Winter Sports Season is getting closer. While more experienced skiers are preparing their equipment, those who will be going down the snowy slopes for the first time are mastering technique required in order to feel the beauty of these disciplines. One thing is common to both of them – excitement!
The beauty of winter is often associated with sports that, just like summer, and in much and more, imply good and thorough preparation, a challenge mixed with pleasure. Snow sports, as well as water sports, are considered to be adrenaline disciplines which are mastered on step-by-step basis, and the experience of most ski and snowboard lovers is similar – once you fall in love with these sports, it is meant for life. We talked about this topic with experienced sportsman Momir Iseni, ISSA certified sports coach. What are basic prerequisites necessary for meeting with snowy heights?
How to physically prepare for skiing and winter sports in general?
Similar to preparation for any other sport, basic rule that should be kept in mind here is that preparation mode should be similar to the activity itself, hence the sport we are preparing to play. In other words, considering the planned activity it should contain as many movements and exercises similar to the movements of the target sport, performed for a duration that corresponds to the duration of the activity itself.
If you start with easy preparations for the snow track within a month before the actual departure, by the time you get on your ski’s for the first time, you will be completely ready for the challenge.
How exactly does it look like? Ski tracks requiring decent longer than 5 minutes are very rare with us. If the length of the track is known in advance it makes it that easier to prepare.
Secondly, within the analysis of the movements used for skiing, it is easy to conclude that practically there are no muscles that do not require some activity. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the best solution is classical gym training and workout on isolated individual muscles. Skiing at no time does not use muscles isolated but requires their unified and harmonized work. So, the first answer in choosing the right exercises is – some of the most basic ones, those who simultaneously engage as many muscles as possible.
The most activity during skiing is done by the feet and the so-called core of the body. The best legs workout (and excellent for the core) are, of course, squats and breaks off with free load, which is overcome in a three-dimensional space (forget about machines if you want a truly functional body). I would, however, advise as direct as possible mapping of the skiing position, and work on my feet without any external load. The exercise closest to this which builds a really fantastic stamina of the legs, is the so-called “Ma-Bu” position used in kung fuu (what is called “horse-stance”, or horse race, because it resembles the position of the horseback rider).
Skiing, of course, requires a significantly narrower position of the foot, but start with the Ma-Bu to strengthen the muscles of the inner part of the thigh. Try to hold the position for 30-45 seconds with the same pauses. Then, lift yourself to the height of the semi squat, and repeat it in two more series. If you have a so-called bare ball at your disposal, holding in the position of a semi-squat and parallel squat on its unstable surface, with the need to tighten the entire core of the body, will be even closer to the activity expected during skiing.
As for the core of the body, the best is the most comprehensive exercise – the so-called “plank” or plank. Begin with the simplest variation – the base and the lateral positions, gradually crossing to reliance on only one leg.
Although at first glancex they do not come to mind as important for skiing (but let’s remember walking on skis between downhill and the need for their use on pushing off), there are all other muscles – chest, back, shoulders and arms. But you do not need much for them, just two exercises – pushbuttons and joints. Performed two or three times a week, in two or three series without brakes, it will prepare muscles nicely for the snow.
Skiing, of course, requires cardiovascular condition. But do not forget, a single skiing downhill does not last long. That’s why the condition we need is not gained by long-lasting jogging or long-distance treadmill sessions. What we need is interval training, which best mimics the conditions of skiing. Limit it to four or five minutes, and you will be sure that you are on the right track.
If you are a complete beginner, and out of shape, the best are jumps (so-called “Jumping Jack’s”). Set the timer to the rhythm of 20-20, and for 20 seconds perform skips, and 20 rest. Start slowly – if you get tired and feel dizzy, it’s time to stop. Anyone can do at least three such mini-circuits. But the heart is adapting quickly, and in ten days you will do eight. When this is achieved, reduce the interval to 20-10 (20 seconds of jump and 10 rest), and progress for up to four minutes.
If you are in shape, you can do the squats in the same way, either for the core plate or the sidewall plank (20 seconds of the basic position, 10 on one side, 20 returns to the base, 10 on the other, all without rest for up to four minutes).
All in all, it doesn’t take more than twenty serious minutes a day to prepare well for skiing. In all this, you do not need any equipment – everything I said you can do at home or in the apartment.
How to overcome the fear of the snow slope?
Every new thing brings with it an unknown and a gap. But, as our experience teaches us everything that seemed uncertain, and even scary, in fact never really was such. The outcomes that we experienced in our minds which paralyzed us more or less in the end ultimately they proved to be unfounded fears.
When a man decides to master the skiing, the annoyance of the unknown is naturally imposed, in which we have no experience. The snow slope, with its slope, inevitably refers to a gravitational dwell from which, if we make at least one mistake, will not be able to get out and will be swallowed.
But it’s simply a mindset that still didn’t experience skiing. That mindset still cannot ski. Fear will in most cases be mitigated, and probably when it comes to the first downhill, it will disappear entirely if you simply let yourself to the immediate steps.
Conquering the basics of skiing is not done on great slopes. Learning goes gradually. Once you master the initial steps, you will feel differently. That person who did not know anything about skiing, and who feared the slopes, now does not fear – when she knows and feels certain security – will feel what is popularly called “positive crest”. Especially during initial spring on a gentle slope for the first time and might conclude that it went pretty nicely. No one ever feared such gentle slopes, but in fact some other terrifying descents in mind.
And as in everything in life, before we move on to the next level, we need to exhaust everything from the current one. If you are enjoying the existing level of skill as long as a person is not sure that he can be somewhat more demanding, and then he approaches and gradually master it, eventually, if this is the goal, he will reach somewhat scary slopes.
And remember, with a smile, how he feared them when he knew nothing about a way to achieve them.
Is the equipment of special importance for winter sports?
Although at the first glance it does not have great significance, the question of the importance of proper selection of ski or snowboard is not insignificant. There is equipment designed for advanced athletes and one that better suits beginners. If you are an absolute beginner waiting for the first track, the equipment you will use should definitely be different from those used by the aces. Appropriate equipment should reflect the intentions and level of skill of the skier or boarder.
There are all-purpose skis for all terrains, suitable for skiers who spend most of their time on well-maintained trails, but they also want to drive outside of them. Skis specifically designed for arranged trails can provide the most for the experienced skiers. Due to the rapid reaction time, they provide a superior experience, but at the same time they demand more power and do not suffer many errors.
Free-style skis are best for skiing in field parks. They are bent forward and backward, and allow skiing both forward and backward, which is suitable for a wide range of jumps and tricks. There are also so-called free riding skis intended for those who spend most of their time out of well-organized trails. Their larger width allows deep snow skiing.
The same thing applies for the snowboard. And there are several categories of boards, depending on the specific purpose. For beginners, but also for the majority who do not need to limit their specific style and want them to try a little of the tracks, a little of the parks, and a bit of free driving in the deeper snow, the so-called Swansea boards are the most suitable. Free-style boards and free ride are for those who are at higher levels of skill.
For beginners, it is most important to choose easy-to-operate skis, which help conserve energy and correct bugs in the technique. The best for this are the all-purpose skis, with thinner cross-section – it’s easier to allocate weight on them, the reaction is quick, and the turns on them are simpler. Choose shorter skis (but at least long enough to reach your chin). As the skis are shorter, it is possible to make sharper turns and change the direction more often; Long skis are more stable at higher speeds.