The advent of the shaped ski had a profound influence on ski racing, as well as on the conditioning methods for the sport. While strength training was once the main focus, smaller and lighter shaped skis require far less brute force and more emphasis on dynamic balance. Then, in 1993, ski expert Warren Witherell and David Evrard published the book that many ski racers still regard as the skier's bible. In "The Athletic Skier," Witherell described the 10 most important qualities of skiers who were particularly athletic. Fortunately, you can develop these traits through dryland training. Aim for three workouts weekly, with three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Witherell placed balance at the top of the list of important physical traits for athletic skiers. While skiers require good balance, a racer's balance must be superb. The bosu, which is used by the U.S. Ski Team, is one of the best ways to develop ski-related balance. Bosu stands for "both sides utilized." You can use the bosu with either the platform or the dome side in the "up" position. The platform side functions like a balance board. The dome side works similar to a stability ball. The medicine ball toss and squat is a popular, ski-specific bosu exercise. Stand on the dome side of the bosu. Jump up and toss a medicine ball into the air. Catch the ball and land in a squat. Try to land at the center of the top of the bosu dome. This exercise promotes balance, strength and agility---helpful for mogul racers, who require fast and powerful extension and retraction of the legs.
If you've ever watched ski racer Bode Miller in action, you've probably noticed that his ear is practically on the snow. This is known as lateral balance, and it is another important trait for athletic ski racers. Use the stability ball side bend for lateral training. Lean your right hip against the ball. Cross your right leg in front of your left, and cross your arms in front of your chest. Begin by draping your waist over the far side of the ball. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, perform a side bend toward the side of your body that is not resting on the ball. This exercise improves inclination, which you need to lean into a ski turn.
On-Mountain Dryland Drills
Some ski racers like to perform their summer dryland training on the mountains where they ski. The bounding exercise is a popular on-mountain exercise. Stand at the top of the trail, and pick a line. Keeping your feet together, perform a series of jumps down the trail. This is an excellent technique for developing strategy. However, it's a high-impact exercise, so don't practice it for more than one minute at a time.
Perform the tree slalom on-mountain or in a park. Find an area with an abundance of trees. Run through them, zigzagging as if you were in a slalom race.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.