From early reports, this season could be a cold one! So we may be able to look forward to lots of snow, and maybe a few powder days if we are lucky…
But how do you prepare for what could be the best snow in Europe for the last few years? The key is to understand what your body might be required to do in those conditions, and also the other types of snow you may encounter.
Your core needs to be able to take the strain
If we have the best conditions, the snow will be light and powdery. This is great for carving and throwing up plumes on a tight turn, but it can take a lot of energy to ride properly if it isn’t groomed. Turns take more effort to initiate, and quite often you will sink as you go, meaning skis and boards get heavy with snow on top. This works your leg muscles much more, and your core needs to work harder to help with balance.
Pelvis and leg strength and mobility
Poor muscle strength and joint mobility are exacerbated by the extra effort required when riding fresh powder. What would be an easy ride can quickly turn into a tiring slog, with hips especially feeling the effort of putting more power into turns. Keeping your pelvis and legs mobile and strong will help to reduce strain and tiredness after a hard day on any type of snow, but missing out on fresh powder is especially galling!
Hitting the ice
If we aren’t so lucky, we may have another year of relatively warm temperatures, leading to heavier, wetter snow, and possibly icy conditions in the mornings. Many people prefer the ice, as it makes runs faster, edges bite more, and overall performance is improved. However, falls become more likely, especially at speed, and that ice is not forgiving when you hit it! The heavier snow slows speeds, but often it will get choppy as the day goes on, leading to lumps and bumps, or mogul fields on the steeper runs.
Knee and hip health and strength
Moguls are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them! As a snowboarder, I find them very difficult to navigate, and they lead to slow progress and over-tired legs and core muscles. However, some skiers love the challenge of turning around them, and enjoy the technical approach of soaking up the hits at speed. Either approach has its problems, with leg strength a key issue for both.
Hip and knee issues will be exposed for skiers especially, as turn after fast turn requires mobility and accuracy. Tightness in these joints, or the muscles around them, may lead to discomfort at best, or straining of ligaments at worst, possibly with the need for medical treatment, or a few days recuperating in the hotel. To avoid the need to waste time on an expensive holiday, seeking assessment and treatment before going may well help in preventing any weakness or injury from affecting you.
Preparing before you go is everything
Keeping yourself in top condition before your trip away may be easier than you think. It may not be a case of hard hours in the gym, but could be as simple as working on mobility and resolving any previous problems that may be aggravated by a hard week or two on the slopes.