As two-time Olympic skier Jonna Mendes knows well, one of the best parts about trying to use the warm weather months to keep in shape for carving turns during the winter is that there’s a huge variety of exercises that can accomplish the task.
“Skiing is one of the best sports in the world because you don’t need to limit yourself to one or two activities in the off-season to help yourself on the ski hill,” she said.
Mendes, who retired from professional skiing to focus on being a mom and her job as Director of Recruitment for the Sun Valley Ski Academy, passed along some tips for keeping yourself in tip-top ski and board shape during the off-season.
Keep Your Balance
Since balancing skills are so important to skiers and snowboarders, Jonna recommends incorporating as many fun activities that involve improving balancing skills and core strength as possible. You can jump from rock to rock while hiking, or practice balancing on two legs, and then just one leg, on a log, railroad tie or in the water—and once you get strong and comfortable at that, try doing so with your eyes closed.
As Jonna explains, most people don’t think of skiing and boarding as endurance sports, but they are, especially in places with no lines and fast lifts like Sun Valley. So Mendes recommends regular exercise that helps build endurance like biking, trail running, rollerblading, swimming or whatever gets your heart and lungs pumping. As one of her favorite coaches used to say, “If you can talk and socialize while you’re working out, you’re not getting what you need to out of it.”
Weightlifting is a big part of a professional skier’s off-season, but it doesn’t have to be dogmatic. There are lots of different strength exercises and routines that help winter alpine athletes stay strong. As Jonna explains, “To be a successful skier you just need to have solid overall health and strength across the board, so the training for practically any sport can be transferred to skiing.”
It’s always important for athletes to properly fuel their bodies, Mendes reminds us. So instead of just gobbling down a Snickers bar and then jumping on the skis or bike, Jonna says it’s important to fuel yourself with real proteins and carbohydrates and not just quick fix sugary foods. She also reminds everyone to stay hydrated, especially when working out at elevation or in the abundant Idaho sunshine.