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Snow Lover’s Trivia: Time to gear up for ski season

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Once again it is time to start up the ski column. I will be presenting to you a range of stories from Alpine to Nordic skiing including other winter activities and events.

The Adirondacks and the Green Mountains are settling in for the winter cold and all that fluffy white stuff!

How about preparing for the slopes?

Hitting the slopes can be daunting for an out-of-shape beginner and even for the experienced skier, but fitness experts say whatever your level of expertise, everyone can benefit from a bit of pre-ski preparation. Lisa Wheeler, a New York-based fitness instructor, believes it’s never too late to get in shape to make skiing more enjoyable and safe. But don’t overdo it. Do some basic strength training for the legs, core and arms,” said Wheeler, fitness program director for DailyBurn, an online workout site. “But if you haven’t done anything, dial it back a little.”

Wheeler recommends lunges to strengthen the quadriceps, the long muscles in the front of the thigh.

“Lunges are quad-dominant and skiing is very quad dominant because your knees are bent and you’re going downhill,” she said. “And lunges also work the hamstrings and glutes,” she explained. Wheeler thinks the novice can forgo jumping or hopping lunges and concentrate instead on matrix lunges, basically stepping to and pushing off different directions across the range of motion.

“For the last-minute person I recommend taking it easy,” she said. Wheeler said people think of skiing as going in one direction, downhill, and neglect to prepare their hips and core for the considerable demand of skiing on the body. “If you analyze skiing there’s a lot of rotation and lateral movement of the hips,” she said. “I would do some core exercises, such as planks, and rotational movements with the medicine ball,” she said. “Because going down the slopes your body is turning, your hips are turning.

Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercises suggests exercises that mimic the activity of skiing, which along with cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, demands a measure of speed and agility. “I’m a huge fan of cone drills,” she said. “I just picked up a set for the house.” Sold in sporting goods stores, cones are smaller and lighter than traffic cones. Matthews, an exercise physiologist, thinks they are ideal for setting up a circuit to train for the movements of weaving down a mountain.

Another crucial element to skiing is the ability to react quickly.

“Downhill is not straight downhill,” said Matthews. “You have to dodge people. You’ve got to be able to make quick changes, so it’s important to make sure your hips, legs, shoulders, spine are all ready to go.”

Squats and lunges build lower body strength but for those challenged by a full squat, Matthews suggests the wall sit, which is essentially placing the back against the wall with knees bent. Ideally, she said, you want to begin a pre-ski routine at least six weeks prior to hitting the slopes.

Do whatever you can to prepare your body for the slopes. Now that I am close to 40, stretching before is a must. No matter what I do, the muscles never like the first day out on the slopes!

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