SkiErg Ski Technique Form

Q: I’m a big fan of the SkiErg. When I workout I do a full crunch, bend at the waist and keep my legs straight, is this wrong? I notice from the videos that the demonstrators bend their knees and only half-crunch, so more arm involvement.



A: When using the SkiErg, following the description you outlined from the demonstration videos is the correct way to go. You want to have a slight bent in the knees – never locked legs. The legs and ankles should be soft and supple and the feet placed at hip-distance width. You want to initiate the crunch from the upper abdominals, so eliminate the bend at the waist.

It is important to use the core and arms in unison. Most of the power is going to come from the initial “pole” down when your hands are high, then follow through using the core (including the back muscles), lats and triceps. This is a more efficient way to double pole and will save you from back injury that can occur when you bend at the waist/hips. As you transition to this new technique, you may feel more involvlement from the arm, but over time you will become stronger and more efficient in the upper body.

Hill Bounding With Colin Rogers

Hill bounding, particularly with poles, is one of the most effective whole-body exercises a competitive cross country ski racer can do to prepare for the season. The combination of the body motions that are very similar to that of skiing on snow and the power development required for moving efficiently uphill is hard to beat for off-season ski training.

Although hill bounding can be used for many types of workouts, it is best utilized for higher intensity work such as lactate threshold and VO2 max sessions. By concentrating on bounding form you will ensure that you get the most out of this type of workout.

In the video, Colin demonstrates on the same hill that we use extensively for our training. In addition to using the grassy hillsides shown in the video, we also include longer (20-minute) aerobic and shorter VO2 max workouts up the steep cat tracks to the top of the mountain. We are fortunate to now have this hill (and mountain) right in our back yard. By contrast, when I was on US Cross Country Ski Team, I lived in Cleveland Ohio — not the most noted places for cross country skiing. However, even in Ohio there were some local alpine ski hills that were perfect for these types of workouts. I remember fondly going up and down the hills at “Alpine Valley” in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. So even if you are not in the mountains, look for a local hill, preferably mowed, and have at it!

The whole-body, cross country skiing-like motions are central to getting the most out of hill bounding. Cardio, strength, and technique come together in these sessions and they should be a regular part of your training plan.

– Betsy Youngman

Betsy Youngman is a two-time US Cross Country Ski Olympian (1988, 1992), US National Champion, 1989 Birkie champion, and US Ski Team member from 1987 – 1992. She is now, a devoted master’s skier, coach, Betsy is a 7-time Birkie competitor. Four of her races were top-10 finishes, including one at age 55 in 2015. Outside of the ski season she pursues her other passion- whitewater kayaking throughout the Western US.

Skate Rollerskis for Training in the Summer

Summer is a time of dryland training, which means long hours on the rollerskis, trying to simulate snow-skiing as much as possible. For this, your gear can make a big difference.

Depending on your needs and preferences, there are several options when it comes to choosing the right skate skis.

“For most skiers you want your skis to offer the glide resistance similar to on-snow. If you are skiing with a team you want all your skiers to have similar wheel speed across the team, day after day and year after year. For young juniors (U-14 ish) you want lower skis and easier glide. For rough surfaces you want larger wheels that roll over roughness and shafts that absorb the harsh road surface. Swenor offers the largest multitude of wheels speed options along with long lasting rubber.” – Andy G. at



When shopping for skate roller skis, it is important to consider the following criteria:

  • diameter and width of wheels
  • rubber density
  • platform material
  • length of platform
  • quality of components
  • price


Swenor, specifically manufactures two types of rollerskis, there are the “SKATE” model made of aluminum and the “SKATE ELITE” model that incorporates a fiberglass platform. The difference? Aluminum weighs 490g less than the Skate elite, partly because the Skate model is 3.5 cm shorter and harder than the fiberglass model.

What makes the “Skate elite” model more expensive? The longer fiberglass platform will dampen vibrations, meaning less rattling on rough pavement, making for a more comfortable, smooth ride on the skis than the stricktly aluminum version.


Swenor wheels are 100 mm in diameter, 24 mm in width and come with three different rubber materials, marked appropriately, “1” to “3”.


  • The number 1 wheels are the fastest.
  • The number 2 wheels are average speed, compared to Marwe wheels, they are faster than the Marwe #6, but slower than the Marwe #0.
  • The number 3 wheels are the slowest in the Swenor line, which can be ideal for specific strength training, and those who are uncomfortable with gaining speed on the downhills.

As a discretionary note, it is always a good idea to switch feet that each ski is on each workout, to avoid wearing out the rubber on the same spots repeatedly.


Hayscastle’s Chris Gouldsmith trains for record-breaking roller ski from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Hayscastle adventurer, Chris Gouldsmith, will attempt a world record breaking journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats this summer, as he aims to become the first person ever to complete the journey on roller skis.

Ex-soldier, arctic adventurer, ironman coach and cross-country ski instructor, Chris is currently in training for the arduous task which will test his fitness, courage, and determination.

He will set off on the 900 mile challenge on August 1 and aims to complete the journey in around 15 days, covering between 55-60 miles a day.

Roller skiing is a popular sport in Europe and is the off snow equivalent to cross-country skiing. It is usually practiced on fairly flat smooth tarmac routes and the undulations of the British roads, not to mention the surfaces, are two of the technical challenges Chris anticipates.

“It’s going to be difficult,” said Chris. “I have had a few falls and things but it’s not going to faze me, I’m quite determined to do it.”

Chris is taking on the challenge to raise awareness of roller skiing as a sport and to raise funds for two charities close to his heart; The National Autistic Society which raises funds, awareness and understanding for those affected by autism and the brain injury charity, Headway.

Headway provides rehabilitation and support programms to survivors of brain injury, their families and carers. The charity is personally important to Chris who lost his identical twin brother Jonathan following a head injury. Jonathan was knocked down and killed by a taxi in Llanelli while on leave from the army in April 2011. He was 24 years old.

Chris hopes to raise £6,000 for both charities and will hold a fundraising ball at Wolfscastle Country Hotel on September 8 to help reach his target. You can sponsor him at

Chris is also looking for a local sponsor who would be able to help him with travel and equipment costs.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Training is going well and I’m working on building up balance, flexibility and endurance. Hopefully I will be the first person to roller ski the length of Britain.”


Living the Dream: Summer-Skiing Jacket Review

The skier on the left showing the importance of reading these reviews: your goal in life is to not be “that guy”. (All photos: FBD)


The Setup

A few weeks ago, I provided cosmic enlightenment on where you should be right now and hopefully you were able to heed this very sage advice and have since logged copious k’s. Since unlike the rest of you losers, I work for a living, so I couldn’t just sit around Bend skiing, eating pancakes and riding sick mountain bike trails, oh no, even before I left Bend, I was back “on the clock,” tirelessly slaving away for you, the loyal reader. Well, sort of.

Since no one loves you like we do at FasterSkier, we are committed to not only giving you the latest and greatest beta on where you should be, but I’m now about to drop some wisdom on your lean, wirey, nordic asses on what you should be wearing, rocking, rubbing, and rolling on these big adventures.

Since I regularly drive my editors and senior management here at FS crazy with my disparaging comments on goods and services that I find to be inferior even if they are advertisers (in all fairness, my comments still get printed, but it drives everyone nuts), the “powers that be” retaliate by sending every possible wacko, crackpot product my way. I am therefore forced to interact with these half-baked, nut-job ideas on a far-too-regular basis.

While the scope of coverage of this latest review may seem a little staid and commonplace, I can assure you that I have waded through terabits of emails from start-ups hawking foldable shoes, mittens with built in lights, lights with built in mittens, kittens with mittens, smell-proof underwear, miracle vitamins, and all sorts of other really strange products for guys who may be having a little trouble “gettin’ the old Evinrude crankin’,” if you know what I mean. So don’t think for one second that we’re not looking at all kinds of crazy stuff, we are, we just have the common sense and good judgment to pick products that you’re actually going to use, even if a jacket review isn’t nearly as titillating as reviewing “male enhancement” products.

With that out of the way, let’s dive right in. For starters, it may sound crazy making jacket recommendations in June, but remember, this is a skiing publication, so it is our fervent hope that you have been able to get out skiing. And before everyone out there in the sweltering Midwest gets all huffy, not only did I recently give you the ins and outs of how to find snow in Bend in excruciating detail, but if you somehow manage to goof this up, have no fear, as the “snow window” is still open. If you really want to go big, venture up the the “Last Frontier” and mix it up with the big boys (and girls) at APU’s awesome Masters’ camp July 6-9. If your mom won’t let you fly all the way up to AK, my good buddy Matt Liebsch (or “Leaper,” as he likes to be called) also has an epic masters’ camp on Haig Glacier in August, so no excuses, snow is out there, you just need to go get it. How this is relevant in this context is that you’re not just going to want one of the jackets we tested, you’re going to NEED one of these jackets, hopefully sooner as opposed to later, as what better way to train for skiing than, uh, skiing?

The Reviews

Since the unpredictable conditions at our test site at Mount Bachelor have been well documented, we’re going to present the results from coldest to warmest, as nothing makes you ponder the purchase of a new jacket like a ripping, 60 mph wind and whiteout conditions.

Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket

Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket (men’s)

For pre-, post- or even intra-ski, the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket was the clear favorite of the entire test team for very wet, cold, nasty conditions. It offers the most warmth, wind protection and probably the largest comfort range of any of the jackets tested.

Dave Cieslowski wearing the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket

In my previous three-week stay in Bend in May, and believe it or not, even in this trip that I am just finishing, we experienced conditions ranging from 20 degrees, blower snow and a howling 50-70 mph wind at Mt. Bachelor to fairly regular 35-55 degree afternoons down in town-ish. I say “ish,” as we were staying a few miles outside of town up toward Mt. Bachelor, (where all of the cool kids stay)…

Now where was I? Oh yes, jackets….. The Arc’teryx was my garment of choice on several backcountry outings, cold runs and apres-paddling/surfing (yes, they have surfing in Bend). This jacket came through with flying colors in every test and in every sport. To add a little firepower and diversity to this review, I recruited some of the young bucks on the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club for some additional perspective, and this was the top pick of all of the testers on the nasty days.

Said one tester, “If I could only have one jacket, this would be it, for sure.” Most agreed that it is usually too warm for nordic skiing in most conditions, but it is exceptional in every other regard. I wore it into town on a few rainy nights as well and it does a great job of being cool and stylish without crossing the line into looking like you could be departing for an Everest summit bid at any moment. The only slight dings I’m going to give it is that it is the most spendy of any coat in the test (at $399). It also doesn’t pack nearly as compactly as the others, in particular the Patagonia, but more on that in a bit. If you’re venturing out in very bad weather though, this is your jam, hands down.

Salomon Bonatti Pro WP Jacket

Salomon Bonatti Pro WP Jacket (men’s)

One step up the temperature scale is the Salomon Bonatti Pro WP Jacket.

Definitely lighter and more packable than the Arc’teryx, this piece is marketed as a trail runner, but we all found its performance to be quite good on the skis and mountain bike as well. Yes, yes, it’s a big no-no to ride the trail in the rain and no one is a bigger supporter of that rule than the FBD, but since the weather in Bend changes faster than a Kardashian’s train of thought (and trust me, I am using the word ‘thought’ VERY loosely), you are crazy if you venture out for a ride longer than an hour without backup. Since this isn’t my first day on the radio, I had said jacket with me on an afternoon cruiser to Phil’s and she proved to be worth her weight in gold, as naturally, the 45-degree cloudy day turned to 38 and rainy at the farthest possible point from our condo. You’ll only need to get caught in one of these storms and you’d be willing to pay some dude on the side of the road a thousand bucks for one of these jackets for the ride home.

One of my particularly favorite features is the hood. This design is one of the best that I’ve ever seen, as it fits snugly, but not too tight. You can move your head around and it moves with you without feeling constrictive. The importance of this cannot be underrated.

The overall fit is a bit more snug than the other coats, partially due to the cut and I’m guessing partially due to the traditional difference in European sizing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, in particular for cycling, as nothing is worse than donning a jacket and then being forced to do your best kitesurfer imitation as you battle your way home in a storm.

As you might expect, it folds down to a size slightly smaller than the Arc’teryx, yet slightly bigger than the Patagonia.




Don’t let the size fool you though, as it is still quite waterproof, as clearly illustrated here:

Patagonia Airshed Pullover

Patagonia Airshed Pullover (women’s)

Last, but most certainly not least, in a wonderful offering from Patagonia, the Airshed Pullover. If you are in the minimalist camp, or simply are not buying in to my “never summer” philosophy, this jacket is for you. The lightest and most compressible of the group, yet this bad boy still offers amazingly good wind protection for both running and riding, in particular for a garment that will fold smaller than an apple.

What makes this jacket a real winner is it is what I’m calling my “Beckham Jacket.” A few years back, David Beckham was caught having an affair with his young, attractive, sultry assistant. In the court testimony, she disclosed that she always wore very sexy underwear to work, “Just in case,” (a strategy that eventually paid off, both literally and figuratively). The point here is that this is your “Just in case,” jacket. It folds down the smallest of any garment tested, while still offering a lot of protection from Mother Nature’s scorn (she’s particularly upset at us Americans right now, for obvious reasons).

Photo: FBD

Matt Briggs wearing the Patagonia Airshed Pullover jacket.

This is also the jacket that is going to give you the most bang for the buck (insert your own David Beckham joke here) in the late spring/early summer months, as the test team found the others too warm for temps over 60 degrees, but this coat kept my entire crew comfortable in conditions ranging from 55 to 70 degrees. Throw this sucker in your jersey pocket, hydration pack or drink belt, and you’ll be covered (see what I did there?) for just about any contingency. It doesn’t have a hood, which is both a plus and a minus, depending on whether or not you want a hood. As you have come to expect from a perfectionist like me, this baby also got the “hose test,” because if you ski with me, you just need to accept the fact that you are going to be sprayed by a hose. Possibly several times. I have issues.

Bonus Round

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid (women’s)

Changing gears a bit (though not as much as you might think), the fine folks in Venture, Calif., also sent their latest iteration of the very popular Nano series for testing, the Nano-Air Light Hybrid. One big reason this jacket even made this review is that it shares the same outer layer at the Airshed, so I thought it would be interesting to add this coat to the mix, even though it is obviously a very different type of garment. The second reason it made the cut is I tested its big brother on Eagle Glacier in Alaska last year, and one of the “OG” pieces in our base-layer test two years ago, and since this entire line has always tested well, I thought it’d be interesting to throw this latest offering into the mix. Yes, this is light insulation, as opposed to wind-and-water protection, but I wanted to cover all of the light to mid-weight outwear bases. If you are confused by any of this, there is nothing more I can do for you: please stop reading immediately go monitor your Great Dane’s “Thousand Yard Stare” before he eats another box of light bulbs.

Pat Flores wearing the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid jacket.

So, with all of those disclaimers duly noted, I love this jacket. There was simply no better option than this coat after a ski. While the trails at Mt. Bachelor are amazing, the parking lot can be windy as hell, so having this waiting for me in the car was a godsend. Unless you chill very easily, I probably wouldn’t nordic ski in it, but this is a perfect insulation layer for an alpine rip, after a cold surf sesh or just looking good at the dog park. This is particularly important, as the conduct of your aforementioned Great Dane has probably earned you a lot of enemies, so looking good is the least you can do.

Speaking of surfing, since I’m overworked and underpaid, or is it overpaid and underworked (I always get these two mixed up), I had to take a break from all of this skiing and hit Mexico for a little surfing. I realize that this is a bit of a non sequitur, as this is a ski publication, not a surfing one, but since I know at least two other very good skiers who are also good surfers (Andy Newell and Josh Smullin, though it pains me greatly to admit the latter) and by my calculations since I have approximately 5 readers, this represents a solid 40% of my audience, so I’m going to throw in a surfing clothing recommendation — a rash guard, the Patagonia Men’s RØ Long-Sleeved Top. As you might guess, I’ve paddled and surfed in every conceivable size, shape and color rash guard and this is one is my favorites. Unlike Smullin, who has little, skinny, bird arms, the FBD is a big, powerful man, so the flexibility and movement offered in this top allowed me to drop in on more people than usual in my top secret surf spot. Sorry people, I have waves to catch and “Dropsie” (as Smullin insists on calling me) is a bad, bad man.

Fast Big Dropsie wearing the Patagonia RØ Long-Sleeved Top in Cabo.

A few other cool pieces of gear that are heavy in the FBD rotation these days: Petzl offered up their latest-and-greatest headlamp a few months ago, the Petzl REACTIK+ and I’ve been super impressed. If you’re a fan of dawn patrol (or Dong Patrol, as it is known in Steamboat, for reasons that I’d rather not go into), you know that a good headlamp is mandatory. Since I lost my mind years ago, the thought of getting up at 5 a.m. to get the freshest waves or powder seems like not just a good idea, but in fact a great idea. However, in order to do this and not lose all of your gear in the parking lot, you need to have your act together, as even the normally patient FBD gets a little antsy when some rookie can’t find his skins at sunrise while everyone else is standing at the trailhead ready to roll. So organize you gear the night before, get your lazy ass out of bed on time, and bring a headlamp — a good one. And this latest Petzl one is one of the best. It has all kinds of crazy customizable features that are super easy to use thanks to an app you can install on your phone or you can go “old skool” and just turn it on and off like a normal person. Since I am a lonely, lonely man, I have no qualms about spending 30 minutes customizing my headlamp power settings, but that’s me — your mileage may vary.

Whew. We covered a lot of ground on this one. You’re welcome.


Fast Big Dog is a paradoxically gregarious yet reclusive, self-absorbed mystic and world traveler. In addition to his calling to right the wrongs in the ski fashion and gear world, he also brings his style, wit and devilish charm to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as the Nordic High Performance Director and Worldwide Director of Morale and Awesomeness. Savor these articles while you can, as his Great Dane puppy may burn down his house at any moment, possibly making this his last transmission.


Pocket Guide to Cross-Country Ski Training

1. Intensity
No matter how little time you are able to devote to training, you should always fit in one intensity workout every week to ten days starting in the summer. Maintaining that ability and feel of going hard throughout the year is important since it can be very difficult to regain once you have lost it. This is especially true the older you get.

2. Over-Distance
It is amazing how well an occasional OD can maintain your endurance. If you average 45 minutes per workout, try to fit in an easy 2 hour over-distance day. If you average 1 to 1.5 hours, try to fit in a nice 3-hour outing.

3. “Everyday” Workouts
For some of you, doing intervals may be unappealing and you really don’t have time for OD workouts either, so training only consists of “everyday” workouts. These are simple workouts where you just head out and run or bike or whatever at a comfortable pace for the time available to you. If you are only able to train for 30 minutes three times per week, make sure that you are getting something out of them.

Read Full Guide:


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Dry-land Exercises to Prevent Muscle Cramping

Q: I had some difficulty with the arms cramping after longish sections of double polling last year. Assuming that one does not have a double poll machine – are there any simple dry-land exercises that can help with this muscle set? Pull-ups seem pretty good – but not exactly right.


A: Simple Double Pole Exercises

Regular body weight exercises are great to start with for strengthening the upper body for double poling. These include the basics: pull ups, dips and push-ups. In the fall, if your training plan transitions to more power-based exercises, the clean and press is a good whole body exercise that incorporates explosiveness in the upper body. You can skip the lower-body and just do overhead presses also.

Another simple method for double-pole specific strength is to get any type of resistance tubing (Nordic Shock Cords, for example) and affix it to high structure, such as the top of a door-frame, or a tree branch outside. Grab either end of the bungie and practice exercises such as single-stick (diagonal stride arms) and double-poling. This acts as a cheap, portable double-pole machine that is effective for upper body strength and endurance.

Dry-land Drill Examples – Video