Lessons from the Canadian Alpine Ski Team
May 24, 2011
There are times when we’re all reminded that we’re not quite the smart-arse we thought we were. This happened to me last week. It’s in part unsettling, but overall it’s an exciting reminder that there’s plenty more to learn.
A couple of my clients ski seriously. Not professionally, but seriously enough to include extreme off-piste and Heli-skiing amongst their hobbies. They train regularly with me and the brief is to improve ski specific conditioning. These guys are in pretty decent shape; reasonable body fat levels, a solid foundation of strength, adequate mobility and a good base of conditioning. Training was going pretty well. But we hadn’t gotten it quite right.
We wanted to take the ski-specific training to the next level. I can wax lyrical about the theory, but I’ve never been one or worked with skiers. So I set about finding the best in the field and seeing what the do (as has been my ethos since dot). Enter Matt Price, Director of Sports Science for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.
Matts a top bloke. Knowledgeable and open to sharing his approach, one that he uses with a group of the most elite skiers on the planet. Turns out I was doing some solid stuff; but I’d missed some fundamental points.
Anyway, here’s some area’s I’m now looking at (some again) as part of a revised program:
- Alpine skiers do more metabolic work than you’d ever imagine.
- They train huge hamstring to quadriceps strength ratio. ACL’s are thankful for maximum protection.
- Isometric and eccentric loading is key. Drop lunges are a great exercise, but won’t quite cover it.
- Rudimentary jumping skills are worth hammering home. Basics, basics, basics.
- Hip strength and stability is king. It’s all about pelvic stability.
- Structural balance is important. Don’t neglect pre-hab and corrective work.
- Skiing isn’t bodybuilding. Get creative with upper body training.
- Elite skiers aren’t fitness models. Body fat % isn’t the be all and end all.
Now let’s see where the next sixteen weeks or so takes us……