The Outside Blog

Athletes : Fitness

Competitive Ski Mountaineering Picks Up Pace for 2011


Not exactly the usual view when peeking into Corbet's...    photo courtesy Chip Carey

Afraid to jump into Jackson Hole’s famed Corbet’s Couloir?  There is one other way to get in there-but don’t count on it being an easier option. If you were among the pro competitors at the US Ski Mountaineering National Championship, held at JHMR last Saturday, you’d be booting up the couloir, climbing the last exhausting pitch on a ladder, stepping off onto the vertical snow wall at the top, and hauling youself up the last few feet via rope—with your skis on your back. 

For competitors on the growing professional ski mountaineering (skimo) race circuit, Corbet’s is just another grueling section of the biggest ski mountaineering race in the US. It comes after climbing 6,000 feet, several interspersed ski descents, a trek up to the summit of Rendevous Peak, a 4,000-foot descent to the valley floor, and an ascent halfway up the mountain before the final descent. Competitors gain over 8,000 feet during the event. Still think it sounds like a better option than the traditional entrance to Corbets?


The winner of the men’s race, Reiner Thoni of the Canadian National team, managed to wrap the course up in just over 2.5 hours, with the rest of the lead pack not far behind. Of the course itself, 7th place finisher American ski mountaineer Chris Kroger, looking refreshed at the finish area, said the race was ‘long, cold, and fun,’ while other competitors used words like... ‘brutal.’  American Janelle Smiley took the women's race (see full results here).

Competitive ski mountaineering races, popular in Europe, are just starting to make a bigger splash here in North America. More and more skimo races are cropping up around the US and Canada, and with each of those filling up with ultracompetitive endurance athletes, the sport is apparently gathering steam. Recreational divisions, as well as those such as ‘heavy metal,’ where entrants race on traditional AT or telemark gear have proven to be growing in popularity as well.

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The Top 10 Health & Fitness Trends of 2010

Photo courtesy of XWRN on Flickr.

People in 1910 would’ve died of embarrassment if they saw some of 2010’s fitness trends. (Try handing a Shake Weight to a centenarian.) Other trends would've made a caveman proud. Presenting the top 10 fitness trends of the year, from the Paleolithic to the futuristic

10. iFitness
A quick search in the Apple store for “work out” returns 157 apps, many of them designed to dictate your workout, keep track of calories burned, and keep you motivated. This is the year of the smartphone as gym buddy. But, as Outside’s Lab Rat asks in a new article, is that really a good thing?

9. Vitamin D
You need extra for bone health! No you don’t! The great vitamin D debate raged this year, with people like Dr. Robert Heaney, a researcher at Nebraska's Creighton University, making lofty claims like: “We won't know the true burden of chronic disease until we eradicate vitamin D deficiency." But a study released in late November proved otherwise. “For most people, taking extra calcium and vitamin D supplements is not indicated,” Dr. Clifford J. Rosen an osteoporosis expert at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, told the New York Times. The debate rages on.

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Why You Should Exercise Before Breakfast

Pancake A new study shows that exercising in the morning before eating keeps the pounds off more effectively than exercising after breakfast, the New York Times reports.

Australian scientists put a group of 28 men on a high-fat, high-calorie diet. Then they split the group in three. Some of the men didn't exercise at all. Others ate a carb-rich breakfast before exercising in the morning and sucked down sports drinks while exercising. The last group exercised, drinking only water while working out, then ate a breakfast comparable in calories to the other groups.

The two exercising groups ran and cycled at high intensity for 60 to 90 minutes, four times a week for six weeks. At the end of the experiment, the group that didn't exercise gained the most weight (about six pounds). The group who ate, then exercised gained about half the weight the non-exercising group did. And the group who exercised first didn't gain any weight at all.

As the NY Times put it, "exercising before breakfast blunts the deleterious effects of overindulging." So if you're a nog hog or a a pie guy, wake up early these next few weeks to get your sweat on. You might even catch Santa in action.

Read the original study.

--Erin Beresini
Photo courtesy of avlxyz on Flickr.

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Imagine Eating Chocolate to Lose Weight

Sundae A new study finds that people who imagine eating multiple pieces of candy (or multiple bites of any food) eat less of the real thing when given the chance, Science Magazine reports.

Researchers, according to the article, "found that repeated exposure to a particular food—as in taking bite after bite of it—decreases the desire to consume more," thus confirming the widely-held belief that if you worked at Cold Stone for a month, you'd no longer crave sweet cream ice cream. But this study is talking about imagined repeated exposure to a particular food, not actual munching.

In one experiment, 51 undergraduate students imagined performing 33 repetitive motions. The first group imagined eating 30 M&Ms and inserting three quarters into a laundry machine. The second group imagined eating three M&Ms and inserting 30 quarters. Then both groups were allowed to eat however many M&Ms they wanted from a big bowl full of the little chocolate morsels. The first group ate three on average while the other group ate five. (And, presumably, never wanted to wash their clothes again.)

So the next time you crave chocolate cake, imagine yourself eating a Cheesecake Factory-sized slice, bite by bite. That way, when you're faced with a beautiful piece of Black Out cake, you won't eat the whole thing. That's the idea anyway.

Read more about the study here.

Photo courtesy of Never Cool in School / Leslie Kalohi on Flickr.

--Erin Beresini


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Stuff You Should Click On: Week of December 10

Our weekly roundup of the quirky, bizarre, entertaining, and astounding news from the world outside. Here's the stuff you should click on this week.

Now You See It, Now You Don't:
Then and Now: Repeat Photography Captures Changing Landscapes (Wired Science)

Cycling, Doping, Contador, and... Ping-Pong?
Dimitrij Ovtcharov to Face WADA Appeal (ESPN)

Hey, LEGO My... Ancient Greek Eclipse Computer:
Apple Engineer Re-creates Ancient Computer with Legos (CNET)

Sorry, Fellas:
Girls Who Walk, Bike to School Do Better in Tests (Reuters)

Bodysuits Not Included:
Ice Hotel in Sweden is Homage to TRON (Treehugger)

That's a Spicy Noodle:
Pringle Climbs Spicy Noodle, Other 5.14s (Climbing)

'Tis the Season?
From Eels to Kisses: 6 Wacky Ways Cities Are Light Lighting Up Christmas Trees (Treehugger)

Least Surprising News of the Year:
And the Most Popular Road-Trip Song Is ... (Wired Autopia)

Shameless Plug for Our Contributors:
The Best Travel Books of 2010 (World Hum)

Bison, Beer, and Alberta, Eh?
Bailey the Buffalo Rides in Car, Drinks Beer in Alberta, Canada (Huffington Post)

--Michael Webster

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