Are you ready for the slopes? | SierraSun.com
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Are you ready for the slopes?

Tripp Mickle
Sun News Service
Sun News Service photoMake sure you are well-conditioned before you put those ski goggles on.
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If the onslaught of ski and snowboard movie premieres hasn’t been clue enough, then surely the foot of snow that piled up outside your car this week has tipped you off.

Winter is on its way, and if your idea of preparing for the upcoming ski season involves nothing more than plucking the cobwebs off your Rossignols and swinging them by Dave’s for a tune-job, you might want to consider changing your training regimen ” or at least creating one.

After all, do you think Daron Rahlves and the rest of the U.S. Ski Team goes from the couch to the mountain in one afternoon?

A new ski conditioning class at A Sante Lakeside Fitness is helping local skiers understand they should be no different than a national downhiller, and Jenny Seyranian is helping them accomplish that task. After 14 years of teaching the class to weekend warriors in San Francisco, the certified personal trainer has brought the concept to Tahoe.

“The idea is to do it now, before you hit the slopes,” Seyranian said. “A lot of skiers get out and ski every day and ignore the fact that they’re sore. If they don’t let their muscles repair and continue to ski everyday, they open themselves up to injury.”

Unlike most individual sports that move straight forward like running, biking and swimming, skiing is a non-linear activity that involves direction changes, weight transfers and a range of motions.

Therefore, mountain biking until the snow covers local trails or running in a half-marathon cannot prepare you for that first day on the slope. Skiers and snowboarders need something more.

“It’s a totally different training,” Seyranian said.

Using a program that combines ideas from U.S. Ski Team workouts, a Nike specialist and other trainers, Seyranian has crafted a course that works on skiers’ non-linear strength, better preparing them to take to the slopes. Plyometric exercises are the centerpiece of the class but they can be done independently.

Plyometric exercises mimic the muscle contractions that occur during skiing. Generally, they involve a jumping movement like skipping, bounding or lunging ” all exercises, like skiing, in which an eccentric muscle contraction is quickly followed by a concentric muscle contraction. In other words, all the exercises force a muscle to rapidly contract and lengthen, and then immediately follow that with a further contraction and shortening.

“Skiing is fighting gravity, which means it’s all eccentric contractions,” Seyranian said. “When you jump from the cat track down onto the hill and land, that’s an eccentric contraction. That’s why skiers get sore.”

A simple and common plyometric workout in the class is doing mini hurdles sideways over small orange cones. Others include step-ups ” both of which, Seyranian said, can be done at the house.

Other aspects of the class focus on balance, flexibility and core training for the abdominal and back muscles. From rocking squats on a balance ball to crunches and slow lunges, instructors push participants until soreness rises from their legs to their upper body.

All of the activities serve one purpose, Seyranian said, “to strengthen the body before the season, so that when a skier hits the slopes their legs are already under them. All they have to do is get the muscle memory.”

“I don’t get sore anymore skiing,” Seyranian said. “It’s eliminated that for me because my body’s ready.”

Jessica Consani, who’s been taking the class since she first saw a flyer in San Francisco three years ago, agreed. She was sore after her first class but got stronger and stronger with each following work out. By the time the winter rolled around, she was more prepared for the ski season than any year she participated on the University of California at Berkeley ski team.

“It made a huge difference,” the 25-year-old Tahoe City office assistant said. “Before taking the class, I’d be wiped out after a weekend of skiing. Now, I’m not thinking, ‘I don’t want to go all day because I want to ski tomorrow.’ I feel prepared for going out there and spending the weekend on the hill.”

Jeff Sewell, who took the course for the first time last year, said that preparation gave him more confidence on the slopes. “[Training] helps you be more agile and sure on your skis at the start of the season,” he said. “It strengthens the muscles to get from edge to edge quicker, keep your weight over your skis and stay balanced.”

The course even attracted the attention of local professional Kent Kreitler, who joined the course to help with his rehabilitation after a knee injury sustained early last year in Alaska.

“I’m at a stage in physical therapy where I need to do a lot of plyometrics, but even if I wasn’t, I’d go,” Kreitler said. “It’s a really good thing to prepare you for the intensity of skiing. Skiing’s like sprinting so it’s good to go hard for one to two minutes (in plyometrics). I’d do it all year if it were available.”

” Call A Sante at (530) 583-4283 for more information.


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