Sprint Racing: We Want To Get Better!

FasterSkierJanuary 20, 2005

The response to our January 14, article “Sprint Racing — How Can We Get Better?” ( http://www.fasterskier.com/opinion.php?id=1786 ) was overwhelmingly positive. Coaches and racers showed that they care about sprint racing by posting comments and sending us emails. They welcome new ideas and show a true desire to improve, race faster and become competitive in international racing. You can view the online comments by clicking the link above. In addition, some emails are enclosed at the end of this article.

 The article brought up the need for giving young skiers a reason to want to become sprinters. The following was in short suggested to make sprint racing more attractive:

An attractive race schedule giving sprinters a chance to race sprint races almost every weekend and sometimes back to back races in one week or two sprint races over three days.

A 20 or more continental cup style “Sprint Cup”

A new race format: 1000-1500 meter individual-start sprint races. No finals, fastest time win. Full FIS or World/Continental Cup points awarded

Select skiers to Olympic and World Cup teams based upon a lot more races/opportunities than what’s the case today.

Include the 1000-1500-meter “prolog” event as selection races. —You are not going to do well in sprint races unless you ski fast in this event, was the reasoning.

– Many emails commented on the need for more knowledge and information about sprint training which was not brought up in the article. We have occasionally posted short profiles on some of the World’s best sprinters on Fasterskier. These profiles give an idea of sprinters mind-set and sometimes touch training strategies and methods.

Subscribers of our monthly newsletter “The Club” Subscription Service have received detailed sprint training information about how some of the World’s best sprinters are training and more is coming. We have previously explained why we need to charge for these articles.  You can subscribe by logging on to http://www.fasterskier.com/Club/info.php

Here are some emails we received:

– I believe very strongly that we indeed need to specialize.  I am in total agreement with Torbjorn’s suggestions/thoughts/ideas pertaining to the development of World Class Sprinters and need for many, many more race starts for our sprinters.

Our athletes who love/live for sprinting and want to be the best in the world can not do that by racing perhaps only one sprint every three weeks.  It shouldn't take space scientists to figure that out. Maybe we need to swallow our pride a little and not just keep looking at “the kids we train”  Any coach with “any kind of an eye” should be able to look at our current bunch of sprinters and say “wow” that kid is able to get from point A to point B pretty damn fast.  As Torbjorn noted: you have to be able to make the qualifying round.  If we have fast skiers getting there we need to identify them and then have a specific program to “develop” them “for what lies ahead” in the quarters/semis/finals to make them so  “strong/smart” that no one in the world can beat'em. Our athletes that want to be sprinters should be going to sprint camps for physical training as well as taking classes learning everything there is to know about “sprint tactics.”

We are wasting another generation of athletes if we do not step up to the plate and become leaders in developing American Sprint Skiers.  The clock is ticking…..

Let’s not forget about attracting more kids into our sport.  With a Top to bottom “Sprint Program” we can have every High School athletic field in America that has snow on it become the grass roots for American Sprint Skiers.  From there the kids that want to ski the longer events as they get older will at least have the feel for ski speed.
Keep up the great job. – All anyone has to do is look at cycling.  Imagine if “Trackies” and “Roadies” only had road racing?  Your idea of adding short races is “right on” as well.

Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

Roger Weston, Coach


– I agree with the race schedule being a key to developing sprint in North America and that certain slots should be awarded through this system, but we also need to look at training methods for sprint. In my opinion, we have not improved at the necessary rate since the World Junior Champs in Slovakia in 1999-00.  I got to view the inaugural event at Junior World's and then again for the next 5 years. It was a good opportunity to see the sprint evolve at the development level. The first year the Russians could not qualify a single man or women due to poor technique yet they dominated the distance events. Our kids did well in the prelim and the first few rounds but did not have the training to sustain the rounds.


1- Must have very good technique.

2- Must be able to develop power (explosive strength) and transfer power effectively through good technique.

3- A big part of training should be developing capacities in the same time frame as sprints.

4- Distance training is still necessary to be able to sustain rounds.

5- Develop speed of motion in technique (transfer power quickly) to acquire in muscle memory for recall in races.

 Many more I am sure.

Some kids have natural sprint tendencies but we need more sprint races throughout North America to help us identify talent.

Miles Minson, former US Ski Team coach



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