Opening Day is 46 days away at Steamboat Ski Area.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Opening Day is 46 days away at Steamboat Ski Area.

As the winter looms in Steamboat, locals look to get ski fit


— With a flurry of snow on the top of Mount Werner — and a far more considerable flurry of Facebook status updates and Twitter posts commemorating the season’s first white stuff — the ensuing ski and snowboard season seemed a little more real to Routt Countians on Friday.

Many, however, already have been working their way toward the slopes, trying to get in the right kind of physical shape for Day 1 at the Steamboat Ski Area, set this year for Nov. 24, Scholarship Day.

Core strength and flexibility can be the key to a successful winter sports season, said Pamela Turner, a Steamboat Springs-area physical therapist working with Align Steamboat, and those are areas that should be the focus of anyone gearing up for the coming powder days.

“The core is something that ties both the upper body and lower body together,” Turner said. “It is really important, and being able to activate those muscles in the correct way is very important.”

Turner focuses on Pilates at Align and said the physical fitness system developed nearly 100 years ago in Germany and New York can be the perfect way to tune up a body for the coming ski and snowboard season.

It emphasizes work on a mat on the floor and can help strengthen the core and regions Turner said can help make the season enjoyable and injury-free.

“Skiing and snowboarding are both rotational sports, and you have to use that core,” she said.

Another important factor in skiing and snowboarding is flexibility, Turner said.

“People forget that you’re actually stronger when you have more flexibility. People that build up more bulk in their arms and legs can’t straighten them, and they’ll be more prone to injury than someone who has flexibility, as well as strength,” she said. “In a ski town, we’re a lot more aware of that than the everyday Joe.”

As much as Pilates workouts can help, Turner said she’s a big proponent of all-body fitness in preparation for the winter season.

She moved to Steamboat two years ago, a lover of mountains who grew sick of the snow conditions near her home in Vermont.

“It was horrendous out there in Vermont. I love snow. Can’t beat this Champagne Powder.”

Now she, too, is gearing up for another trip through the frozen months, dashing down Mount Werner on her Telemark skis.

“Pilates doesn’t get the same attention as maybe yoga or a CrossFit type of class, but they’re all great,” Turner said. “I do

them all.”


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■ Lie on back, pillow under head, knees bent and feet on the floor.

■ Float first leg up off the floor, bending at the hip. Press down with other foot to level pelvis.

■ Exhale, and put it back down.

■ Alternate legs, repeat 5 to 10 times for each side.

“It works on your lower abdominals, your transverse abdominals and basically allows you to move your legs separately from your torso. I have people do it with a hand under their back.”


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Femur arcs

Femur arcs

■ Lie on back, pillow under head, knees bent and feet on the floor.

■ Float first leg up off the floor, bending at the hip, to a 90-degree angle with body.

■ Exhale and float second leg up beside first leg.

■ Inhale and exhale and bend first leg’s knee to barely touch toes to the floor. Then bring it back up.

■ Repeat floor toe touch with second leg.

“Instead of lifting one leg up and down, this goes to having them both up at 90 degrees. Your legs weigh about 70 percent of your body weight, so it’s a lot to be able to lift your legs up and keep the form of your lower core muscles. When I’m skiing, I find I’m using that seat belt a lot.”


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Prone quad stretch

Prone quad stretch

■ Lie facedown, stomach to floor, legs straight back.

■ Bend one knee up straight and hold on to ankle, keeping knees togeth­er.

■ Tilt tailbone toward the floor or straight leg to increase the stretch in front thigh. Tone abdominals to protect back.

■ Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on other leg.


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■ Begin on back with knees bent, hip-width apart and feet on floor.

■ Peel spine off floor one bone at a time until resting on bottom tip of shoulder blades.

■ Keep a slight flat back as the top of the movement is reached.

■ Roll one bone at a time back to mat.

■ Repeat 5 to 10 times.

“This is a total body exercise. It works your quads, your hamstrings and your abs.”


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Side kick up, down

Side kick up, down

■ Lie on side with bottom leg bent and top leg straight.

■ Allow top leg to lift in parallel, reaching out heel.

■ Lift as high as possible while torso remains still.

“This exercise really works on stability.”


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Book openings

Book openings

■ Lie on side with a small pillow under head.

■ Arms out in front, on floor, palms together and knees bent.

■ Leave bottom arm on mat and reach top hand toward sky, opening your arm with your chest. Open as far as chest will open, following action with eyes.

■ Inhale and exhale to “close the book” and bring arms back together.

■ Repeat five times on each side.

Side to side

■ Lie on back with arms out to sides.

■ Float knees up to 90 degrees.

■ Squeeze knees and ankles together.

■ Allow lower body to rotate in one direction, leaving shoulders on mat, and inhale.

■ Exhale and return legs to center and repeat on the opposite side.

■ Do 5 to 10 repetitions on each side.

“All of skiing requires some rotation in the body, so if all you’ve been doing is running or biking or sitting at a computer, you have to get rotation in your body. This incorporates those abs and rotation of the spine. This will warm up that spine, which is super important because everything else is attached to it.”

Ankle strength in standing

■ Stand with a small ball at ankles and keep feet parallel.

■ Find a tall posture and shift weight toward toes.

■ Slowly pick up off heels and rise up on balls of feet.

■ Repeat 10 to 15 times.

“A lot of us have wobbly ankles or have sprained our ankles one too many times. This requires you put a ball between your ankles to keep them strong. For a snowboarder, you want to have good strength in your ankles.”

Chest lift/crunch

■ Lie on back, arms and hands behind head, fingers interlaced.

■ Curl spine off floor as ribs are funneled toward hips.

■ Watch abdominals sink toward the floor. Leave tail on the floor.

■ Pause at the top, exhale and roll down.

“A lot of people do those incorrectly, and they do 100 really fast. I suggest doing these exercises slowly and using your breath.”


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Pamela Turner

Pamela Turner said it’s best to check in with a professional physical therapist at least once to make sure exercises are done correctly. She does physical therapy and Pilates at Align Pilates and Physical Therapy, 702 Oak St. in downtown Steamboat Springs. E-mail her at or call Align at 970-870-0100.


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