by Rob Shaul


With the exception of Alpine ski racing, there is no tradition of gym-based for the mountain sports.


Indeed, gym training to prepare for alpine and rock climbing, ice climbing, snowboarding and free skiing, is seen by many in these sports to be “uncool.”


Until we came along, athletes “prepared” for these sports by doing the sports themselves, or by doing other mountain sports – like trail running and mountain biking to prepare for ski and snowboarding.


Please understand I’m not an accomplished mountain athlete myself by any measure. I’m a 5.8 climber at best, a hard working, but with little talent skier, etc. I work with these athletes in the gym, and watch closely the development of these sports themselves. Here’s what I see.


(1) These sports are dangerous. Very dangerous.

(2) Helmet cams, media exposure, better equipment, etc. have athletes pushing the risk, in terrain, exposure, safety, athleticism.

(3) The Red Bull/Snowboarder Mag/Bro Brah culture discount this risk in favor of smoking weed, drinking beer and “image.”

(4) Many of the “professional” mountain athletes are not professional about their fitness.


That’s what I see. Here’s what I know:


(1) A mountain athlete’s body is his or her most important and critical piece of equipment – not the cool looking jacket, super phat powder skis, or high-speed ice tools.

(2) The mountain doesn’t care how cool you are or how cool you look. If you’re not fit, prepared, technically proficient and giving it your full attention and respect, it’ll hurt you. Certainly, you can fake it and get away with it for a while, but dangerous mountain sports are like combat. The longer you’re in the fight, the greater the odds you’re going to get hurt.

(3) Bro Brahs and Bro Girls have friends and family who love and depend upon them. Mountain Athletes owe the people who love them all the consideration in fitness, technical practice and safety practice  they can generate to pursue these dangerous sports.

(4) Mountain Athletes to commit to proper physical, technical and safety preparation show respect their Sports, and respect for the Mountain.


This week, my FreeSki team starts its 25th week of training in preparation for the coming ski/snow board season. They actually have a week off from the gym and in place of our training, I’m sending them to the Olympic Training Center in Park City for 3 days of pool and trampoline ariels training.  These young, committed athletes, through all these weeks have demonstrated a level of commitment uncommon in their sports.


– Rob Shaul

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