One of the current hot topics in our national US Cross-Country world is the detail of skating techniques. Technique is an important part of what can also be called work economy in any sport, and work economy is one of three elements that will distinguish great racers from good racers. The other two elements are the skiers maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 max) and Lactate Threshold (LT or AT) — both of which are much more important for a ski-racer’s results than the details of his or her technique.
As a student of human physiology and kinesiology, it is sometimes puzzling as a coach to hear or read how skiing techniques are being argued and discussed based solely on magazine photos and World Cup videos of arguably World Class skiers. The same is true for training principles; these are often also based on a few World Class skiers’ training logs, without knowing exactly how the skiers defined his or her training methods in the log or at what heart rate or intensity the different training sessions were really done. These discussions would be much more useful if we were able to isolate or remove all the variables. For example, if we had two skiers with exactly the same body-build, strength and general technique (i.e. work economy), lactate threshold and VO2 max, skiing on the same equipment and up the same hill, then perhaps we could start looking at how changing elements of the technique would affect the speed.