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October 13, 2014

It's October, which is great news for me: snowboarding season is almost here! As an Olympian snowboarder, it's always been important for me to prepare my body during the offseason, and I've learned a few tricks over the course of my career.

Here are 10 of the tools I use to stay fit and keep my body in shape for snowboarding season. Get out there and shred some pow!

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1. Stay active all year long.

Many people make the mistake of taking time completely off between winter seasons. If you do that, you lose all the work you put in last year. Try to get out and be active at least twice a week — that will have you ready to start where you left off.

2. Skateboard or surf.

Doing something that mimics the motion and balance you do when you snowboard can only help.

3. Join a gym.

If you have a place to work out regularly, you're more likely to do so. At least for a few months leading up to the season, pick up a membership so you can hit it hard.

4. Find exercises that help with balance.

Work with balance using a Swiss ball: kneeling, standing and hamstring curls. You'll be gaining strength and be prepping for the season.

5. Work your quads.

Snowboarding is a quad-dominant sport ... so make sure your legs are ready. Even adding body-weight squats will go a long way when you are recruiting your legs for long days on the hill.

6. Don't forget about your hamstrings.

As snowboarders we don't want to forget about the muscle groups we don't use. Injuries often come when we're unbalanced. Do some hamstring curls and some good mornings to recruit the hamstring.

7. Work on knee, ankle, hip alignment.

It is easy to be one leg dormant in our sport as we stand sideways all day. Typically the back leg is more correlated and stronger than the front. So get in front of the mirror and do squats and stabilization exercises to make sure your knee, ankle and hips can work together to be aligned and square.

8. Do eccentric loading.

Eccentric loading helps you get ready to land and absorb bumps on the hill, and to do that well we need to be able to control our down as well as our up motions. Do slow downs and fast ups with a barbell. Those slow countdowns will help you be ready to land what ever you want on the hill.

9. Up your cardio.

If you plan on spending your weekends in the snow, make sure you've kept up with your cardio. You could go from a few hours of exercise a few days a week to back-to-back days out on the hill. To prevent fatigue and to be able to utilize the lift ticket you bought, make sure you have your stamina up.

10. Don't forget about your upper body.

Add some upper-body exercises to your routine. Sometimes when we fall, we have to pull ourselves back up. You need to make sure you're ready to handle anything that comes at you on the hill.

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Kelly Clark
Kelly Clark

Four-time Olympian Kelly Clark is widely considered one the greatest female snowboarders in history. She has won every major event in the history of the sport including the Olympics, the U.S. Open, and Winter X Games, among others. In 2010 Kelly launched The Kelly Clark Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization that provides youth with the resources and opportunities to achieve their highest potential through snowboarding.

Before she was even a legal adult, Kelly had claimed an astounding 23 podium wins, including a Vans Triple Crown win, a Junior World Championship title, and an overall Grand Prix title. Only a year after graduating high school, she competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, winning a Gold medal in Women’s Halfpipe. She later participated in both the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, landing a Bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010. And in 2014 Kelly once again landed on the podium at the Winter Olympics in Sochi with a Bronze medal.

Aside from her competitive efforts in snowboarding, Kelly founded The Kelly Clark Foundation in 2010 to foster youth snowboarding.