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To My Sisters

You girls are my sisters.


Girls who ski, and girls who shred. You’re all bloody golden.


I want to ski with you, I want to watch you throw your dream tricks, and I want to help you stay safe on those mountains. Being on a set of skis is a gnarly place to be, and we love gnarly – gnarly is thrilling. But we need to stay on the right side of gnarly, because it’s ugly and heartbreaking when sisters get hurt.


Hello ♥️ my name is Georgia. People call me GC or Coach. I am an exercise physiologist and skiing is my all-time favourite thing to do. My business, Set to Ski, supports skiers with online pre-season training and rehab. I started my business excited to help people level up their skiing, and desperate to educate skiers about injury prevention. There are too many injuries in this sport, especially among female skiers. While you can never completely remove the risk of injury, there’s a very simple and under-utilised strategy that can dramatically reduce your chances of getting hurt on the slopes.



What’s all the fuss about injury prevention?


I know injury chat makes you want to put your fingers in your ears and yell ‘LA LA LA LA’, and that’s okay – me too. But this information can help you protect yourself and your ski girls, so my whole heart hopes you take this on board. I can almost guarantee that you will know more ladies who’ve suffered serious knee injuries skiing than men.


An ACL tear is the most common injury in skiing (1) , and women are three times more likely to sustain ACL injuries than men (2) . An ACL injury is devastating. It’s 12 months of rehab (which people rarely complete), and not everyone makes a great comeback.


Even after rehab, you will always be at a greater risk of secondary knee injuries, and it’s almost certain you’ll develop arthritis (earlier than the rest of us). Given the broad lack of strength training among female skiers, I think we see many more injuries than we should. And while we will never fully be able to omit all risk, we also don’t have to accept these serious injuries as inevitable.


Let’s talk strength...


Strength training is categorically the most effective way to reduce your injury risk. Unlike Instagram will have you believe, stretching does zilch to reduce your chance of injury, and while proprioceptive training (hopping, jumping, landing etc) can help a little, nothing trumps pumping iron.

Strength training can reduce acute and overuse injuries in sport by 66% (3)

Not only is this statistically true, it also just makes sense – if you make your tissues stronger, you increase their failure threshold. That means you have to hit them harder to cause damage, so they become more difficult to injure.


Injury aside, skiing is a strength sport – the stronger you are, the better you ski. Studies show that stronger skiers can execute better turn control at higher speeds, and don’t get tired as quickly (4) . If you fully commit to strength training this pre-season, the next time you step on skis, you won’t recognise yourself. You won’t question your ability so much, and you’ll be mentally and physically okay with throwing yourself off things you hadn’t before. Strength training is how to get better at skiing, without skiing.


But what does getting stronger look like?


When I say strength training, I do mean brute strength. Paul from F45 might tell you that your med ball throws and bench hops are building strength, but Paul, respectfully, doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Proper strength training requires barbells, heavy weights, and less than 8 reps – actually, probably less than 6 really, although that does depend on the exercise.


I recommend starting with a three-days-per-week program, focusing on full body strength with the following movements: lower body squat, lower body hinge, upper body push, upper body pull and core. You should aim to vary bilateral (both arms/legs) and unilateral (single arm/leg) variations of these movements across your training week. Then you can add accessory exercises around those main lifts to target any movement deficits you have and to strengthen smaller muscle groups.


The squat is easily the most ski-specific strength movement you will train, and increasing your squat will directly improve your skiing performance. There is also hard evidence that as a female athlete (yes that’s you, you’re a goddamn athlete), being able to back squat 1.6 times your bodyweight will significantly reduce your risk of injury in sport (5) .


You might feel like you couldn’t squat 1.6 times your bodyweight in an alternate universe, let alone this one, and that’s okay – you’d need to give it a good 3-5 years of training to feel otherwise. For now, we just worry about turning that 40kg squat into a 42.5kg squat. It’s all in the baby steps.


The process of lifting heavy weights can be unfathomable for those who are new to it, but I promise, it’s not as mind-blowing as it may seem – you just need some guidance. The guidance bit is kinda my job, and I get very excited about being able to help, so if you’re looking for a coach – holllaaaaa.


Strength training for park skiers...


Now, my Tits in Mits gals are my park babes. And I’m genuinely in awe of you because, honestly, when I’m in the air, my stomach lands in my butthole. I’m getting better, but I’m definitely more of a skis on the ground kinda' gal.



Anyway, if you find yourself thinking that strength training isn’t really going to help your park skiing, I understand your thought process. For many of you, the bit in the air is what’s driving you crazy.


However, there are a few things you probably haven’t considered.


All the tricks that you want to nail are so much simpler, less intimidating, and easier to wrap your head around when you’re on a trampoline. That’s because the landing adds a huge level of complexity to any park skill. If you’re stronger, you will feel more confident in your landings, and as a result your confidence in the air will increase.


If we take aerial athletes as an extreme example, Australia does quite well putting gymnasts on skis, because they are the tumble queens. However, a huge part of their transition training is increasing leg strength (6) , because while their skills are beyond phenomenal, gymnastics doesn’t build sufficient leg strength for solid landings. You’re probably not going to be dealing with the landing forces faced by elite aerial skiers for a while, but the principle still applies.


You need to channel your inner Cat Woman. The more you trust your landing, the easier it will be to make the bit in the air happen. Not to mention the fact that strength training will help you build robust movement and excellent body awareness, which are dramatically helpful when you’re flippin’ n shit.

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So all I need to do is lift?


Obviously, strength training isn’t the whole answer. They put gymnasts on skis, not powerlifters, and rightly so. You do need to put in the time practising your aerial skills, but you can make that time more successful, more enjoyable, and considerably safer if you smash some strength training this pre-season.


Will I get bulky?


Unfortunately, a lot of women worry that strength training will turn them into the hulk, and they act as though looking strong would be as mortifying as turning green. Firstly, female physiology is not conducive to building giant muscles. Yes, there are the outliers who have spectacular genetics (hello Crossfit games), but statistically speaking, you probably don’t have it in you. You’d have to train and use steroids for years to resemble the hulk, even remotely. And then we’d have to figure out how to turn you green.


Secondly, the women who worry about looking strong generally aren’t particularly strong, and can’t appreciate what strength training offers for all the other aspects of their life. Have you ever met a strong woman who told you they preferred the smaller, weaker version of themselves? No, because they deeply value what their strength has given them, and they’re proud of the extra space they take up.



If you spent the next three months just building up your strength and increasing what you can squat and what you can lift, ya just look good. Honestly, get ready to turn heads with your skiing and your booty.

Being strong is hot as fuck.

And I’m so excited for those of you who decide to embrace this journey.


How do I start strength training?


If you want to hear more from me about how to structure the most spectacular pre-season training program ever follow me on Instagram – I’m @georgiamariecarter. And keep your eyes peeled, because I have an eBook in the works, that is all things female athlete

health. To be the first to know when it’s released, sign up to my email list here:


https://www.settoski.com/lets-get-to-know-each-other


The Southern season starts in three months, so you’ve got work to do. Give yourself the space to fucking kill it this year.

Be the girl who learns fast, trains hard, and inspires others.

I believe you absolutely have that in you – you just need to spend the next three months training like you believe it.


Go get it.


G



References:


1. Westin M, Harringe ML, Engström B, Alricsson M, Werner S. Risk Factors for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury in Competitive Adolescent Alpine Skiers. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine. 2018;6(4):2325967118766830-.


2. Petushek EJ, Sugimoto D, Stoolmiller M, Smith G, Myer GD. Evidence-Based Best-Practice

Guidelines for Preventing Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Young Female Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The American journal of sports medicine. 2019;47(7):1744-53.


3. Lauersen JB, Andersen TE, Andersen LB. Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine. 2018;52(24):1557-63.


4. Patterson C, Raschner C. Supramaximal eccentric training for alpine ski racing—Strength training with the lifter. Applied sciences. 2020;10(24):1-13.


5. Case MJ, Knudson DV, Downey DL. Barbell Squat Relative Strength as an Identifier for Lower Extremity Injury in Collegiate Athletes. Journal of strength and conditioning research. 2020;34(5):1249-53.


6. Lewis C, Rosalie SM, Gastin PB, Withers S, Netto K. The transfer of expertise to aerial skiing: Utility of an athletic profile in female athletes. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching. 2021:17479541211054245.

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