Fit Bits: February 2002


Breakfast of Champions

Who gets the gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics may not rest on U.S. Ski Team athletes' answers to the question: "Did you eat your Wheaties today?" Even so, many skiers say cold cereals, most of which are packed with vitamins, are a perfect start to a competition day.

Aerials specialist Emily Cook always eats cereal two hours before jumping. She prefers new Energy Crunch Wheaties and hopes to someday see her face on the front of a Wheaties box.

When U.S. slalom ace Caroline Lalive can't find oatmeal or Cream of Wheat in Europe, she also opts for cold cereal. She says she has to limit her consumption since she could eat a box each day.

Reigning World Cup aerials champ Eric Bergoust is also a cereal fan. He avoids breakfast foods that slow him down, like bacon, sausage and cheese, and instead opts for Kellogg's granola, Mueslix or Cracklin' Oat Bran-30 minutes before training and 90 minutes before competing. "If I eat light and right, I jump light and right," he says.
-Elizabeth McCulloch

Getting Warm
Think a few quick stretches before you click into your skis qualifies as a warm-up? Not quite. Skiers should warm up not only before they ski, but also before they stretch, says Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht, a San Francisco-based orthopedic surgeon and nine-year medical director for the former Women's World Pro Ski Tour.

"Get the blood flowing first, and then do some stretching," Halbrecht says. "The majority of ski injuries we see are early-morning injuries in people who are still stiff and not yet warmed up." A warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles so they can contract and relax quickly, improving elasticity and coordination. It also prepares muscles for stretching, and a combination of the two helps prevent strains, sprains and pulled muscles.

A warm-up should raise the core body temperature 2 to 4 degrees, which can be accomplished with three to five minutes of light aerobic activity, Halbrecht says. Skiers staying slopeside can hop on the hotel treadmill or climb stairs inside, while skiers coming off a long car ride can walk or jog in the resort parking lot. Halbrecht suggests extending the warm-up into the ski day with slow and gentle freeskiing for the first few runs and more stretches in the liftline, using poles for support.

High Risks?
You may not be skiing Everest, but it can feel like you are if you ascend quickly to a high altitude. Just how likely is altitude sickness at your favorite resort? Find out below. All heights are at summit, and all predictions assume a quick assent with no precautions and at least a 12-hour stay at the resort.