The end of the ski racing season went down in pretty much the same way for everyone: The 2020 season was canceled, then schools sent everyone home, ski areas shut down and teams disbanded. At first, Instagram was full of kids and families skinning up the hills and even bringing some gates along for pop-up training sessions. That gig was over when ski areas shut uphill traffic as well, and people got real about social distancing even in the great outdoors.

The only outlet for skiing was on private land, and the Nolting family’s backyard family slalom dual—complete with timing and neighbors cheering from their own decks—set the bar for that.


Posted by Jon Nolting on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Post meltdown

As the snow melted from these backyard enclaves, it was time for a full shift to dryland training for all. With gyms, schools, and clubs closed, families were left to dust off, upgrade or create their home gyms. Some families already have workout areas that look like a Rogue Fitness showroom, but most are a bit more makeshift, for obvious reasons.

Home gyms require space and money. This is a tough commitment in normal times, but an even greater challenge amidst a global pandemic, when, in an instant, our houses (and garages) filled up completely and gym equipment became as scarce as toilet paper.  As Stacey Herhusky said, after her son Ryan cobbled together an assortment of old gear from various sheds, “Dad is the real unsung hero here…struggling mightily with the loss of half of his garage and putting his toys in storage.”

Getting the goods

Finding equipment was the first step, due to inventory problems. Even when equipment became available from suppliers, shipping times stretched to a month, which left kids turning to siblings, creativity and—if they are fortunate enough to have it— the great outdoors. They’ve been channeling their inner MacGyvers, using what is on hand, rebuilding anything with wheels and an engine, and gaining a new appreciation for the beauty of a good workout.

The homemade squat racks have been especially creative:

NYSEF coach Pat Purcell sets the DIY bar high with his own training creations including a weight bench built entirely from recycled materials, a kettlebell made of a river rock and climbing bolts, a weight made out of a water pump found in the woods and a rustic home gym that looks like something out of Rocky IV. (If you need a refresher, perhaps that should be next in your queue.)

Working it out together

The rest of the world gets free exercise through the Peleton, Gold’s Gym and Power Yoga apps, but the ski world has its own sources.

As mentioned already here, Doug Lewis’s daily posts on DIY Eliteam workouts are favorites, this one especially with parents.

Tools of the trade include ingenuity as well as sandbags, backpacks and, of course, beloved pets, as well as things that really have no name in modern exercise parlance.

Burke Mountain Academy’s Workout of the Day encourages all to follow along.

Sun Valley XC coaches lead strength sessions on Instagram live.

Ramping up the fun factor

Even with home gyms, and workouts, the motivation factor of training in a group is hard to replicate, which brings us to…challenges and contests.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club partnered with two local studios that run dryland workouts and yoga with the athletes via zoom, to keep athletes engaged. U14 coach Michael Britton has gone the extra mile in motivating his kids by issuing weekly challenges. “We have had four different challenges so far since the COVID-19 shut down (balance, obstacle, SL course and reflections from athletes,” says Britton. “The video must be 60 seconds and they have full creative control to create whatever they see best and the most fun. The results have been amazing and so different for each athlete!”

This balance challenge:

Obstacle course challenge.

Shout out to Steamboat’s Nordic Combined crew @nc_steamboat, who are kind of killing it with their Social Seclusion Showcase and weekly contests.

We’re suckers for a good soundtrack,

and for just imagining consequences…

Keep at it kids, until we can meet on the slopes.


  1. Thanks Jim! The creativity is impressive, and it sure will be nice when these kids can be together again. Take care out there!


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