Shaped skis make carving easier. You’ve heard it a million times. In fact, you’ve bagged your ski-fitness routine altogether. But here’s a dirty little secret: Carving is harder — requires more muscle power — than skidding.
When you carve a turn — your skis biting into the snow, speeding across the hill — you need muscle power to respond to the energy created between ski and snow, explains Michael Torry, director of biomechanics at the Steadman Hawkins Foundation in Vail. When you skid a turn, energy is dissipated between ski and snow, minimizing the energy your muscles have to contend with.
Remember Newton’s law? To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. As the snow pushes against your ski, you need to push back. Think about how much more muscle you need to make a hockey stop versus simply sideslipping downhill.
When you get to a certain level of greatness, you need to be stronger than ever to handle the forces generated in a high-speed carve. Simply put: “To hold an edge on a ski with an aggressive sidecut, you need strength,” says X Games skiercross champion Zach Crist.
So, unless you want to go back to skidding on pin-straight Rossi Stratos, it’s time to hit the gym. We asked an octet of skiing’s top athletes, from World Cup GS racer Erik Schlopy to halfpipe jib master Mike Douglas, to divulge their preseason fitness secrets.
The exercises they recommend target key areas for skiers: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, and more. Their advice: Spice it up. Some of these exercises are old standbys but with an added agility or balance twist. Incorporate these moves into your gym routine to get you motivated and strong. And when it comes time to haul butt and lay out a big badass arc, you’ll be ready.