Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Look outside this week?

That’s right, there are ribbons of white running right down the tops of the trails on each of our four mountains. And if you turn on television, the news channels have been giddy in announcing the record early openings at Loveland (earliest in 40 years) and A-Basin (earliest in 64 years) last week.

What all of this means, of course, is that it is time to get in shape for ski season. Some people have already started classes while others prefer to work out on their own in gyms or living rooms. Any way you want to do it is fine. Just be sure that you get a program together so that come December you’ll be able to link a series, or two, of solid turns.

Provided you are in decent shape to begin with and don’t have any medical restrictions placed on you by your personal physician, there are four key things to focus on in ski conditioning programs – aerobic endurance, muscle strength, flexibility and agility.

Obviously, if you can ski all day without losing your breath, if you are strong enough to make a hundred turns without losing your strength, if you’re loose enough to bound up and down over bumps from top to bottom, and if you are agile enough to right yourself when you have bounded to one ski, then you’re already in good enough shape for the ski season. But for the rest of us, a three to five day a week workout plan emphasizing these four areas can do oodles of good.

Start with the aerobic. The key is to up whatever it is that you already do. If you are a walker, walk a little farther and a little faster each day. If you run or bike, try to add in some interval training to get the heart rate up a bit during your workouts. Remember that even though we live and work at 8,000 feet or so, when we climb to the top of the Bowl we are at over 12,000 feet – fully 50 percent higher. Any advantage we can gain in the next six weeks translates into an easier climb this winter when we want to get to the powder just a bit faster.

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Next, it’s time to get stronger and this means working on your core muscles as well as the smaller muscles that support your legs and ankles. The core is what supports your whole body. The area between the chest and knees is the trunk of the tree and if it is strong you’ll be able to ski and board not just more easily but better. From crunches to lunges to working with a medicine ball, there are all sorts of exercises that will help you get strong. Just do ’em.

Flexibility makes everything easier on the hill. Some of us are as flexible as the aforementioned trunk of the tree, but that doesn’t mean we can’t loosen up at least a little. Stretching is key and in this valley where there are so many yoga-istas it is easy to find someone who can tell you how to get into position to increase your flexibility.

Do it daily, even if you aren’t getting in ski shape, so that you will be elastic into your old age.

And finally, agility is, I think, a benefit that comes from being strong and flexible. The ability to get back on your feet without falling when you get into a rough spot can mean the difference between skiing or boarding away and getting injured.

The great thing about ski conditioning is that there is a clear goal ahead. You can see improvement each day and you can visualize your turns during the work out.

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