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Ski Racing and Fitness

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I have a dumb question. Does one's ski racing improve as fitness improves? Here's why I ask. I am in my second year of Masters racing and only my sixth season of skiing (100 days total). My racing this year has been steadily improving, but not fast enough to satisfy me (usually finish mid-pack among all starters). I am a former high-level track and field athlete (throws, sprints)and always knew that fitness was everything. As a desk jockey, my weight is about 15 pounds higher than I want, and 25 higher than when I sprinted (I was 195 then). I have good strength and endurance, but of course the quickness is lacking with the extra 15-20lbs. As I hammer myself back into lean shape, should I expect my racing to improve? I ask because in the NY Masters I see some guys who are also a bit out of shape, but rip it up. Of course, they were collegiate or pro racers years ago, and I just started skiing at age 37. Will being a better athlete improve my racing, technique and tactics remaining equal (does better fitness make technique and tactics easier)?
post #2 of 16

Even with those guys who are a bit out of shape but still rip, the question should be: Would they ski better if they were in better shape. The answer is, I think, self-evident. I'm a lousy racer but I do understand that leg strength (in holding those forces that build in the carves) and endurance are important. The better shape your in, the better you ski.

That said, the limiting factor right now, and where improvement might make a dramatic change to your times, may be your technique or strategy. So maybe hit the gym and take a clinic!
post #3 of 16
The answer is a conditional yes, you will improve if you work out in a way that doesn't limit range of motion or cause imbalances in muscle groups.

Basic leg strength is a big one, but often overlooked are "balance muscles" and core strength. Plyometrics are usually the most efficient way to develop the dynamic strength and flexibility that gives you confidence to take a faster line and recover from the unexpected. That is, once you've developed the related muscles to the extent that you won't injure yourself.

Get with a personal trainer and tell them what you want. Another good resource is a college or junior program. They can at least point you in the right direction.
post #4 of 16
There is a definite physiological correlation between speed and strength. When I teach my SKI-READY (tm) classes, I sometimes encourage the college ski racers to do a bit more strength training than recreational skiers. Strength and endurance are important for everyone, but recreational skiers may tend to overuse it. {ask me how I know this?

I cannot over stress how neccessary it is to integrate strength with balance and stability.

At the Academy, we spoke about lateral stability, which is important for angulation. This is often peoples weakest link. Exercises such as side bends over a stability ball can be helpful.

Have a great season!
post #5 of 16
I'd love to see what a world cup off-snow training program looks like.
post #6 of 16

ME TOO!!!! and good luck finding one. i've been surfing online for a couple YEARS now, just trying to get a glimpse of a reasonably structured regimen.

if you find one, let me know.

i DO remember skiracing magazine's first issue of the season, maybe 3 years ago (bode on cover, skiing K2's), in which there were references to the weightlifting the austrians were doing (some STRONG guys), but nothing like what you and i are looking for, specifics-wise.
post #7 of 16
Strength and fitness are a huge part of ski racing. I began racing last season at the college level. Being that i had never raced before i did not do a lot of preseason training. I did run frequently, but this season i took up a quite rigorous mix between running stairs, distance, and a lot of weight training. During this 4 or 5 month period i actually gained 10lbs (of muscle obviously). Once i got on the snow at the beginning of this season i was skiing better than i ever had in my life, immediately skiing better than the end of last season.

My dad also has a similar story, but not related to racing - just free skiing. A few years ago my dad was diagosed with diabetes, and decided to control it with his diet. As soon as he began this new diet he immediately lost around 15 lbs, making him fairly physically fit. He noticed a huge improvement in how much easier skiing was for him. His skiing also improved greatly and still is improving to this day.


post #8 of 16
Want to know what the National teams are doing for training?
Contact the USST in Park City, and order a copy of the current US Alpine Training Manual. It has most of what the team is currently doing, off season. But remember- in addition to this info, each athlete has a personalized program they follow on their own.

Or find a real exercise naz/personal traineri at your local gym, explain what you want to accomplish, and hang on. There is no doubt that your skiing will improve, but it must also be combined with improved technique.

post #9 of 16

There was some weight training info in one of this year's ski racing issues, but it didn't go into much detail.


Good idea about the training manual. I'll check on that.

I've been weight training for 6 years. Based on things I've seen many times in commercial gyms, I would never suggest a personal trainer to someone who is serious about results. It's very hard to find a trainer that is as knowledgable as they should be.

Here are a few good weightlifting resources.
post #10 of 16
Unfortuntely, as is the case in ski schools, there are trainers on the gym floor who are either uncertified, or are certified, but marginally qualified.
The top certifications are
National Strength and Conditioning Association {NSCA}
Major focus is traditional weight training and Sports conditioning

American College of Sports Medicine {ACSM}
Main focus is cardiovascular fitness. Trainers are very knowledgeable about Cardiovascular Disease.

National Academy of Sports Medicine {NASM}
Focus is on integrating traditional strength programs with balance training programs. The MAJOR focus is on kinetic chain theory and muscle firing patterns. Great stuff for skiing! The problem is, the test is very challenging, many either fail or refuse to take it. http://www.nasm.org

ACE: This is a general fitness certification.

Now here is the dirty little secret of the fitness industry. A group exercise teacher is generally paid higher than a personal trainer, even though the trainer is bringing in extra money to the facility. The audition procedures for gym based group exercise instructors are competitive, but entry level personal trainers will be given employment. Some groupx instructors also personal train. They are sometimes your best bet.

As far as ski team exercises go, OLN does segmants on this, occaisionally. What I have seen is:
Doing the elliptical backwaards, from a squat position
Lots of stuff on the Bosu
Stability Ball crunches, tossing a medicine ball to a partner
Playing soccer to promote agility
Trampoline work
post #11 of 16
I tend to agree with vm about some of the personal trainers I have seen. Serious people in Ottawa have access to the Peak Centre for Human Performance which is used by many elite athletes as well.

Interesting exercises that the Canadian Alpine Team used to do (not sure about today):

Squat - bodyweight X 60 reps < 8 minutes *tested overall nervous system/physical preparedness*

Tuck/walk - walked UP a downhill course, in the summer, in a tuck position...BACKWARDS.
post #12 of 16
The most ski-specific activity I do is the rollerblading, which I began last August and which absolutely had me more balanced on skis than I'd ever been come the first skiing in December. I do believe that as I get better at this (I suck), my skiing will really be ready to be kicked up a notch.

[ April 04, 2003, 07:18 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #13 of 16

The book seems like it may be pretty good!
post #14 of 16
I've posted this one in a few topics:
post #15 of 16
You could try this video if you can find a different source. It's by Kjeteil Aamodt on w/c giant slalom training and includes dryland training.


[ April 09, 2003, 10:55 AM: Message edited by: Tog ]
post #16 of 16
Originally posted by Warren:
Tuck/walk - walked UP a downhill course, in the summer, in a tuck position...BACKWARDS.
I posted that in a few threads - got ignored....

Did it a little last summer walking up the hill out of town after my morning coffee... it is seriously harder than it seems...

Walking on uneven terrain backwards also trains you to 'feel' your feet & trust them
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