It’s funny to see what motivates people

to exercise. In my experience, it’s varied from wanting to keep off the

freshman 15 to wanting to keep up with my kids. But for many of us, a sure fire

way to kick start an exercise regime is the pending ski season.

Recall the thigh burning feeling of

your last attempt to tame Winter

Park/Mary Jane’s bumps, or the aching leg syndrome that came with sliding

down Telluride’s

steeps, or the sucking wind sensation that accompanied the hike to Crested

Butte’s extremes – there’s motivation for you.


Over the summer, ski legs

can turn to mush as fast as a home made hot air balloon. With two resorts

open in Colorado, there is no better time like the present to get in ski

season shape. For some tips on where to start, we asked our resident ski

technique guru, and Colorado Ski

Country USA’s 2009 Ski Instructor of the Year

StartFragmentfrom Winter

Park, Julie Pierce


In the two years that Pierce has been

employed as a full time instructor at Winter

Park Resort, she achieved her PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of

America) Level 3 Certification and Trainers Accreditation in alpine skiing. She

also has her AASI (American Association Snowboard Instructors) Level 1 Certification

in Snowboarding.

Julie had a very successful Jr.

USSA/FIS Ski Racing Career for 10 years prior to coaching, placing in the top

five in the Junior Olympics many times. As a result of her experience ski

racing successfully at such a high level, Julie has many well-developed skills

that she translates into her career as an instructor and trainer.



What type of physical preparation should people be doing to get ready for ski


JP: A lot of people forget

about core strength. They lift weights to strengthen their legs and upper

bodies and neglect their core. Having a strong core really pays off during ski

season. You need a strong center when you skiEndFragment


I can’t squat as much as some strong

guys, but I can hold a turn as well as they can because I have a strong core.


What types of exercises can people do to strengthen their cores?


There are lots of exercises that people can do. If you do a lot of exercises

without good form, you’ll get hurt, so I would say that, in any exercise, people

should focus on a proper form.

‘Planks’ is a good exercise for the

core. To do this exercise, you balance on your elbows and toes and stabilize

your body above the ground. This one is good for many ability levels because

you can strengthen yourself by balancing on your knees first and then move on

to stabilizing yourself on your toes as you get stronger.


Planks (Kind of) by the CSCUSA staff


It’s easier to maintain good form in

doing an exercise such as planks vs. doing sit-ups. It’s certainly easier for

me to keep up my form with planks.

People also forget about strengthening

their backs. Doing exercises such as ’supermans’, where people lie on their

front and raise their arms and legs above the ground, are great to work on

overall back strength.

People who go skiing with weak backs

tend to compensate by relying too much on their hamstrings and leg muscles. The

best option is for people is to use their core strength, but in addition to

that, leg training in quads and hamstrings together could help to prevent knee



Are there any good quad and hamstring exercises that you would recommend?

JP: Squats are good to do,

but you need to make sure that, if you do squats, that you do something

specific for your hamstrings too, in order to balance out the strengthening.

This will help to stabilize your knee too.EndFragment 

Squats (Sort of)



Are there any exercises that people should do closer to the season vs. farther



Closer to the season people should add fast-twitch aerobic exercises to their

workouts. (Fast-twitch means muscles that help you with short bursts of

energy.) Skiing is quick and then you get on the chair. Going hard with aerobic

exercises is good, and then rest. That is more like how skiing really is—short

bursts of a lot of energy.

The week before going skiing should be

a lighter week. Otherwise, you may get too tired while skiing because your body

is worn down from your workouts.


What about flexibility?


Flexibility is really important. When people get tight, that’s bad. People

underestimate stretching before skiing. Stretching is not just something you

should do in the gym, you should do it before you ski every time.

I’ve also found that people don’t like

to warm up before skiing. Even if you’re cold, it’s good to walk around in ski

boots to warm up. I recently saw a study of a ski school in Japan that showed

that stretching before skiing helped to prevent injuries on the mountain. There

really should be an emphasis on warming up in the morning.




Are there certain foods people should be eating as they get ready for skiing or

during the day when they’re skiing?

JP: People should drink lots

of water when they go skiing. Even though people may want to eat differently

than they normally do when they’re on a vacation, they should drink a lot of

water no matter what.EndFragment


Drinking Water


Eating plenty of carbs is important

too. When it gets cold, your body needs to burn carbs to stay warm. Your body

doesn’t digest heavy foods as fast, which can work to your advantage. Combine

fast and slow digesting foods so you have energy when you need it. Having a

good base of health and exercise of course helps too.

A lot of people only come for vacation

for a week, but it takes a week or two to get in shape for that week. Being a

little sore after skiing is normal, but without prior training, you’ll be a lot

more sore than you should be.


Should first-time skiers take a lesson? What about people who have been skiing

for a while?


You can’t ski in a gym! Beginners should definitely take a lesson. They will

have a more successful day and be less tired. The instructor will teach how to

stand up when you ski and move in a way that will make you less tense at the

end of the day.

Advanced skiers sometimes

get bad form ingrained and can use a lesson to help correct that and save their

bodies in the long run. Even an hour or two can help an advanced skier quite a

lot. Sometimes a long-time skier will see one new thing in a lesson that can

really help them for a whole season.EndFragment