Preparing for ski season: Tips from a former (read: washed up) alpine ski racer, turned athletic therapist

Skier in winter
Picture of Moira Taylor

Moira Taylor

Moira Taylor is a Athletic Therapist based in Calgary, AB. As a lover of the mountains, she spends as much time exploring hiking, biking, skiing and climbing in the Rocky Mountains as she can. She currently works at the University of Calgary, Sports Medicine Center in the Acute Knee Injury Clinic (AKIC) and Acute Sport Concussion Clinic (ASCC). She has worked with sports and athletes of all levels across many different sports, as a former competitive athlete and now athletic therapist she wants to keep everyone healthy and moving.

With the snow starting to fly many people are thinking of how to stay active in the mountains in the wintertime. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the crisp, snowy, winter air than a day at the ski hill. With the vast options of mountain resorts and ski hills scattered across Alberta, skiing is bound to be accessible to many Albertans. Every year, thousands of people strap on their skis and whether you are an expert or an amateur, there are some important things to ensure a great ski season.

Follow the tips below for a head start on safely feeling like a pro when you hit the slopes.

Pre-season ski prep

Is your body ready?

  • Keep active: Skiing is a complex activity requiring different components of fitness: strength, endurance, power, balance, as well as cardiovascular fitness.
  • Work those legs: In the months ahead of ski season it is helpful to work on: Lower body strength and endurance, core strength and stability, and overall flexibility
  • Ask for help: Are you feeling unsure of how to prepare your body? Consider seeing a local athletic therapist to guide you on how to prepare your body to feel your best before you strap your skis on.

What gear do you have or need?

  • Take stock: Don’t have your own proper equipment? Rent! Most resorts will have a rentals department that can set you up with appropriate gear for your skill/ability level.
  • Tune-up: Own your own equipment? Get it checked on by a professional. Ill-fitting and incorrectly set gear could increase injury risk.
  • Dress for the occasion: Dressing for the outdoors can be challenging. Check the weather before you go and take a look into some outdoor gear guides for recommendations on appropriate clothing to have on hand.

Where should you go?

  • Plan your trip: With the Rocky Mountains being just a short drive away for many, there are choices to consider. Take a look at options in Alberta to start your planning. Ensure you are selecting a location that is in line with your skill level.

On snow prep

What should you do when you get to the hill?

  • Start with a warm up: You’ve probably sat in a vehicle during your trip to the mountains for 45 minutes or longer, get your body ready to move. A dynamic warm up is a great start for a successful day of using your body. It will wake up the brain, body, muscles and joints and can decrease the risk of injury.
  • Wear a helmet 100 per cent of the time: Head injuries and concussions are a significant injury risk on the ski hill, so ensure you are wearing a properly fitting helmet to reduce the risk and severity of potential injuries.
  • Take it slow: Runs are typically rated green for easy, blue for moderate, and black for advanced. Start with the green runs and increase your capacity from there.
    • New to skiing entirely? Consider a lesson from the pro’s and start out on the bunny hill.
    • First day back on snow after a season (or a few) off? Take it easy and pace yourself. The first couple of runs probably will not feel like they did last season.
    • Feeling a little nervous about crowds? Most ski resorts are less busy during the week compared to weekends so think about heading out mid-week for more space on the slopes.

Feeling sore afterwards despite all the preparations you did? Rest assured you will be among good company. The tips above will give you a head start to feeling confident on skis but it takes time, practice, and a little bit of patience before most people are feeling strong on skis. Keeping in mind, the best preparation for skiing is skiing, so get your body back on snow and progressively build up stamina.

Want to get some insider tips and tricks for looking and feeling like a pro? See an athletic therapist near you to get your body ready, reach your goals, and reduce the risk of injury.

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