Race Prep: Slalom

Racing is a complex aspect of any sport. It’s never as easy as getting out there and trying your best. It takes weeks—sometimes months—of hard training and preparation. Slalom skiing, in particular, is a vastly misunderstood race; inexperienced skiers might assume it to be as simple as a few quick turns, but slalom athletes complete hours of training both on and off the slope. In fact, the sport gained newfound respect when world-renowned skier Bode Miller released his hardcore workout via Men’s Journal. If you’re considering competing in a slalom race, this quick and dirty guide to race prep should provide an excellent start to your training.

Slalom and downhill racing necessitate conditioned and strong joints and tendons; turns and bumps on a racecourse are only mitigated through strong joints and muscles. As a result, slalom athletes should focus on flexibility through running in place, extensive stretching, and full range-of-motion movements of the ankles, knees, and hips. Athletes should also focus on torso rotations and arm circles.

Downhill racing requires a combination of practiced technique and athletic finesse. As a result, you should also complete conditioning and agility exercises. The upper legs and core muscles should be conditioned to absorb bumps and maintain balance, whereas the athlete must be comfortable moving and shifting quickly through the duration of the race. Conditioning exercises might include a series of tight turns and body rotation exercises. Agility exercises will include crossover steps, hopping ladders, and pole-less turns.

Athletes should undertake these exercises for the duration of the training period, scaling up intensity as the race draws closer. Concomitantly, racers should practice as often as possible on the race course; this is the best way to assess ability, track progress, and prepare for race-day activities. If you are not associated with a ski mountain, consider investing in a season pass or multi-day Colorado lift tickets. Racers may also be eligible for a variety of discounts.

In addition to preparing your body for race day, slalom and alpine athletes should consistently prepare their equipment for the race. Tuning race skis is a delicate art, so it is best to consult a professional if you want to get your edges done prior to the race. Utilize weather and condition data to pick the best wax for the day and apply at least one coat the day before your race.