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Thursday, January 27, 2005
Updated: May 14, 1:36 PM ET
The Struby Series: Training Day

By Tim Struby
EXPN.com

There I was, sitting on my couch on a bleak, January afternoon. No football until Sunday. No hockey at all. So of course I'm watching my TiVo'd Desperate Housewives. Again. Suddenly the phone rang, waking me out of my Teri Hatcher reverie.

"Yeah?" I barked into the receiver.

"Want to go to Winter X?" asked the voice.

The voice ... yes ... deja vu all over again. The voice was that of my surly, middle-aged action sports editor from ESPN. And today he sounded particularly surly, not only because he's barreling ever closer to the abyss of middle age, but he'd also been busting his hump for weeks in preparation for the Games and hadn't hit the slopes yet this season. Poor guy.
Kruk (center) and Jim (right) help me prepare for my long week ahead. Cheers.
"Who is this?" I demanded, fully aware it would piss him off.

"Who do you THINK???"

"Mom?"

"Are you in?" he asked.

I paused. I thought of January in New York. Arctic cold. About two hours of light every day. Lots of angry, sullen locals. Suicide watches. Mounds of filthy, gray snow. I thought of Aspen. Crisp, clean mountain air. Après ski. Happy, drunken Hollywood stars and X Games athletes. Frothy, white snow. Snowboarding. Snow bunnies. And of course, six days and nights of X Games galore.

"All access?" I ask.

"All access. Just don't miss the plane," he said, and abruptly hung up.

I leapt into action. Okay, I finished watching Desperate Housewives, then I leapt into action. But not very quickly. The holiday season had taken a toll—gratuitous eating, imbibing, and sloth had left me out of shape for the Games—mentally, physically, spiritually. All-Access meant ALL Access, and I'd be damned if I'd let my readers down. That meant I'd have to be tearing up the slopes with the X Games skiers and snowboarders, and reveling through the night at the best private parties and soirees. The answer? Training. Not just any training, but a high-tech, specialized, 2 Phase training regimen that would prepare me for anything.

Phase One started at the Team All-Access Fitness Headquarters (better known as the East 85th street Equinox). If I was going to be snowboarding with the best, I required the best, so I commandeered trainer Christine, who, on her worst day, could easily thrash any superhero/super agent Jennifer Garner played on TV. I told Christine I needed legs. Snowboarding legs. Big, burly, bionic. She smiled and pointed me to the third floor. No problem, I said with a swagger. I'm an athlete. But within the hour, the non-stop barrage of leg presses, squats, calf raises, hamstring curls, dead lifts and lunges had me on the verge of tears.

"M*&&^%^%$&%$#$#*^&%^$$##!%#$!!!!!" I said.

"You sure curse a lot," she said.

Torture has that effect on me, I thought.

"I'm going snowboarding with Bleiler," I managed to say between long streams of profanity. "And I'm hitting the SuperPipe, the one the pros ride. All-access. Cool, huh?"
Christine had her work cut out for her. Soon, I would have buff, snowboarder legs. Or at least, snowbunny legs.
"There's a lot of lip service here," she said with a sly smile in her most professional demeanor. She knew I didn't need to talk; I needed to work. "No more lip service."

That meant pipe down and get lifting.

I did.

The next night, Phase Two began. Barely able to walk, I limped the few blocks from my apartment to Tokubei, my favorite, local sushi joint. I mean, if I'm going to be partying at the Oakley House and the Powder Magazine Awards, hitting the town with Travis Rice and Kelly Clark, my tolerance has to be at peak levels. I hailed Mucho, the bartender, (why a Japanese guy is named 'Mucho' I'll never know), and he slid over a hot sake and a beer. Warmed the cockles of my heart, it did.

A bit later, after a couple of sakes had dulled the pain from my throbbing legs, it was off to Mo's Carribean, an Upper East Side staple. Mo's looked like a fraternity party thrown by David Lee Roth, I told myself, as I ordered a beer from the fetching bartender Bia. Not long after, some of my compatriots, Jim and Kruk, appeared. In tow was Marlin, a 26-year-old German. We downed some tequila. Marlin told me about his hot new clothing-line, Kauz, the hottest gear east of the Rhine. We drank some more tequila. I told him about the X Games—over 230 competitors, four sports, live coverage on ESPN and ABC. The biggest winter bash of the year. Mas tequila. He whipped me in pool. We poured down another Patron. My head swimming, I looked around the Mo's madness and thought maybe being in a David lee Roth video isn't so bad ...

I woke up the next morning, with an afternoon flight to Aspen. The bad news? My head felt like David Lee Roth had smashed it with one of Eddie's old guitars. The good news? Marlin agreed to load me up with Kauz gear—my first sponsor, of sorts.

A hot shower and an Egg McMuffin later, I was ready for Aspen. Ready for ... Ready for what? Were things shaping up out in Aspen? I needed to know the inside story, the skinny, the scoop on the pre-games setup. I needed some recon about what to expect, and when I need something X Games related, only one name comes to mind—Mick.

Mick, the intern of all interns. My Watson, my Sancho Panza, my go-to guy. Sure, he needs to cut that freakish head of hair. True, he travels with a beer bong. And granted, he goes to college in Texas, but when I need something done, when anyone needs something done, Mick is the guy. I call him.
If this girl is taking me snowboarding, I'd better hit the gym a second time today. Make that a third.
"Everything's picking up out here," he said.

"Good," I replied. "How's the social scene?"

"The chicks are all about it."

"Mick, I'm 35," I said. "I don't know what that means."

"No worries. I heard about a Mountain Dew party."

"Where?"

"I don't know," he said. "I'll check it out."

"Check it out," I said, hanging up. Maybe I should confiscate his beer bong.

I zipped up my gear bag, slung my computer over my back and ran downstairs to grab a cab.

It was all coming together. My legs felt as strong as they ever had. My list of contacts was growing; I had ins at all of the parties. Snow was in the forecast. And when the stewardess handed me my first beer, I leaned back into the swanky comfort of my first-class seat and knew it was going be one good, All-Access X Games.