When American racer Nolan Kasper placed second at a World Cup slalom race two years ago, he had not just his skis to thank but also his skates. "I play a lot of hockey," he says. "It helps me with my strength, aerobic capacity, balance, coordination, agility, and speed." No wonder the U.S. Men's Ski Team spends much of the preseason at the rink. "Ice hockey demands short shifts at a high intensity, for which a lot of energy is required of the anaerobic system," says U.S. men's strength and conditioning coach Alex Moore. "The body learns to tolerate high levels of activity and go harder longer." Team members also play volleyball in the off-season to help improve their explosiveness and prepare their reflexes for flying down icy slopes at high speeds. You can replicate the intensity and power of the two sports in Moore's plyometric workout, below. Practice these exercises consecutively two times a week on a soft surface (to reduce impact) before and into ski season. Have access to a barbell and nearby wall.
Weighted squat jump
With a 60-pound barbell on your upper shoulder blades, jump as high as possible. Land on the balls of your feet, absorbing the impact with your upper legs. Do four sets of four reps, with a two-minute rest between sets.
Credit: Illustration by Jason Lee