Winter athletes stay sharp with summer workouts
"In winter, all I do is eat and snowboard," says Breckenridge's J.J. Thomas, who took Olympic bronze in superpipe at Salt Lake City. So in summer, he mixes up the routine-by surfing. Once the snow melts, he decamps to his house in Encinitas, north of San Diego, where he surfs water instead of snow.
"It's one of the best crossover workouts you can do," says Thomas, adding that it builds full-body strength and improves balance. Plus, it's fun. "I just love being in the water," he says.
Having fun is a big part of Thomas's summer regimen. "I've learned that it's really important for me to take time off and rejuvenate," he says. After traveling nonstop for six months each winter, Thomas uses the summer to relax and unwind. "Taking a little break helps me get build that fire back up and get excited about snowboarding when the season starts again," he explains.
So when he isn't hitting the surf, Thomas rides his single-speed cruiser bike (logging two to six miles per day, on average) and plays golf once a week. And although he saves the majority of his gym work for the fall, Thomas does complete five minutes of core-strengthening exercises six days per week. "Having a strong core really supports your back," he says, "which is important because it's such a high-impact sport. We're always taking hits."
Beyond sports, Thomas fills the summer by playing music (check out his band at milehisound.com) and designing the new clothing line that he'll launch this fall (learn about the brand at yeanice.com).
Not everyone takes a summer break: Vail's Lindsey Vonn sticks with high-intensity workouts that earned her two medals at the Vancouver Olympics--except she hammers a bike instead of skis. She loves spin classes, which motivate her to ride hard-building endurance and strength all the while. She also works out at the Arrabelle's gym.
Summertime weather also lures Vonn outside. She can often be spotted zooming across Vail's hills on her road bike, and she answers the "tennis, anyone?" call with a resounding "Yes!" (the courts at the Vail Cascades are her favorite). Come August, though, she's back on snow, skiing in New Zealand, Chile and Austria through October.
Bobby Brown is another winter athlete who refuses to take summers off. This year, the Breckenridge freeskier and X-Games champ will keep skiing right through fall: After practicing on Mammoth's halfpipe, he'll head to Mt. Hood and eventually New Zealand, so he can hit the snow at least four days per week.
Brown hopes the straight-though-on-snow approach will give him a boost come next season. "I'll be able to go straight from the snow to early-season contests," he says. And he'll avoid the customary early-season soreness. "There are all those little muscles in your back and legs that you don't even know you have until you start skiing again, when they get super-sore," he says. That may be an early-season tradition for most skiers, but this athlete won't miss the aches and pains one bit. Says Brown, "All I want to do is ski."