Newly hired Norwegian Sprint Coach Ulf Morten Aune is emphasizing more specialized sprint training, but also says that the sprinters more than ever can do well in other races.
Cross-Country sprint is still a new sport, and there are many unknowns when it comes to training for it.
– Within Cross-Country skiing, sprint is still something new, and there are few other sports to compare with and learn from. The closest may be the 1500m (or 1 mile) in track & field. The difference is however that we race the “1500 m” up to four times on the same day, Aune tells Langrenn.com (editor: International sprint competitions are held as elimination heats – quarterfinal, semifinal and final – after an initial qualification round).
This means the sprinters must themselves determine what the correct training is. Aune is of the opinion that the Swedes have developed the furthest at this point, and would himself like to see less focus on hours and more on intensity.
– Since large parts of the sprint race is anaerobic, it is important to also train with high lactate levels in the muscles. The body and muscles must become used to working and training under these conditions.
However, this is also where the danger lies.
– You can not train in these conditions too much, it is also a disadvantage if you forget the endurance base. Without endurance you have no chance.
To be fast and enduring may be the recipe for success. In next year’s World Cup, every sprint race will count for the overall all-around title. If this had been the case last year, sprint specialist and 2002 Olympic sprint Champion Tor-Arne Hetland would have been fourth overall. Aune also believes HÃ¥vard Bjerkeli, silver medallist from the 2003 World Sprint Championship, can do well as an all-around skier.
– In next year’s World Ski Championship (Oberstorf 2005), every race but one is a mass-start race. Cross-Country ski racing is changing, and skills such as skiing smart in large groups, and being able to sprint will become very important. But endurance must also be worked on; there are no short cuts.
Aune has been coaching the Swiss National Team for the last five years, and has seen the sport of Cross-Country from a different perspective than most Norwegians. Compared to Norway, he is categorizing Switzerland as a developing nation in terms of the Cross-County sport. The biggest difference is the number of Norwegian kids and youth on skis.
– The work being done by clubs and regions on the grass-root level is the most valuable resource Cross-Country skiing in Norway has. At this level the cultures in Switzerland and Norway are very different.
No time for summer vacation
– In the Norwegian Ski Association, July has normally been a month without any training camps, this we’ve now changed, says Ulf Morten Aune to Langrenn.com. We are organizing two camps in July this year.
Aune believes in short and intense training camps. This week, the Sprint team is in Hokksund south of Oslo, and in another two weeks they get together again
– I think it is mentally smart to be together in a camp situation for this intensive training.
Every day consist of one hard intensive session and one longer distance session
This was the program in Hokksund:
Monday: Intervals on rollerskis and long distance
Tuesday: Intervals on rollerskis and long distance
Wednesday: Hard strength training and long distance
Thursday: Traditional aerobic interval training