It’s race season! The moments you train endlessly for are finally here. Make the most of your ski race with our experts’ top five tricks for race day success.
Fuel for Ski Racing
Your mom is right: food matters. Think of your stomach like a gas tank—for athletic performance, it really matters what type of fuel you put in. Ski racing is an anaerobic sport, which means that it relies on muscular output and a limited amount of cardio. While there isn’t a ton of nutrition research specific to ski racing, we can compare a ski race to a 400-meter sprint, and there’s a lot of research there! In high-intensity anaerobic work, the body is “without oxygen” and using carbs to fuel effort at a quick rate. It’s advised to consume carbohydrates 90-120 minutes before competition — think bagel, oatmeal, banana, or similar.
A Better Race Course Inspection
Memorize key parts of the course to make the most of your inspection time. You don’t actually need to memorize every single gate — if you can, that’s great. But, it’s most important to highlight crucial sections of the course where the rhythm changes, blind turns, and terrain changes, like going from flat to steep or a side-hill. Know the couple of gates before a rhythm or terrain change.
Use visualization to take your course inspection to the next level. Ski those key sections you memorized in your mind, seeing the run go exactly how you want it to. Check out this intro to visualization for athletes for some tips and tricks. Some ski racers like to use their hands to mimic what their skis will do while visualizing—it can be helpful for kinesthetic learners to have a physical element.
Explosive Start onto Ski Course
The difference between a good start and a bad one can be upwards of one second. In a sport that’s decided in hundredths, a fast start can move you well up the results list, and make your ski race a success. Follow these basics for a fast start:
- Plant your poles securely. You want a connection to the snow or start pads that you can press your whole body weight into.
- Stand strong, with abdominal muscles engaged and shoulders ready to fire.
- Slide your shins up to the start wand without touching it.
- Take a deep breath in. Breathe out aggressively on your go. Slide your feet back fast, kicking your heels up if you can. Explode forward through the start wand, pushing down the hill through your poles. With practice, you can learn to lead with your left foot so the wand opens from the outside. This will open the wand slower and give you more space to gain momentum before the timer starts.
- Focus on a few powerful skates, depending on pitch and distance from the start to the first gate.
This video has some great visuals and more start tips.
Warm Muscles Perform Better
A coat like Arctica’s Gate Master Coat XT is an essential piece of gear for race day. Warm muscles perform better because they get more blood flow. Better muscular blood flow is also shown to prevent injury. Wearing outerwear that keeps your muscles warm while you wait for your race run is a no-brainer.
An active warm-up routine helps specific muscles to fire. This warm-up routine from Eliteam is a good one. Focus on exercises that engage the muscles you’ll rely on for ski racing—think fast-twitch legs, core stabilizers, and big leg muscles like glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
A Warm Up Run
Who wants to step into a race course feeling anything but their best? Aim to take two warm-up runs—one drill run and one ski run. Here are our favorite pre-race drills. Use drills that focus on something you’ve been working on in training, or incorporate training focuses like level shoulders or flexed ankles into any drill set. For a ski run, start with slow, deliberate skiing, sliding turns to control speed and focus on technique. Gradually add speed until you are skiing rhythmically at full pace. Stay focused on something you’ve been working on in training.
You’ve been training hard for ski races for a long time. Make the absolute most of your race day with these tips and tricks from the pros. A little extra work can make your ski race a success!