Ski! Your best training for a sport is to participate in the sport. In the Northwest, we are fortunate to have a few ski resorts that remain open into early summer &/or through summer. My recommendation is ski one time a month through the summer.
- Timberline, OR open daily through May 27th. Summer Palmer Snowfield skiing begins June 1st. This should be a busy place this summer with Sochi 2014 Olympic hopefuls from all around the world! http://www.timberlinelodge.com/play/skiing-snowboarding/spring-pass/
- Crystal Mountain, WA remains open through June 16th, weekends only. http://crystalmountainresort.com
- Mt. Bachelor, OR open daily through May 26th. http://www.mtbachelor.com/winter/mountain/tickets/springtacular
Also, there are many youth and adult camps to attend to improve your technique which can be hard to focus on with the winter distraction of POWDER.
- PSIA-NW Summer Ski Camp: http://www.psia-nw.org/event, for professional ski instructors
- Timberline Summer Snow Camps: http://www.timberlinesnowcamps.com/ski-camps/
- Dave Lyon Summer Race Camps: http://www.lyonskischool.com/
- Snowperformance Mt. Hood Summer Camps: http://www.snowperformance.com/calendar1213.asp
Mountain biking is a great crossover sport for skiing. Vision in both skiing and mountain biking is huge – keeping your eyes up taking in where you are currently, looking down the hill where you will be traveling and awareness of trail terrain. When focusing on where you want to go next your mind will remember the terrain it saw and react to it more easily then if you focus on the terrain directly under your skis or bike. In addition, mountain biking is similar to skiing in that you must evenly distribute your weight over the bike; direct your weight toward the outside of a turn; to turn tip the bike under a quiet and stable upper body as the feet and legs would tip and steer the skis through a turn; and, lastly, making a smooth arc through a turn whether on a bike or skis provides the smoothest and fastest line down the hill. In addition, you reap the cardiovascular endurance and stamina benefits from mountain biking which will help you enjoy a first, full day of skiing for the 2013/14 ski season. Check out “Transferring Knowledge from Slopes to Trails and Vice Versa” written by my friend, Greg Dixon, PSIA-NW Telemark Examiner/Clinician, Mt. Bachelor Snowsports Training Manager and Mountain Bike Guide at Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours & Shuttle. http://www.psia-nw.org/wp-content/uploads/Fall_2011.pdf
Many ski areas offer lift access mountain bike trails: Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, Mt. Bachelor, Willamette Pass and Washington areas Stevens Pass Mountain Bike Park and Crystal Mountain. Other Northwest areas offer trail access riding such as White Pass & Mission Ridge. And Portland has an indoor bike park http://www.lumberyardmtb.com/, check it out!
Stamina, strength, balance and flexibility are key fitness training components of any sport, especially one as dynamic and power based as skiing. Ski conditioning proves to be a year-long, lifetime commitment that can NOT be accomplished easily in two months prior to ski season. Balance in motion is the foundation of great skiing. When in balance you can better effect your ski/snow interaction, use your strength, decrease muscle fatigue and injury. Balance training is “easy” and can be completed almost anywhere, daily and with minimal time (5 minutes/day). Simply attempt to balance as long as you can on one foot with your eyes open or closed with a goal to improve that time through the summer.
The more efficient your body takes in and pumps oxygen to the working muscles the harder and longer you can ski without having to stop and catch your breath due to muscle fatigue. A strong aerobic base will also allow skiers an easier transition to higher altitudes where aerobic power is reduced 30% at altitude – so if you start with a higher base of aerobic conditioning when at altitude it won’t drop as low. Summer months are the best time to improve you stamina. When choosing activities pick something you ENJOY –hiking, trail running (similar benefits and crossover as mountain biking), inline skating or nordic walking (see earlier blog “PEAK fitness in The Wall Street Journal”).
Summer is the perfect time to increase your total body muscular strength and endurance to help decrease muscle fatigue in bumps, fit compressive forces of high speed GS turns (strong quads), poling across flats (strong shoulders and triceps) and staying balanced in crud (strong torso/core). You want to increase functional strength – large muscle group, full range of motion, multi-joint exercises like pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, lunging and twisting movements; similar to how your body moves on the snow! Dynamic balance, in skiing, is reliant on an individuals core strength – the trunk remains centered and stable above pumping legs. In addition, the core is the body’s source of power and helps maintain structural integrity when fatigued.
Last, an improvement in range of motion enhances reaction time for better balance recovery through enhanced kinesthetic sense, activated nerve ending and quicker stimulation. In addition, stretching can minimize injuries, provide insurance against falls, smoother movement over irregular terrain and improved performance.
In closing, ski conditioning when done correctly is a year-long process. Skiing, mountain biking and fitness training during the off-season will improve balance, cardio, total body muscular strength/endurance and flexibility – the foundation from which you can execute sport specific movements in your pre-season conditioning: agility, quickness, power, dynamic balance. Next week look forward to the “Top 5 Strength Training Exercises for Skiers”.
If you have any questions or would like more details on off-season ski conditioning contact Jennifer Lockwood. Jennifer is the owner of PEAK fitness NW, 20 year Certified Personal Trainer and 7 year PSIA Level III Alpine Instructor at Mt. Hood Meadows. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.913.8385.