lørdag 1. februar 2014

Your Cross Country Ski Holiday in Norway....part V safe and basics

I was coincidentally out with my regular ex pat ski buddy and  a chap from London who was visiting him to have a mini break - a ski Holiday in Norway no less!

One of the things i tried to teach yesterday, and which i should have picked up earlier in my skiing "career" is the importance of unloading one ski completely so it is lifted or gently sliding or dragging. This applies to forward kicking but also to of course all manoevres, in and out of the tracks, into plough, and of course ski skating technique. Given good conditions on a firm base, i recommend that new beginners learn to ski skate on classic skis because it builds confidence in this unloading.

Being able to balance on one ski while having good control over the trailing one will greatly improve your enjoyment of the sport as a new beginner, or as an intermediate fun&fitness skier like me. More on this you can learn in video links below.

We have had actually too much snow, or rather the combination of wind and regular dumps of 30cm here in southern Norway, which makes for soft base, soft edged tracks and drifting in fill all making for a bit of a plod for a heavy guy like me. However there was just enough firmness and just a little infill of powder snow at one club's tracks to be able to have a bit of a fun day out with a beginner level guy. He could enjoy soft landings!

For me it was difficult to gain much on getting all weight on the gliding ski, extend glide and make kicking stronger and more efficient. Conditions were still too soft. However i managed to have a really good bit of practice in manoevering on the trickiest corner i know which is at the top of the circuit.

What i practiced on was still however weight transfer or division of weight right- left, and lesser back-forward; turning with half plough and just by weighting the outside ski; gliding on one ski when condjitions were firmer; toe up, heel in acceleration technique down hill .

In the storms before this i have been keeping warm in doors and going through youtube on basic techniques and some more advanced sessions. These have really helped me and i feel i am finally able to come out of my rut of being so much slower than experienced skiers on their thinner training / racing skis. These have a disadvantage in the soft conditions we have this year over my touring classic fischer power-wax, which is like comparing trying to use a road racer tyre off road to a mountain bike.

So here are my links to the best videos for both the new beginner and the "mosjonister" who want to get the basics right.

There is one very short sequence in the longest video by Saul when he shows that at a slow touring pace you are actually not lifting your unloaded ski off the ground

Let us begin with a bit of safety, ploughing is something you must master and half plough with one foot in the track is a life saver!

Plough: I was doing the touch-knee turn tip on the tricky bit at the top today after seeing this one: Canadas Keith Nicol gives a very good video instruction on this at a slow pace. You can also try thbe touch knee in the more powerful types of turn on your outside ski, combined with angling your inside edge to bite and leaning upper body into the curve. This is actually a little counter intuitive as you want to load up your inside leg in turns , so the outer knee touch helps you learn to both place more than half your weight on the outside, steering leg while also bending your knees and upper body more to lower your centre of gravity and add control to forward-back balance too.

Saul's vid on diagonal stride and the core principles of xc skiing in the classsic kicking way

Some simpler no poles exercises easier to put into practice from Keith Nicol again, diagonal stride techniques without poles

And one foot out of track breaking in html this time.

This is a real life saver especially when you either do not know the trail ahead or other "traffic" get infront of you. I forced myself to learn it on icey conditions at Nespebøvarden, when i though a piste machine was coming up. It turned out to be cars over the main road at the end of the circuit so i could have had a serious accident if i had not braked on the very hard conditions.

Best learnt in firm. but not hard conditions, the advantages over plough are 1) you have very accurate control over direction ie you follow the course perfectly !  2) you can do it in a narrow or busy area without taking up the middle field like you would in full plough 3) you can hold more speed on when you want to continue in the tracks after a quick brake 4) you can adopt full plough or hop out the tram-rails quicker with one foot already out and you will have a feel for how soft or hard the middle flat lane is. In norway the steepest sections are usually groomed for ploughing only so being one foot out already helps for a quick change over when the tram rails suddenly disappear!

Usually done on the inside leg on the middle flat lane, you can however often get more braking by using the outside foot if the edge of the track is reasonably even, or if there are other skiers taking up the middle lane.

Vid too then, bit of safe braking, very good indeed showing the inside foot on the pisted middle area.

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