The posturing girl on this and the following pages is 21-year-old Skeeter Werner, member of the 1956 Winter Olympic team and one of the country's prettiest skiers, demonstrating what every tyro or skimeister should now do: get in shape at home before taking to the hills. Like many skiers, Skeeter keeps trim during the off season by swimming and playing tennis. But it takes a good month of serious hardening up before she can comfortably strap on skis and pick up where she left off last year. To achieve the proper condition, Skeeter recommends these 14 preseason exercises devised by famed Ski Expert Dick Durrance. Each aims to prevent early season stiffness and to combat avoidable injuries to ankles, knees and leg muscles. They also develop better balance, coordination and stamina—three handy items to have on tap at any time.
Jump up and over a pillow or small piece of furniture from one side to the other without pausing; spring and land each time in a crouch position with feet together. Exercise is designed to strengthen legs and ankles and to develop spring and tinting.
Stand on one leg with arms extended for better balance, lift other leg to the side as high off the floor as possible and describe large circles with foot. This conditions hips, which come into play in most ski maneuvers, particularly in kick turns.
Spread feet pigeon-toed and with knees together and flexed, rhythmically bob from side to side into low crouch by smoothly shifting body weight from one leg to the other and slowly rotating arms and shoulders. Keep feet flat on floor. Action is identical to basic snowplow turn.
Put feet together, flex knees and with hands at chest level, swing shoulders and hips, transferring weight from foot to foot. Start with feet flat, then let momentum lift you on sides of feet like edging skis in a parallel turn. Motion also conditions, builds up legs for fast linked turns.
Draw toes up as far as possible off floor and walk around the room on your heels. A simple but very effective exercise, it pulls and conditions the Achilles' tenons which run down the back of the ankles to the heel bones. Leaning forward as in running downhill stretches them similarly.
Sit on floor and, with arms extended behind the body for bracing, raise legs slightly off the floor and turn toes in and out as far and as long as possible. The purpose of this is generally to strengthen ankle and knee joints which suffer more skiing injuries than any other part of the body.
Go into crouch with one leg extended out to the side. Spring off the floor and alternate leg positions rapidly to develop leg and thigh muscles used in snowplowing, stemming and downhill running. Because of the fast pace of this exercise, however, it cannot be done for very long.
Jump off floor and land with legs spread in long stride; immediately bounce up again and change stride in mid-air. Keep knees slightly bent. This alternate-stride exercise specifically tones up thigh extensors, those muscles which most need to be in good condition for cross-country skiing.
Crouch down spraddle-kneed with feet together. Roll knees apart while dropping into low crouch until entire weight rests on outer edges of feet. Rise, bring knees together and repeat. Workout helps develop muscles used in edging skis for turning and traversing hard-packed slopes.
Spread arms wide for balance, lift one leg and extend it straight out behind while slowly going into deep knee bend on the other leg. A good general exercise for the upper and lower leg, it also trains the body for balance and enables a smooth recovery from an awkward position.
Hoist legs in air and with back firmly supported by hands, do slow and deliberate bicycle-pedaling motion. Knees should come close to the floor but never actually touch it at the bottom of each stroke. Keep toes pointed. Exercise is to bolster underdeveloped stomach muscles.
Lie down on back with hands clasped underneath the head and slowly lift and hold the heels a few inches off the floor (1). Keeping legs tightly together, begin to draw them up higher off the floor and back toward the head (2), finally bringing them close to the stomach as if in a crouch (3). Reverse the exercise, straightening out the legs again until the heels are near, but not touching, the floor. Repeat this about 10 times. This, like other 13 exercises, should be done daily for full four weeks.
Drop to low crouch from standing position; keep the hands and arms rigidly in front of the body, the heels close together and, if possible, flat on the floor. More than anything else, this conditioner is designed to develop upper leg muscles, the most important group in downhill skiing.
Balance on Bongo Board for fun and as an all-round ski exercise. For challenge, try doing 20 knee bends or master a jump turn without grounding the board.