Lifestyle - Mar 16, 2022

Planning for an Active Vacation: Vicki’s Dynamite Dolomite Ski Adventure

Vicki McGrath

I’ve always dreamed of going to the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites in Italy.  So, when my ski pass added the Dolomite Super Ski, I jumped at the chance to travel to Italy.

The Dolomite Super Ski sits in the northern Italian Alps.  It’s the world’s largest ski destination, and it will will play host to the 2026 Winter Olympics.  With 1200 kilometers of skiing, 450 ski lifts, 16 resorts, and 400 mountain huts and chalets serving beautiful food and drinks, what’s not to love? 

Planning and Preparing for the Ski Trip of a Lifetime

Traveling abroad in the age of COVID-19 requires nerves of steel and every conceivable travel insurance available.  The stress of staying healthy prior to and during the trip would stop most people in their tracks, but my ski buddies and I were excited to go on this trip of a lifetime. 

Once on the ground in Italy, we drove to the beautiful village of Ortisei, in Val Gardena, known for a tradition of woodcarving dating back to the early 17th century.  The brightly painted wood buildings and cobblestone streets, set below the large massif of the Sassolungo mountains, looked like a scene from a movie.

Skiing in Val Gardena is one of the most spectacular locations I’ve ever been.  The miles and miles of perfectly groomed ski runs weave around the mountains, providing jaw-dropping views at every turn. Over the course of five days of skiing, we racked up 51,000 feet of vert (a common measuring stick for how much skiing you can do in a day), and 65 miles of downhill skiing (there were tons of three-mile-long runs).

Once our legs needed a rest, we were treated to any number of mountain huts and chalets each providing a different experience, ranging from rustic to elegant.  We created a fun rating system based on the view, the food, and where the bathrooms were located. The Italian flair for using slate and tile is stunning in the hotels, but deadly when used on stairs leading down two flights while wearing ski boots. 

The food in Italy is without saying, spectacular.  Knowing that every meal was going to be special, it allowed us to try regional specialty dishes with confidence.  One of my favorite meals was a squid ink crust pizza, with mozzarella cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.     

Now back home, like with all trips, it does feel like a dream that I keep re-living.  The Dolomite Super Ski far exceeded my expectations for skiing in the Italian Alps.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to make this experience a reality.  I highly recommend the Dolomites as a destination to any skier passionate about living life to the fullest!

Preparing For Your Own Athletic Adventure Vacation

Prepping for any trip involving a high level of activity requires specific training.  Focus on the areas of your body where you there is going to be high levels of repetition, while also strengthening your supporting muscles.  As an example: for skiing, concentrate on your legs and core; for kayaking, shoulders and core; and backpacking, legs, shoulders, and core. You’ll find specific exercises that will help you prep below.  If you’re interested in optimizing your performance, why not work with a PJCC Personal Trainer who can help you get where you want to go!   

Ski Prep

The key elements to prepping for a ski trip are:

  • Increase your lower body strength by working on your quads, glutes, hips and hamstrings. 
    • Front, side, and reverse lunges
    • Stair Climbing (two at a time)
    • Box jumps
    • Box down stepping
    • Glute bridges
  • Work on your core muscles in your back and abdominal for stability and strength in initiating and holding turns.
    • Planks
    • Side planks
    • V-ups
    • Windshield wipers
  • Increase your cardio training to assist with adapting to altitude.  Consider wearing a mask while performing.    
    • Biking
    • Elliptical
    • Versa climbing

Kayaking Prep

  • Develop your shoulders, upper and lower back and core with the goal of increasing your stamina.
    • Lat pulls
    • Low rows
    • High rows
    • Super man
    • Bird dog
    • Planks
    • Bridging
  • As part of the technique of paddling, think about punching with one side while pulling with the other.  This technique helps especially when your arms start to get tired. 
    • Single arm rows
    • Bicep curls
    • Weight wrist curls
    • Boxing, or shadow boxing with weighted gloves
  • Because you will be sitting for a large portion of the time you will want to work on your hamstring and glut flexibility.
    • Standing hamstring stretch
    • Seated figure four stretch

Backpacking Prep

The key elements to prepping for a backpacking trip are:

  • Strong legs will carry the burden of your heavy load up or down a mountain. 
    • Front, side, and reverse lunges
    • Sidestep with rubber band around thighs
    • Stair Climbing (two at a time)
    • Box down stepping (use a padded plyo box)
  • Increase your strength in your core to create stability while hiking with a heavy pack.   
    • Straight Arm planks – Add an alternating hand tap, or shoulder tap
    • Forearm plank – Add rotating from side to side touch your hip to the ground
    • Renegade plank
  • Develop your shoulders and lower back with the goal of increasing your stamina.
    • Push ups
    • Pull ups
    • Lat Pulls
    • Low Rows
  • Challenge your balance to help you manage stepping on uneven surfaces.
    • Step up and down off a Bosu (flat side down)
    • Bosu squat (flat side down)
    • One-foot standing balance
    • Barefoot walking toe raises
  • Since wearing a mask is now optional, opt in to wearing one while doing your cardio.  The restricted air flow helps replicate altitude training.
    • Stairclimbing – Add a weighted backpack
    • Versa climbing – Try the ‘Monument Challenge’
    • Elliptical with arms – Using your arms greatly increases your heart rate

Wishing you a happy, healthy vacation full of adventure and wellness!

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