So You Want to Compete in the Winter Olympics?
Some of you are gearing up to watch the Winter Olympics, and root on their athletes - PyeongChang 2018 starts on February 7. And some of you are gearing up to watch the Winter Olympics, and...judge their athletes. Make comments about how that ski jump didn't look so hard, and you could probably kill it in a luge, and, psshh! how do you F up in curling! You could easily win Olympic Gold in curling!
And to that second group of you, I say, "So. You want to compete in the Winter Olympics?" Then put your butt where your mouth is. Get your skis or snowboard, grab your skates and stick, don some Lycra and glitter, and start training, future Olympian. Here are a few things that might help you.
Note: Gear and goods prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.
Snowfeet look like a lovechild born of a forbidden affair between a pair of skis and a pair of crampons. From the latter Snowfeet got their compact, strap-on design; buckle the foot-shaped shoes over your own pair of winter boots, and you're ready to glide. The gliding - and skating and racing and tearing downhill - traits Snowfeet inherited from skiing. But while their thrill of use is similar, some might consider Snowfeet even better than skis, given they come with a fraction of the slope, heft, and schlepping requirements.
According to their Czech creators, Snowfeet is "a new booming winter sport," and, if the committee is smart, will someday achieve Olympic sport status. Start practicing now, kids, and you could be part of the inaugural group to compete for the Gold in Snowfeet!
Elevation Training Mask 2.0
PyeongChang has a slogan: "Happy 700 Pyeongchang." It stems from the city's average elevation of 700 meters, or approximately 2,300 feet. Its highest point is Hallasan at around 6,400 feet.
Some say regular use of these Elevation Training Masks at low altitudes is scientifically proven to regulate breathing, increase lung stamina, improve lung capacity, and up oxygen efficiency at all altitudes.
But the people who say that are usually the ones selling or promoting the Elevation Training Masks.
User reviews are generally positive, though many point out the conditions Elevation Masks create do not truly replicate those found at high altitudes. That is, while regular use will better the function and efficiency of muscles that normally do not receive much attention during workouts (e.g., the intercostals that stretch alongside and separate each rib), the masks will not alter a person's actual cellular physiology in the way living at altitude can.
Agility Training Ladder
To be the best cross country skier / speed skater / biathloner, Olympians have to train in areas other than their sport itself. If you want to improve your leg strength, hit the squats and presses. If you want to gain more explosive power, add in some plyometrics. For speed, agility, and ankle strength and mobility (since many Winter Olympics athletes have something strapped to their feet other than sneakers) check out the agility training ladder.
Ladder drills range from hopscotch to hops without the scotch to lateral run-throughs to grapevines. Once you get them down they're actually somewhat fun, and oddly therapeutic.
Until then, they suck.
Every time your footwork falters the whole ladder gets all jacked up, and the faster you try to go, the more your brain resists the effort.
That said, using an agility training ladder is great for mental acuity too.
I remember the Slideboard, or some iteration of it, from informercials when I was a teenager. It looked so fun on TV - like you could get fitter and faster without even feeling like you're working out! Then I saw one stuffed in a dark and dusty corner of a gym a few years later and tried it. For, like, 68 seconds before I realized why it was stuffed in a dark and dusty corner.
But if you're going to compete in the Winter Olympics, you'll need more than 68 seconds' worth of stamina. And if you're going to be a skater, you'll need to train in your body's frontal plane, with lateral movement. For the money, the Slideboard is probably your best means of simulating being on a rink.
Bootie-clad hockey players and speed skaters will get plenty of cardiovascular work pushing off the bumpers of this 6' friction denier too.
Pro Fitter 3D Cross Trainer
For full-blown pros and budding athletes alike, this funky contraption was designed for cross-training, not just use as a "ski machine." The Pro Fitter includes 20+ exercises for improving leg, core, and upper body strength and stability.
According to the equipment's maker, the Pro Fitter has been a staple amongst athletes and their doctors since 1985, showing up in training and physical therapy studios to help both enhance sports performance and rehab injuries.
SkiA Sweetspot Trainer
The SkiA focuses specifically on downhill skiing and, at its price, is probably as good of a choice for beginner and recreational skiers as it is for Olympians in training. The funky ski boot attachments come with a structured exercise program covering 3 key areas of improvement: centered balance; movement in balance; and control.
Spinboard Ice Skating Spinner
Like the Slideboard, the Spinboard helps rink rats develop their skills off the ice. The concave planks slip underfoot so figure skaters can practice their twirls, as well as proper leg, body, and arm positions, on any hard surface.
EZ Ice - DIY 60-Minute Backyard Ice Rink
Olympic hockey and figure skating hopefuls can assemble and fill EZ Ice backyard rinks on most any surface large enough to accommodate one of their many standard and custom sizes. Lawns, parking lots, basketball or tennis courts, sports fields, the roof. As long as it's flat - or as long as you meant to make an ice ramp rather than an ice rink - it will do. Installation of an EZ Ice also won't harm the underlying surface or utilities because setup doesn't penetrate it with spikes or rods.
Swivel Vision Athletic Training Goggles
Swivel Vision goggles are intended to condition soccer, hockey, and football players from pee-wee to pro to keep their heads down and eyes on the ball. Just like Coach is always yelling from the sidelines. And Dad from the bleachers. And also on the whole ride home and some more during dinner. Hey, tough love wins medals, kid.
SkyTechSport Ski Simulators
For serious Olympic hopefuls - or people with a lot of money / connections - only. SkyTechSport has a Sick. Schtick. Their ski simulators provide a fully immersive VR experience that doesn't just accurately reproduce the sensation of flying down a mountain, but lets you jump onto actual Olympic tracks. Created by multiple projectors, and projected on a big ol' HD panoramic screen.
The SkyTechSport ski simulators strap you into slats wheel-locked onto a rail. You choose the speed and lateral distance you move as sensors track your position and edging angles on the projected slope, and "powerful motors" recreate the G-force you'd feel in the real face of gravity.
You can ski endless slope or slalom, GS or downhill, plus adjust snow conditions, and add moguls and bumps.
Kodiak Claws Curling Gloves
I went curling once. And let me tell you, that sport is as action-packed and nail-biting to play as it is to watch on TV.
Fine, curling fans, you're right. I'm being a jerk about it because I sucked. I fell twice (uh, because you're supposed to wear skates not Converse on ice) and had very strange, once-in-a-lifetime regrets that I never helped my mama mop the floors when I was a kid.
Anyway, these are some curling gloves, made of tacky silicone palms for a better grip on your broom, and a sweet red, white, and blue design on each glove that overlays to form the curling house symbol.
On the other side of the curling gloves is the Kodiak logo, which looks like a grizzly bear heading over to give a skilled sweeper a high-five.
A simulated cross between Nordic skiing and raising the blinds in the living room. Commit to using the SkiErg regularly, and it will whip your doughy parts into the chiseled, rock hard biscuits my grandma used to make. You can buy a separate stand to use the machine freestanding, or mount it to your wall, so it won't consume so much floor space.
Draper's Strength Pullup & Lifting Bands
Pullups are a fitness fundamental, an exercise I doubt any Olympic athlete doesn't incorporate into his or her training routine. And they're frikkin' hard. Pull my entire body weight almost 2-1/2' above a metal bar? Sure, I can do that. 87 times. All I need is a strategically placed 100-pound Draper's Strength Pullup Band. And a camera that hides my body from the waist down from all witnesses.
Seriously though, if you're struggling with body-weight-based strength exercises, or in fact, if you want to struggle more with them, these heavy duty elastic bands will serve as either the friend or foe you need to get the results you seek.
HyperIce Vyper Vibrating Foam Roller
A key component of becoming an elite athlete of any sort, from hockey player to bobsledding, is recovering your body as hard as you work it. Olympians have trainers and docs and probably massage therapists on call to help them soothe and restore overwrought muscles. The rest of us have...foam rollers. Now with vibration!
According to HyperIce their Vyper vibrating foam roller is a next generation fitness accessory, and one that is endorsed and used by professional athletes ranging from Blake Griffin to Hope Solo. The roller's digital circuitry adds 3 speeds of vibration to the equipment's standard distribution of pressure to further: relieve tension from tight muscles; release bound fascia; and improve blood flow. The process loosens and lengthens muscles, thereby accelerating the post-workout body's recovery process, increasing range of motion and flexibility, and improving overall athletic performance.
Epic Grass Fed Meat Bars
I read that Olympic athletes typically eat 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day while training. Some need to eat every hour. Every. Hour. And that, my friends, is the only part of an Olympian's training schedule that I'm jealous of.
I'd imagine most ski jumpers and speed skaters don't have the time or means to leave the slopes / rink every 60 minutes to get some tacos or BLTs. And while they surely have chefs and nutritionists at the ready for them at the Olympics themselves, on a daily basis they probably turn to protein shakes and bars. Epic's grass fed, decidedly un-jerky meat bars would be my top choice for a savory snack. How about you, Lindsey Vonn?
Texturally, Epic bars are much thicker and softer than jerky - they are based on a Plains Indian food called pemmican - and their flavor profiles are quizzically unique. Strange enough to make you ponder WTF?, but not so outlandish that WTF? doesn't lead to kinda wanting to try one.
The Bison Bacon & Cranberry concoction, for example, combines 100% grass fed bison, uncured bacon, and dried cranberries for a high-protein, low-carb (and particularly low-sugar) hunger pummeler that will leave eaters of gummy, brown rice syrup-laden Clif Bars in its dust.
Or at least wondering why your post-workout snack makes your breath smell like a carcass.
RXBARs - Whole Food Protein Bars
OK, let's say you're one of those Olympians who has to eat every hour or so, and it has to be healthy food, not Funyuns and Fanta from the ice rink's vending machine, and also you don't feel like eating dehydrated beef or buffalo, as in Epic meat bars, every time. Here is my best suggestion (and, oh, it's good): RXBARs.
Eating my first Chocolate Sea Salt RXBAR was like when Warren Beatty met Annette Bening. The player left the field. I didn't need to keep sampling the hundreds and hundreds of protein bars I'd been eating for a week here, a couple weeks there, anymore. I'd found my protein bar soul mate. You think I'm exaggerating but, to steal an ingredient from RXBAR's recipe, this is no B.S.
All RXBARs are made with minimal, pronounceable ingredients, with a base of dates, egg whites, and some type(s) of nut. True, they have a more modest 12 grams of protein, rather than an artificially packed 20 to 25, but they also manage to limit sugar to 12 grams without fake add-ins, and without making you feel like you're eating chewy chalk. To me the Chocolate Sea Salt bar tastes like a more intense, sophisticated Tootsie Roll (sophisticated because sophisticated eaters all seem to sprinkle salt on sweets now.)
P.E. Is Not the Olympics Shirts
So you don't want to compete in the Winter Olympics? Me neither. But that guy does. You know that guy. The one who wants to lay out a strategy for backyard bocce ball. The one who has a big fit when the softball game gets canceled because of a little hail and lightning. The one who trash talks with the F word and the See You Next Tuesday word, and gets into near physical altercations with opposing team members and volunteer referees during co-rec dodgeball games.
Dude, we're all just here to get away from our wives for a couple hours and justify the calorically-dense burgers and microbrews we're gonna down afterwards. Listen to the shirt. Calm down, bro. It's P.E. not the Olympics.