Every spring I write a post about things we learned from the previous season. Here are a few thoughts from 2017:
Klister application – Working with Ian has been really good for my klister skills. Ian is an old-school New Englander – very frugal. This is apparent in his ultra-thin klister applications. I’m a big “thin to win” guy with hardwax, but for some reason I tend to go a bit thicker with klister. It turns out that the Ian method is vastly superior – the thinner application often provides enough kick by itself, and naturally it’s much faster. And if it turns out that we need more kick, it’s way easier to make adjustments when you’re working on top of a thin layer. Clever coaches already knew this, of course, but no one ever accused me of being clever. Can’t believe it took me 17 years to figure this out.
Strength vs stability – For years I’ve been a big proponent of bodyweight strength training, or calisthenics, and I still am. Calisthenics require a lot of stability, and each exercise activates a wide range of muscles. If you’re not able to use all those little stabilizing muscles to lock down your joints, it doesn’t matter how strong the prime movers are – you’re leaking energy with each stroke, and you’re not skiing fast. Having said that, I’ll admit that calisthenics aren’t as efficient as weight training when it comes to building pure strength in the prime movers. I think I’m ready to stop trying to accomplish both goals within a single calisthenics-based workout. I’m never going to be willing to spend a lot of our limited training time in the weight room, but I can talk myself into a few focused weight sessions supplemented with small frequent doses of stability training. If I can plan this out right, we could actually open up more time for endurance and/or ski-specific training while still addressing our strength/stability needs effectively.
No-pole skiing – Everyone knows that no-pole skiing is one of the best ways to improve technique. It’s also great for improving muscular endurance in the legs. As we do more and more double pole training and get stronger and stronger in our upper bodies, it becomes more apparent that not all of our skiers have adequate fitness in their lower bodies. If we focus on no-pole training even half as much as we’ve been focusing on double pole training, we’ll make big gains here.
Non-carnival skiers – We went from 13 skiers last year to 18 this year – our biggest team in years. Big numbers means that some people don’t get to race in some carnivals. This can be mentally tough for the skiers who are staying home – it can be hard to stay motivated for training and get excited to ski in non-carnival races. A lack of engagement in some skiers is going to affect the whole team, so this is not a great situation. It looks like the team will be getting even bigger next year, so we need to be thoughtful about how we manage the non-carnival group as the season goes on – establishing clear expectations, finding (or creating) good race opportunities and committing to them ahead of time, and holding people accountable for continuing to train and race outside the carnival scene.
So those are a few of my thoughts as I’m writing summer training plans and looking ahead to next season. Meanwhile, the skiers are hard at work preparing for exams – almost done with the school year! The sun is finally shining, the leaves are coming out, and campus is looking beautiful – looking forward to ending this fine year with a couple weeks of fine weather.