On Top of the World


Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

Barreling 70-plus miles per hour down the 2001 World Championships super G course in St. Anton, Austria, Daron Rahlves felt his downhill ski chatter out from under him. He charged ahead as if nothing had happened. The now 28-year-old U.S. Ski Team racer kept his composure long enough to win gold by a .08-second margin.

Standing 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds, Rahlves didn’t rely on his size to power through the technical glitch in his championship run. Instead, he credits his mental focus and his fitness training-including motocross. Yes, motocross. “There’s no way to practice the mental side of skiing without pushing yourself in other sports,” Rahlves says. “It gives you instincts and confidence that you can rely on in skiing.”

Mixing motocross, mountain biking and other sports (in ’93, Rahlves was the World Jetski Champion) into his workout routine fits with Rahlves’ training philosophy: Keep it fresh. Even if motocross isn’t your style, you can still learn from his other mantra: Don’t train more, train smarter. Three summers ago, Rahlves and his U.S. teammates began a new training program with shorter but more intense and more ski-specific workouts. The following season, Rahlves recorded his first two World Cup victories. “It’s made a huge difference for me,” he attests.

To help you train smarter, too, Rahlves and U.S. Ski Team Coach Per Lundstam take you through the four main elements of Rahlves’ workout: cardiovascular training, lower-body strength and power, core strength, and stretching. Stretch daily, and do each of the other components two to three times a week, building in a rest day. Start now and stick with it (except on days you ski), and you’re sure to reach new heights this season.

Click the related links to read more about Rahlves’ four major areas of strength training (Cardio, Lower Body, Core and Stretching). To view his whole workout, click on the slideshow.