Building the aerobic base. Distance and lactate threshold training. On-snow skiing. Time at altitude. Skiing powerful, but relaxed. Staying healthy. These are the phrases U.S. Ski Team athletes and coaches have bandied about in New Zealand. Now with the three-week camp coming to a close, the team is encouraged by the progress.
â€œBack in May, pretty much across the board, our skiers were still in need of consolidating their aerobic base,â€ said USST national team sprint coach Chris Grover. â€œIn the last couple weeks, as we’ve done lab and field testing, we’ve seen a great improvement in regards to this. Our athletes have done a great job in keeping their distance lactates below 1mmol, and threshold intensity work between the optimal 4-6mmol range. Visually you can see the national team athletes have built up the structural strength to train at quicker paces, and will move into Level 4 training over the coming weeks.â€
On September 12th the U.S. Ski Team will meet again for a two-week dryland camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. Aided by Lake Placid’s low altitude, the camp will emphasize intensity work near distance race paces (6-8mmol lactate levels).
The training plan for the middle week of the three-week New Zealand camp for the national team sprinters follows below. The camp’s emphasis was on volume and efficiency. Even in periods where volume is king, the national teamers still don’t neglect to train all kinds of racing paces, even hopping into a race, and doing a couple pure speed sessions. For the sprinters, the race meant a sprint. For Andrew Johnson, a 10 and 15 kilometer effort.
USST Head Coach Pete Vordenberg on the New Zealand camp:
Coming into the August camp each person had specific, individual training goals. As a whole, though, the goals for camp were pretty much just on training; making the training good. Part of this is staying healthy. We did a pretty good job on that one, treating ourselves well- eating enough, drinking enough, and recovering and resting enough so that we get the quality in too. We’re not after junk hours or kilometers. For the first part of the camp we had the help of the USST sport science department, monitoring our morning glucose, hemoglobin, lactate, compiling and crunching heart rate data.
From a training standpoint, everything’s awesome. Having a bigger of staff down here allowed us to observe almost all the training. By taking video, breaking it down on the computer (using DartFish, a program that lets images overlap, then play together), taking lactates, this take s a lot of guess work out of what we’re out to accomplish- and that’s getting fast.
Pete, where does the National Team go from here?
A couple weeks of consolidation, being mindful of rest. Then its off to Lake Placid where we’re going to do more hard work — we’ll be after quite a bit more intensity than in New Zealand. But it won’t be out of hand. I think in the past we’ve gone a bit overboard, at the September camp in particular. So we’ll be will be more under control, but still getting in lots of good work.
What was your favorite New Zealand workout?
The Continental Cup girls do these pyramid workouts. It’s a great session. It starts off with 15 sec on, followed by 30 sec at L1 pace. Each time you just keep adding 15 seconds to both the interval and the recovery – 30 sec on/45sec off, followed by 45 sec on/60 sec off you get the picture. The girls keep doing until they’ve been going fast for three minutes. Then the ladder starts back down. After skiing at a moderate pace for ten minutes, we repeat the pyramid another time.
This allows a skier to work on changing paces. And while it’s a pretty steady workout, you still touch some pretty high velocities. You also cover a various terrains, a welcome change rather than just always going uphill when pushing the intensity.
Matt Whitcomb, US Continental Cup Coach:
The sun sets on the New Zealand snowfields, as it does also on the U.S. Ski Team’s August Camp.