Staying loose on the road

Tim Jitloff

Tim Jitloff, left, playing guitar with fellow skier Andre Myhrer.

I knew going into the first World Cup super-G race of the season Dec. 1 that it wouldn’t be an easy situation. The course in Lake Louise, Canada, is set up in such a way that a technical skier like me has a disadvantage -- it’s without many technical turns, so my ability to use those skills was thrown out the window immediately.

I tried my best to charge hard down the hill, but the circumstances weren’t meant to be for me, and I wasn’t very fast that day. Though I finished 54th, I took as many positives away from the race as I could, and as any athlete should.

Tim Jitloff

Tim Jitloff is feeling fit and ready to go for the World Cup season.

One is that my fitness is very high at the moment. Even after a minute and a half of charging as fast as I could, I wasn’t physically tired. In fact, I felt strong and fresh, which will serve me well since many of our races are at high altitude, where you absolutely need to be fit.

And I’m getting used to the nerves involved in big-time races. It’s something every athlete has to adapt to, and playing my electric guitar during downtime has been a great way for me to relax.

Music also gives my brain a workout: While skiing uses one part of the brain every day, the creative part is left to the wayside. So I try to play almost every day on the road to keep my brain functioning and thinking about something other than the stress of my sport.

Luckily I’m not the lone guitar player on the tour. There are many great players, including Swedish skier Andre Myhrer. He was my first teacher, and he helped me learn some of the basics. The rest I picked up by myself. To this day we still get together and play, and I am always learning something new.

The long winter on the road can be tough, but if you find things to grow your mind, such as learning an instrument, it can help you stay sane.

Music is one of the most important factors in helping me find the right place in my mind to get out there and race. Most people have their routines on game day. For me, as long as I have some good classic rock ‘n’ roll tunes, I am a happy guy.

Now bring on the season!

Reach me at: www.timjitloff.com / Twitter: @T_Jit / Facebook.com/TimJitloff