The ‘Rocky’ road to ski fitness |

The ‘Rocky’ road to ski fitness

Tailor the year-round club skier's workout to prep for the slopes

Dave Shively

On an early August morning, a group of teenage ski racers diligently cycles through a circuit of core-strengthening exercises; one-legged BOSU ball hops, jump rope routines, box jumps and wall sits.

The nearest ski hill action in their future, the “double trouble” workout, has no snow in the picture – just sprint work on the dusty road up the back of Howelsen Hill.

Five years after the inaugural training, the Breakfast Club skiers are still sweating.

When Chris Puckett, the former Alpine director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, originally instituted this summer program, his hope was for athletes to develop habits of year-round fitness and to establish the baseline for nurturing broader Olympic training commitments.

Puckett (a 1992 Olympian and U.S. Ski Team racer at two FIS Alpine World Ski Championships) understands the need for the sport’s elite to maintain shape as well as the benefit for ordinary skiers of incorporating the diverse and dynamic workouts.

“For ski racing, you need endurance, you need coordination, power and strength, and you do all that in the offseason,” Puckett said. “Then you can get to the quicker, more specific movements as you get closer to the season.”

Recommended Stories For You

Most skiers and snowboarders aren’t focused on crashing slalom gates as much as on avoiding a crash and making it through that first full day. Sample a few of the fundamental exercises from the pages of the Breakfast Club’s workouts to kick-start well-rounded, on-mountain fitness and combat the sedentary fall waiting game.

“You need your big muscles to carry the load, but they are useless without your core,” Puckett said. “If you’re strong from the inside out, the big muscles can work efficiently.”

Make the exercises deliberate to find the right muscle groups and seriously consider a training partner to keep you in line, if not the Breakfast Club’s secret motivational tool – the weekly milkshake reward at Johnny B. Good’s Diner.

Workout tip: Land each two-legged tuck jump in the traditional downhill tuck position, elbows down and in, on the balls of your feet, and hold for one second. Drive arms up and explode to the next bleacher row. “I want them to stick it and engage their core,” Marnie Smith said, adding how athletes zigzag down the steps in a jog to reduce knee pressure and to enhance coordination. Shoot for three flights, bottom to top, before resting. Push yourself with single-leg tuck jumps, one trip up the bleacher flight per leg. On each trip, lead with the same leg and join feet on the landing – again, leaping and sticking from the balls of the feet.

Workout tip: Start lunges slow, on the bleacher steps or on home stairs, before working your way up to the bleacher rows. “One of the big things is to slow the motion down and feel the muscles you’re using – as soon as you begin flailing around with your arms and losing good position, you’re missing the exercise,” Marnie Smith said. Drive your lead knee and opposite arm up. (See photo opposite page.) Lead up the flight with one leg, matching feet on the steps, then repeat with the other leg. For an added challenge, finish with lateral lunges up the bleachers without turning your torso, one flight facing in either direction.