Skiers put extra punch into training

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 PM ET

Leg injuries are standard among the Canadian Cowboys.

Even their newest coach, mixed martial arts fighter Nick (The Promise) Ring, is nursing a knee as he helps the men’s alpine ski team put a little punch in their off-season training program.

Ring took part in the current version of the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show earlier this year and blew out an ACL, ultimately leading to his exit — which will likely come in next week’s episode.

“You try fighting, playing sports on a torn ACL, you might wreck every other stabilizing structure in your knee,” Ring said Thursday before hitting the mat at Calgary’s

BDB martial arts centre with a dozen ski racers.

“You’ll be done forever. I’d rather live to fight another day.”

His injury did lead him to this gig. Ring met ACA director of sports science Matt Price in a doctor’s office.

“We share the same physiotherapist,” Ring said.

“We all know how skiers are — they hurt their knees quite frequently. I’ve got the same kind of issue.

“Our eyes met from across the room, and here we are.”

The relationship took life from there.

“I don’t want to say a match made in heaven, because we’re not going to lose any ski racers to MMA anytime soon,” Price said with a laugh. “But it’s been a lot of fun.”

Looking to shake up the usual boring gym routines involving stationary bikes and dumbbells, the conditioning coach jumped at the chance to get his guys involved in something scrappier.

All appear to be willing participants.

“It’s awesome. I love it,” said Calgary’s Jan Hudec, who had his sixth reconstructive surgery done a year ago and competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“Going through as much rehab as I did, I have to be a little bit careful with my knees. But at the same time, that’s why it’s such a welcome change in the workout schedule.

“The last six years, I’ve been doing rehab at this time of year after surgery, or getting my knee back in shape — sitting on a stationary bike in a gym staring at the wall for countless hours in a day, not really being able to do anything enjoyable.

“It’s cool coming in here feeling healthy and do some fun training for once.”

Fellow Calgarian John Kucera broke his leg in the first super-G race of the season and has been sidelined since, but he’s taking part and doing what he can to get comfortable again before hitting the slopes at the end of July.

If that means a few kicks and punches thrown at his teammates, so be it.

“They keep us under control,” Kucera said with a grin. “I’m sure some of us would love to get after some other guys — it’s all in good fun.

“You need to know where your limitations are. It’s just a good workout. People don’t realize how hard it is. It’s a great all-body kind of workout, and it’s a lot of fun, too.”

It shows. And so does their competitive spirit.

“It’s funny. Near the end of the class, everyone starts getting pretty confident, especially with a group of guys that is pretty competitive with each other anyway,” Hudec said.

“The kicks start getting a little harder. The punches start getting harder. Guys are coming out of here with bruises, red faces.

“At the end of the day, every guy’s dream is to be a fighter. It’s pretty humbling watching some of the guys who do this for a living.”

Thoughts of switching sports aren’t on their minds, but they believe the training will help them focus on another long off-season on dry land.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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