Sure the offseason is always too long, but without the distraction of fresh snow, right now is our best chance at self-improvement. Whether it’s coming back stronger from an injury or finally getting a job that pays above minimum wage, these months provide the equilibrium that keeps us from plunging into the powder abyss (unless you're still getting it in South America, that is).

But self-improvement is also about picking up new skills, getting that step ahead of hordes of skiers aiming at your secret stash. To make sure you're getting the most out of the hardest waiting game on earth, here are a couple things you should learn before the bull wheel starts spinning in a few short months.

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1. How to put on chains
Before you get stuck spinning your wheels on the resort access road, learn how to use those tire chains your parents bought you five Christmases ago. After all, there's far less shame in pulling up a YouTube tutorial and practicing in your driveway than spending the first powder day of the year in a ditch watching the rest of us get it.

2. Public transportation routes
Let's be real, you don't even have a car. Instead of cruising Autotrader, learn your local bus route and memorize that schedule. Remember, when it turns Game On there is no sympathy for the directionally impaired.

3. Your tolerance
On a scale from 0 to John Daly, it's important to know your drink intake before things get hazy at the Foggy Goggle. Better yet, learn your local bartenders name and learn to tip, it'll get you what you want whole lot faster. Just ask this guy.

4. How to use your avy beacon
Seriously. Study up, and study some more. It's not hard, it's important, and there is no makeup test. Read reviews on four options here.

5. Which multi-pass resort conglomerate your home hill joined in the off-season
Vail? KSL? Costco? Seriously, we have no idea. We think this pass is the best deal.

6. How to use the singles line
For reference, I suggest digging out those addition note cards you made in Mrs. Kennedy's 2nd grade classroom. One cute couple trying to get on a rickety triple? That's a single to make it a midwinter ménage a trois. Two dudes on a six-pack? Let's get four out there to make it a full house. Simple math, people. Don't mind me, I'm just waiting to go skiing. Here’s what not to do—a Valentine’s Day fail.

7. Where your core is
Somewhere hidden beneath a summer of fried dough and enchiladaritos are those abs of yesteryear. Prod, poke, and lift until you can locate their last known whereabouts before starting the slow road back to mediocrity. Love it or hate it, this is your best chance at a long, injury-free ski season.

8. How to ignore your body clock
Ski season is a mash-up of whoops-I-lost-track-of-time nights and impossibly early wake-ups, so ditch your leisurely 8 a.m. rise and shine and start messing with your internal clock immediately. Suggestions include jumping in a sensory deprivation tank, hiding 12 alarms around the apartment, or sleeping with the lights on. The better you are at putting on ski gear in utter sensory confusion may just be that extra push that has you on early chair all season long.

Ready for more? Check out these eight training tips the pros won’t tell you about.