Let’s face it, putting in the time and effort off snow to become a top ski racer 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.

Lucky for you, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is working towards 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.

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 

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.

“When it comes to academies and clubs, you’re still working with the developing athlete,” he says. “You’re still in a phase where you should be developing all of the general athletic qualities and maybe focus a little less on sport-specific fitness or strength or position-based things. I think that across the spectrum, whether it’s with the national team or an elite academy or a local club team, we talk a lot about developing general athleticism in terms of movement quality and whether an athlete can execute specific movement tasks efficiently and fluidly while controlling [his or her] center of mass as well as quantitatively by looking at power and strength production and baseline fitness.”

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.

Thomas Schweighofer

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Sean Higgins
Senior Editor
A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American status in 2013. Prior to coming to Ski Racing Media, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.
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