lørdag 1. mars 2014

Cross Country Skiing Technique Tips from my 2014 Season

My season of training is pretty much over, now there will be some tours to the high country and altertnative training.

This year i really wanted to crack a few different components of efficient diagonal stride and technical points on down hill cornering. Conditions were too variable and down right poor to be able to get real continuity but i was able to progress and make some summaries.

Here are a kind of pot boiler on best tips in lijght of trying to deconstruct my stride, do better cornering and coping with poor soft or icey condtions so typical of a fluctuating weather pattern. These are with the proviso that these are maybe best for new beginners and intermediate idiots like myself who do want to train a good deal though and tackle 40km tours.

1) look up youtube. Keith Nichol has the best, simple exercises for various key things in the classic technique. Look up langrennsteknikk if you can understand spoken norsk.

The next step is to get your self videod at different points through your season

2) get your first sessions done in good conditions. Do a couple of hours v. light skiing with a focus on kick and weight transfer at a slow pace. Use diagonal a lot, even on slight down hills. Warm up without poles and try the same at different points in your session eg on varied terrain types or when you re-w

3) avoid any rucksack even a small one for your first ten hours of season.  A light bum-bag ( fanny pack, hear us brits snigger) is ok. Take a ruck sack by all means with clothes, warm drink, food, kitchen sink etc but leave it at the side of the trail and plan circuits to pass your provisions at sensible intervals.

4) if conditions are forecast variable weather around freezing point,  or the tracks are very hard, get filled in with new snow etc then dig out  your waxless skis. If you dont have any try a qaulity pair of waxless light touring from a friend or hire shop, or if you are more serious look at Atomic Skintec as an investment. Klister weather on average amateur prepared tracks or following just other skiers tracks mean poor, variable conditions where even a good prep' on the kick zone will be unreliable enough in adhesion to be annoying and will be prone to wearing off. This aint Sochi with teams of salters and groomers. Get out your noisy old waxless.

5) consider using shorter poles: if you have been fitted for shoulder high poles, then consider buying a second set which are armpit high. I find that shoulder high give an unwanted shift in mental focus and there-with balance with the modern diagonal technique of bent arms and a higher cadence this is a distraction from redeveloping your kick and glide. I got poles 15cm shorter actually and these help a lot, by helping me forget them !

You should go back to full length poles for serious training towards racing or fast touring because they are more powerful and efficient. But In any case a short pair are good for tours with dog and family especially if they come only with a strap, easier to move around on without hitting other folk and getting on and off. Also better for tours with a bigger pack later in the season, especially if you can swap to a mountain style bail.

For poling (staking) they seem to also help by making it easier to committ moving body weight onto perpendicular planted poles. Also for skating style they helped me lower my centre of gravity and focus on pointing my knees and getting power from the leg thrust over the poles contribution.

6) practice both classic and skating style from day one. In conditions with a soft top inch or two on a firm base you can skate pretty well on classic skis: the prebend is eaten up by the soft snow and you get resistance from the base. If you have both types of ski, buy combi boots and swap skis while out on tour. Skating is a better warm up imho than classic because it loosens you off and concentrates you on an even, sustainable rythm.

This year one of my goals was to learn step turning and this is really a skating technique so practicing on the flat and gentle downhills has been pefect on days where it hs been softer.

7) on kick zone adhesion: i conclude that for developing better weight transfer and a more powerful propulsion kick that you are better sacrificing glide and "over waxing" or using waxless for this part of your early season training and redevelopment. You can avoid bad glide, cladding and gripping by holding onto wax like red rather than using clister. Also you can use softer wax only on the section from before the toe to the heel in the pyramid build ontop of green and blue. This will help you force the ski down to get best adhesion while giving a better glide. If traction is poor though you have to extend the soft wax area.

8) if you must use clister then do it right: take off the old kick wax and use a good base binder wax or clister first and then use wamed clister or an iron to get two or three full lenght thin layers, cooling them off. Build a pyramid of clister  for the hardest or wetter days under the sole to another two to three short layers. Try spray clister as a top up for longer tours or really abbrasive conditions. Let the solvent evaporate and the clister go tacky and then lay the skis on the snow to let it cool and set otherwise it will come off.

For really abbrasive conditions where you eventually just want to get home with good adhesion, make a herring bone pattern under the legnth of the binding with thick clister and let these cool on the snow before skiing home. This then gives both clister and a bit of waxless texturing.

Focusing on propulsion:

A) diagonal: the kick is really a downwards adhesion of one leg allowing the other leg to be thrust forward. The point at which to do this is when the kickin foot is right under your body line. Dont focus on raising your leg in the donkey kick .
B) further on from A, the glide foot does not have weight committed to it until it is well forward of the body line , with the knee bent and the shoe meeting a touch down for weight transfer when it is virtuall parrallel to the ground. The ski then is propelled forward in a decreasing angle with the knee bent, the ankle taking the swing through and the hip following
C) "clapping" of the ski is a symptom that you are not swinging the new glide foot forwrd enough before you put weight on it. You are cutting the swing short and the clap is caused by the higher angle the ski has to the ground when you commit to changing legs by bringing your foot and ski down. This is more like a double poling kick and not the stride of diagonal
D) on this point c , you should at first continue diagonal stride on the flat and slight downhills such that you get used to the committment of weight to one ski with the other first trailing and then being swung through swiftly and low before the weigh transfer happens as in b
E) your hip is important in making a stable transfer and efficient glide: it swings in a little to the new side as the kick finishes on the other side. Shoulder should remain square so the hip is being protruded outforward and in the kick, it is going backwards a bit less prominently so you dont oscillate or pivot too much.
F) in warmijng up take shorter strides. In difficult conditions take also shorter diagonal strides. When it gets icey do this and go over to poling earlier than usual to prevent annoyance with poor kick adhesion and also small injuries.
G) in fast conditions with good kick adhesion and good glide, practice diagonal stride with a very long glide on flat or down hills where you practice balance on one ski and control of the trailing ski in an exagerrated way. Do this with and without poles. Get used to swinging the trailing ski through such is doesnt clap down but meets the ground at a shallow angle as in b and c above. Dont dwell too much on this exercise because:
H) in predictable snow conditions learn the feel of the tranfer points on the terrain between diagonal, poling, double pole with kick, back to diagonal over to a jogging diagonal and into fish bone. Training with other people will help this. Try to then speed up some transfers and then learn to use more effort to keep speed on when entering a small up hill from a downhill.

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