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Words by: Monica Purington, athlete

Big Mountain skiing, freeskiing, freeriding, or whatever you prefer to categorize it as is still purely a recreational sport. We do it because we love it with little to no incentives.

With no structured “league,” we all prepare, approach and participate in our own ways.

monicapurington2This is just my approach…

Starting in May every summer for the past three years I, along with several other Jackson, WY, based freeskiers walk into Mountain Athlete ( knowing it’s time to suffer.

Four days a week for four months we train an hour a day; working through strength cycles and work capacity cycles to gain base line strength and stamina. In October, we dive into our ski specific training; an extremely leg intensive cycle to get us ready to race the tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Many in the industry don’t understand the gym approach. Why not spend our time training where we love to be, the mountains? Not so fast. While we commit time to the gym we all spend time playing in the mountains too. Running to the tops of peaks, mountain biking Teton pass, slicing turns on Jackson Lake and breathing in the fresh air. That is why we live here after all.

The gym is less a place to train our bodies and more a place to train our minds. Rob Shaul, head coach and founder of Mountain Athlete, trains our commitment levels and mental fitness. You never know what to expect in the mountains or what you might encounter and a lot of what we are doing in the gym is training for the unknown. Just when you think you can’t sprint any longer, lift any heavier or take one more step, Rob is right there to tell you that you have to.

Between the gym and summer activities in the Tetons our bodies take a beating. Recently I added in a few extra hours a week doing some restorative practices at Studio X, a locally based fitness studio run by a group of very talented Physical Therapists. Restorative practice not only helps relieve constant muscle stress but has also been teaching me how to meditate. Meditation is something I have found very challenging, but very important to competition, a definite trained skill. It’s a work in progress.

Training for the adventure in the gym, in the mountains and through meditation is just my way to stay motivated and excited for the next snow fall.

Now let’s go skiing…

P.S. Fun fact: Other athletes that train at Mountain Athlete and have been involved in MSI events include:

Griffin Post
Hadley Hammer
Crystal Wright
Matt Annetts
Forrest Jillson
Kaki Orr
Tess Wood
Hannah Follender
Cooper Kalenberg
Iris Lazzareschi

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Want a glimpse of a day at Mountain Athlete? Check out the “Monster Factory” websiode series at Also, take a look at my other edits.

Lets Go Skiing.. from Monica Purington on Vimeo.