Yoga poses to give you explosive turns and smooth double-d's
Does slow stretching lead to fast skiing? "Definitely," says Argie Ligeros, founder of the Vail-based exercise workshop Yoga for Athletes. By way of proof, Ligeros points to Olympic skier Sarah Schlepper and elite snowboarders Megan Pischke and Barrett Christy, each of whom has taken her class. Ligeros's stretch regimen consists of slope-specific variations on three standard yoga poses that loosen and strengthen the key muscle groups used by downhillers. Do the following exercises three times a week for improved balance and flexibility (standing postures before skiing, floor postures after). "Take the time to listen to your body," she says. "Don't push it to the point of injury." Ligeros can't guarantee the inner peace thing, but she promises that at the very least this routine will help you "get up on your edges and carve your turns."
Position: Downward-Facing Dog
Emphasis: Achilles tendons, shoulders
Kneel, bow forward and extend your arms until you can place your palms on the floor. Lift your knees and straighten your legs so that your body forms a triangle. Bend into the base of your spine. Hold the pose for as long as you can, rest 15 seconds, and repeat.
Position: Chair Pose
Emphasis: Quads, calves, and balance
Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms straight out at shoulder level and slowly begin bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Too easy? Stand up, lift your heels off the floor, and—while balancing on the balls of your feet—slowly bend your knees until your thighs are once again parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
Position: Air Split
Emphasis: Hamstrings and balance
Clear the room before trying this for the first time—things could get ugly. Stand up straight, bend your left knee, and lean forward until you can touch the floor with both hands. Raise your right leg straight behind you and begin straightening the left leg. Hold the position for 30 seconds, switch legs, and repeat. —KEVIN FOLEY
Photos: Corey Sorensen