If you haven’t heard of SKIMO, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. It’s part masochism, part thrill seeking, and all the things endurance athletes love. To summarize simply, one skis UP a mountain, then one skis DOWN a mountain. The challenge in the uphill is the part where cyclists and trail runners love to show their fitness, and the downhill is where skiers and thrill seekers get to carve fast and lazy turns. And then guess what, they do it again, and again, and again!
I’m an avid cross-country skier having learned in the late ‘00s that many cyclists in New England skate ski and cross-country ski to train in the winter. This allows them to keep their VO2 Max high and their quads bulging. While I was never going to win any awards in cross country skiing, I did qualify for TEAM USA in winter triathlon that first year and it was a blast! The thrill of gliding over the snow in a peaceful forest, and then floating down a steep pitch filled me with joy, and stopping for hot soup and snacks at huts along the way is serious motivation! Sound a lot like cycling and trail running? It is!
And then along comes SKIMO!
SKIMO (Ski Mountaineering) has been around for a long time in Europe, but it didn’t start to explode in popularity until the pandemic caused ski resorts to close their lifts. SKIMO technology has advanced and now the equipment is comfortable and accessible for those of us looking to change up our winter training. The SKIMO boots have a locking mechanism that allows the boot to fit like a downhill ski boot when going downhill. They also have an unlock mechanism so one can bend their ankle as they hike up the hill on their skis (with removable skins on the bottom to prevent slipping while going up). Climbing up a mountain on the skis allows the skier to stay on top of the snow versus breaking through in boots. Skiers hike up to the top of the mountain on their skinned skis, then at the top they “unlock” their boots, remove their ski skins and ski down.
Unlike cross country skis, SKIMO skis have metal edges so you can dig into the snow while descending. Anyone in New England knows that skiing is more like ice carving, and strong hips, groins and core are a must so you’re less likely to be injured. By the same token, unless an athlete has a strong posterior chain and a decent aerobic engine, they will huff, and puff, and slowly climb the mountain. Nobody wants to be that guy, so proper training before heading to the slopes is necessary.
Working with a Coach for 6 weeks prior to any type of ski season is key to avoiding many skiing related injuries. This refers to the muscular strength training specific to skiing. In addition, training your aerobic engine is important because the more fit you are, the less tired you’ll become skiing, allowing your mind to stay sharp and your body to stay aware and in control.
We’d love to have you join us at our next SKIMO event. In the meantime, contact Coach Clare here to discuss how you can get strong in time for ski season or to schedule a one-on-one session. If you have questions about SKIMO gear, then please chat with our friends at Pacific Cycling & Triathlon firstname.lastname@example.org
See you on the Snow!