With slopestyle set to make its Winter Olympics debut in the Russian city of Sochi, Grete Eliassen is ahead of the curve. After being born in the U.S., she was raised in Norway, where skiing is king of all sports. But the 26-year-old returned to America in 2005, hitting the snowy slopes of Salt Lake City to embark on a new way of training.

“To be a good freeskier in the past, what you did was ski a lot,” says Eliassen. “But in recent years, the sport’s really been professionalized; it’s getting more structured.

“Slopestyle consists of 50 to 75-foot jumps, rails, and features called jibs that you do tricks off of, so your whole body has to be prepared to take the physical force of all that. Now, 50 percent of our training is on snow, 25 percent is strength and conditioning, and 25 percent is aerial awareness training on trampolines. But the creativity and freedom of freeskiing is still as strong as ever.”

Eliassen also focuses on what she eats, reaping the benefits of getting out of her body what she puts into it. “I have to be really strict with my diet,” she says. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working with a nutritionist from the U.S. Ski Team and have noticed such a big difference. Getting your own nutritionist is important, as the plan will be very different for each person. I’ll eat light and snack throughout the day, then at dinner I hammer down the protein, grains, and vegetables.”

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
With competition season demanding athletes to put in up to 10 hours per day on the slope, it is in the off-season — June to October — that Eliassen builds the strength to take on the world’s best.

Seven Days a Week
Three-hour workout daily, including a dynamic warm-up for one hour: Bike for 20 minutes, then stretch, using a foam roller on the muscles before and after, which helps reduce lactic-acid buildup.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Strength: After the warm-up, free weights for two hours: Upper body, focusing on shoulders to protect against injury, followed by lower body, focusing on thighs to prepare for landings.

Tuesday, Thursday
Cardio/core: After the warm-up, a bike session in two-hour intervals, in the gym or outdoors. “Running isn’t good for me and my knees, as I’m already doing so much impact skiing, so I stick to my bike. The intervals get my heart rate up above 180 bpm. That is high, considering I’m not an endurance athlete, but it helps at times when I’ve just finished a run and I need to get back up and do it again.”

Saturday, Sunday
Two-hour hike or swim. “On the weekend, I try to keep it mellow and go for something easier.”

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Posted on: December 4, 2012
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