Balance, core strength, and a sense of risk: they’re all crucial for skiing, and they all change when you decide to have a kid. But that doesn’t have to stop you from skiing while you’re building a family. Skier Ingrid Backstrom was on snow until ten days before she had her daughter, and snowboarder Kimmy Fasani, last year’s Snowboard Magazine Rider of the Year, was bringing her son to snowboarding events when he was just two months old. “The hardest part was getting out of the house,” Fasani says. “But once I was outside or traveling, I loved being back on the move.”
We asked big-mountain telemark skier Meghan Kelly, a mom to triplet boys, and two-time Freeride World Tour champion Crystal Wright, who owns Wright Fitness in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and has a young daughter, for some insight into staying strong and getting into the mountains while you’re pregnant or juggling small kids. The women were quick to point out that every pregnancy is different, and individual experiences will, of course, vary. But both said that being flexible and open to change has helped them thrive as parents and as athletes.
Don’t Forget to Strength Train
“It is so important to keep your muscles strong and balanced to prevent injury while pregnant,” Wright says. “It also will help with labor and recovery after pregnancy.” Wright likes to do a lower-body, ski-focused series of moves with plenty of lunges and squats that many women can do safely well into pregnancy. After giving birth, Wright felt out of shape, especially in her core and pelvis. “I had to rebuild stamina, so mixing total body strength with cardio was very important,” she says.
Ski as Long as You’re Comfortable
Both moms learned that their bodies would clue them in when they needed to back off or when they could push it. “Skiing was the one thing that felt good while I was pregnant,” Wright says. “I felt most like myself on my skis. It was so much easier than walking.” She was cut off from a lot of activity a month before giving birth to her daughter, but she skied mellow terrain up until the end. Kelly, on the other hand, stopped skiing at 24 weeks after barely being able to walk following a powder day.
Get Creative with Planning
Kelly’s family has found plenty of ways to work through the logistics of getting three toddlers (and two parents) on skis. They claimed an unused corner of the Kirkwood Resort lodge as their zone and invited a bunch of families to come ski with them at the California mountain every weekend so they could trade off child care and rotate ski shifts. It became so popular that Kirkwood made it an official, free amenity: it set up games and designated the space a family area. Other improvisations didn’t work out quite so well: Kelly once pumped breast milk before skiing and hid the liquid in a Ziploc bag in a snowbank, only to watch ravens fly off with it.
Make Your Own Calls About Risk
Having a kid (or three) will likely change your desire to push it. “I’m laser-focused on making smart decisions now,” Kelly says. Specifically, she says she’s more cautious than she used to be in new terrain, on unfamiliar snowpack, or when she’s feeling tired. “My risk tolerance varies day to day. I’m smarter than I used to be, which may also be a combination of more experience and knowing I can’t come home hurt.”
Adjust Your Expectations
Wright says she struggled physically and mentally with pregnancy, because she wasn’t able to work out as hard as she normally did. She missed the endorphin rush and had to remind herself that the slower pace wouldn’t last forever. Kelly worried that former ski partners would be impatient with her—or ditch her entirely—once she had kids. “Lots of it is in your head,” she says. “You’re a mom, everyone thinks you’re amazing for even getting out and skiing, so don’t feel the need to prove yourself or totally keep up. People will wait.”