Let’s face it, putting in the time and effort off snow to better yourself as a skier is hard work and isn’t the most fun thing you could be doing with your summer. It’s tough on your body and tough on your mind when you’re seemingly stuck doing endless rep after rep in the gym when all you can think of is strapping on skis again and arcing turns down your favorite slopes.


U.S. Ski & Snowboard has been working toward ways to help skiers across the country become more well-rounded athletes by switching things up in the gym so you can be better prepared for when the snow does fly. Maybe you can learn a thing or two from them.


Calin Butterfield is U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s high-performance coordinator who heads up the high performance center partnerships recently announced between the Center of Excellence (COE) in Park City, Utah, and various high-level clubs across the country. These partnerships are a collaboration between U.S. Ski & Snowboard and its academies and clubs where there is a two-way flow of information to establish best principles, philosophies, and systems going forward.


“What that basically boils down to is that I am the direct line of contact for our highest level clubs to link with the COE,” explains Butterfield. “My job is to improve and increase the transmission of messages both from the COE and the national team to the clubs when it comes to things like what we do and what we are finding with our research as well as hear what things they are working on so we can improve the unification of athlete development.”


Basic movement patterns are the most important building blocks for sport-specific exercises. Image Credit: U.S. Ski & Snowboard

Basic movement patterns are the most important building blocks for sport-specific exercises. Image Credit: U.S. Ski & Snowboard 


Butterfield says that the most important thing that a young, developing athlete can do in the summer time to better his or her chances of success in the winter is to work on overall athleticism.


Even the fastest skiers on the U.S. Ski Team like Lindsey Vonn and Steven Nyman regularly work on their general athleticism in the off-season because it’s only possible to build sport-specific movements and strength on top of a solid athletic foundation.


Wondering how to build a solid athletic base? Butterfield has five tips that can help you get an extra edge for next season.


1. Play multiple sports in the offseason


Mikaela Shiffrin has a knack for tennis. Ted Ligety has been known to hustle unwitting challengers on the basketball court. Keeping things fresh in the summer by playing a favorite sport or two not only recharges your mind, but also hones important skills like balance, agility, and hand-eye coordination.


2. Work on general movement proficiency


Developing the proper technique for body weight squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, planking, etc. is essential. Never sacrifice good form for increased weight or more reps. Working with an experienced athletic development coach or physical educator is a great option.


3. Try out basic gymnastics or martial arts


Falling skills, reorientation, body control, balance, and power are all important, particularly for younger kids. Take a class over the summer to change it up and possibly learn some new skills.


4. Develop lower body power


Instead of spending day after day in a squat rack, develop your lower body power by integrating sprinting, running, two- and one-legged jumps, and throwing medicine balls into your workouts.


5. Go mountain biking instead of road cycling


There’s no doubt that road riding is a great way to get fit, but you can also train your balance and your visual and perceptual skills on a mountain bike. Not only can a mountain bike take you to some pretty amazing places, but riding pump tracks and downhill courses can feel pretty similar to picking the right line down a tricky race course on skis.

Image credit: Thomas Schweighofer
Image credit: Thomas Schweighofer