Ski Clubs very own partner, Jo Pollard, shares her behind the scenes story whilst working at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships which took place in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, this February. Read on to hear about her experience working out in resort during these very unusual times.

First thing to say is, Cortina is the most beautiful place and the perfect back drop for any World Championships. Even with the tough circumstances around COVID-19, a huge amount of effort and planning went into the smooth running of the event. Even though there were no ceremonies or spectators, the town still had a special buzz about it and seemed busy with locals and all the teams, even if everyone is keeping was distance!

Careful consideration went into keeping all the World Cups and this event as safe as possible. All athletes and staff were tested every 3 days - I think in total now I have had at least 20 tests!
So; what does competition day involve for an athlete? To be honest, most days are relatively similar to each other, which means competition day almost feels like any other day. I’ve been helping team New Zealand, working every day with Alice Robinson, a NZ alpine racer who at the age of 16 competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics, in Giant Slalom and Slalom.

The morning starts off with a light activation session, normally releasing off tight areas with some manual therapy, then active releases, using mostly yoga and stretches relevant to Alice. Some short/light drills are normally performed to wake up the central nervous system. This often involves some fast feet type drills and balance work.

There is a process of bib collection, inspection and warm up on the hill. Here the athletes get to visualise the course and work with their coaches. A lot of the races are ‘one chance only’, so this process is extremely important for the chance of success.

There is often quite a wait before the race, especially if you are not in the top 10 bib numbers. At this point it is important for the athletes to warm up again, and best prepare themselves to race, which can be tricky in ski boots and limited space. Generally, I help Alice perform low repetition drills that won’t fatigue, but help, ‘waken’ up the body and mind. There might be certain movement patterns that specific exercises can help with, allowing the athlete to better ‘access’ these movements while skiing.
For those of us passionate about skiing, some of these points can relate to yourself. If you know you struggle with areas of mobility, struggle to ‘find that edge’ or feel lethargic in certain movements, then try giving yourself 10 minutes extra in the morning to do a little bit of release work. Follow this up with another couple of minutes before skiing your first run to wake up some of the key muscle groups.

Alice Robinson ended up finishing 4th in the Giant Slalom, just missing our on bronze by 0.64 seconds. Alice was sixth after her first run and while she did in fact hold the lead after her second run with four skiers yet to race, she was eventually passed by Swiss winner Lara Gut Behrami , American Mikaela Shiffrin and Austrian bronze medallist Katharina Liensberger. Alice was seeking to become the first New Zealander to win an Alpine World Championship medal, but it was not to be this year. Bring on the next!

We can’t wait for the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Meribel-Courchevel.

If you need any further ideas on how to get ready for the mountains, check out Jo’s website and don’t hesitate to get in touch, either via email or on social media. Remember, Ski Club Members get 15% off their first physio session, and 10% for all following sessions. To find out more, click here

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