2018 NNF Trip to Tyrol, Austria and World Cups

The National Nordic Foundation (NNF) and Lumi Experiences are excited to announce the 2018 NNF Trip to Tyrol, Austria.

The NNF and Lumi Experiences are partnering to offer a trip to the 2018 cross-country and Nordic combined World Cup competitions in Seefeld, Austria. On this 11-day trip, designed by Olympian Garrott Kuzzy, we will ski in the Alps, cheer on our favorite athletes at the World Cup competitions and relax in three- and four-star hotels. Travelers will also have the opportunity to participate in the Dolomitenlauf Worldloppet!

Olympian and past US Ski Team athlete Garrott Kuzzy has over five years of experience developing skiing, biking, and hiking tours throughout Europe. He currently lives in Innsbruck, Austria and has developed this trip in his new backyard. As a former US Ski Team athlete, Kuzzy is partnering with the NNF to benefit developing US athletes. Proceeds from the trip go to funding NNF programming.

Scheduled for January 19 – 29, 2018 the trip is limited to 16 guests and priced at $3,900 per person (not including airfare) if reserved before March 31. For more information and to sign up, go to: www.lumiexperiences.com



The Choice of Wax in Different Snow Types

Q: Could somebody please explain how to identify the different snow types and how these affect the choice of wax, both glide and kick?
Also, after watching one of the Worldloppet races on TV: what causes the elite skiers to change tracks frequently? You often see them switch and sometimes switch straight back if the track is not as quick as they expect.

A: The best wax for any day must maximize two conflicting variables. As they say no two snow crystals are alike, so there are an infinite amount of snow types. But to begin think of two: new snow vs. older transformed snow. When snow first falls it is the sharpest it will ever be. Every hour each flake gets rounder. The colder the snow the harder these crystals. So new cold snow has sharp hard crystals that like to stick to wax.

This is why getting kick in new cold snow is easy while getting glide is difficult. Each hour/day or grooming run the crystals get rounder and kick is more difficult and glide get easier.
The warmer the air the faster the transition from sharp to round take place.

For kick wax you want a wax that is just softer than softest crystals so you can get adhesion and kick. For glide you want glide wax harder than the hardest crystals to get glide. The more moisture and humidity the rounder the crystals.

For glide the snow crystal types matter, but not as much, as in kick. The newer the snow the more you need a hard wax to resist crystal penetration. So you choose the ideal hardness based on the temperature of the snow and air.

From there: the wetter and higher the humidity the more you need to manage moisture by adding fluorocarbons that are hydrophobic. New snow is slower in glide than old snow and unforgiving in glide waxing errors. Old snow is more forgiving because it is rounder but the older it gets generally the dirtier it gets and the more moisture there is to manage(often).

Skiers change tracks much as nascar racers change lanes looking for an advantage. Every skier across the snow warms the crystals, so you can get different performance depending where you are in line.

Andy at SkiPost.com


Thoughts on Nutrition When Preparing for a Marathon or Long-Distance Race Event or “Carbo Loading Strategy”

Q: My question is really about what/how to eat the week before, night before, and morning of a marathon to ensure my body is as energized as possible. I know carbs are important and also know that a certain ratio of carbs, protein, and fat are required to help your body optimize the benefits of each component. So, I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about how to eat for race prep, and maybe some examples.

A: When preparing for a marathon or long-distance race event, nutrition can certainly be a limiting factor. Muscle glycogen is the primary fuel athletes use in training and racing. Carbohydrate loading (the infamous, “carbo-load”) strategy has been shown to enhance marathon and long-distance performance by preventing premature fatigue.

For a well-trained endurance athlete, tapering exercise in the final days (36-48 hours’ pre-marathon) while maintaining adequate carbohydrate intake (10-12 g/kg/day) is a simplistic method for using nutrition to your advantage.

Sports nutritionists recommend that endurance athletes consume adequate carbohydrates to promote restoration of muscle glycogen between training sessions, for ideal recovery. Basically-make sure you are eating carbohydrates between workouts for recovery as well as to fuel your next workout. In general, endurance athletes should be sure that 60-65% of their daily calories come from high-quality carbohydrate sources, 12-15% from protein, and 25-30% from fat.

For a marathon (or longer) event, the last meal should be completed at least 3 hours before the start of the race to ensure that timing of energy release is ideal, and to avoid any gastro-intestinal problems. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates (bread, oatmeal, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes) However, some easily digestible fat and protein sources are also needed to help the carbohydrates supply a steady release of energy to the blood. A good example would be a bagel with nutbutter or oatmeal with nuts or butter, or nutbutter, giving you the carbohydrates and fat source.

Keep in mind, however, it is important to be able to supply adequate amounts of high quality foods without causing disturbances to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A pre-competition meal should not stray from foods that you normally eat in your everyday habitual diet.

Carbohydrate drinks have been loved and hated throughout the years. One camp claims that sports drinks before a race cause insulin to spike, and then drop during the race causing a “crash”. Studies more recently show these shifts in blood glucose are to minimal to cause a problem.

Hydration is of special concern for athletes who are exercising for extended periods of time. It’s not uncommon to forget to hydrate when training and racing, however, it is very important to have a hydration strategy in place prior to a race event and to practice regular and consistent hydration while training.

Be careful not to exceed ~700-800 ml per hour during a marathon, as high volumes have been shown to present intolerance problems.  It is key to have a hydration strategy to consume ~150-200 ml periodically throughout the race. If you know the course beforehand, look at the sections of the race profile where you can take a drink effortlessly.

Karmen M. Whitham
CXC Development Coach



Turning Strength into Speed on Skis

Q: When I’m roller skiing with others I find that if I fall behind and need to catch-up I can’t. It isn’t because I’m at 100% exertion I just don’t seem to be able to convert my strength into speed. What should I do? Are there sprint exercises I need to do?

A: Indeed turning your strength into speed on skis is a product of becoming more efficient at higher heart-rates. Becoming more efficient on skis means having higher velocity between your threshold heart-rate (Level 3) and your VO2max heart-rate (Levels 4 and 5).

To work on your velocity at these heart-rates, practice longer Level 3 intervals (between 4-8 minutes per repetition) and shorter but more frequent Level 4 intervals (between 2-4 minutes). You should limit intervals to 1-3 times per week on your moderate or harder training weeks.

Another tip to creating higher velocity on skis is to throw in “pick-ups” throughout your distance sessions. A pick-up is a 30-second speed where you start from Level 1 and slowly accelerate so that during the last 10-8 seconds you are at your top-sprint speed. These are great physically and mentally as they teach the body the difference between going fast and going as fast as you can gradually.


Slapping Skis

Q: My skis slapping the track when I stride. How do I fix it? I do it the most during easy classic skiing, not so much in races.

Short answer: this is due to “late kick”; try thinking about driving the ski forward rather than kick backward.

A: Slapping-skis can often be an indication that a skier’s hips are too far back. The slapping sound you hear may be caused by the tail of the ski hitting the track too early because the “recovery” foot is landing behind the standing foot. Ideally, the recovery foot would be landing parallel/beside the stance foot, or even a few inches in front of the stance foot. If the hips are too far back, a skier is more likely to plant the foot too far back to gain balance, and in effect the tail will hit the track and make the clapping sound you are referring to.

As you ski, pay attention that your weight is in the front-portion of your foot. Before you start moving, gently transfer your weight from underfoot, to the front of your foot by leaning your body forward, making sure your hips come forward too. This is good basic positioning for classic striding. Also, watch that you are not “sitting-back” with your hips. A side-view of yourself taken on video will help give a visual indication of weather or not you are victim of “sitting back” with your pelvis and hips.

Karmen M. Whitham
CXC Development Coach


Warm Weather Glide Waxing

Q: I’d like to ask a question about glide waxing when the temperatures go above the freezing point. We are having unseasonably warm weather with melting temps and possibility of rain when traditionally we are working with the coldest waxes trying to stay warm and find glide. I can certainly go to a warm weather wax, but now that the snow has melted and not yet refrozen, I’m afraid that a yellow wax is too soft to hold up on the skis. I know a dry base will not shed water, and I know that the right structure is important to helping break suction, but how does wax hardness (durability) factor into this. Any suggestions?

A: In the wettest weather you want a soft wax because it is more hydrophobic and lubing than the colder waxes. It will last 100km. The problem is that it picks up dirt. So you want a hard under-layer and then a soft water repelling top coat. The longer the race the more you want to go slightly harder to keep the dirt off.

When it is wet, fluors do really help. And help you buy time. A low-flouro layer of “Moly” or “Graphite” to the glide-zone before applying the warmer, wetter high-flour glide-wax will help with the dirt while giving the ski the right wax on-top, for the snow conditions.

You can get a block of warm flour and put it on top of the high-fluro glide wax, this will help speed the ski up even further, but will not last more than about 10km.

For warm and wet snow, use a wide shallow linear structure tool. Remember it is always better to go for a wax that is too cold than too warm, and too much structure vs. too little.

Andy at SkiPost


How to go fast downhill? Pointers for proper body position, pressure on the foot, etc.

Q: Here in the east we have had very limited snow and have been racing at Alpine areas. The descents have been quite difficult. How to go fast downhill? Talking about situations in which skiers are essentially on alpine grades at very high rates of speed.

A:  As a whole, Midwest skiers suffer from these same problems due to a lack of terrain. There is a very simple answer- go ski some downhills.

The best downhill skiers (on cross country skis) aren’t masters technicians, they are simply more comfortable on their skis. This part of skiing can certainly be learned, but it can’t really be taught.

Our suggestion would be to go to an alpine area with your cross country skis and simply ski for a day. Take the lift up the mountain, ski down (but stick to the easier trails).  You will certainly get some odd looks (and maybe a few black and blues) but by the end of the day you will have gained a very important trait, confidence.

General downhill technique reminders include bent and supple knees, staying forward on your feet (towards the balls), and using your arms to generate balance and flow.

Without getting too into physics, drag is affected by many things — the fluid you’re going through (air), how the fluid is approaching the object, friction between the object and the ground, length of the object, frontal surface area of the object, shape of the object, velocity and probably some other things.

You can’t really change the fluid, but you can change other things. Getting out of an aerodynamic tuck changes your body shape, and generally increases the frontal surface area and body length — which should slow you down. A snowplow will increase friction and decrease velocity as well. So, those are things to consider — getting more upright will slow things down.

On a more practical (and maybe less “yeah, no kidding” note), keeping your body and mind relaxed helps greatly on sketchy terrain. Definitely keeping the legs supple and relaxed is very important. Though it sounds stupid, while mountain biking, someone once told me that if you whistled to yourself when you’re tense, you’d relax — you can’t do it when your jaws are clenched, and if you’re grinding your teeth, you’re probably tight in your legs. Whatever the reason why it works, I’ve used it to good effect on descents. If you keep your knees and ankles relaxed, and your weight slightly on the ball of your feet (basic athletic position), you usually are able to react when things get out of control.

Practice breeds success.  Good luck!