Contributing Editor for The Master Skier
Jon came to the U.S. in 1980 from Norway. He competed on the World Cup and in three Olympic Games in x-c and biathlon. He has won several World Masters titles and skis with Team Rossignol. He is active in the U.S.S.S.A. He is a Certified Personal Trainer, PSIA ski instructor and masters coach. email@example.com.
Cross-country skiers represent a small percentage of the athletic population and yet they come from a myriad of backgrounds.
The typical master skiers do not necessarily have a cross-country racing history or much exposure to specific conditioning.
Many enjoy year-round endurance fitness and transfer their skills and abilities from sport to sport, season to season.
Having worked with this population over many years through clinics and on-going programs, I have noticed that many of the seasoned, fit masters have little experience in ski training and focused performance in the sport.
We hear of cross training and adaptive conditioning methods leaving little left to the imagination, and year-round fitness enthusiasts always ask for pointers in 'Nordi' or 'skate skiing'. Gee if it only was that easy!
Becoming a good nordic skier takes years of practice and specialized training.
We have to recognize the skiing as a separate sport, and respect its demands and challenges.
Associating with an experienced coach can get an individual onto a progressive ski program through specific technical, strength and aerobic development routines generally unknown within the general fitness population. This will put the skier in a direct development pipeline towards improved ski performance and literally cut years off trial and error, self guided or unguided experimentation.
This is where the knowledgeable coach can recognize an individualís specific needs and potential.
Illustrating examples are broad and colorful, including personal statements of how working with a coach made a difference for someone as well as actual tangible results. Here are some of my favorite experiences.
After becoming a steadily improving competitive age-group skier from a running and gym fitness background, a fit woman of forty summarized her experience as follows: 'With coaching I started to understand how to transfer my endurance and strength into forward propulsion on my skis.' Well said! That is exactly what we are aiming for.
A skier in his mid-fifties displayed incredible enthusiasm, will and competitive tenacity, applying what he knew of training from the army and college sports, but had a hard time breaking into his age group elite.
Two things were adjusted over a six month period, gliding motions and diversifying training intensities.
This energetic individual switched his focus away from raw pushing power as main propulsion to discover the extended motions providing longer glide.
His quality training was moved from over-production of lactate and subsequent slow-down to training zones where he was able to more effectively train his aerobic/anaerobic threshold and capacity to utilize oxygen.
He also made a conscientious effort of seeking out gentle terrain to ensure low intensity in his long slow distance workouts.
At the end of the six months, he had been on the podium of the National Masters Championships and he won his age group in major ski marathons as well as the American Ski Marathon Series.
The Sun Valley Masters met once a week last winter for a mostly technique based program with a few training elements. The group showed an average 14.5% improvement in the local 30K Boulder Mountain Tour after two months of training.
Fast conditions counted for a part of the gains, as well as adding to the intimidation factor for some people, but significant improvements for the sample group were recorded with statistical adjustments for course speed variations.
Some individuals improved close to 20%, and one dedicated individual with no previous skiing experience did the 30K in under two hours! The training was fun, and also produced a number of personal bests.
Other mastersí coaches report similar stories. A lady in Sun Valley, Idaho credited local coach Muffy Ritz for 'changing her life', referring to the skills and confidence she possessed after two seasons in the 'VAMPS' program meeting once a week through the ski season.
Torbjorn Karlsen in Park City, Utah also reports National Masters medals in his crew.
How do you find a qualified masters coach? Locate any cross-country ski coach and ask if they have experience and interest in working with adult athletes, or if they know someone who does.
These folks are found in local ski clubs and programs, college ski teams, etc.
This question is also good to ask if you attend a skiing or ski product clinic, as the instructors or speakers generally are from the ski industry. Some areas have active ski groups and organized training, which is an excellent starting point and contact base.
Some coaches also specialize in personal training for cross-country skiers, much like personal trainers operating in other parts of the fitness industry.
It is good to meet regularly, or at least periodically, but some people also rely mostly on remote communication relationships. Again, starting a dialog and feed-back loop will define what is going to work for you.
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