so even when I was pregnant I couldn’t imagine not doing it. I never felt that I was putting my baby in danger. When I was carrying a little extra weight, I loved the weightlessness of sliding down a slope. I loved the fresh air and sunshine. I am at my happiest when skiing, and I think those positive vibes were great for my mental game and for the baby.

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