Post by: Forrest and Casey Jillson
For my sister Casey and I, being a part of the Mountain Athlete freeski team is a huge privilege, and commitment. We are doing everything we can to give ourselves every opportunity to achieve our on-mountain goals, including podiums on the Freeride World Tour, movie segments, photo opportunities, and overall exposure in the ever competitive world of skiing.
Mountain Athlete is a gym based here in Jackson run by Coach Rob Shaul. It is a lot like Crossfit but different in the way it trains certain athletes in a way specific to their sport, making programming directly transferable to the mountain. At Mountain Athlete we train as a team and we are all very goal oriented, taking a serious and disciplined approach to achieving success in skiing. Training the way we do at Mountain Athlete is not the only route taken when skiers decide they want to make skiing a career but, if you want to have a drastic course correction, and you are transitioning from being a good recreational skier to someone who wants to take their skiing to the next level, and be recognized for it, it’s one that that must be taken.
The best professional athletes from all major sports take their off season training very seriously, the same goes for competitive skiing. The time you spend on snow when you are skiing seems like the best time to progress, but training during the summer is an equally good way to grow in the sport and keep the ball rolling after ski season has ended. Off season training is a way to maintain the progression by continuing to become stronger, faster, more durable and become as fit and prepared as possible on the first day of ski season rather than using the first few weeks of skiing to get into “skiing shape”.
At Mountain Athlete we spend the summers building a solid base and working every muscle in the body as well as the mind, gaining more and more momentum as the summer progresses. During our preparation for the ski season in the gym we roll into a more sport specific training cycle where we train eccentric leg strength and leg lactate tolerance, instead of focusing on work capacity and conditioning, and all around fitness, we spend more time hammering the legs, and the core muscles. This grueling 12 week cycle builds what Coach Shaul calls, the mountain chassis – a very stable frame for the us skiers to use while pushing our skiing to the limit. Isolating and working these muscle groups the way that we do makes us the most prepared as we can possibly be for the upcoming winter full of big mountain competitions, tram laps and as many mountaineering trips and summits as possible.
Something new this year is the collaboration of Mountain Athlete and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort forming a big mountain oriented freeski team Coached by Rob Delauriers. Rob will be focusing on the technical side of skiing and all the little things we can do to profoundly improve our skiing. Rob has been featured in eight Warren Miller movies starting way back when most of the team he’s coaching were still in diapers. He is one of the most aesthetic skiers we have ever seen making him by far the best candidate for the job. In a matter of two weeks of training twice a week, he has done an amazing job of breaking down each of our individual styles and habits on skis and shining light on both the things that we are very good at, as well as the things that we need to work on.
Casey and I have been on skis since we were two years old, so being able to break through the habits that we have formed and subtly give our technique the tweak that it needs has shown to give us more confidence in steep terrain, making it possible to ski faster, more fluidity and with more finesse. Robs ability to not only demonstrate what it is he is trying to teach, but to also verbally convey it to us in a way that is very easy to absorb and understand is something that I find very valuable.
Being able to live and train in this amazing town and to be on the elite team of skiers at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is something that we find ourselves laughing at in disbelief on a daily basis. We feel so fortunate to call this place home and to be able to chase our dreams with other outstanding athletes who also appreciate the opportunities that we are being presented with here in Jackson Hole.
Editor’s Note: Forrest and Casey’s first competition of the season will be this weekend at the Subaru Freeride Series in Snowbird. For results and other event updates, check here over the course of the weekend.