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Milan Baic's Pre-Vasa Clinic: Session 3

What I Learned

Sat, Mar  6, 2004 - By Bob Eifler

The Milan Baic Clinic Series

Milan Baic's Pre-Vasa Clinic: Session 1

February 3, 2004

December 29 was the first of three Monday night pre-Vasa clinics given by Milan Baic at Timber Ridge in Traverse City. The audience was as targeted – mostly inexperienced racers, with a few grizzled veterans. The tone was easy going and supportive. Milan is a terrific ambassador of health in general, and Nordic ski racing in particular.

Milan Baic's Pre-Vasa Clinic: Session 2

February 8, 2004

Milan Baic's eagerly anticipated clinic #2 happened Monday night, January 2. We spent about 45 minutes on a hands-on waxing session, with Milan demonstrating and each of us prepping our skis. Then it was snow time.

Milan Baic's Pre-Vasa Clinic: Session 3

March 6, 2004 - By Bob Eifler

Milan Baic's racers spend the clinic learning about what to do in the days leading up to the race, race day preparation, and how to have a good start...

Here's the third and final (boo-hoo) session of Milan Baic's pre-Vasa clinic. This last clinic was a couple of Monday's before the Vasa, and I used some of the tips in the White Pine Stampede. For brevity, I will just touch on the big points

Before the Race

Know the course! Try skiing the race course the week before the race. Know where the turns, intersections, climbs and drops are likely to be. Novice racer? Be semi-conservative in your first race...

Set out your race kit the day prior to the race. Pull together the complete package: skis, boots, poles, suits, underwear, socks, hat, gloves, etc. Put them together as a complete unit so when you walk out the door, you have everything. (I showed up at the Hickory Hills Freestyle without my boots - I left them on the kitchen table. Nick loaned me his classic boots. Not surprisingly, I had a lousy race. Don't let this happen to you!)

Wax early or wax late? Ask your buddies what they're doing.

Nutrition and Hydration

Follow what bike racers do. Use something like Cytomax (Milan likes fruit punch and grape best; citrus and apple are "nasty"). Replace electrolytes for any race or training that last over an hour. During training and racing, drink BEFORE you are thirsty. Drink 6-8 ozs per feed.

Some people drink flat Coke at about 8km from the finish in a long race. Test this in advance before you try it in a race! Gels are sticky and need water. Solids are worse. Drink liquid-based feeds.

Carry your water bottle upside down - it won't freeze as fast.

I tried these ideas at the White Pine Stampede. I took two cups of Gatorade per feed and it worked great - for awhile. I pooped out halfway through. Maybe I should have eaten three more plates of spaghetti! More on this below.

Race Day Breakfast

Breakfast tends to stay undigested by race time, but it makes you feel good. A medium bowl of oatmeal and five bananas - one banana per 10km - just like my plates of spaghetti the night before! (Easy on the meatballs - they won't be totally digested the next morning).

Race Day

Be to the race EARLY - at least an hour before the race. Check the race packet for course information and start times. Put your bib on as early as possible.

Your warm up should get you and your skis up to speed. Don't go so hard that you get tired or sweaty. Keep some dry gloves handy that you can change into after your warm up.

The Start

Don't be a speed bump! Passing takes excess energy; being passed takes excess energy. Find your proper position in the pack. (And watch for the big bottleneck at the 2km point at the start of the first hill!)

In the start line, think "Ready, position,5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!" Take three quick pole snaps, then loosen up to race pace. RELAX.

In fact, you should practice accelerations to have better starts and to move ahead:

  • Practice 5 second accelerations (explosive), about 20 per session.
  • Practice 20 second sprints to 105-110% of race pace, about 20 per session.

Both of these tucked are into some very slow skiing (almost idling - when we did it on snow, it felt like crawling. It takes a lot of balance to maintain technique that slow).

I practiced my starts, accelerations, and jumps, and had a superb White Pine Stampede. The start was so easy. So was passing and bridging to the group ahead. This stuff works!

Clinic Wrap-up

Milan wrapped up things by discussing some skiers who don't race but tour "for fun." To Milan (and me), racing IS great fun. I applaud Milan, Mark Esper, and Timer Ridge for making this clinic possible. It has dome much to improve the knowledge and enjoyment of those willing participants. I encourage other coaches and trails to sponsor similar events.

See ya at the next one!