There is no better physical training for skiing than skiing itself. The majority of people who ski partake in the sport for 2-3 weeks per year. So its probably safe to say that more enjoyment can be had by most skiers, if they physically prepare for those precious days on the mountain.
This is not intended to be a set programme, but aims to provide insight for how to train more specifically for skiing. To take your dry land ski training more seriously, head down to your local gym and ask for help from the professional staff to design a personal programme. This really can do wonders for your skiing. It’s best to be in good physical shape before starting a strength training programme. Check with your doctor before starting a physical fitness programme.
Any exercise you can do before your ski trip will certainly help. However, an 8 – 10 week ski specific programme of 3-4 training sessions per week can help dramatically. Starting with strength training and ending with plyometric training. This will help prevent your legs from burning half way down the slopes and reduces the risk of injury. More about Plyometric training later.
Cross training through different sports is a great way to improve general fitness for skiing and will help most recreational skiers. Any sport that involves moving the legs and getting the heart and lungs working is a good place to start. Running, jogging, cycling, swimming and tennis are great sports to prepare yourself for the coming season.
Flexibility is an important part of training for any sport and can help reduce the risk of injury. It is important to take the time to stretch straight after each training session, whilst the muscles are still warm.
This kind of training includes initially strength training with weights and secondly plyometric training. Once strength has been increased, plyometric training can later be used to improve speed, agility and power. Ski specific training, as the name implies, aims to target the muscle groups used in skiing and to use them in a similar way to skiing.
The following exercises not only increase strength, but also balance skills which are important for skiing. The exercises should be performed in repetitions and sets. Again it’s best to ask a fitness trainer for help at your local gym to design a personalised programme.
Free weight squats (no machine), for improving whole body strength and balance. This exercise really targets the legs and core which are important muscle groups to strengthen for higher performance skiing. It is important to perform squats with the correct technique. Care should be taken as poorly performed squats can cause injury.
The lunge also targets the major muscle groups used in skiing. Precaution should be used to ensure correct technique. The emphasis should be on quality, balanced and smooth lunges without too much weight.
One leg squats can be more difficult to perform as balancing is more challenging. It’s best again to start with low weight. When comfortable with the technique, weight can be held in each hand or on a bar held behind the neck. Try placing a cushion under the front foot to really target your balancing skills. This helps to strengthen the little muscles used for balance in the legs and core.
Plyometric training involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that encourage the stretch reflex (stretching the muscle before contraction so that it contracts with greater force). Sounds complex although most plyometric exercises are simple. The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumping and bounding movements. This type of training is typically done after a strength training programme. Plyometric exercises can enhance agility, speed and power which are important components of higher performance skiing.
Lateral jumping simulates many movements that are used in skiing. Bending and stretching of the legs with agile lateral movement, including flexing of the ankles, knees and hips. Aim to keep good control and balance, landing and taking off with both feet.
Control leg symmetry in lateral jumps. Aim to keep your knees and feet the same distance apart. This is an ideal stance for skiing. Developing this kind of control can really help build stability and symmetry into your skiing stance.
The Tignes glacier will be open for skiing from 16 June until 02 September 2012 & then re-opens late in September.
Receive world class ski coaching, private ski lessons & video feedback this Summer from a top level BASI ski instructor on the Grande Motte glacier ski area in Tignes.
The Tignes Summer ski area is a great place to do some Summer skiing. Many national ski teams use the glacier area for training in the Summer months. The underground funicular opens for 07:30 each morning taking skiers to the Grande Motte glacier in just a few minutes.
Summer private ski lesson times & prices :
8am – 1pm (5hrs) for 1 or 2 people costs 255€
8am – 1pm (5hrs) for 3 to 6 people costs 315€
Prices are per lesson, not per person
At the end of your ski lesson, Mark will provide you with helpfull video feedback to further your progress.
We can also help you organise airport transfers from Geneva and accommodation in Tignes.
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Tignes can offer great Summer skiing at an altitude of 3500 metres.
TIGNES and the mighty Grande Motte (3550m) is Europe’s highest and finest snowsports Summer ski area! offering up to 28km of excellent summer ski slopes suitable for all levels of skier. Sometimes, even in the summer months we have powder days! Ski lifts will be open all summer season, through to early September. There are enough blue and red graded ski slopes to offer a great ski day. For freestylers there is a well designed and maintained snow park with many Jumps & features to keep the jibbers happy! Summer skiing lessons in Tignes run on request from 8am – 1pm.
The snow conditions on the Tignes glacier
Throughout the summer there are often fresh snowfalls on the mountain, which helps to keep good snow levels. Typically the snow starts off hard in the mornings, then becomes softer as the sun takes effect. By mid to late morning the snow conditions are is at their peak, soften towards the afternoon but remaining in reasonable shape. The snow continues to soften under the sun, but remains firm enough to ski until the afternoon when it becomes quite ‘sugary’. The altitude, and the glacier generally help to keep temperatures low enough.
A two footed platform
Aim to push both skis into the snow when intitiating your turns, this will provide you with a two footed platform of pressure through your turns. It’s important to change your edges similtaneously and not sequentialy.
Make smooth shaped turns
Go for smooth, fluid movements, this will encourage smooth shaped turns. Any abrupt movements or turns will have an abrupt effect on your balance. Smooth turns and a good rhythm are essential for a fluid powder skiing run.
Push the heels downwards
Not to be confused with learning back! In deep snow we should push the heels downwards a little to keep the ski tips up. This will stop the feeling of the ski tips wanting to dive deep into the snow which is oftern proceded with the classic forward face plant.
Remember to pole plant
Smooth co-ordinated pole plants are very important. This will help you to build fluidity and rhythm into your run. The pole plant also helps for commiting to the turn and helps move your body forwards and in the direction of the turn.
Hope you enjoy the ski tips and all that great powder!
Here are a few top tips for how to ski a drop off. Watch the sequence of shots.
Here are some photos of Mark Gear in action.
With the latest modern off piste skis these days, it can be much quicker to learn to ski off piste than in the past using more conventional skis.
The invention of fat skis that are much wider under the foot is speeding up the learning curve for wanna be off piste skiers. The new skis give much more stability in deeper snow conditions and allow for better control as they simply float more, thus making things alot easier to learn to ski off piste.
Also in more recent years, ski manufacturer’s are making skis with a "rocker shape". This again makes learning to ski off piste much easier than before as the skis really have been made for the job. The tips and tails of the ski are made to be higher than the center of the ski giving them the "rocker shape". This makes pivoting the skis in deeper snow much easier than a ski with a conventional camber, as the tips and tails of the skis do not catch in the snow so much.
Rocker shaped skis also help for balance allowing the skier to stand up and forwards over the skis. On rockers, you are far less likley to be forward face planting! The tips of the skis do not want to dive downwards into the deep snow as they are bent upwards, creating a far easier feeling when skiing knee-to-waist deep snow.
Technique on the new skis has changed a lot also. In deep powder snow using conventional skis with a normal camber, the skier would have to push on the skis so as to bend them into an adverse camber. The rocker skis are already bent into adverse camber, this means far less physical energy waisted poping up and down as we used to on skinny skis. The fat rockers allow us to concentrate on the smoothness of those curves. This also allows us to use more leg steering with a little less edge tilt to help slash off speed when needed.
One of the Guardians top travel writers Gwyn Topham came to Chamonix to ski with All Mountain Performance on our 5 day Intermediate off piste ski course. Despite going home with weary legs, Gwyn made massive progress with his skiing over the course run by Mark Gear.
Here is the article that tells his story of how he conquered the off piste slopes of Chamonix.
Chamonix is one of the world’s best off-piste resorts, a great place for intermediates to take a course in skiing powder
Two skiers go off piste at Chamonix. Photograph: Alamy
‘What we’re looking for," says Mark Gear, head coach of All Mountain Performance, "is skiing without boundaries". Mark embodies ambition: he started his skiing career handing out boots at Beckton Alps, east London’s old dry slope, before becoming a giant slalom racer in Chamonix. His business card pictures him skiing a turn so fast I thought it was someone falling over.
Over five days, his intensive course promises to hone the technique of intermediate skiers, to give us the confidence to handle all runs, and to teach the basics of skiing off piste with a view to mountain safety.
Chamonix is one of the world’s most challenging and best off-piste resorts, and a great place for intermediates to learn to ski powder. We start on blue runs above Le Tour, the least vertiginous of Chamonix’s four ski areas, focussing on elements of turning: pressure, edge, rotation. Basic, but a proper understanding of these fundamentals is, Mark says, crucial to progress off piste. And he quickly identifies how one thing I had thought essential – thoroughly bending your knees – is overdone to the point of unnecessary pain and loss of control.
The deficiencies in my technique are made woefully clear at the end of each day, when we watch videos Mark has shot of us skiing. The others look good: Beth apparently needs to angulate her body more, while Ishbel has a technique so graceful that Mark struggles to find fault. And then comes a figure in a bulky jacket, hunched over with legs splaying out, like a badly erected wigwam battered by a storm.
My illusions of speed and finesse are dead; I don’t know what I can do to improve, bar ditch the bobble hat. But Mark has kind words: the worst skiers can make the biggest improvements. I need to begin by straightening up, standing taller and keeping my errant legs together.
And it starts to work. With only three students (the maximum is six) we get a lot of individual attention. By the second day we are skiing some off piste and doing a tricky black run home from Le Brévent; on the third morning we manage a high and steep ungroomed black run on Les Grands Montets, turning over moguls and deeper snow.
It’s a good course to do if you’re alone, mixing daytime sociability with relaxed evenings: back in the resort, I want to do little other than eat and crash at the chalet, run by Collineige, whose chefs are plucked from some of Australia and London’s top restaurants – even a banana cake at afternoon tea comes with a personalised flourish of, I was told, "an Earl Grey-infused crème anglaise". By Wednesday, when I reluctantly leave chef James’s cooking for one of Collineige’s central self-catered apartments, après ski has become nothing more than a quest for food, a hot bath, and an 11-hour sleep.
In Chamonix, a notoriously steep resort that draws experts in, it is sometimes hard to feel sure of my progress. Yet I’m feeling comfortable on terrain I would never have ventured on before, and the video evidence is encouraging: still no Ski Sunday, but the gap between my imagined appearance and reality is narrowing. Mark replays one of my turns in slow motion, and cries "Stylish!" Nothing could have made me prouder. By the penultimate day, alas missed by the cameras, I produce a deft, slaloming run through deep snow and trees. All I need, it seems, is an immovable object ahead to make me learn to turn quickly.
On the final afternoon we ski gullies, untracked snow, moguls, steep and bumpy off-piste narrow black runs, and long, soaring, carving turns down broader pistes. "Relax, play around!" Mark shouts. Despite legs so tight and weary that they no longer do my head’s bidding, I feel I’m finally getting there. Then, on the very last run of the week, our brilliant instructor is taken out by a snowboarder who careers wildly into the back of him, on an empty slope. It’s a chance for Mark to deliver a final, rueful lesson: "Sometimes, off piste is the safest place to be."
To view the article on the Guardian website, please follow the link below
This month’s 4 top tips are to help you ski the bumps with better control, painless knees and a feeling that you are in charge, not the bumps!
Rotate your legs and feet to twist your skis on the snow. The effect is like scraping the snow into the bump. This will check your speed and set you up for absorbing the bump.
Absorb the bump by allowing the legs to feel soft enough for your knees to be pushed towards your chest. This will stop you from being pushed off balance by the bump
Push your tips down, This will give you the time needed to push the skis into the next hollow, rotating and scraping the snow with the skis again to check the speed and direction.
Keep your upper body facing down the fall line. This will help you keep to the line and help agile quick movements. One other extra tip is to keep the skis quite flat on the snow ( not too much edge) this will help the pivoting of the skis and enable a more direct descent.
By Mark Gear from All Mountain Performance in Chamonix. BASI LEVEL 4 ISTD.
THIS MONTHS SKI TIPS. Carving turns
What is carving ?
Carving is a form of ski turn that is non skiddy, ie using the shape of the skis and only two of the three steering elements (pressure, edging and not using rotation). If correctly applied, the skis will cut through the snow smoothly tracking forwards around an arc.
How to carve and initiate the turn:
Start skiing in a straight line on a suitably flattish piste with your feet at hip width apart. Without turning your feet, tilt both your skis in the direction you wish to turn. At the same time stretch your outside leg to push the ski against the snow. Feel the skis grip and allow time for the skis to start carving.
How to hold the carve: Resist the desire to rotate your legs and feet. let the pressure build up. As the pressure increases in the arc, you can increase the amount of edge tilt to tighten the carve.
How to finish the turn: When you feel the turn is complete, simply release the pressure built up in the turn by softening the outside leg, this will allow the feet to come naturally back underneath the body.
How to transfer to the initiation of the next turn: With a stretch down into the snow of the new outside leg, resist the new temptation to turn your feet and skis, using the tilting motion and stretch of the leg to create more pressure on the outside ski – so repeating the process used in the turn before.
Linking clean carving turns is a great sensation, it’s fast but feels stable. We hope you enjoy the tips.
Mark Gear ( BASI level 4 ISTD) All Mountain Performance Chamonix
Every month this season AMP will be giving 4 top tips on chaletsdirect.com for better skiing.
4 top tips from AMP for tuning your skiing back in at the start of the season.
It’s always best to start on an easy piste, greens or blues are sufficient –even pros don’t hit the blacks until dialled back in!
1)Look ahead, just like driving a car, look beyond the bonnet/ski. Try to feel your skis against the snow rather than looking at the tips. Get into the habit of reading the ground ahead of you. It’s better to feel what your skis are doing, encouraging you to work from the ground up for more natural skiing.
2) Be centered Work on centralising the weight down through the middle of the foot. Try to become aware of where the weight is being transmitted onto the sole of the boot. Standing with your weight centered on the skis gets the skis working as they are designed.Being too far back or too far forwards on the skis does not work as well.
3) Go for smooth, linked turns. Try not to have any abrupt movements. This will help to keep you in balance and allow your skiing to flow.
4) Get the outside ski working in the turn to have more pressure than the inside one. Pressing early on the outside ski makes a good start to your turns. Do this by stretching the leg slightly to push down through the sole of the foot.
Mark Gear All Mountain Performance in Chamonix
Chamonix Green & White
All Mountain Performance