Did you know that many ski races can be won (or lost) in the last 10 seconds? Even with a one second lead out of the start, fatigue and loss of proper technique can lead to a costly mistake – or just slow skiing, which often means waving that podium goodbye. Conversely, having the stamina and strength to ski strong, maintain good technique and charge through the last part of a course can allow a racer to make up enough time to end up on the podium!
Endurance, stamina, aerobic capacity – keys to going the distance in races and in training, but they can also be divided into two categories – general endurance and specific endurance.
With improved general endurance or aerobic and cardiovascular capacity you can oxygenated blood better, circulate it through your system quicker, which in turn will help you to recover more quickly from fatigue and harder anaerobic or power work outs.
When it comes to specific endurance we might think of the length of a typical ski race, say 90 seconds long (or 145 seconds if you are preparing for the Wengen DH) and how we need to prepare ourselves so that we can maintain a high level of strength, coordination and focus all the way through to the finish.
So, starting your fitness season off with building up a good endurance/stamina/cardio can lead to a much more productive build up of the other areas you may need to build.
A word of caution for the younger athletes - too much endurance (specifically long slow distances) before Peak Height Velocity (growth spurt) can develop the slow twitch muscle fibres to the point of becoming difficult to speed them up or develop the fast twitch muscle fibres later on. I would recommend the endurance work outs are done on trails (bike or running) where there’s some agility and change of intensity involved with the hills, roots, rocks, etc.
Rob Boyd skied in the World Cup for 12 years, won several medals, and is currently Sport Development Manager - athletics, coaching, DMNTC for Whistler Mountain Ski Club firstname.lastname@example.org