An Olympian offers tips on pre-season conditioning |

An Olympian offers tips on pre-season conditioning

Vogtli helps skiers, snowboarders prepare for injury free winter

Anna Moore
The Park Record

After a long summer it may be hard to believe ski season is here. Now that it is though, our bodies may require some work to shift from hiking and biking to skiing and snowboarding .

Jillian Vogtli, 13-year U.S. Ski Team veteran and two-time winter Olympian knows how important it is to spend time training before hitting the mountain. Vogtli, now a personal trainer at the PCMARC wants to help everyone to reach their winter fitness potential by offering a few simple, equipment-free workouts.

"Some of my clients have forgotten to exercise for the last 25 years, and others are trying to qualify for the U.S. Ski Team," says Vogtli. No matter what a client's fitness goal may be, the basis of every training plan is "functional movement and alignment."

Although skiing and snowboarding utilize similar muscle groups, they can result in very different injuries. The most common ski injuries, ACL and MCL tears can end someone's whole season. And, after seven knee surgeries and two broken sternums, Vogtli knows how debilitating an injury on the mountain can be.

To combat knee injuries, skiers need to focus on the legs, hips, core and knee stabilizers in the early season. "If you aren't able to recover from a bump in the terrain, your center of gravity can be thrown off," making you do an "ACL sit-up," says Vogtli.

For snowboarders, the most common injuries occur in the wrists and rotator cuffs. Since the feet are strapped into the bindings, keeping the knees at a stable angle, all the force of a fall lands on the upper extremities.

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Former U.S. Snowboard Team member and 1999 Half-Pipe World Champion Rick Bower now coaches the U.S. Snowboard Team in Park City. Bower says that the most important preseason exercises for snowboarders should focus on "hip strength and mobility."

"Getting your butt in shape, literally," with single leg balance exercises is the best way to build up hip strength and combat muscle imbalances, says Bower. Having a dominant stance (regular or goofy) means that one side of your body is compromised.

"Where there is an imbalance, you create a greater chance of injury," says Vogtli.

You don't need to be skiing or snowboarding at the same level as when you left off last season. "Be good to yourself … It's best to know your boundaries and start slow," he added.

Vogtli's Five equipment-free exercises for a stronger ski and snowboard season:

  • 1. Side Lunge: Take a large step with your right foot to the right side, lunging toward the floor. Check to make sure that your right knee never extends past your toes and keep your left leg relatively straight. Push off your right foot to return to standing to complete one. Don't forget to keep the core toned and back flat.
  • 2. Squats: As the knees bend, press the hips back as if you were sitting in a chair. Be sure to keep your weight on your heels and your bent knees in line with your ankles.
  • 3. Leg Lifts: From a standing position, shift your weight onto one, slightly bent leg. Then, lift the opposite leg laterally using your glutes. Try to keep your hips in alignment as you (with control) lift and lower the leg.
  • 4. Abdominal Running Man: Lying on the floor, bend one knee as you tighten your abdominals to lift your shoulder blades of the floor. As if you were running, bring the opposite knee to elbow upwards as you contract your core muscles. Make sure to keep your lower back pressed against the floor and the chin away from the chest.
  • 5. Back Extensions: Lie down with your stomach on the floor and legs extended. As if someone has poured ice down your back, draw the shoulder blades and lower back toward your spine and lift your arms and legs off the ground, keeping your abdominals engaged as well. From this position, bend your knees and reach back toward your ankles, using your back and glute muscles.*Start with three sets of 10 for each exercise.

    For more information about Jillian Vogtli's wellness program, email