Being a freestyle competitive skier can be a daunting task. As I wrote in my previous blogs, simply entering and traveling to a competition can be stressful enough, much less actually competing. Skiing in a new place, on new terrain, alongside very talented athletes makes for a competitive environment that is inherently intimidating and can defeat a skier before they even click into their bindings. However, by eating right and maintaining a positive mental attitude, you can turn an intimidating competition environment into one where you thrive and may even win.
Proper Nutrition & Hydration During Ski Competitions
As is the case for any athlete, nutrition is very important for freeskiers who are training and competing at a high level. Everyone knows it’s important to fuel your body, but how you do these everyday tasks can make a big difference at the time of a competitive ski event.
Since traveling to freestyle ski competitions can prove expensive, keeping costs down while still maintaining proper nutrition is essential. I try to purchase most of my food from the grocery store instead of eating out, since restaurant bills can add up very quickly. It also helps to purchase food items that are easy to prepare and do not require a full kitchen since most budget hotel rooms don’t contain these kinds of amenities.
Regarding specific groceries to purchase, it’s best to stick with the essentials. I try to eat a lot of complex carbs along with high protein foods such as peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat bread, tuna fish and low fat yogurt. Other good options are bagels with cream cheese, trail mix, fresh fruit and low fat milk. These are all good examples of foods that are simple to eat and prepare, yet also keep you fueled for a long day on the ski hill.
Instead of eating one big, heavy meal for lunch, competitive freeskiers should make sure to take in smaller portions of food throughout the day. This ensures that your body is constantly receiving nutrients and energy. Start off with a solid breakfast and then snack on trail mix, a light sandwich, and some apples throughout the day. This will help you avoid going into a “food coma” after a heavy meal and prevent food related cramps just before your event.
Along with eating correctly, make sure to drink plenty of water. Sports or energy drinks should only be used if you need a quick boost, but if you are eating well and drinking lots of water, these shouldn’t be necessary. It’s also important to hydrate the night before the competition and then consistently throughout the day of the event. A properly hydrated athlete recovers quicker, has more energy and maintains better mental focus.
The Mind Set of a Successful Skier
While skiing competitively requires tremendous physical skill, it also necessitates mental skill and discipline. Competing on the freestyle circuit can be intimidating, even to professional athletes. Whether it is the venue, your competitors, the weather, the judges, or any number of other things, competitions can make you a little jittery. The difference is how you react to it.
Keep in mind that you can’t control competition venues, weather, or even the other competitors. Freestyle courses are always different and poor weather and snow conditions don’t help. However, everyone at that competition is dealing with the same course and the same weather. None of the other competitors can change these factors either. Instead of approaching the competition with a negative mindset, learn to see the parts of the course that give you an advantage and see where you can excel over your competitors. Getting stressed out over things that you cannot control can lead to wasted time and energy, and can defeat you before you even take your first run.
At any freestyle competition, there will be skiers that at a higher level than you and skiers at a lower level. While the best skiers can be intimidating to watch, use them as motivation. Look at what they are doing in their practice runs and how they are preparing to compete, and learn from them. Always play to your strengths, and remember that you are here competing alongside the best skiers for a reason, you belong here.
Proper nutrition, hydration and a positive mental attitude can set you apart as a competitive freeskier. Take each competition in stride and use it as a learning experience. If you are patient, work hard, and always ski your best, you may soon be the one standing atop the podium.
Brendan Trieb, Jans Athlete Team Member