Get fit for cross-country skiing 

Strong legs, strong arms are a good place to start

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The tentative opening day for cross-country skiing at Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) is Nov. 22 depending on conditions, although based on past years it could be December before there is skiing in the Callaghan and Lost Lake. Either way, skinny skiers have four to six weeks to prepare for the coming season.

Most dedicated skinny skiers stay active through the summer, biking and running, and get into cross-country as a way to stay in shape through the long winter. However, the sport has grown into its own in Sea to Sky with local clubs increasing membership, competitive teams for all ages and more coaching and camps. It was only two seasons ago that the Whistler Nordics sent a team to the cross-country nationals for the first time ever and now we have athletes holding their own against the best in the country.

We also have the Callaghan Valley Training Centre, one of four national training centres for athletes working towards international competition. Chris Manhard has been the coach for that CVTC the past three years, and his current crop of athletes will be gunning for NorAm podiums and a chance to race for Canada in the World Junior and U23 World Championships.

Manhard's athletes train for their sport year-round, but if you're a recreational or casually competitive skier, he has provided Pique with a list of exercises that people can do at home or at the gym to prepare for the season. Kimberley's Stefan Sander-Green, a sprinter with the CVTC who is looking to qualify for the world juniors this year, agreed to show how those exercises should look.

The entire workout takes about an hour and 15 minutes, although you can go longer or shorter by adjusting the number of reps and sets that you do. Most exercises can be done at home, although you will need a bar to do chin-ups and a medicine ball — something you can buy for around $50.


If you experience pain or discomfort doing these exercises then stop and consult a physician or physiotherapist immediately. Ditto if you have any health issues or are unsure whether you should be exercising.

Step 1 — The Warm-up

Manhard's skinny ski primer is geared to building muscle endurance and power rather than endurance. As a result he only recommends around five minutes of cardio before getting into the warm-up — running, biking or another activity to get your heart rate up and your muscles warmed up.

Walking Lunges (pictured) — Take a medium step forward and lower your back knee towards the floor, pausing to push hips forward and stretch your hip flexors. Continue forward so both hands are planted on the ground and straighten your rear leg. Leave one hand on the ground while turning your body and lifting your other arm so it's perpendicular to the floor. Rotate in the other direction to continue the stretch before turning back, standing up and initiating the next lunge.

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