As part of the weekly circuit training session I hold at my local dry slope one of the regular attendees is a level 2 snowboard coach from the club. We were discussing fitness and training when he asked 'why train'? It's a good question as skiing and snowboarding, like many other sports, are very skill based. Where does physical training fit with a skill based sport and is it nessecary?
Yes, absolutely in my opinion. Why?
No 1, first and foremost, injury prevention. This takes a couple of forms too. Firstly muscle is the body's built in armour. Studies have shown muscles subconsciously tense milliseconds before impact in a crash, they brace the body for impact even in the conscious mind cannot work fast enough to register the crash is happening. Secondly for injury prevention is providing muscle balance. Many skill based sports work specific muscle groups, the quads being dominant in snow sports through the riding position. Training the opposing muscle groups helps balance them out and prevent overuse injuries.
Secondly, overall fitness. People should not be tired from a session at a dry slope, or from a run or 2 through the park at a resort. Improving the levels of cv fitness can allow people to get more out of their runs, without fatiguing. Less fatigue means more enjoyment and more energy for trying that trick you want to land. It also applies to the racers, having improved cv fitness is essential to put down competitive runs.
Thirdly, power and strength. These are essential to elevate your riding. Pushing into turns, through powder or popping of kickers and into boxes all need power from the legs. These aren't essential by any means but can improve riding no end, also strength can help you muscle the board around more.
And this doesn't just apply to skiing and snowboarding. All sports can benefit from physical training if tailored to the actions needed. Research shows it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to master a specific skill, that's a lot of hours to invest to not get the most out of it. After investing so many hours a few extra per week to get your body in top form seems very little extra investment for such a high payoff.
When training for a specific sport or event it's important to work the correct muscles, movement patterns and energy systems. If your thinking of adding some training to your weekly routine then speak to a knowlagable coach, seek expert advice or get in touch before you begin.