Alex Schlopy, the Park City freeskier who is one of the hottest new prospects on the Dew Tour, says the most important thing to work on at this time of year is your core. Your get-ready-for-snow routine may not need to be as intense as his, but doing the same exercises as a world-class athlete will work for you, whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder. It’s all the same physical forces.
Schlopy describes his midsummer workout: “I do about three days a week of mostly core exercises; that’s important for spinning. I do more explosive exercises rather than weight-bearing movements like squats, because freeskiing is not like going down a racecourse, where you are constantly using your quads.
“A slopestyle run usually consists of about five to 10 ‘features,’ which are rails and jumps. The most important thing is not necessarily strength, but air awareness. So, a lot of freeskiers train on a trampoline for air awareness. It’s pretty similar to doing the tricks on an actual jump.”
A trampoline makes for a fun workout (and gives you an excuse to act like a kid), with a strong emphasis on the core, which is the center of power for an athlete. Bouncing around on the giving surface also works as conditioning for balance, needed by every skier and snowboarder.
Schlopy advises starting your trampoline training slowly. “Build up the basics. Do small spins until you’re comfortable, then start working on front flips and back flips.”
If you don’t have access to a trampoline, don’t worry. You can also use a medicine ball for a slope-specific workout. In Schlopy’s routine, he says, “I’ll hold a medicine ball and go from side to side while holding it. That works your abs and obliques in the way that you’re going to use them when you go off a jump or hit a rail. It just makes your body solid. I try not to go too heavy, but to instead work on the quickness of the movement, because that’s how it’s going to be when you’re skiing or snowboarding. You’re not going to be carrying that much more weight, you’re just going to want to be quicker, so train for quickness rather than just more strength.”
Purchase a medicine ball at a store that sell sporting goods. They can also be found at some large chain stores in their fitness department. Start with a low weight, perhaps 10 or 12 pounds. You can also use a dumbbell for this exercise, but the advantage of a medicine ball is that it’s softer and won’t smash your toes if you accidentally drop it on your foot. Hold the ball at mid-chest level when turning from side to side, but don’t waste energy by pressing the ball into your chest.
One training problem that you may share with Schlopy is timing. You may be involved in another sport, like cycling or running, and much of your workouts involves training for it. That’s similar to elite snow athletes, who begin competing at the end of summer. Schlopy will be leaving in August for the prestigious New Zealand Open, where freeskiers from all over the world compete.
So, how do you train to peak for snow season in December, while training to also be good in July and August? Simple: Don’t overdo it. Schlopy currently trains for the coming ski season only three days a week, while also training for his summer comps. As summer fades and a hint of winter chills the air later in the year, he’ll step up both the workouts and their intensity. If you do the same, you can feel secure that by December, you’ll have the body you need to rule the slopes.