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The 2019 2020 Cross Country, Nordic Ski thread & some tips for beginners

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Or you could start with the over trousers. You can always take it off when it gets too hot.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Over trousers will "swish together" in a very annoying way. Make sure you've got gloves though (like you'd wear for winter cycling) and a neck warmer and hat, with small backpack to put spares in. And water, of course. And maybe some chocolate for a break. Or pemmican.
ski holidays
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@kitenski, First off see if nearer the time and the weather still looks grim if you can postpone, as I'm sure the instructor will not relish the thought of three hours too in mank weather.

Secondly three hours does seem to be a long time, even though there are two of you.

If it was one hour and weather was snowy, especially if cold I'd quote Rule No 5 at you as running tight would suffice.

In the past, I have used my extreme winter cycling bib tights that are waterproof and these have worked and you don't notice the padding, so presume you have these?

As for today, after my thrash of a couple of days ago I've been looking at numerous YouTube vids to try and get a handle on my technique, as I'm pretty sure I use a bastardised version of various methods. And it's so difficult to see the differences between V1 Offset and V2.

This guy's is the best I've found, but please share if you have others!


http://youtube.com/v/KtzTJzAUphU

Today I opted for drills based on the above but not before I filmed me with the drone, and yes I did ask permission from my friendly lady pisteur as being a Sunday it was a little busier than normal.

I'm now kicking myself that I did not review the vids on my Ipad before I came home, as after filming I concentrated on the drills and if I realised the basic errors I was making I could have worked on those as well!

Like in Alpine skiing where many people do not pop in the turns my body position is almost stationary too when I should be extending far more, popping up before coming back down, it's also obvious that I favour my left leg, on the whole I thought I was looking a damn site better than how I look Sad


http://youtube.com/v/sIP-0Sy8Kko

The only plus point out of today is that I worked on the drill starting off almost stationary, parallel, double poling then cutting a pizza slice as in the video, and then gradually increasing the distance gliding and the speed, so much so by the time my lady pisteur headed off to lunch I skated behind he keeping her in my sights and she did not put too much distance into me. I did also think I was not working so hard in terms of HR but alas no.

So drone does seem like a good idea, though now I have around six cards of potential instructors!
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@Weathercam, you really don’t need to be popping when alpine skiing! I spent 4 years trying to get out of the habit!! It’s a throw back to the straight ski era.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@kitenski, maybe wrong phrase, I mean just no core movement everything stationary, rigid too stiff not relaxed etc etc like a robot.

And when skiing crust and crud I definitely pop!!!
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@Weathercam, thanks for sharing the video.

Now I feel better about preferring V2! (also, I didn’t know what to do with my arms between poling when I only pole every other skate!)

One drill I “accidentally” discovered (or “invented” even) during my initial clinic time, which quite impressed my instructor: We were practicing double poling using the classic track on one side of the lane. The objective being to engage the core muscle to add more “propulsion” power. After a few pole push, I got going at a pretty good clip. I decided I want to see how far I could glide on one “propulsion”. So I time my poling with a kick of my skate on the outside track, and step my inside skate out of the track onto the skating lane ... and let it glide!!!

My instructor thought that was a brilliant move, he had me drop into the track on the other side and do the same on the opposite. I ended up repeating that back and forth several times.

It quickly became obvious I don’t glide half as long on my left skate, which the instructor helped fixed (to some degree). After that my V2 felt a lot better.

I now realize since I’m right leg dominant, my right kick is far more powerful. But my poor balance on my left ski rob me a good deal of that potential glide distance. It’s been a work in progress for a while to get that fixed.
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When I had classic lessons (never tried skating) there was a lot of focus on arms, and really getting them out behind, with the pole "left behind" on the dragon So the arms were really at full stretch out behind the skier. When the lycra-clad skaters used to overtake me (there are some seriously good XC skiers in Saisies) I was always struck by those arms - sometimes alternate, of course, on the classic side of the tracks, but not always. Some classic steps require simultaneous poling.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@kitenski, think this guy spells it out better than I attempted Laughing

The key things I’d work on are:

Lowering your centre of mass by maintaining flexion at the ankle, knee and hip joints at all times. You would find this difficult because it’s not a position you’re used to. You’d need endless reminders.
Helping you stay compact by minimizing the range of motion in your arms and legs.
Trying to keep your weight mid to forefoot.

And that's before the extension !

There is so much out there, it's quite bewildering, don't think I've ever practiced a sport where there are so many variations on technique on what is essentially running on skis Laughing

And I'm now looking at new poles that have a harness so they don't drop out of position rolling eyes
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Quote:
I'm now looking at new poles that have a harness so they don't drop out of position

I’ve never heard of it. Link?


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Sun 12-01-20 21:01; edited 2 times in total
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I think you mean dragons.
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Any intermediate to advanced pole has more of a chunky strap/harness as opposed to ordinary loops like your Alpine Poles.

Vid below shows how you can change, so I might pop down to Decathlon today


http://youtube.com/v/eZetSh3bpWA
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Good old Decathlon, new XC poles €30 nice and light and with left and right grips.

Did feel a little better on the snow.



Style/technique is now all over the place, think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get a lesson.

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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
That "harness" looks good. We spent a while getting the adjustment right, so that when your arm (and the pole) were thrust behind you, your palm was completely open, with the pole slotting back nicely as you closed it, and brought your arm forward. That was for classic, of course, but possibly the same thing applies with skating. Snow looking very nice in that last picture.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Was given various cards of potential instructors and first one I went to their website, and it had two instructors and one naturally caught my eye, because we're of a similar vintage Cool

And I've just had a chat with her, ex ladies VTT World Champion Emmanuelle Meissner.

I've sent her the drone video so she can see what she's up against Laughing

She can only do Friday of this week, and I had to explain that we could get snow that day, she then suggested Saturday to which I replied I hope to be FreeRiding Laughing

So next week it is.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
pam w wrote:
That "harness" looks good. We spent a while getting the adjustment right, so that when your arm (and the pole) were thrust behind you, your palm was completely open, with the pole slotting back nicely as you closed it, and brought your arm forward. That was for classic, of course, but possibly the same thing applies with skating. Snow looking very nice in that last picture.

I was given a pair of poles with that kind of strap during my initial clinic (which of course was spend mostly poleless).

I can't say I like it. It's a pain to get in and out of. Though I suspect it may show its benefits more as I spend more time IN it. My impression, of a few hours with those, are they may offer more long term benefits in reducing wrist/hand fatigue. I'm skeptical on its benefits on improving technique though.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

I'm skeptical on its benefits on improving technique though.

I can't see how it would improve technique. When we were learning the "open hand" "throw the pole away" technique - so that we were only "attached" to the pole by the dragon, it could have saved a bit of time and awkwardness, I guess.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
pam w wrote:

When we were learning the "open hand" "throw the pole away" technique - so that we were only "attached" to the pole by the dragon, it could have saved a bit of time and awkwardness, I guess.

I learned the "open hand/throw the pole away" concept back when I was doing classic. It is pretty critical to have the (regular) pole straps adjusted right.

I just didn't feel those beefy straps makes that big a difference in "encouraging" extension (over any properly adjusted straps). But for those who are already doing proper extension, I can see that even minor improvement of the straps, over long distance, can probably help reduce hand fatigue. One less things to think about.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
My baskets I can also move up and down to compensate for a weaker or stronger leg as well, plus switching left and right too.
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I LOVE how wide the skating lane is!

Where I ski, the lanes are wide enough for ONE skier to skate, by taking up the entire lane.

So when two skaters meet, or a faster skater need to pass, one of them need to stop skating (double poling or coasting) to pass each other.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@abc, yes the pistes are rather nice, and it's not as if we're that busy or we're a recognised area as it were, for there are two valleys very close to us which are more popular XC areas but for me it's just a two min drive to the start from home.

In the photo below you can see how there are two classic tracks and in some areas there are two pistes one for out and the other for the return, plus there are various distinct walking trails so we do not get too many numpties walking on them.



Think this morning I'm going to attempt my longest distance todate, and I'm going to try and keep it steady, but that seems to be nigh on impossible as I'll just be going at a snails pace rolling eyes
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Are walkers and dogs allowed?
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@pam w, like I said above, plus there are various distinct walking trails so we do not get too many numpties walking on them

I'm allowed by the pisteurs to take my small dogs but only do it at quiet times eg mid-week 12:00 - 14:00

From where I'm sitting typing this I can see the piste.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
pam w wrote:
Are walkers and dogs allowed?


No their shot on sight!! Shocked
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Midweek I did my longest skate ever, 21km 1:45 and 286m of climbing, the latter on a black piste, and the short steep sections were strength-sapping just attempting to herring-bone up them.

The British Army Medical Corps are out here doing both Nordic and Alpine and I ended up on the same course as those doing classic and a couple of squaddies were beasting themselves big time!

And then again just when I think technique is coming along I used the drone today and video again highlighted more fundamental errors, this time my feet are not coming close together.

The good news is that skating without using the poles is so much better and feet come together.

Just as I was about to call it a day a Scandi friend of mine came along skating with her dog, she said it was only her 4th time which for a Scandi I found hard to believe and skating with her was good as I had to slow things right down, and then she had to stop every 400ms or so for a rest so was quite relaxing almost.

And my tactic of waiting for a super smooth skater to then tag along with behind does pay dividends I think, though not too sure what the women think Laughing

And trails are still in superb condition and so empty!





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British Army were out in force today on the XC trails, it was the second day of their Biathlon Championships.

7.5km individual or was it relay biathlon ?

I had it explained to me that this was really the semi-finals and then the top 15 or so go the finals in Germany.

Quite a lot of GBR clothing decals on show which I suppose makes a lot of sense.

Interesting to see people easing right off as they glided into the range presumably to relax prior to settling down to shoot live 22 rounds.

And as you can see a lot of lycra on show!



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Oh, that brings back happy memories. Dare I say it, of 34 years ago.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
This may not seem worthy of posting, never tried XC skiing myself, but was moved to mention how impressive a feat the Mountain Attack race seems to be to a (generally) downhill skier. Just watched the start in Saalbach and tired me out just watching people whizz up the black run i had earlier gingerly made my way down......an awesome sight and glad we finished early to watch. Chapeau
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Morning all,
Am looking forward to my trip to Les Saisies, travelling down tomorrow (Trains permitting).
Have booked a classic lesson for Tuesday and a skating one for Wednesday. Maybe this will allow me to contribute to the ongoing 'which is harder' debate...
Weather looking good, so hopefully will be able to get a few kms in. Sadly, the lack of precipitation will not permit 'overtrousers yes/no' investigations.
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You know it makes sense.
Looking forward to your report, @pendodave. Say hello to Les Saisies for me.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Was going to demo some skin skis (classic) today. But 10” of fresh snow fell overnight. Decided I would enjoy the 10” fluffy fresh powder on my alpine skis far more than trying out skinny skis in deep powder.

I was right. I enjoyed the fresh snow so much on my alpine skis I skied till lift closing. By then, the xc ski demo tent had all been taken down. Sad

No regrets of my choice though. Smile
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My first week on classic skis was group lessons with ESF and there was about 60 cm of powder to the side of the pistes. We spent alot of time off piste going up and down. Need quite a steep slope to move as your skis sink so deep and you end up moving alot of snow in front of you. Great fun and so different from the modern powder downhill skis.

Much prefer the skin classic skis to the old fishscales.
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Had a 3 hour beginner lesson with Stefan from ESF on Sunday morning . It was cold (-10) in le praz so we started with 3 thin layers and a bobble hat, with winter running tights. We’d “warmed” up the day before with a days ski touring taking advantage of the 10-25cm of fresh snow and blue skies!

Emails with ESF had suggested starting with classic was best for our first ever attempt, and then the instructor was a bit down on the tracks around le Praz saying they were up and down too much and to skate we'd be better off going somewhere flatter to learn. Bit of a minor issue the night before when the first shop we went to in Le Praz said they didn't hire XC and the nearest place was up in 1800! Fortunately the 2nd place (Olympic) in Le Praz had boots and skis.

We started off on top of the Alpinium building where there was a small loop. We did some standing on one ski and some jumping! Stefan expressed a bit of surprise that we didn’t fall over! After a few short loops trying various things like sliding, double pole pushing and gliding, We wthen moved onto a gentle downhill to practise snowplough.

This was where our decent basic skills helped us with balance over the skis and not leaning back and we were quickly onto the cut trails. Dodging the dog mess (the french really don’t pick up do they!) and the skiers coming down for the lifts we quickly left le Praz and out into the forest. We practised the “half snowplough” with one ski in the tracks and one snowploughing as well as full on snowploughing. We also did some "running" up hill both in tracks and "skating" up hill.

We got to an intersection and he asked if we wanted to go onto the black trail which had some steep ups and downs, of course we said yes and really enjoyed it. We did some snowploughing down some steepish (apparently for XC) slopes as well as some turning. Near the end we got caught up in a local race, so had to turn back and did some "skating" on some pedestrian slopes which he said weren't the best, but it was all good experience.

He said he'd never taken complete beginners around the black loop so we felt pretty happy with that! I managed to stay upright the whole time, inc some step turns after 2 downhills near the end! He suggested if we go again to ask for "more slippy" skis rather than the complete beginner ones we had. He also said for skating we'd need different boots and skis.

After a quick lunch we did another 5km loop around before a shower and straight back to GVA for an evening flight. Looking on Strava we covered 17.7km (inc the ski/walk to lunch). I think we'd do it again given the right circumstances, and maybe head somewhere flatter to try skating. Funniest moment outside the Alpinium when 2 locals spotted by Zwift bottle and I could hear them discussing Zwift and as they walked off they shouted "Zwift"...
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Glad you had fun @kitenski.

Seems the ESF instructor didn’t consider your alpine skiing experience when planning his lesson.

It’s a bit of my pet peeve many “cross country ski” lessons put a lot of focus on controlling downhill (tactics) at the expense of focusing on balance (skill). Even at the “intermediate” level lessons, they spend so much time practicing descend that I stopped taking lessons.

For alpine skiers in particular, we all know about the “moves”, or can copy when we see others doing the same. Whether we can actually do those moves effectively hinges on for-after balance (i.e. fighting the natural instinct of leaning back).

In the mean time, efficient kick and glide are often left to the “advanced” level or racing camps! Sad

For the longest time, I didn’t dare considering those camps because I’m not interested in racing. But that left me with mediocre technique despite having years of “experience” and “practice” to reinforce poor technique. And despite having half decent fitness, I got just as tired on the flat as on the steep bits (on the steep bits, you at least get the reward of coasting down).

That’s my North America perspective. I was hoping the French are more enlightened. rolling eyes
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@abc, I'm not sure what else he could have done to be fair! Lots of people with years of experience could have really bad habits like leaning back which would make XC harder (from what I understand)

He did say at the end that with foresight and how well we got on and our fitness he would have taken us to Meribel, but how did he know how well we'd have coped at the start??
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Well I'll find out if my bad habits that I no doubt have can be ironed out this coming Wednesday but I suspect that I'll still have lots of creases Laughing

Just hope the British Army are not going to commandeer the pistes down our end like they have been doing further up the valley.

I was walking into the village on Saturday and saw a garage open under a chalet and there must have been forty or so pairs of XC skis in there so I went to have a look and a lady Major from the The Royal Logistic Corps was in there and we had a chat and she said how the RLC clean up all the events in all the various disciplines they have.

Yesterday they were out in white arctic camo gear though lycra in groups with a couple of radio operators all carrying bergens etc
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kitenski wrote:
@abc, I'm not sure what else he could have done to be fair! Lots of people with years of experience could have really bad habits like leaning back which would make XC harder (from what I understand)

He did say at the end that with foresight and how well we got on and our fitness he would have taken us to Meribel, but how did he know how well we'd have coped at the start??

That’s always a challenge, when the best courses suited for different lessons are located at different places.

It’s hard for the instructor to know all that before your 1st lesson. That’s why these days I only take lessons with an eye on engaging the same instructor for more than 1 session, like multi-day clinics, or several sessions of private with a well regarded instructor. That goes for both alpine and cross country.
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Looks like the black track we did in le Praz was the 1992 Olympic Games XC course!!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@kitenski, I thought that all the XC in 1992 was in Les Saisies.

EDIT: forgot about Nordic Combined.
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Had my second skating lesson today, first was around two years ago.

So skis are shortly being deposited at the decheterie Laughing

She did look at my first drone video and had a good idea of where my many faults lie and how I use brute force and strength to make up for my lack of technique.

So my biggest fault is that my skis are too far wide apart, so back to basics of skating one foot in the track and the other pushing on the edge and trying to bring my boots together, really basic beginner drills.

Then out of the tracks skating trying to clack my boots together and this I found really difficult.

I also obviously favour my left leg over the right so was quite a long list of stuff to work on !

Probably the best drill for me was to imagine a line in front of me, and this was helped by a small ridge in the piste and the object was to try and get my skis as close as possible to that and then push away.

So the line would be 12 o'clock and my left ski would get to / start at 11:55 and then I'd skate pushing away to around 10:00 where as before I was starting at 10:55 so the arc was considerably less equalling less power if that makes sense?

Also in all the above, I was lifting my right ski with my knee too much, and then, of course, I was not extending by body/straightening enough which would result in tired quads, though that is where I was using my power rather than any technique.

So all a tad depressing and she was not exactly gushing with motivational comments though by the end she was saying a "little better".

After the lesson, I spent another hour doing more drills and not using my poles too much just concentrating on technique.

I'll probably have another lesson in three or so weeks if I can bring myself to suffer the negatives Laughing
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Quote:

Then out of the tracks skating trying to clack my boots together and this I found really difficult.

That was the first drill we were made to do as "never ever" beginners! Laughing

Quote:

Probably the best drill for me was to imagine a line in front of me, and this was helped by a small ridge in the piste and the object was to try and get my skis as close as possible to that and then push away.

That was our second drill!

There were only 3 of us in the beginner group, but one had skated before (she got "booted" up to the "novice" group the next session). While I had trouble with the clanking of boots initially, I immediately realized its benefits (basically I needed to put 100% of the weight on the gliding ski, RIDE IT! Not cheating, no "centering" by dropping the other foot, pretending I meant to skate again -- otherwise, the boots won't "clank"). So I put in a lot of effort in that one. The other student in the group had trouble with the clanking of the boot, but was doing better with putting the ski close to the center line drill.

When I was out skiing, I sometimes falls to the outside of the ski, something I don't see other skaters suffer. But my instructor said that's actually a good thing (falling to the outside). He said many skaters never fully committed to the gliding ski. It's much easier to favor just so slightly to the inside. There's always the other ski ready to "catch" our fall when needed.

Quote:

skating one foot in the track and the other pushing on the edge and trying to bring my boots together, really basic beginner drills.

That's a good drill! I can see it'll help me a lot.

Will try that my next time out. Thanks for sharing that!


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Wed 22-01-20 16:54; edited 3 times in total
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