It's been said that the average couch potato has a higher vertical jump than the typical marathon runner. That's because pounding the pavement gets your heart and lungs in shape but does little to build the explosive power needed for an NBA leap.
The same goes for skiing: Just because you're exercising regularly doesn't mean you're ready for the slopes. A ski-conditioning program must focus on the muscles and mettle you need most on the mountain. To get fit for this season, follow in the tracks of the U.S. Ski Team, which tests its members three times a year on key aspects of ski fitness, using what's called the Alpine Medals test.
With the help of Ron Kipp¿director of athlete preparation and sport science for the U.S. Ski Team¿and other ski-conditioning specialists, SKI has adapted the Alpine Medals program to suit all skiers. Here's how it works: Take each of the following tests to determine where you stand in seven aspects of ski fitness, ranging from balance to aerobic endurance. See how your scores fit in the accompanying charts, and then follow the "Boost Your Score" plan for each, paying extra attention to problem areas. Test again in four to six weeks and mark your progress. Better test scores will mean a better ski season, with fewer injuries and more fun.