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Ski tips: Are your ski legs ready?

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By Dan Egan EBS Contributor

It seems that no matter how many miles we rode our bikes, or number of ski conditioning classes we attended, our legs always feel the burn early in the ski season.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that the ski movement is hard to duplicate off of the snow, and this lack of specific training creates fatigue in our legs.

The other factor is that the sport of skiing is a passive aerobic activity, unlike biking or a workout class. Passively gliding on snow lulls our body into state of non-action, then boom we turn, creating a squat like motion and eventually our legs fatigue.

The contradiction between being passive and exploding into action is why our legs burn. Early in the season it’s especially important to wake up our bodies for the ski day ahead.

Start with stretching, prior to arriving at the mountain. Then, before you step into your skis swing each leg back and forth several times. Do a few squats to warm up your lower back and legs. After riding the lift, take off your skis and repeat this warm up.

Once you start skiing be very proactive and intentional with your movements, and don’t forget to breathe. Try to inhale between turns and exhale during the arc of your turns. This combination of being intentional with your movement and taking deep breaths will help your legs react.

The final thing to do in the early season is to shorten up your turn radius and ski slower than you normally do. This will maximize your aerobic workout and get your ski legs in shape faster than if you bomb down the mountain making big, wide turns.

Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and countless others. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Big Sky, where he’ll be teaching Feb. 23-25, March 2-4 and March 9-11, and throughout the season (contact Big Sky Mountain Sports for availability). Find more ski tips from Dan Egan at

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