Tag Archives: technique

New ski imitations from Sindre Wiig Nordby

12 Jan

Yay winter!

27 Mar

The tide has turned and the good side has started taking territory again. No, I’m not talking about Libya. It’s winter that has recaptured some far flung outposts.

Here in Oslo the carnage of spring has slowed. The snow depth readings on my snow dashboard has shown the rate of loss way down over the past three days:

Moreover, doping off on the Interwebs, I saw advances in far-flung spots. The most improbable of those was Rim Nordic in the mountains behind Los Angeles. After closing for the season because of warm rains March 7th, they got snow again Thursday and Friday and were able to open for one last weekend. I’ve been there a couple times while away from Norway. The resort is run by friendly and enthusiastic people and has nicely groomed trails. I highly recommend it!

I also saw that Craftsbury Nordic Center in the US state of Vermont has a whopping 73cm base. The picture I linked to above shows lovely trail conditions on March 24.

Here around the house I skied today on both sides of the valley. On the East side I again broke my all-time speed record without really trying.The first km was nasty cement-like stuff with crap blown down from the trees and peoples’ footprints all over it. But the rest was firm, fast, extra-virgin corduroy. Moreover the ice patch I slipped and fell on walking home had shrunk, so I didn’t need to break another pole.

I went in fact on mismatched poles, one carbon and one super-sexy carbon titanium. While perhaps very fragile, I now see in comparison that the top model is crazy light and incredibly alive. But since I broke the right hand one, going on a mixed pair I had the super good pole on my weaker side. The effect was interesting, and not at all bad. Power on the right versus left was perhaps a little more balanced.

Whatever the case, I flew through the forest with every nerve tingling joyfully. I looked forward to the climbs for the sheer thrill of projecting my body up and over them. That fun was compounded by the feeling of progress I’ve made with my paddling gear. I now pull my “hang arm” all the way through and then also ride out the glide better on the off leg. That new recipe keeps my speed up on even the steepest climbs.

Tomorrow I’m debating whether I’ll cross the valley before work or just stick to this side. Since the goal is to lap up all the gravy on winter’s plate I skied there too on my way back home. It was bumpier and had suffered from all the trail-trudgers and “custard” skaters. But if the prep man goes out late (or early) enough, I think the damage can be sufficiently reversed to let me unfurl my wings.

Speaking of birds, le coq à la crête noire now has a rival on the East side of the valley. A grouse has decided it owns the East-side trail-head and has been squawking its head off every time I come over to ski. My dear little cantankerous fellow, I understand your feelings. Please give the dog walkers, joggers and similar ski trail vermin a good beak-lashing for me too!

Here are Erling Jevnes best ski technique tips

9 Feb

I have never seen such a good ski technique tip video. Covers all the classic techniques. In Norwegian, but I find Jevnes Norwegian is uncharacteristically easy to understand.

Padle power

8 Feb

Here in Norway the classic ski technique focus has been on “staking” – AKA double-poling. It’s ugly, painful and effective. Which together explain the attraction.

Something similar has happened this year for skating. Suddenly everyone’s talking about padling. What is padling? I don’t know where it fits into to the North American V0/V1/V2 lingo.

In the Swedish lingo where gear 1 is sliding herringbone, paddling is gear 2. In Norwegian the skate gears from low to high are: fiskebein, padling, dobbeldans, enkeldans, friskøyting.

But nothing beats a movie to illustrate things. This Norwegian transitions from the kick-ass hopping variant of padling to dobbeldans:

Here’s an rundown of the technique:

The keys to note are:

  • Leg bend
  • Wide leg position
  • Good weight transfer over one ski at a time
  • Stable upper body
  • Hang arm much higher than the other arm (advice from a technique course, not from the video)

One an unrelated note, we got buried in snow yesterday here in Oslo and my local trail has finally been prepped wide for skating. Life is good.

I feel the need, the need for speed

6 Feb

Swede Jerry Ahrlin won the 70km classic Marcialonga race on skate skis. He didn’t skate. He would be disqualified. He double-poled. He went 70km without a single diagonal stride. Sick. Boring. Thank you Sweden for ruining cross-country.

I am also looking for tricks to increase my speed.I have a 27,5 km training route that takes me through a variety of terrain that lends itself to different classic techniques, including (but not limited to) double-poling. The problem, if it is one, is that my speed has stayed remarkably consistent lately. I’m way over my target pace for the 90km Grenaderløpet, but that’s normal since this route is shorter with less elevation gain.

But, on the other hand, I’d love to pierce what’s become the 15km/h barrier on this route. Last summer on one of my key longish rollerski routes I experienced a great progression where I went from 16,5 to 18km on rather slow rolling wheels. That change happened almost imperceptibly over a period of months.

The keys were focus on technique and, perhaps even more, setting a “suffering-precedent”. When I got used to one level of suffering, I cranked it up one more notch.

Another big thing was having some competition on the road. Many used faster wheels, but that was perfect. It just made me work harder.

On snow, however, I’m not getting the stimulation I need. Maybe I’m skiing in the wrong places. When I look at  race result times I see clearly I’m not at the level to win. But the winners aren’t using my habitual trails either.

My medium long training route (27,5km) is nevertheless making me stronger because I feel fresher and fresher afterwards. But also I think maybe I’m slacking off. I’m going over the steepest climbs with a vastly lower pulse than last year. But that seems like the benefit of considerably more efficient technique. It actually doesn’t feel like I could go much faster. It feels like more effort would just lead to sloppy technique and finally no gain.

The times I get winded are when I’m climbing and my wax isn’t working. But since I’ve also got much better at waxing, that only tends to happen when I go through a slippery bad stretch on the trail.

So I’m at a bit of a loss about how to get my cruising speed up higher. But that’s what I need to do.

Confessions of a lycra gangsta

22 Jan

The title of this post would be less kind in Norwegian. Ski Norway becomes more polarized by the day, with battle lines drawn between the turgåer/tour-goers and the kondomdraktmafia / condom-suited mafia:

I’m not making this up. That’s what they call the lycra club here.

I have an uneasy relation with the latter group. I do wear tights and ski a hell of a lot. But kondomdraktmafia tend to be a little older than me, in deep mid-life crisis, desperately clinging to their declining virility. And, as you’d imagine, they’re usually complete dicks.

But I definitely don’t fit with the turgåer group either. Their goal is always to have a koselig / cosy time while they go in slow moving herds with un-predictable packs of dogs weaving amongst them. Their sworn enemies are people wanting to go slightly faster than nearly standing still, who do not like them stopping to chat while taking the entire breadth of the track. They occasionally remind me of American Tea-Partiers when they come out with the same kind of huffy, paranoid, wounded “folksiness”. But I do not speak to them and address the problem by avoiding them as much as possible. My headlight is my friend.

The turgåer have as much of a right to the ski track as I do. And provided I pick my trails and times right, their numbers are such that they are easy enough to go around. However there’s a third group that I agree with the kondomdraktmafia in disliking. They are the løypelabber / trail-trudgers.

They do have the law on their side. Everyone has a right to use the forest. However, stomping up the track-set for classic skiing is technically illegal because while the law guarantees free access, it prohibits destructive activity. But it would be hard to prohibit them from going in between the trackset, in the flat area reserved for skating on wider-prepped trails. That said, walking there is still destructive. Feet pack the snow more than skis do, their footprints make lumps, bumps and even holes when it’s warm, and they track dirt onto the trail that clogs up the bases of skis.

I recently saw one løypelabber posted a comment to a newspaper article where he said that those who oppose walking on ski trails are exactly the same that rollerski skate-style on the roads blocking traffic. Touché. But rollerskiing doesn’t wreck the road surface, cars kill children and should go slower anyhow, most rollerskiing is done on country roads with low traffic, and rolling on little polyurethane wheels is environmentally friendly, which you can’t say about driving.

But today was a good day. I didn’t run into a single løypelabber and successfully avoided the turgåer crowd by taking the very first bus to a great skate trail. For some reason today I flew on the flatter part of the trail coming back to my start point. I was mostly just free-skating at that point and enjoyed ludicrous speed. However one turgåer, or maybe it was a kondomdrakt mobster, attempting to pass in the left-hand track-set had a dumb idea and decided to step out right in front of me. Given how fast I was going the collision could have been nasty. I somehow miraculously got around him but ended up falling lamely, but without harm. He muttered the famous Norwegian word sorry and trundled off. Got off easy this time. But please don’t do it again.

My skating technique was probably helped by a course I took the night before last. It was mainly just a confidence booster. The final exam was going through a transition-rich V2/paddling/V2/V1 sequence of trail as the instructor looked on. I couldn’t believe it when as I passed through that sequence of skate gears the teacher yelled compliments. You talkin’ to me??

Happily it wasn’t all positive. I did pick up a few things. The first is that when paddling your “hang arm” should be much higher than the other arm. That happens naturally but I think I fought it in the past because I supposed it was wrong.

The other was that with V1 you should keep you arms narrow when poling down. Actually you should always do that with your poles with everything but paddling. But since my V1 feels unstable I tend to keep my arms wide to try to stabilize myself. And that actually makes you unstable. Happily I don’t have that vice with V2, where I feel steadier. Still, V1 is hugely important for rollerski racing, so I’d better work on it.

Trip details:

  • Style: Skate
  • Distance: 18.3 km
  • Elevation gain: 308m
  • Temperature: -4C

What makes good skiers great?

28 Dec

Bjørn Dæhlie

The Norwegian ski website  langrenn.com has a thought provoking article today on what makes the best skiers the best. One of the key qualities is constant focus:

Løpere som ikke slurver på trening; en langtur er ikke bare en langtur på lav intensitet, det er en treningsøkt der man søker kvalitet i hvert eneste fraspark. /

Skiers that don’t get sloppy when training; a long ski trip isn’t just about low intensity, it’s a training effort where you seek quality in every diagonal stride.

The article also states that good skiers look for different kinds of resistance while practising. This can include slow-rolling roller ski wheels and tough hill climbs.

Lastly it claims that all the best skiers have tried to make their ski season last as long as possible into springtime.

Image: http://veloptimum.net/skideal/divers/articles/BjornDaehlie.htm