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Cross-Country Technique Fundamentals: Recommended!


Mon, Dec  3, 2007 - By Mike Muha

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Cross Country Technique Fundamentals

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“Cross-Country Technique Fundamentals” is the best cross country ski technique CD out there, bar none, for both classic and freestyle skiing. It should be on everyone’s short list of key training investments. Put it on your Christmas list now.

The US Ski Team created the CD to disseminate the latest technique information used by the national team to “… the wider skiing public” (that would be us). If you haven’t been to a ski clinic with a top coach recently, some of the changes in technique over that last few years may shock you. Both skating and classic techniques have evolved greatly, as the videos on this CD demonstrate.

This is not beginner’s technique; this CD is for people who already classic and/or freestyle ski and want to take their technique to the next level.

The Initial Presentation

The CD is divided into two sections, classic and freestyle. Each section begins with a slide show (“Show Presentation”) that introduces techniques within each style. The freestyle presentation covers V1, V2 and V2 Alternate; the classic presentation goes over diagonal stride, kick double pole, and double pole. Each technique is described in terms of body position, timing, power, and suggested drills.

The presentations not only give a quick overview of each technique, but provides a number of easy to remember reminders. For example, the V2 body position section admonishes you to have “High hands” and gives the clever visual cue of “pinky in eye”. Pinky in eye suggests both how high the pole needs to be and how close the hands are to the face.

Cross country technique fundamentals

Dive Deep

After viewing the initial presentation, you can dive deep into each technique. Each technique area is divided into several sections:

A timing section with photos and video. The photos have captions that describe key technical details in the photo. The videos describe in both normal and slow motion particular aspects of the technique in terms of timing.

Drills to help master the technique. The drill sections consist of 3 to 6 videos for each technique. The first video drill shows good technique; the other drills help you work on specific aspects of a technique.

For example, the V2 drill section contains four drills:

  • Good V2: slow motion and normal speed review of the entire technique.

  • Agility and Stability: A drill to improve balance and stability.

  • Locked ‘n Loaded: A progressive drill dealing with the timing of upper body power onto the poles and then the timing of the skate and poling in unison.

  • Sprint Skate: A drill to challenge your agility by adding a direction change and hop into the skate. (Some World Cup skiers actually use the technique in this drill during races!)

The diagonal stride section has five drills that work on weight transfer using the hips, proper stride length, ankle angle, forward lean, balance, timing, and generating a powerful kick.

World Cup videos show the technique in use during a race.

Multi-page PDF, one for each technique, with details on body position: (Feet, Ankles, Knees, Shoulders, Arms), Timing, Power, and Training/Racing tips. The PDFs reinforce everything in the videos and photo stills. Print them and take them with you when you train.

Some of the drills (e.g., “Locked N’ Loaded”) appear under more than one technique’s drill section. Although named the same, the drills are different, having been tweaked for that particular technique.

The drills are performed by National Team athletes Andy Newell, Kikkan randall, Chris Cook, Andrew Johnson, Kris Feeman.

I particularly like the Saddle Feet and Four Square drills in the V1 section. For old-school skaters, you need these drills!

Some of the demonstrations involve an aggressive display of the technique. For example, V2 Alternative is shown with a hop on each skate. Don’t let it intimidate you – none of us normal athletes are likely to be in good enough shape to hop during a race! But you can try it in training, and what you perfect in training might help you in that sprint to the finish!

Bottom Line

I have personally been doing some of these drills on rollers ski, and did a couple while on snow this past weekend. Sten Fjeldhiem had us do several of these drills at this past fall’s technique clinic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Sten highly recommended this CD).

There is no other place where you will find modern cross country ski racing technique distilled into fundamental drills, visualizations, and coaching aids in one place. Everything is chunked into easily digestible units. Each fundamental is reinforced in text, video and voice over.

If you want to take your technique to new levels – and understand why you’re doing it – this is the CD for you.

Highly Recommended.

Note: The CD requires a Windows-based PC.