08 June, 2010

Skimo Technique Training

One thing which can get overlooked in ski mountaineering racing is technique.  We focus on our technique with transitions, but less time on the real speed booster (and effort savings) our skinning technique.  Reading an article on cross country ski racing a few years ago, the author talked about how the best racers in the world weren't just great athletes, they were great skiers too.  This got me to thinking about skimo racing, how can we get faster, spend less energy, and catch our European competitors?  The answer was lying there right in front of me, Technique.
(Photo Above:  Ian Gale heading out for a light ski before competition, Andorra.  Note:  Very relaxed and efficient position)
To give you an idea of what I mean, have you ever tried skinning fast with no poles?  A difficult task to do without flailing or stepping out of the skin track while using large amounts of energy.  But finding that effeciency is not easy, and as with all training, there is no short cut.  The first thing to immediately address is core strength and balance.  A strong core will not only help every other aspect of your training, but if built over the summer and fall, even a few years, will drastically improve this poleless wobble.  Slacklining, or standing on a core ball, while in different positions, doing squats, and playing catch against a wall with a regular core ball (later upgrading to a medicine ball or other exercises) will help strengthen your core, and solidify your balance as seen in the video below.  Pardon the music and length, but you get the idea.
When old man winter does show his face, and sport specific training commences, and the off-season training will pay off.  You can begin your technique sessions by skinning on a flat surface to improve glide technique.  This will help your overall stride effeciency and technique even on steeper angles, by allowing your body to be more relaxed and focus on breathing.  Then after you begin to feel more and more comfortable, you can begin to add in skinning on an incline to improve power technique.  Your goal during both exercises will be to look and feel as stable as you would feel with poles.  When you introduce your poles back into the equation, they will just act as a power boost, allowing you to skin with a massive amount more efficiency.  The movie below shows the Spanish Skimo Team training technique on flats this way.
As Skimo Racers many of us put a huge amount of power behind each stride, which is what gives us a faster cadence and therefore speed, but it does come with a cost.  The harder we go the harder it is to maintain our balance.  Our core begins working hard again, correcting our path, in order to keep us in the skin track.  The downward spiral continues from there.  So the more practice and technique work Ski Mountaineering Racers can get, the faster they will go, by allowing the body to concentrate on breathing and not balancing.  

No comments:

Post a Comment