Sam Mulligan reports from Hintertux, Austria, about getting better than the competition.
Sam Mulligan (Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club) grew up in Vancouver. He is now a member of the Canadian Ski Team. He raced down the Hahnenkamm, Kitzbühel, for the first time in 2019.
Being a member of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Alpine Ski Team, while earning a BSc in Health Science, was an extreme privilege. Before attending UAA I did not know much about Alaska, or the allure to attend there. However, one short trip to visit the state, the campus, and the athletic facility, and I knew UAA was where I wanted to go.
Life as a full-time student-athlete was busy. On top of classes and labs, in the fall, the team would train Monday-Friday in the gym, doing lifts and circuit-based workouts. As you can imagine, I quickly learned time-management and prioritization. All of this hard-work was worth it when it came time for the first on-snow camp in Colorado; much of the team, including myself, had not skied in months. These two weeks on-snow were invaluable and set the pace for the upcoming season.
Each year when January arrived, the team was well-prepared for the first college races of the season, all as a result of the hours spent preparing on and off snow. Naturally, the first race was nerve-racking, as my teammates and I were unsure as to where the months of training put us in relation to our competitors. Fortunately, the beauty of the college circuit is the team aspect. Although we competed as individuals, we also competed for a team-score. This is what made college so unique, and fueled the immense competition and camaraderie that the college circuit fosters.
What I mean by camaraderie, is the way the team truly “had my back.” No matter what, I was always sure that I would have teammates slipping for me before my run, carrying my jacket down, cheering for me, and sharing in my love of ski racing. This sportsmanship and support was not limited to the UAA Alpine Team. In fact, I felt as though every team on the circuit was alike. Although the competition was intense, racing against athletes with World-Cup starts, and even those who have attended the Olympics, the atmosphere was fun, for lack of a better word. In this environment, I had some of my best performances, as every time I pushed out of the gate, I felt relaxed and wanted to do well for my team, not just for myself.
The memories I made during the four years I spent in Alaska were truly amazing. To name a few, I saw the northern lights, ran into moose on campus almost daily, took part in a dog-mushing class, and made life-long friends. As well, I had the privilege and opportunity to live in the beautiful state of Alaska, and I was able to travel across the United States, with my team, visiting locations I probably would never have gone. If you’d asked me five or six years ago if I pictured myself attending UAA, I might have said no. Now, I cannot imagine what I would have missed had I not attended there. I would highly recommend pursuing a degree and participating in collegiate skiing at UAA, or in fact, any college or university.
Winding-up my ski-racing career on the collegiate circuit at UAA left a huge smile on my face. I am often asked if I am sad it’s over. Yes, it will be weird not pushing out of the gate anymore, but above all I feel grateful. What made college skiing so special for me, is that it was an amazing ride and a positive departure from a sport I had spent most of my life doing. For other college athletes, it is the beginning of a career on the World Cup circuit. There have been so many athletes who have graduated from university and are getting top 30 results on the World Cup; congratulations to them! To tie this up, collegiate skiing is a viable means to achieve whatever goals you set for yourself, both academically and athletically, while enjoying it to the max.
Alix Wells: I am from Prince George and grew up ski racing for the Prince George Alpine Ski Team. I was fortunate enough to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage and earn a BSc in Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology while competing on the NCAA circuit. Since graduating, I have spent the summer doing research in a lab at Vancouver General Hospital!
presented by Montana Molyneux MKIN CSCS, (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and owner of Mountain Life Strength and Conditioning, Head Coach & U16 Coach Sun Peaks Racers)
At Home Work Out
This is a basic exercise progression workout you can use 2-3 times per week, along with your other sports, or an activity day. Simple, effective exercises to build whole body stability!
Equipment: A resistance band, water bottle, a mat, optional skipping rope
Warm Up: 10 minutes of running, biking – can mix in skipping
Dynamic Warm-up: 10/side or for 20m:
-High Knees - Butt Kicks - Leg Swings -Caterpillar Walk
- Lunge walk -Arm Circles (small àbig)(Fwd/Rvs) - Karoake (both sides)
Exercises: TIP: Do these exercises CORRECTLY or else it is not worth doing!
Exercise 4: 10 reps Exercise 5: 20 taps Exercise 6: Hold 30s Exercise 7: 15 reps 4 Sets in a circuit style (1 through 7 x 4)
Exercises with pictures see file:
presented by Eric Doak MPT, CAFCI (Alpine Canada Technical Team Physiotherapist
West Vancouver Sport & Orthopedic Physiotherapy)
Injury prevention: The importance of a good warm up
From a standpoint of injury prevention, today’s top-level athletes are the only ones doing enough to help minimize their chances of becoming sidelined. Typically what I have seen is a drastic difference from the preparation between up and coming athletes to those that are at the National level. An appropriate warm-up will help to prime the body for what is the most intensive exercise performed that day.
I would encourage people to create a more dynamic approach to their warm ups as it is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle to minimize your chances of becoming injured.
The two main physiological reasons to warm up:
These two variables increase the window for what a tissue can tolerate before it reaches its failure point on the stress/strain curve. Hence, increasing your body’s own protective mechanisms to withstand load.
Here are a few simple movement patterns that can be performed prior to any athletic endeavour. You only need to run through this as a circuit 2-3 times to get the desirable benefits of a dynamic warm-up.
Try it out, there’s a reason why National level athletes start each morning with a few dryland drills before putting on their ski boots. I bet you will feel more energized and ready to gain the most from your on snow training.
Eric Doak, MPT, CAFCI
Alpine Canada Technical Team Physiotherapist
West Vancouver Sport & Orthopedic Physiotherapy
Presented by Greg Burpee (Music Producer, DJ, Balance Expert, Kinesiolgist, Weight Training Specialist, Ski Coach) on another aspect of balance:
Also check out this fantastic picture about balance at the next level - start practicing:
Presented by Morgan Pridy
My name is Morgan Pridy and I wanted to share my thoughts on transition. It's a word used a lot in ski racing, get forward in your transition. Create a solid platform during transition from turn to turn. Fast skiing is all about a smooth transition. Taking all your speed, power and confidence from one turn to the next. When you nail down your transition all of a sudden you haven't just entered the new arc with the same speed, you've started to build momentum.
The same statements you just read are incredibly relatable to the transition I'm talking about. The transition from level to level, and new opportunity to new opportunity. All of you reading this will go through several transitions over the course of your skiing career. U14 jumping up to u16. FIS races then Nor-ams. Europa cup to World Cup. Being a favourite one day and an underdog the next. It's the exciting part about sport, you always have the opportunity to keep growing and keep improving.
Here are three things I have learned to do that make these steps as smooth as possible. First is to remember the Process. The things you do to ski well, ski fast, and perform don't change just because your competition has. Stick with your routine and your physical and mental cues. This is a huge help to keep everything feeling familiar. You are already here and it's race day, so do the things you do well to the best of your ability. That's what got you to the point you're at now.
Second, remind yourself you belong. Nerves, fear, excitement, and stress are normal. These are the things that keep us sharp, and if you accept the nerves and the stress, and you find a way to look fear dead in the eyes then you've just gotten out of your own way and made room for the exceptional to happen. Always remember that in this sport you haven't gotten to where you are by accident. You earned it and no matter what company you find yourself racing against, you belong right there in the start with them.
Lastly, Go with the flow. You are only ever able to control so much in this sport. For the hundred other things going on you really have two choices. Let it affect you, or just go with it and move on. Be prepared and be aware of what's going on, but don't let yourself worry about it. If you've taken care of all the things under your control then you've given yourself the best opportunity to perform.
Keep your feet under you and strive to always be moving forward.
Morgan raced on the BC Ski Team for 3 years and on the National Team for 5 years. He raced the last 3 years on the World Cup, specialising in Super-G and he "had a hell of a time skiing Downhill".
He placed 10th in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Super-G, where he also I drew a lot of inspiration for this article. Morgan grew up in Whistler and feels very fortunate to call it home.
presented by Carl Petersen BSc (PT) City Sports & Physiotherapy Clinic www.citysportsphysio.com
Fit 2 Ski-Tips on Exercise Tempo
Skiing athletes should be aware of the importance of TEMPO while doing exercises in dryland training. How fast you do the exercise has a big impact on the number of muscle fibres recruited and hence the strength improvements. Changing the TEMPO can make the exercise harder, more dynamic and emphasize the eccentric (muscle lengthening ) control that is important. Using a slow tempo with emphasis on the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the exercise for squats or split squats can make them more discipline specific. For example doing a squat with a 3-0-1 TEMPO will mimic the length of time in a GS turn. The TEMPO would be 3 seconds down (lengthening) 0 seconds hold and 1 second up (shortening). For slalom specific exercises you would want to speed the tempo up to a 1-0-1 TEMPO to mimic the fast edge changes required. Downhill and Super G training may want to slow it down more during certain phases of the movement to mimic the long edge control needed and the sustained tuck gliding position for example 5-0-2 TEMPO.
The following 3 sample exercises should be individualized to the age, experience and fitness level of the skiing athlete. As a general rule start with 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions and progress to 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Ball Squats with Ball Squeeze & Shoulder External Rotation
- Start standing tall with a physio ball at your back
- Hold a stretch band in both hands with elbows at your side & place a ball between knees
- Switch on your core muscles
- Squat down keeping knees aligned over toes while lightly squeezing ball between knees
- Externally rotate shoulders against stretch band resistance as you squat down
Sumo (plie)Squats –Ball at Back
- Start standing tall in a sumo squat position with a physio ball at your back
- Switch on your core muscles
- Squat down slowly keeping knees aligned over toes & return to start position
Sit Downs –Eccentric Abdominals
- Start sitting on a physio ball with knees together & feet apart
- Switch on your core muscles
- Lean back slowly working your abdominals as they lengthen & return to start position
Athletes should ensure they are doing the correct TEMPO prescribed by their fitness coach to get maximum benefit for time spent in training.
Fit 2 Ski-A Complete Guide to Fitness (Petersen, 2009)
Safety - Precaution tips when using exercise balls and resistance bands:
Exercise Ball Precautions:
· For individuals new to exercise, check with your physician before starting this or any other
· Check your ball for flaws before each use.
· Avoid placing ball near heat or in direct sunlight.
· Avoid sharp objects and jewelry.
· Start gradually and get a feel for the ball before progressing.
Resistance Bands Precautions:
· When using resistance tubing or bands, ensure they are of high quality.
· Avoid placing resistance bands near heat or in direct sunlight.
· Avoid sharp objects and jewellery
· Start gradually and get a feel for the resistance of the bands before progressing or increasing
· Regularly inspect the stretch band or tubing for wear and tear or weak spots and replace as
· Ensure that it is securely attached before applying resistance.
Presented by Dominic Unterberger - BC Ski Team member
Finding the Balance
Ski racing is a demanding sport. With each year, progression and level, more work is required to excel. More days and longer hours in the gym are needed to build strength and endurance during the “off-season” – which by now you’ve accepted doesn’t exist if you want to be a high level ski racer.
The hours on hours spent in the gym, hammering away at the same exercises can become somewhat monotonous. Even for the most elite athletes in any sport, gym time doesn’t always equate to fun time. It’s important to balance the necessary with the enjoyable. Having a sport or activity you enjoy outside of the gym is one of the best things for your ski racing. Whether or not your choice activity contributes to your overall fitness it contributes to something much more important, your sanity!
My favorite off-season activity is mountain biking. Besides the obvious physical benefits and the carryovers it has from alpine skiing, it plays a much more important role for me. Biking takes my mind off the stresses of training and puts a smile on my face! It’s something I can look forward to during long sessions in the gym and a place I can escape to, even when at my most fatigued. You’re only as strong as you think you are and showing up at the gym dreading your workout is not your strongest self!
Whatever it may be that works for you, keep it up, continue to find the balance between grinding in the gym and having a smile on your face!
For a complete Bio on Dominic go to http://bcalpine.com/bcst/bio/?74
presented by Montana Molyneux, MKIN CSCS, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and owner of Mountain Life Strength and Conditioning
Recovery Nutrition Tips
- Protein consumption post workout should be 1.0-1.2 grams per kilogram of body
On top of an immediate snack post workout, a balanced meal should be consumed within 2-4 hours after.
Daily intake recommendations for endurance athletes:
o During exercise drink approximately 1 Cup every 15 minutes
o If workout is over 90 minutes long a water/electrolyte mix should be consumed during
balanced diet) OR if there are dietary restrictions
o Should be monitored by a professional
o Should be tested – check WADA restrictions
Post workout snacks:
Know your body – some athletes prefer liquids versus whole foods.
Try everything in practice – NOT race day
Be prepared – if it’s a long training session pack an extra snack, or make a bigger dinner to bring for the next day
Carbohydrate consumption should be spread out through the whole day and not all at once (helps avoid spiking in blood sugar levels)
by Dani Robson (WMSC) registered Kinesiologist and ski coach