Ski or Die Ep 3 — Community Ask: How to Train Your Hardest Pass


This week we dove back into your questions and found a real gem. How do you train for your hardest pass, especially if you’re fatigued by the time you get there? It’s a situation that many skiers find themselves in as the season progresses. In this episode, we share our strategies for building “hard-pass” endurance and different methodologies for everyone — from the weekend warrior to the daily skier.

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Elizabeth:
Hi guys. Welcome back to the Ski or Die podcast with me, your host Elizabeth Montavon and co-founder of the Ski or Die brand. Real quick, we got to go over the rules of the show. So as you know, Ski or Die is founded on old fashioned values, which means you've got to pay your dues if you're going to hang out here. So all I ask is that if you listen to this episode and you learn anything, it inspires, you has any type of rise out of you. Please share it with somebody that you think it could help. We gotta pay it forward and share good content when we can. Right? So this episode is one that we sourced from our text community app, which if you're not on that, you need to get on there. And we asked you guys, what did you want us to talk about on the podcast? And this one really stood out to me because I think I had a very.. It was a big part of my experience in becoming a pro skier. So Brett asked, how do you train your hardest pass? In other words, if you're already taxed, by the time you get to your hardest pass, how can I train it so that I can actually spend more reps at that rope length? I think that's a super important question that really we don't talk about often enough. Granted, if you're working with a coach, it's probably something that they'll cover with you, but if you are a weekend warrior or you have to do a lot of skiing on your own with a ski partner and you don't have access to regular coaching, this can be a real roadblock in your growth in skiing. So if you are tired by the time you get your hardest rope length, let's say that's 35, right? What do you do? I'm going to introduce you guys to one of my favorite training tools. I use it a lot, a lot, a lot in the off season, but every once in a while in the summer, like when I'm skiing with my dad, he'll call me out and say, Hey, we need to do a couple sets of this. And that is the beauty of doubles. So it's literally two passes at your starting rope length,, two at the next, two at the next ,two at the next, two the next. You know, some people's lakes, they get to ski six passes. Some they get to ski as many as they want. I prefer eight passes of doubles. So for me, it's two 28s, two 32s, two 35s, two 38s. That builds so much endurance. And over time, when you then just run straight down the line, when you get to your hardest pass, you'll still feel super fresh. What's been your experience with doubles. I kind of turned you on to doubles this year in the off season.

Stevie: 
Yeah. You and Chet both for sure. But you've also done six of your opening pass or 32 off.

Elizabeth:
Yeah, I'm also a firm believer in running like six 32 offs is I kind of go back and forth between starting at 28 and 32. Honestly, just kind of depend, and I think there's nothing wrong with that either. Just for pure endurance, like run six, beautiful identical 32 offs.

Stevie: 
But keep working on your shit. You know, with each pass, make it perfect. And it'll help your consistency.

Elizabeth: 
You're starting rope lengths. Really? I think this is like some variation of a Will Asher quote should be your best shortline pass of the day. They just happened to be at the wrong longest rope length.

Stevie: 
It's a Mapple thing too.

Elizabeth: 
Is it?

Stevie: 
Yeah

Elizabeth: 
I never knew who to attribute that one to beause I feel like I hear so many people say different versions of that now. But when I heard that the first time that like really clicked for me, I was like, just because 28 or 32 is my starting pass. And there's a lot of rope there for me. Doesn't mean I should run it poorly. There's no excuse to run this pass like shit. Like, if I can't run 32, well, I have no business thinking I'll ever run 38 and 39 well. So how to train for your hardest pass? I think doubles is definitely something you need to do. And you'll find out in doubles where you have weaknesses. Like whether it's something you need to cross train in the gym or like a mobility issue, like a flexibility issue, doubles really uncovers a lot about your strengths and weaknesses and you know, really how you're going to take that to the next level.

Stevie: 
Yeah. It definitely will accentuate some key areas in your fitness and everything like that. I mean, you look back and the Brooks brothers did the turn and burn situation and you know, who else did that Jamie Beauchesne? What did Jamie Beauchense run, like 16 38s turn and burn?! How do you compete with that, you know?

Elizabeth: 
I think, I think I might be thinking of tricking. I think the Llewellyns used to like do a run, spin, do the same toe run, spin, do the same toe run. I think I know the Llewellyns used to do a ton of drills like that. I don't remember if it was slalom and trick or what it was probably a little bit everything

Stevie: 
Epic three eventers, but yeah, I mean, if you're able to do that, then you're able to do it under fatigue. Then you're going to show up to the tournament, no problem. There's rollers, there's wind, whatever. I mean, I've been able to do this under fatigue under the same conditions over and over again.

Elizabeth:
And you'll find out like, is it your grip strength that's actually, what's getting taxed so much? Is it your legs? Is it your core? Is it your cardio? It'll help you figure that out. So then you can dial that back in. And then after a couple of weeks of doubles, when you run down the line, when you get to whatever your let's say, 35 off is your hard pass, right? You won't feel fatigued. Now, maybe the skill will be a little bit harder for you to work because there's more speed of the whip, there's less rope you're working with, but you'll get to focus on the skill exclusively as opposed to like, holy shit, I'm kind of tired

Stevie: 
For sure. 100%.

Elizabeth: 
I think another thing that's not really like revolutionaries doubles literally just ski more. So, you know, at Okeeheelee, you're really only supposed to ski six passes in a set and then let somebody else take the lake. There's some really phenomenal people at Okeeheelee who, if they know I'm going to ski, they'll say, Hey, take eight passes. I don't care. I'll wait. And like shout out to those people. Cause I love you guys. but I think eight pass sets are always going to be more productive for you in the long run if you have a strategy, but in terms of just pure endurance and cardio eight pass sets, don't wait too long at the end of the Lake. And then, you know, like there's my 12 to 16 pass sets that I do on my work mornings, beacuse I don't have time to rest between sets.

Elizabeth:
I mean, I don't really struggle with endurance anymore, probably because of that. And Seth Stisher was actually the one who turned me on to that. Did I tell you that story? It was nationals at Okeeheelee a couple of years ago. We were standing on under one of the tents. I forget what boat tent we were under, but we were talking about what it's like balancing like a real job and trying to train as a pro skier. And if you don't know, Seth is a really successful realtor in South Carolina, he even had a TV show for awhile on HGTV, like helping people find really interesting waterfront homes. So like legit through and through, and he was still skiing at a very high end and still does. And he said, yeah, he goes, it's hard to get used to, but just do a 12 pass set in the morning and then go to work. And I was like, this is fucking insane, like what are you talking about?

Stevie: 
12 passes is a lot!

Elizabeth: 
So I was like what? So I told my dad I'm like dad, like Seth says, like we could do 12 past sets because when I get to Okeeheelee early, usually there's nobody there. So nobody's going to stop me from doing a 12 past set or if there's one other person, they go to a different Lake anyway. So my dad is like, I don't think you can do that. And he's like, let's be honest with you, I don't think I can do that.

Stevie: 
Let's see.

Elizabeth:
I did we kind of worked into it. I did six passes, sat on the platform and drank some water just cause like I was thirsty, you know, just like kind of normal and then just hopped right back in. And I think he didn't let it all the way back out to 28. I think he went just to 32 and then we ran down the line again. And so that, that was also another way that I got to spend more time at my shorter rope lengths was that if you want to call it second set where we didn't.. it really wasn't a second set. We didn't start at 28, we started shorter. And so I was able to spend more time at 38 and 39. That was really good too.

Stevie: 
So to wrap it back to Brett's original question, he was concerned because he's not able to get enough reps at that harder length.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah, I think, I think doubles will build your endurance and grow your skills at your longer rope lengths or slower speeds, whatever that is for you. And then when you take that to your hardest pass, you will have the endurance to do more reps and you'll have a lot of practice and muscle memory at the good skills that will translate. I also think longer sets are more productive while they feel, it feels like counterintuitive in the beginning because you're just like, Oh my God, I'm already tired, you want me to ski more? Over time, I went from two six pass sets with a rest between being like exhausting to me that now I can run 12 to 16 passes and I'm still relatively fresh by the end. I can still work on skills at 38 and 39 and 41 at the end of that,.

Stevie: 
It's like anything else. I mean, you learn to run a 5k when you first run that 5k hurts, hurts bad.

Elizabeth: 
That's true.

Stevie: 
But you keep doing it and you, and you get better and you get so much more stamina and you're able to, you know be better. I was talking to a friend of mine at the gym and he was asking me about water skiing. And he's like, so how long do you stay in the water, you know, on any given day or any given, uh, set. And I was like, well, one set's usually eight passes. And he said, well, how long is a pass? I'm like 16 seconds. And he's like, so wait, you're only out there for 16 seconds, eight times, and then you go in? And I'm like, yeah. He's like you guys aren't out there very long. And I'm like, you know, you're right. We actually, aren't out there the very long!

Elizabeth:
Longest 16 seconds of your god damn life though!

Stevie: 
That's true. But it's funny to hear it from that perspective, because when you think about it, I mean, we should be able to stay out there longer.

Elizabeth: 
No, I mean, you know, there's a lot of people who've believe in like the 10,000 hour rule in sports. Right. And it's, it would almost be impossible to accumulate 10,000 hours, like by a young age in skiing. Cause you just can't ski that long, even if you're like ridiculously fit and you're a 3-eventer and you do five sets a day compared to how long other sports train. I mean, if you're a tennis player, you're just going to hit thousands of balls every day. Thousands. I was reading something about, I think it was like Serena and Venus Williams. I think I was reading about them. How many balls their dad used to make them hit every day and how, how many years they did that for. And I'm like, well, no wonder you guys are so good at tennis. Like how could you not be good? If we could ski that much, like, how could we not be good? We'd never missed anything.

Stevie: 
But I think skiing is shifting towards being able to do that because we're skiing smarter, we're skiing. You know, the whole alignment conversation. You're saving backs that way. I mean, when I ski well and I'm aligned properly and I'm not compressed, I feel totally fine after, you know, doing some shortline skiing.

Elizabeth:
Yeah, for sure. I think the conversation is if you need to get more reps in it, your shorter, shorter line length, faster speed, whatever that is for you, whatever your hard pass is, you need, truly, you need to ski more, but you need to ski more with a strategy. There has to be a plan in place. It's not just beat yourself up. Like my favorite and simultaneously least favorite collegiate ski coaching of all time is same thing, but better!

Stevie: 
But at least it's better.

Elizabeth: 
Right?!

Stevie: 
That's the thing about skiing. Sometimes you see these guys go out and you're like, do they even want to get better? It drives me nuts

Elizabeth:
That's true. That's like a whole nother episode. I feel like people who they go out to ski and they look like somebody's holding a gun to their head, like they don't actually want to ski. And then like getting better, that's not even, we don't want to talk about that. We do not. Nope. We're not talking about that. And I'm like, what are we doing? Skiing is expensive. This is, this is time-consuming, expensive, and are you sure you want to be here right now?

Stevie: 
They do the same thing day-in day-out

Elizabeth: 
Like, who's holding you hostage. I'm so sorry. That's a whole other episode we're going to have to do, but yeah, I mean, it's, it literally comes down to train more and it doesn't always mean take a whole nother set or ski a whole nother day in the week. Cause some people that's not available to them. It's about tack on two extra passes at the end of your set at a line length you can run. If you finish your set at six passes, you've tried your hardest rope length. You didn't run it. Put the line back out one or two more rope lengths and run it.

Stevie:
If you want to get gains, you got to add volume.

Elizabeth: 
You do, I mean, that's chat one-on-one is like, he'll pull you at 39 and then we'll put it back to 32 off and be like, I bet you can't run it. I'd be like..

Stevie:
It's harder than you think!

Elizabeth: 
It is harder than you think. I remember the first time he did that, I was like, what do I not know about 32 off?

Stevie: 
I think the harder one is like 41 to 38.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. 38 suddenly feels so long.

Stevie:
No, but then you're just like trying to rip it like 41. You can't do it

Elizabeth:
That's a good one too. I mean, if you need more volume, but you don't want to just do like a gate, a one and a two at your hardest rope length. Okay, cool. Last two passes. You're gonna let the rope back out some and run it technically very well because the problem with ending the set on your shortest rope length attempts is you also begin to rock your rhythm a little bit.

Stevie: 
For sure.

Elizabeth: 
You know, your first three passes should be about establishing good rhythm that you're then going to carry into your hardest pass. And then if you do a bunch of attempts at your hardest pass your rhythm can kind of begin to disintegrate a little bit. So when you let that rope back out, it's really like a show of, Oh my God, I really just abandoned my rhythm. you know, at my shortest rope length. I think that's another reason I like it is it can be very telling of a lot about your skiing. You know, if you struggle, let's say 38, your hardest pass, so you take a few shots at 38 and then you put the rope back to 35 for your last pass into the dock. And you feel like you're all over the place. That's very telling of how committed are not committed. You are to your rhythm. Did I leave you speechless?

Stevie:
You left me speechless on that one.

Elizabeth:
I was like a little worried. I was like, did that make sense?

Stevie: 
That was intense. I thought you were like at me right there. You're like, are you committed Stevie?

Elizabeth: 
If the shoe fits baby. So Brett, I hope that answered your question about how to train for your hardest pass. There's a lot of different approaches to it. I think that increasing volume where you can but with a plan is generally what is most productive. And I can say that from experience, lots of different ways of adding volume but not just for the hell of it, right? There was something very specific I was trying to accomplish with that volume. It's like the idea of lighter weight, higher reps in the gym. I mean, that can be highly productive for anybody, literally everybody. So, Brett I hope that answers your question and we will be doing more requests through our text community to get more topics for the podcast. You guys have been so generous and specific with your questions, which we love. I love knowing what's on your guys' mind regarding skiing, cross training, mindset, you know, literally everything because skiing is not isolated as much as we try to think that it's just a part of our lives. I mean, it permeates through everything. So if you're not in the text community, all you have to do is text hello, or literally anything to (561) 468-3603. That'll get you added to our community. It really is me texting back on the other end and we will collect more topics from you guys in the near future, uh, because I love doing this. So thank you so much.

Stevie:
Okay. Thanks, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth:
All right guys, episodes over. Please leave a review and subscribe up on Apple. It would mean so much to me. And if you want to be the first to know about all things, Ski or Die. Shoot me a text at (561) 468-3603. And we'll get you added to the community.


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