Play It Cool

Photograph: ©

Now that it’s ski season, novices and experts alike are whipping down mountainsides for hours of winter fun. But the next morning, some “part-time athletes” might find it difficult to get out of bed, thanks to overworked muscles and thin air. If ignored, soreness and fatigue could impact performance or lead to an injury. Better for skiers to do prep work before a ski trip. Read on for advice from sports and fitness experts on strength training, mind and breath control, and coordination and balance. Skiers, time to rework the basics.


SKIERS MAY NOT THINK OF adding speedskating to their training regimen, and yet it could give them the opportunity to develop balance, coordination, endurance, strength—and racing experience. A speed skater’s moves are not unlike the nearly instinctive ones of a skier working jumps, rails or tight trails. “Most of the skills are about technique and strength,” says Coach Dave Moneypenny. “As you go faster, you have to teach proficiency.” Thirty-five years ago, the former hockey pro founded the Connecticut Speedskating Club, a nonprofit at the Sports Center of Connecticut ( It offers short-track training for newbies to elites, like Fairfield’s Kristen Santos (at left, known as Puff), whose career highlights include Short Track World Cup Team and the National Training Program. Hello, Olympics!


MANY SKIERS ARE FAMILIAR with muscle soreness and fatigue, but Debbie O’Toole—owner of the recently opened Urban Strength Club (, in Fairfield—has a secret. She knows it’s crucial for skiers to improve their core, quads and glutes to fend off après-ski aches and pains and improve performance during a day of skiing. “Working these muscles will help with any fatigue you might get when skiing,” she says. Planks, and side planks especially, will “help protect your back and help with stabilizing your body,” she says. “Having a strong core will also help with balance and endurance.” Focusing on these muscle groups also support your joints by strengthening the surrounding tissue—thereby mitigating the effect of hours hurtling down a snowy mountainside. In her “Boot Camp” group fitness class, O’Toole zeroes in on leg and core strength. Participants do exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges, which work quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes—muscles that are taxed in downhill skiing. “Because I know each client and his or her background, I can make sure no one gets injured,” she adds. Before you hit the slopes, consider hitting the gym. Work before play.


WHETHER BATTLING THE biting cold of New England skiing or enjoying the fresh powder of the Rockies, the last thing on your mind might be yoga. But Edel Keane—owner and founder of Jarosa Studio ( in Fairfield—says that practicing yoga can benefit your performance on the slopes. “Yoga prepares the body to become present and takes you out of your head,” says Keane, an avid skier. “And with yoga, especially with pranayama [breathing exercises], you’re increasing the air capacity of the lungs and expanding with chest-opening positions.” In addition to connecting to your breath, some yoga poses, like chair pose, mimic skiing positions and strengthen your foundation. So when you’re training for downhill skiing, consider some time practicing your downward dog pose.



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