Your first day of the ski season. The snow is perfect. Your skis are tuned. You splurged for personalized goggles. In seconds, you’re over the edge, just you and the mountain. Gravity takes over. The sound of sharp edges carving the snow is music. The wintry air stings your face as you hit 30 mph. Within a minute, you pull up. Your quads are burning. This hurts! Then each run feels like a session in the Pit of Despair. Legs. Knees. Lower back. They all cry out. By noon, forget that Avalanche Ale; you’re ready to collapse, not sure if you’re up for more torture. You spend the next week hobbling around like Quasimodo.
So you prepared everything else but your body. That was last year. Start this season with your body harmonized for the sport you love. With proper ski conditioning, you’ll mitigate injuries, spend more hours cruising the slopes and push yourself in new ways. All you need is consistent activity, working the areas that will provide the most return for skiing: core strength, flexibility, balance and cardio endurance.
Your core. What is it and why is it important? The core includes the muscles in your abs, hips, lower back and pelvis. Almost every daily activity emanates from it. Try tying your shoe, getting in your car or picking up your toddler without these muscles.
A weak core leads to lower back pain and muscle injuries. A strong one gives you better stability, balance and strength—qualities that will let you concentrate on your technique rather than the aches and pains.
Paul Rozsypal, director of CU’s USCSA alpine team, has his athletes do everything from mountain biking for cardio and balance to “Herschel Walkers”—sprinting on the corners of a track to strengthen the outside of the thigh or iliotibial band (to help reduce knee injuries). For those pressed for time, any staircase will do, even at work. “Do lunges to every other step,” he said. “One flight forward and then do them in reverse, working the back part of your leg.” Lunges strengthen hamstrings and glutes and increase flexibility. Walking up the stairs backward will build balance while emphasizing different muscle movement.
For Matt Tomasko, director of the Eldora Mountain Ski and Snowboard Club, consistency is key. “The more consistent you are, the better your baseline foundation for fitness will be.” He recommends starting with 20 minutes of running or speed hiking, two to three times a week for intermediate skiers; one to two hour blocks of cycling or trail running for the advanced. He also has his young charges working out at Flatirons CrossFit twice a week. CrossFit combines varied, natural movements with high intensity, essentially conditioning your body to perform in any situation.
However you prepare for the upcoming ski season, make it fun. Vary your routine but keep it consistent. Start now and your body will thank you later.
+ Highgear AXIO Max multifunction watch: This altimeter/barometer/compass is the Leatherman of tech-toys. $150
[Tips TO GET YOU SKI-READY]
+ Cycling/Mountain Biking
Benefits: balance, cardio, leg stength and conditioning and core strength
+ Hiking (especially at higher elevations)
Benefits: cardio, leg strength and conditioning, balance
+ The Bridge (for your core)
Lie on your back with knees bent and arms straight at your side. Lift your pelvis off the ground while tightening your abs. Hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
[Resources] Develop total body fitness and have fun at Flatirons CrossFit.
Or download ski exercise videos to your iPod, iPhone or PC at fitwisetraining.com