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.

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
karmen.whitham@cxcskiing.org


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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!

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A secret to lengthening glide on each ski.

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CXC Team, West Yellowstone; photo credit i3 Productions, i3.smugmug.com

First, let’s talk about the arms. When skiing in an elongated V2 alternate (say on a gradual down), let the hands lead the hips. Meaning, after completing a poling motion (where the hands are back), concentrate on whipping the hands back up to the top (exaggerating the height). When the hands are high, that should help to lead the hips forward which is the secret to lengthening glide on each ski. Instead of focusing on pushing back hard or fast, focus on returning the hands quickly. Meaning, as soon as the stride is over…BAM! The hands are back up in front and high, this is where the gliding is done.

Ever try and take a picture of a high school racer and notice it is tough to get a picture in a good position? That’s because 99 percent of the skiers have their hips back and aren’t gliding appropriately. Take a picture of a world cup race and it’s almost impossible to catch them in a bad position. That’s because the pushing/poling phase is short and the gliding phase is crazy long. The trick is getting the hips forward. How do we accomplish this? Unfortunately, there is no magic technique drill to do this. No pole skating is the best drill for a young skier to work on. As much as half a high school skier’s time on skate skis can and should be spent no pole skating. This helps to develop the correct body positioning and leg strength for lengthening ski glide. It also helps with balance which can be an easier way to add a couple inches to every glide. My advice, no pole….lots. On ALL terrain. When you have poles, remember to keep the hands high and bring the hips forward and the rest takes care of itself. Practice makes perfect!!

CXC Coach

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Which Side to Pole?

Q: Which side should a person be poling on in a turn? For example, turning right should the poling be on the right side or the left? Also, when on a trail that cants to one side, should the poling action be on the downhill or uphill side?

A: The second question you asked is the easier, and I will answer it first. When skiing on a canted hill, pole on the uphill side. Always. Help yourself climb the hill, and let gravity aid you on the downstroke. This is why we encourage people to learn to ski with left and right leads, so that while skiing on a slanted hill, you can change leads to your benefit. Again, you need more help climbing, and should use poles on the uphill side.

As for going around a corner, this depends on your quickness, and on the sharpness of the corner, and on your technique. In general, for V2 or V2 alternate, I would tell you to pole on the inside step. So if you are turning right, pole on the right. However, there are times when if you are quick, and the corner is not too sharp, it is beneficial to pole on every step. NEVER pole on your outside step only.

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Things change for V1. While doing V1 around a corner, have your “high” side to the outside. An uphill turn will invariably lead to an angled track, and just like we mentioned before, you want to be poling on the uphill side. So for a right hand turn, have your left hand “high.”

I recommend you try different techniques and lead sides for yourself. See if you can feel a difference. It might be that you are so much stronger on one side that my input is moot. Until you develop proficiency left and right handed, the gain is minimal.

Have a wonderful winter,
Michael Sinnott

source credit: SkiPost.com

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Fixing Ski Tail Clap

Q: When I ski classic I often hear my ski tails clap when they hit the snow. Why is this? What am I doing wrong?

A: You’ll hear your skis clap when they’re setting down onto the snow too abruptly. I guess that I shouldn’t use the term “setting down,” as they’re actually landing quickly and smacking down hard. An analogy which I heard from my high school coach, John Schauer, is an airplane touching down: You want to drive onto the ski smoothly and gradually transfer your weight onto the ski (like an experienced pilot in good weather hopefully lands your plane), with the “runway” starting approximately where the ski that’s hooking up with the snow is set. When you’re “landing” your ski behind the runway, you often hear that clap; it’s because your weight is too far back, maybe because your balance isn’t great, or maybe because you don’t have your hips high and far enough forward.

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A really basic exercise that can help with this is the scooter drill, where you stand with one ski (or rollerski) on one foot, with just a boot on the other. Use the boot as a proxy for the ski you’re kicking from – the goal is to have a solid platform to kick off of. Drive smoothly forward onto the ski/rollerski, and balance on it as it glides forward. Practice gliding with your arms and legs at fully extended positions, with your hips and torso high and slightly forward, as in a good photograph of a classic skier. Once the ski slows down or stops, reset and practice the kick-drive-glide cycle again. You will hear that smacking sound if you set the ski down behind the boot foot (runway) too early, and the noise should settle down as you get better at controlling the approach to snow.

Occasionally, I’ve also heard people’s skis make this noise if the tracks are frozen really hard and they have a big hip rotation while kicking; their skis begin entering the track angled ~15˚ away from the tracks, and as they come down, they “snap”  on the snow dividing the tracks before settling in. We generally work on keeping the core/hips somewhat stable, so the ski is traveling more straight forward. Having a stable core allows the legs and arms to work more efficiently, with the side effect of quieting things down.

Jason Cork / Men’s Coach / US XC Ski Team

(source credit: SkiPost.com)

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How important is it for a skier to train both techniques?

Q: If a skier primarily races only skate technique would they benefit overall from switching it up more, and vice versa ? Will being a better classic skier also help you become a better skate skier?

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A: Thanks for the question. We do believe that becoming a better classic skier will help you become a better skate skier. In classic, a primary technique used is the double pole. The double pole is one of the key elements that carries over to all techniques used while skiing.

Building a strong double pole will help in all poling motions in both skate and classic. It is also good to get variation in your training so that specific muscles do not become overused.

Switching between classic and skate is a good way to keep training fresh and new. In the training programs prescribed to our athletes, skiing is usually broken down into 60% classic and 40% skating. This is because of what we said before about building strong poling muscles.

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